Strengths Focused Communication – Interview by Lisa Cummings of Lead Through Strengths

Lexy Thompson of Trybal Performance had the chance to talk with Lisa Cummings on Lisa’s show “Lead Through Strengths” a few weeks ago. Strengths-focused communication is an integral part of what takes a team from being benchwarmers to starters!

We are fortunate enough to include the link to hear the podcast and a few excerpts from the conversation focused on teams, gratitude and interacting with others in professional settings.

Podcast: Play in new window | Download

About these two business leaders:

Lexy’s Top 10 StrengthsFinder Talent Themes: Strategic, Connectedness, Futuristic, Intellection, Command, Input, Activator, Ideation, Self-Assurance, Relator

Lisa’s Top 10 StrengthsFinder Talent Themes: Strategic, Maximizer, Positivity, Individualization, Woo, Futuristic, Focus, Learner, Communication, Significance

We want to thank Lisa for being such a great interviewer and letting Lexy and cover many Strengths related topics for individuals, managers, and teams.

Here are a few excerpts from the podcast:

Self-Awareness leads to Confidence and Leadership for Mid-Level Managers

Lexy Thompson: You and I do our work at that mid-level management often times, and that’s often a really good space… to start trying to get comfortable with what’s uncomfortable for them.

Lisa Cummings: I think that’s really smart because a lot of people listening are people managers and they want to be in executive roles and I could absolutely agree that that does seem to be a distinguishing factor, someone able to go in and really work in those situations confidently. There are also a lot of listeners who are individual contributors trying to be promoted into manager roles and that is about the number one complaint when I am working with people managers, and they say people have these conflicts on the team and they come into their office like tattle tales saying, “Oh, I’m having this issue with so-and-so …” and are not addressing it head-on.

If you want to be viewed as a high performer, as self-sufficient, as having high emotional intelligence, you start learning your ways of addressing that head-on in a mutually respectful way, in a way that builds trust, you’re going to be looked upon as a great candidate, or at least that area of you will make you a much more viable candidate for a leadership position in general.

What is the why that finally makes people see that this is important?

Lexy Thompson: The self-awareness piece, the strengths journey for somebody, is really eye opening. Inside of that awareness, as much as they’re willing to really enter in and do some work, the confidence just builds because you start to … The wiring’s there, you just haven’t run down the road long enough to pave it. Once you’ve got that paved, your ability to run down and come back, you can do it within nanoseconds where it might have taken you minutes before. The more you do that the more confident you become, the stronger runner that you are and then you’re willing to enter most races and give it a spin.

Conflict really isn’t much different than that; it’s just knowing that you can take what you’ve learned here and see how you can apply it in a new situation.

Lessons for Individual and Teams in Gratitude

Lisa Cummings: I agree. It (Gratitude) doesn’t have to be big and formal. I like that you leave people with a concept that no one has to ordain this. It doesn’t have to be a company movement. It can be as simple as you deciding that when you walk by another human at work you’re going to make eye contact and make them feel seen, and that can be a form of it. Just taking the time to give credit.

I had a leadership session recently where they were having some issues in the organization where employees were saying their managers were taking credit for the work they did. If you talked to the people managers, they have no idea that this is how that could even be perceived because they weren’t intending to do that. People weren’t feeling seen or appreciated, or that the credit was getting spread around, so essentially determined that they were all kind of being credit hoarders and takers instead of givers.

Once they started shifting that and saying, “Hey, the more generous I am with thanking people, and sharing that, “Oh, they made our team look really successful. They made our team act successful, and so we’re going to give as much credit as possible.” That it just spins up into more desire to be productive and more desire to do it, not just to say it but also to do more of it.

Lexy Thompson: Yeah, it does translate it into action. One of the most interesting phenomenon of it is the actual receiving of the gratitude. Most of us are willing and able to extend it. We may not have a practice of it and we may not be consistent, however when it’s given back to us, sometimes it feels really awkward. There’s also a learning about Self-awareness and even it could be a strengths conversation with yourself or your coach about what is that. What’s going on with you when someone says, “Hey, thanks for a great job,” and you feel awkward. Whatever that awkward looks like for you.

Lisa Cummings: I think this is a really important topic because it is a gift that you can receive and if you make someone feel like it’s less than, “Oh, no, no, no, it’s not a big deal. Oh, no, no, no …” and you’re dismissive of the gratitude, it could actually be like you’re turning it down.

Lexy Thompson: Uh-huh.

Lisa Cummings: What does a gracious receiver do?

