“Can you find a course for that, Cate?”

In my own working-life experience, focusing on my weaknesses or areas for development are understandable, but for me to be working at my best and most effective, I need to feel confident. For me to feel confident in what I’m working on, I need to use my skills and talents, I need to be contributing and I need to feel energised.  

Earlier in my working-life, I have experienced working on something, and feeling out of my depth; the nerves rising and not knowing where to start or how to finish. Certainly, there are training and learning opportunities that can help and give you tools to use; but I learn best by doing.  

I am lucky that for the last few years of my working-life, I have had mentors and coaches. I am particularly lucky, that these have been generously offered to me for free – due to my coach wanting to support and ‘give back’. My coaches have been contacts-of-contacts. Their impact on me was profound. This largely focused on understanding me, building my belief, lifting me out of the ‘doing’ but also reviewing the ‘doing’, giving me space to reflect and progress.  

Recently I had the opportunity to train with Gallup®, to become a certified Strengths Coach. The experience of going through the process and learning, of being coached based on my strengths, was mind-bogglingly enlightening. Gallup® utilise the Clifton Strengths assessment, to help identify your talents, and what order the 34 predefined talents fall for you as an individual. This assessment alone was like holding up a perfectly polished mirror. Several aha moments. My top ten strengths resonated so strongly with me; as did my lesser strengths as identified through the assessment.  

I use my awareness of my strengths every day. What is powerful, is the awareness and tools I now have to understand how to drive my work through my strengths, and use my strengths, smartly, to support my lesser strengths.  

For example, I use my Strategic® strength to consider and sort options, see in 3D to identify obstacles in our way, spot relevant patterns and issues, and find the best route forward. I love seeing a way through. 

At Miova, we are seeing the power of working with individuals and teams, through the lens of their strengths. Celebrating, appreciating, seeing, and developing them – is such a positive, developmental approach. The response from individuals and their organisations has been significant.

My leadership now focuses on using strengths-based coaching, supported by training. But, my first approach is always “how can we use your strengths to work through this situation?”; helping to keep those nerves and uncertainties managed and at bay.  

I wonder if I’d have discovered the power of coaching and strengths coaching earlier in my career, how it would have supported me: 

  • Would I have recognised my abilities more? 
  • Would I have appreciated my colleagues’ talents and strengths differently? 
  • Would I believe in myself more?

Who knows. 

I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to experience coaching and have seen the positive impacts it has brought me.  Could having a coach support you to understand and appreciate your talents and skills? If so, can you find someone who could coach you, or can someone help you to find a coach or mentor? If employed, could your employer help you with coaching? According to Gallup® research, employees coached on their strengths are 6 times as likely to be engaged in their jobs.  

If you do find a coach, I really hope that coaching helps you in similarly powerful ways it has helped me.

Cate Atwater

Director, Miova