Earlier this summer, the Sentier team gathered at the House of HeART in St. Paul for our annual overnight. This year’s special guest was coach and consultant Dr. Jennifer Engler, who specializes in using the Clifton Strengths Assessment with individuals and teams to help them better understand their individual strengths and how they operate in different environments, including the workplace.
In her training, Dr. Engler spoke to the Sentier team about how we can individually and collectively function more harmoniously by utilizing our strengths and understanding and appreciating the strengths of our team members.
The Clifton Strengths Assessment is part of a strengths philosophy within the field of Positive Psychology. Before our gathering, each member of the team completed the assessment to identify our top five themes from a list of 34 total themes.
Some of these themes include Achiever, Intellection, Developer, Empathy, and Relator.
Each of these themes also fits into one of four domains of leadership strength – Executing, Influencing, Relationship Building, and Strategic Thinking.
Below is a chart showing all of the themes that came up for our team and how many people shared those themes.
Perhaps it’s not surprising that this room full of therapists had a majority of our themes in the “Relationship Building” domains, with the number one most common theme by far being “Empathy”!
With Dr. Engler’s help, we were able to look more deeply at how we each landed in the strengths framework and how our strengths play into how we show up at our jobs. It was particularly helpful to connect with others who operate under similar themes to share what they look like in our lives and see how they may present differently for others.
Putting names to certain characteristics of ours helped the team appreciate parts of who we are or things that we do that we may not have recognized as a strength. “I was encouraged by the takeaway that just because something comes easy to me and is a strength of mine, doesn’t mean it comes easy for everyone else,” says Sentier therapist Tana Welter.
It is important to remember that not having a high score in a particular theme doesn’t mean you don’t have that strength at all – it just means that you are perhaps better at some other things. Having an understanding of where we naturally flow in our strengths can help us dive deeper into how to thrive and grow through our challenges. “It was fun to learn how to leverage my biggest strengths to carry me through areas that I find difficult,” remembers Sentier therapist and clinic owner Megan Sigmon-Olsen.
Dr. Engler emphasized that while it is helpful to highling each other’s strengths, we should be careful not to reduce ourselves or one another to our top strengths. Knowing someone’s particular strength doesn’t mean that if it’s not one of your top strengths, certain tasks can be offloaded to them. If everyone only did things that were easy, we wouldn’t grow individually or as a team.
Dr. Engler’s workshop was informative, empowering, and a great lens through which to appreciate and affirm our team’s strengths. “It helped me better understand my own areas of strengths, but also those of my coworkers, which helps us to relate better and work more efficiently together,” reflects Welter.
Dr. Engler and Sentier therapist Bridgett Brye at the team Strengths training.
A few weeks later, at a team meeting, we returned to the strengths mindset by each answering the following questions, which are part of the Strengths Manifesto. With these questions, the team was able to better understand how to support one another.
- You get the best of me when…
- You get the worst of me when…
- You can count on me to…
- What I need from you is…
How would you answer the questions? Trying reflecting on them together with a friend or partner!
Blog written by Sentier’s Client Care Coordinator, Ellie Struewing