Understanding the unique talents of your partner is the first step in improving your work together. But to grow a partnership and produce even greater results, we need to do more than just know each other’s strengths. People are different, and people need one another to achieve greatness, but simply naming and appreciating differences doesn’t always set you on the path to productivity.
Years ago, Don Clifton introduced me to the concept of measurement, and this applies to partnerships as much as it does individual success. Counting, rating and ranking progress can help you grow your partnership. I know. It worked for me. A number of years ago I co-chaired a committee. From the beginning, I could see that my partner and I did not appreciate what each of us brought to this particular committee. I would ask him for a quick response. Rather than respond as I would, he would just sit and think about it. From his facial expression, I could tell he did not appreciate my approach.
On the other hand, when he would suggest to the committee that we approach an agenda item with some caution, I immediately broke in and said, “We have an agenda to complete, and we should move on.” He could tell from my facial expression that I was not pleased. I thought he was a bit of a slowpoke, and he thought I recklessly prioritized action over consideration. We had a few personal meetings about the situation, and they always ended with us feeling frustrated, seemingly agreeing to disagree, while honestly just noting our disagreement. In the meantime, committee attendance, participation and action lessened with each subsequent meeting.
Fortunately, my partner and I decided to take the CliftonStrengths Assessment. This instrument afforded us a framework and common language for what we thought were simple idiosyncrasies. We shared our top five with each other. To my surprise, my partner had a wonderful talent known as Deliberative. I learned that what I deemed as slow was, in fact, a fantastic ability to think through all the risks of a situation before proceeding. He began to appreciate my Achiever, not as a desire to charge ahead no matter the cost, but as a responsibility to set the pace of productivity.
As we looked at our other themes of talent, we began to see where we were alike and different. In a short time, the awareness, appreciation and celebration of our unique top five led us to a fuller and more robust relationship. Then I recalled Don Clifton teaching me to “count, rate and rank” my performance. I decided to test Don’s guidance in the setting of our committee work, considering the following prompts to move our partnership beyond difference and into performance:
By Tim Simon