Thursday, June 11, 2009

leading with WOO

I just returned from a Strengths Quest conference, where we learned about implementing this assessment tool with our freshmen this coming fall. Strengths Quest is the college version of Strengths Finder, which was first made popular with Marcus Buckingham's First Discover Your Strengths. It is a fascinating development tool for people as they consider how to improve by focusing on what they naturally do well, rather than those lesser developed talents we often perceive as weaknesses.

One of my top five themes (groups of talents) is called WOO - which stands for Winning Others Over. The idea behind this talent/strength/theme is that people with WOO love to connect with others...they get an energy around meeting new people...they find joy in making new connections and friends...they like to connect their friends with others...they never meet a stranger, only a friend they have not yet met...they love to ask questions of people to get to know them better...they look for the pereson who is alone in a group and go up to them and introduce themselves...they have a large list of contacts...they love to work a room.

Yes, that is who I am. But more important, how can that strength help me in my leadership? A few thoughts:
  • I need to keep meeting more people - but keep better track of them over time
  • I need to put myself in places where I can meet more people - but be sure I am in the right places
  • I need to consider who I might NEED to meet - and find others to help me meet them
  • I need to refine my "elevator speech" about myself and Concordia University Texas - so as I meet these people they remember who I am and what I do
  • I need to have a list of needs from the College and University - so when people ask to get engaged, I can quickly connect them to a project or a person
  • I need to keep polishing my "cold-calling" skills - so I can meet even more people outside of those I meet in person
  • I need a follow-up system - so as not to loose connection with people important to me and the University

I love to meet people - I also know it is extremely difficult for others to do that. I believe it is a skill that can be learned, no matter how difficult it might be for one to "mingle." I also believe it is incredibly important for those in leadership positions to be able to do this...because the more people we meet, the more people get to know the mission of our institutions. Here's the best tip I ever learned: when walking into a crowded room, look for the person standing by themselves. Go up to them , introduce yourself, and begin asking them questions about themselves. Be genuinely interested, and you will be amazed at how quickly you will have a new friend. And you will no longer feel alone in a crowd.

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