Sometimes I get asked what happens in a strengths coaching session (or a strengths debrief as it’s also called). The short answer is it depends on what the client wants to get out of it. I don’t approach a session with my own agenda; as a coach, I want to follow the client’s agenda.
But if a client has never been to a coaching session, they may not know the possibilities. That’s when I like to offer options so the client can choose what will be most valuable. The subject is strengths, but there are so many topics we could cover.
That’s why a single session, although a good start, is just that—a good start. There’s much more discovery and activation to do. But you must start somewhere and if you don’t, you won’t up anywhere.
To help with the start, here are 10 hot topics for strengths coaching. I’ve provided the topic, a core question, and some brief points about each one. As clients consider where to start, a good question to answer is: What will make the biggest difference right now?
Here they are:
1. Expert Optics
Core question: What does a strengths expert say about me?
This is where the coach acts more like a consultant and tells the client what they see based on the strengths profile. The coach may call out insights about the individual strengths, domains, talent dynamics, development issues, etc. The coach can elevate the client’s self-awareness around strengths.
2. Strengths Journey
Core question: How can I grow my talents into strengths?
If the client is receiving strengths coaching, they’re probably interested in growing. If they’ve taken a strengths assessment, the results aren’t showing automatic areas of strength yet—they’re showing top areas of talent. Having potential doesn’t guarantee great performance. The coach can help the client to plan a deliberate strengths journey to turn talents into strengths.
3. Achieving Goals
Core question: How can my talents and strengths help me achieve my goals?
One of the main reasons for discovering your talents is using them to achieve your goals. It makes sense that you’d tap into what you’re good at to do what you need to do. Having well-defined goals will help you know where to aim your strengths. The coach can help the client to choose which strengths would best get you to your goals.
4. Current Obstacles
Core question: How can my talents and strengths help me overcome my obstacles?
Just like strengths are utterly practical in achieving goals, they’re also utterly practical in overcoming obstacles. A major value in coaching is recognized and removing what’s in your way. If you’re aware of your weaknesses or other obstacles, you can learn how to overcome them through your strengths. A coach can help with that.
5. Improving Relationships
Core question: What do my talents and strengths say about me in relationships?
One of the major reasons that folks seek out coaching is to improve relationships. Understanding your talents as they relate to relationships can help you improve them! For example, if you’re oriented toward getting work done, you may naturally behave differently in relationships than those who are very relationally driven. A coach can help you understand relationship dynamics about your strengths.
6. Emotions and Communication
Core question: What do my talents and strengths say about my emotions and communication?
Just as in relationships, your strengths affect your emotional intelligence and communication. Since these areas are vital to success in life and work, it makes sense to spend time on them. For example, you may naturally sense what others are feeling, but does your empathy overwhelm you at times? You may be able to easily put your thoughts into words, but are they cutting others down? A coach can help you approach your emotions and communication from a strengths perspective.
7. Maximizing Teamwork
Core question: How can I play my best part on the team?
Being part of a team has to do with relationships, but the emphasis on maximizing teamwork is a bit different. As a member of a team, the client is going to want to play their best part, know what they contribute, and know with whom to partner. In addition, if members know what their strengths are, they can see how the team is shaped. A coach can help the client to play their best part on the team.
8. Strong Environment
Core question: What changes can be made for my strengths to thrive?
I wrote an entire blog post on this point, so I won’t take much time now. Your talents and strengths have needs, and your environment can either feed them so they grow, or they can starve them, so they shrink. A coach can help you make changes to your environment so your strengths can thrive.
9. Life and Work
Core question: What is your ideal mix of talents for work and for home?
Your talents and strengths are gifts for your life and work. They’re not just for work. Your goal is to be using your talents on a regular basis. However, there may not be an outlet for all your talents every day at work or every day at home. The trick is being able to use them in your life as a whole. A coach can help you create your ideal mix for work and home.
10. Internal Motivations
Core question: How do my talents and strengths complement or conflict with my core internal motivations?
Your talents and strengths tell you what you’re good at, but they don’t tell you where you’re headed. You can be excellent at using your strengths, but they may be steering you in the wrong direction depending on your core internal motivations. I wrote two blog posts on this point (The Missing Piece of Talent Development and Deeper into Strengths and Motivation). This is where an additional tool like the Enneagram works well with strengths. A coach can help you to navigate the intersection of strengths and motivations.
So there you have it, 10 hot topics for strengths coaching. What will make the biggest different right now?