ABMA Emerging Leaders Look to Discover Strengths

By Meg Cooper

The ABMA Emerging Leaders group held a “Back to School” Zoom meeting on September 16, 2021, with eight members participating. From the prior meeting in June, the Emerging Leaders (EL) group asked all members to read “Discover Your CliftonStrengths” and then proceed to take the CliftonStrengths™ test to identify which five strengths were the most dominant in our personalities. The strengths test was a way for EL members to get more in tune with their strongest personality traits and assets with the hope of being able to build upon those strengths in order to progress on career goals.

The catalyst for the strengths test concept evolved from the following questions raised during the June meeting:

  • How do you retain Millennial and Gen Z workers?
  • What skills do Millennial and Gen Z workers need to be able to succeed within a company?
  • Why is it so hard for companies to find and fill positions with Millennial and Gen Z employees?

The CliftonStrengths™ test is the result of a 40-year study by Gallup scientists (led by Don Clifton) that helps people discover their top five strengths of over 34 of the most common talents. This test was born out of the idea that people who were unable to focus on their strengths in their work were not as emotionally engaged on the job as they could be. Engaging in your job on a deeper level means more long-term success as well as more happiness in your chosen career field. From an employers’ perspective, this also means that retention increases due to having happier, more engaged employees and you have now helped to create an environment that is equally inviting to acquiring employees. 

Why would you want your employees to take CliftonStrengths™? Why would applying this method help you or your business? With employee acquisition and retention reaching new lows during the pandemic, it may be worth considering adding some new managerial tools to your toolkit. 

In the post-pandemic era, it seems as if there is a shift underway regarding the unmet needs of the current workforce. Managers and employers can find more success if every angle is considered regarding employee hiring and retention – even if that means taking a more dedicated and individualized approach to connecting with employees. 

For members of the EL, taking the CliftonStrengths™ test was an eye-opening experience as the discussion ranged from initial skepticism to eventual acceptance of one’s test results. A recurring topic during the EL discussion was that every person acknowledged and appreciated how they ended up in their current career path in their unique way. 

When asked about his impressions on the CliftonStrengths™ results, Kevin White says, “The insights regarding the strengths are what I found to be interesting because I was then able to extract specific ideas from the analysis which, in turn, led me to reflect on past decisions and interactions. The theme of StrengthFinders is, as the name implies, to find your strengths and focus on using them to better yourself and your team. The program does so in divergent paths, describing to the user what the good parts about their strengths are as well as what ‘blind spots’ may occur as a result of said strengths. The same thing that makes athletes, politicians, or business leaders great may also be the thing that leads to disaster. StrengthFinders does not give you information that couldn’t be found through other means but it does frame the information in a way that makes you reflect and ask the question ‘why do I do a certain thing and what does doing that thing cause?’ a lot. The biggest takeaways I had from this evaluation were the tools I can use to continue to bolster my strengths and become more conscious of how to be a good teammate. We must surround ourselves with a team that complements our strengths to succeed in our endeavors.” 

With the upcoming ABMA convention in March 2022, the EL group has a roundtable discussion planned that may include some discussion on using the CliftonStrengths™ test. If you’re a current member of the Emerging Leaders group and received your book in the mail, it may be worth taking the time to read the introduction and take the CliftonStrengths™ test online.

When asked about additional takeaways from the September meeting, White says, “We also discussed what the ABMA EL group can do better to serve its members. What we are noticing is that it will be hard to maintain any kind of large group when meeting at a specific time during the day, so we must provide benefits that can be accessible to the members as they see fit. Ideas included a Facebook group forum, mini-lessons and presentations, public speaking groups and other activities that will help the members grow as individuals, employees and leaders. We will be rolling out an implementation plan, and these time-independent features will become available to our members in the coming weeks and months. Things like the Facebook group will be implemented by the end of the week once we have our board meeting so we can decide on the specifics of management.”

If you’d like more information about the ABMA Emerging Leaders group, upcoming events, or other ways to connect, please go to http://www.abma.org/abmaemergingleaders

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