Lexy Thompson: They just smile and say, “Thank you.” It’s that simple. It’s that simple, and it’s that hard sometimes. I’ve had it happen to me. I’ll do a keynote and I’m just as nervous every time I do it, and I could have done it a hundred times and someone will come up and say, “Thank you,” and if it’s more than that and they’re trying to expand on that, I feel uncomfortable. I just stand there and I continue to say, “I really appreciate that.” I actually let it into my heart. That’s part of it, that I’ve gotten very deliberate with around heartful and mindful practice around receiving, and not just giving.

Self-Assurance and Using Technology to Reach Humanity

Lisa Cummings: I know you’ve been talking a lot lately, because I know you, about letting love in and you take a set of talents like Command or Self-assurance or Intellection or some of the talents in your line-up that people might stereotype as to saying your tendencies could be to not lead with a big loving heart. I don’t know your full journey. I just know where you are today and really focusing on that. For somebody who is feeling more like, “Hey, I lead with the logic side and it’s all just about the facts for me, and I just try to keep emotions out of work.” Why would someone consider leading with a big old heart the way that you were just describing?

Lexy Thompson: Yeah. Thank you for that question. What comes up for me when you ask that question is my grandfather. He was a pretty savvy entrepreneur in a small town in Vermont, where I grew up, and when he was passing away, his cold, old hands were holding mine and I will never, ever forget this, and he said to me, “I won’t ever wish I worked an extra day. I will have wished I loved a lot better.” That stuck with me. I was young and I didn’t really know what that meant at the time and I will tell you I’m just now starting to be able to manifest it in a way that I feel like I’m honoring that.

I will also tell you I work with a lot of people that come out of really bad places in their life, whether it’s the death of a loved one, or their near death, or some tragedy. They don’t wish that they could do more of the non-emotional work, it is always the relational work. When I look at my lineup of strengths I have Connectedness and Relator in my top ten. They’re my only blue lines to humanity because I can spend days and weeks alone, and be quite content but at the end of all of that what matters is the impact that I left and that impact isn’t on the bottom line, it’s with people.

Lisa Cummings: Without them in your life what would your impact be on? It would just be on a thing.

Lexy Thompson: I think we’re in interesting times, being where technology is leading us and there are so many exciting things to explore with technology. This podcast would be a good example of that, right? This conversation wouldn’t have existed.

Lisa Cummings: What a great point. It would have only been able to be in a big network environment in a niche like people who are interested in strengths development. I don’t think that’s going to make it to primetime 20 years ago.

Lexy Thompson: Yeah, I agree. Yeah. It’s exciting because I think that we also have an opportunity to find the things we need, when we need them, rather than just when they show up.

How Conversation Mechanics is Built on Great Tools and Defining your “Why?”

Lexy Thompson: Around the communications piece, difficult conversations, crucial conversations, and non-violent communication are my favorites. They’re easy to get to. They’re usually on the top reader lists. I think they’re all on Audible as well, which is my preferred mode right now. Around conflict, interestingly enough, it’s not a conflict direct book but it’s The Speed of Trust, also a Covey book, that I think answers a lot of the ‘why’ around ‘why bother’ and the value of building trust and the void that’s there in conflict that is not trust, and how to bridge that gap.

Another favorite of mine, a real simple read that made a huge impact when I was going through kind of my mission for my own life, was The Four Agreements. It’s a very simple thing and yet so very hard to keep top of mind and in action, but it made a difference. Those would be some recommendations I have.

Lisa Cummings: Great ones. Thank you.

Lexy Thompson: Yeah, you’re welcome. The one we’ve developed that’s on our website, we’ll have a link here, it’s a communications course and it has some of the best of the ones I mentioned kind of woven in there. The thing that I think sets it apart, is that it has the assessment StrengthsFinders on the front so as you’re moving through the model of communication, you actually bring yourself and all your glorious baggage with you. When you come out of the course, you are quite clear, or at least beginning to be clear, where some of your weak points are going to be, and then how to make corrective action when you need to.

Strengths and Effective Communication Podcast

For the complete episode, transcript, and notes, visit Lisa’s website Lead Through Strengths to hear the great pieces we left out including:

  • Reading body language in meetings
  • Can meeting someone in their Strengths take away from yours?
  • Real ways to show gratitude in teams and business
  • Finding your purpose
  • A favorite back pocket sized book of Lisa and Lexy’s

Read the notes http://leadthroughstrengths.com/build-strengths-focused-team-start-whats-right-lexy-thompson/ and join us for future episodes.

Easy to reference resources from the recorded episode:

You can reach Lexy through our Trybal Performance website. You can also connect with her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

You can reach Lisa through her Lead Through Strengths website and make sure you subscribe to her Podcast so you won’t miss future episodes. Find her on  iTunes and Stitcher Radio.

Bring Strengths based tools and leadership to your team, sign up for the Trybal Performance communications course, Conversation Mechanics: How To Talk About It or subscribe to our Newsletter to stay up to date on future conversations and tools for your strengths based conversations.

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