Strengths, Blind Spots and Tools for Professional Transformation

This week’s reading and listening focuses on the benefits of professional development, how to approach it and tools to facilitate success. There are perspectives on the hows and whys of adopting a strengths-first mindset to increase our daily work and career effectiveness (including a cautionary piece on the potential problem(s) with over-indexing on our strengths). Other pieces highlight the need to recognize our blind spots and the risks we run by not tending to them. Personality tests and other assessment tools to define and support us are analyzed and critiqued. And finally, and very near and dear to me, there is an array of commentary on the benefits of coaching, what constitutes successful coaching relationships and advice for how coaches and clients can better derive value from their relationships and facilitate both business and professional success.

As always, happy reading and listening!


5 ways to identify the strengths that will make you more effective at work. “When you align your work and your strengths, you work better and more efficiently. Here’s how to start.”

The 2 kinds of praise we all need to get at work. “When you think about how to praise employees, it helps to realize there are two distinct kinds. The first is the praise about a strength that moves the entire team forward, or what I call a ‘we-strength’….The second kind of praise is about a strength that makes the employee stronger, or what I call a ‘me-strength.’…As a manager, you want to recognize we-strengths and me-strengths differently — we-strengths need to be noticed and celebrated.”

How your strengths can sometimes become weaknesses. “Confidence comes from recognizing your strengths. But true power depends on knowing when and how to use those strengths.”

We actively avoid information that can help us. “Emily Ho of Northwestern University and two co-researchers asked more than 2,300 survey participants whether they would like to get various kinds of information that could be useful to them, including how their retirement accounts stacked up against their peers’, what listeners thought of a speech they’d recently given, and how coworkers rated their strengths and weaknesses. The team found that the respondents opted out 32% of the time, on average. The conclusion: We actively avoid information that can help us. “

To see the future more clearly, find your blind spots. “After being bombarded with disruption in 2020, executives can better prepare for the next crisis by considering new perspectives.”

False Portraits: Discovering that you are a certain “type” can be fun, thrilling, reassuring—and seriously misleading. Why do popular personality tests still draw us in? “While the Big Five system may not reveal any hidden secrets about you, it can help you summarize what you perceive about yourself. Like the MBTI once did for me, it can give you a language to talk about who you are—and what makes you similar to and distinct from the complicated people around you.”

Myers-Briggs: Putting ourselves to the test. “…And yet, we have a deep fascination with personality tests. Do they help us make sense of ourselves and our relationships with others? And what compels us to continue organizing ourselves into distinct types?”

5 ways organizations can get the most out of an executive coach. “…The outside perspective of an experienced executive coach can be really useful in the current climate, as many companies are restructuring their long-term plans. Coaching — and the support structures that make coaching effective — is more important now than ever.”

Executive coaches, your job is to deliver business results. “…Coaches would do better to identify short-term opportunities to improve outcomes — individual output or a particular metric reflecting the unit’s performance, for example. These might require development of specific behaviors, but instead of working on them in theory or in isolation, the individual can focus on them in the context of achieving specific results…This more direct method has a better chance of achieving improved performance — and has the added benefit of providing positive reinforcement for the individual being coached since they quickly see success as a result of their changed behaviors.”


Freakonomics Radio Network: No Stupid Questions. “Should we just ignore our weaknesses?”

TED@BCG: What frogs in hot water can teach us about thinking again. “Why are humans so slow to react to looming crises, like a forewarned pandemic or a warming planet? It’s because we’re reluctant to rethink, say organizational psychologist Adam Grant…Grant borrows examples from his own life to illustrate how tunnel vision around our goals, habits and identities can find us stuck on a narrow path. Drawing on his research, he shares counterintuitive insights on how to broaden your focus and remain open to opportunities for rethinking.”

Blog Posts

Seth’s Blog: A coaching paradox. “And so, paying for a coach, for something that’s hard to measure, which might be socially awkward, to get better at something that feels normal—combine that with a hesitancy to ask for help—it’s a wonder anyone has a coach. The paradox is that the very things that hold us back are the reasons we need a coach in the first place.”

The Daily Stoic: Do you make others better? “…Leadership is a process, not a position. It’s the work of a lifetime. It’s about working to get a little bit better today than you were yesterday. Because when you do, the people around you do. And that is a leader’s only job.”

Arts, Music, Culture & Humor Corner

The Formidable Charm of Omar Sy. “How the star of “Lupin” pulled off his greatest confidence trick.”

The Buffalo Robe and the Radio. “I had fallen in love with rock and roll and the dark.”

Plagues and Empires. “What can the decline of the Roman Empire and the end of European feudalism tell us about COVID-19 and the future of the West?”

Freezing. “When you unfreeze your cryopreserved mom.”


The Guest House
by Jelaluddin Rumi, translation by Coleman Barks
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Kevin Jordan

Kevin Jordan is an International Coach Federation-certified executive coach who serves as a strategic advisor, mentor and facilitator to executive leadership teams and private clients to achieve peak performance and agility resulting in sustained engagement and value. Drawing upon a career as a leader and consultant, Kevin is able to work with clients on personal and professional development, relationship optimization and team and leader dynamics. He has deep expertise and experience developing and realizing strategic vision through a relentless focus on optimized business operations. He is also skilled at building sustainable culture and workforce engagement through the power of people and organizational partnership, as well as delivering results and value with high performing teams during periods of intense change.

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