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Last week I was having a discussion about what sort of
character traits and strengths would make a good HR person. My answer was that there are a kaleidoscope
of traits and strengths which could fit that role.
In our careers advice at school, we were often put into a box,
weren’t we? You’re a “people person” so
a nurse, social worker, customer services… You’re “analytical” so an accountant, an engineer or maths teacher… You’re “competitive” so a salesperson or
something in sports…
For my parents’ generation, they would normally have stayed
in one box for their whole career, so I hope they chose their box wisely. For my generation, we have more flexibility
to experiment although some of us are still quite wedded to ingrained
definitions of what makes a good …… [fill in the blank].
I think that these boxes that we have been put in, or that
we’ve put ourselves in, are born out of assumptions. Being a coach, I love to explore assumptions
because these are very often the things that are preventing us from moving
forward, achieving what we want and living our best life.
So, I decided to challenge some assumptions based upon my
own personal strengths and what I do for a living…
Challenging my assumptions
If you look at my Strengths Profile, you will see someone
who has a lot of strengths in relating to others; has curiosity and courage but
is not very self-aware; communicates well but dislikes confrontation; loves
growth and adventure but is not competitive; and is optimistic and innovative
but dislikes detail and planning.
This Strengths Profile identifies my career options as coaching
(!) & counselling, customer services, human resources, social care, leisure
& tourism. And, on the surface, I
think you’d agree.
However, I believe that my strengths dictate not that
I am a coach, but rather what sort of coach I am.
So, what sort of coach am I?
I am a coach who naturally builds rapport and trust quickly,
stays ever curious about her clients, does not judge, listens intently and uses
But that is not the only type of coach, nor is it the ideal
coach for every client. So, what sort of
coach am I not?
I am not the sort of coach who naturally challenges her
clients, nor am I comfortable providing negative feedback or (what I see as)
confrontation. I am not a follower of
process and am more inclined to go with my gut instinct and be flexible.
Some clients might be more suited to the sort of coach that
I am not.
My point is that we might assume that I am ideally
suited to being a coach, but I argue that I am ideally suited to being a
certain kind of coach. In much the same
way, I am a certain type of business owner: one who loves creativity, service
and growth but finds the organisation, detail and planning much harder. I was a certain kind of recruiter: one who
built trust and loyalty in her clients but did not have the aggressive,
deal-focused approach which you see in most successful recruiters.
Challenging your assumptions
Now it’s your turn. Get a paper and pen.
Firstly, I’d ask you to step outside of your professional
label. Instead of saying I am a ……………………….
[fill in the blank], I am asking you “What sort of ……………………… are you?”. Use
your personal strengths and characteristics to answer this question.
For example (given that we started with HR), “I am the sort
of HR person who always follows process, enjoys the detailed study of
employment legislation and can be relied upon to always give constructive
feedback”. For the record, I’d much
prefer this sort of HR person in my business!
Now, think of some roles which you’ve not explored before
and maybe thought you weren’t suited to. Then answer the question “What sort of …………. would you be?” again using
your strengths and characteristics. Here’s one of mine to get you started:
“I’d be the sort of barrister who would always seek the very
best results for my client, use story-telling and humour to engage a jury and
use my judgement to make quick decisions in the moment.”
No barrister job offers please
This has greatly challenged my assumptions about whether I
could be a barrister and has amused me at the same time.
I’d love for you to share any weird and wonderful roles
you’ve explored during this exercise. Let me know what sort of ……………. you’d be!
Also, if you’d like to explore your Strengths in depth with me,
I have created a half day 121 Strengths Coaching Session which can be delivered
in person in West Sussex or on Zoom. Let
me know if you’d like more details.
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