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Strengths-based Coaching – part of the Coaching tool kit

It’s all the rage, everyone is doing it, but does it work?  This is the question being asked about Strengths Coaching.

For the uninitiated Strengths coaching is framework where the coachee’s strengths are identified early in the program and then become the basis for development & growth for the balance of the programme.

 The premise of Strengths based coaching being that you get a much higher participation engagement to the coaching programme by focusing & working on strengths which results in more effective outcomes.  In the last 10 years strengths based coaching has arguably become one of the most popular coaching frameworks used in Australia.

However, in recent times there has been discussions that start to surface questioning the cult like devotion that many practitioners have to the Strengths based philosophy.  In a recent HBR article, “Strengths-Based Coaching Can Actually Weaken You”, author, Tomas Chamoro-Premuzic, argues that focusing on only the strengths of the person not their whole skills level, including weaknesses creates real workplace problems.

Charmoro-Premuzis key concern is that Strength based coaching compares a person’s strengths to their other strengths and ranks them. His point is that the comparison should be to rank the persons strengths against a population benchmark so that the individual gets a perspective of where their strengths rank in the general world of talent , not just that you are great at some things and not so great on others.

If the areas a person ranks well on strengths that have no relevance to their role, the organisation they work for or even the general community it can create a false sense of competency.

To me it highlights the need to ensure Strengths based framework is part of a total toolkit that provides insight into all the candidates strengths and weaknesses. The skill of the coach is to deliver this information in a way that keeps the coachee engaged, motivated and willing to develop and grow as a result of learning new skills that work on all their areas.