“Relationships help us to define who we are and what we can become. Most of us can trace our successes to pivotal relationships.”—Donald Clifton

Growing stronger, working smarter, and living richer requires a team.

Imagine dog sledding in Canada for the very first time. You’re holding onto the back of your sled as you whip around steep curves at lightning speed. Up ahead is a sharp turn and you notice your sled is teetering on the edge of the mountain. You are riding the thin line between falling off the mountain and creating momentum behind your dogs.

Before we set off, Jereme took the time to teach my wife and I all about his team.

Lead Dogs—Jereme led us to meet the first two dogs on the team. “These are my lead dogs,” he explained. “Lead dogs are not necessarily the smartest, and they’re not necessarily the fastest, but they’re the best listeners, and they follow commands well.” He emphasized that it was important to know your lead dogs, so you can communicate with them frequently. After all, they are the leaders of their team. The other dogs respect them and follow them because of their leadership strength.

Point Dogs—Jereme pointed to the next two dogs. “These are the point dogs, the dogs that see possibilities but don’t have quite the experience they need, but they have the skills and the talent, and are in line behind the lead dogs. They help steer the direction of the team towards the lead dogs.” Basically, point dogs have the abilities, but they don’t have the respect of the team just yet. Eventually, as Jereme told us, the point dogs will succeed the lead dogs.

Swing Dogs—“It’s very interesting,” Jereme said about the next two dogs. “You take an old dog and a young dog, pair them together, and you have swing dogs.” The older dogs have been around the mountains for many years, trekked endless trails, and accrued their share of bumps and bruises along the way. Of course, they have lost a bit of their zest, their energy, their pep. But then you pair this older dog with a younger dog who has loads of enthusiasm, energy, and ability but lacks experience and wisdom, and they influence and bring out the best in each other so that the team accomplishes its goal.

Wheel Dogs—“These are the biggest dogs,” Jereme said. The wheel dogs are drama-free. Easily the strongest dogs on the team, they love to pull, they love to work, and they love to do their job. All they want to do, is please you.

Then, Jereme took us to the sled. “This is where the driver stands.” The driver, we learned, is like the CEO of the sled team. She drives the operation from the back of the sled.

Given the explanations, I couldn’t help but think about the four domains of leadership: Executing, Strategic Thinking, Influencing, and Relationship Building, each domain corresponding to the four types of dogs.

The Executing domain of leadership includes the talent themes of: Achiever®, Arranger®, Belief®, Consistency®, Deliberative®, Discipline®, Focus®, Responsibility®, and Restorative.

The Strategic Thinking domain of leadership includes the talent themes of: Analytical®, Context®, Futuristic®, Ideation®, Input®, Intellection®, Learner®, and Strategic®.

The Influencing domain of leadership includes the talent themes of: Activator®, Command®, Communication®, Competition®, Maximizer®, Self-Assurance®, Significance®, and Woo®.

The Relationship Building domain of leadership includes the talent themes of: Adaptability®, Connectedness®, Developer®, Empathy®, Harmony®, Includer®, Individualization®, Positivity®, and Relator®.

Another way of looking at the four domains of leadership is that they are also the four demands of life and business.

To achieve a high school degree, you have to attend school and follow through with projects. Ideas in business have to be executed in order to build a product. Massive action produces massive results.

Thinking smarter and making wiser decisions catapults the likelihood of success. This is what strategic thinking is all about.

To get a date, motivate your children, and sell your ideas internally and externally requires an element of influencing. Influencing requires an element of increasing hope and optimism.

The most successful individuals and profitable business have social and emotional intelligence. This requires trust, compassion, and the ability to form long term rewarding relationships.

Though all of the 34 talent themes are grouped into one of the four domains, all talent themes can be used to meet the demands of life and business. The big question is how will you leverage your dominant talent themes to execute, think strategically, influence, and build relationships? What relationships and interdependent complimentary partnerships will you create for your team?

Do you work with anyone who is always asking questions when you present them with any situation?  They look at what you present them and ask questions like “Why?” “How did you get that information?” “Can you verify that data?”   If you know this person, they may have the strength of Analytical®.

GALLUP® breaks the 34 themes down into four domains to describe how people and teams use their talents to work with information, make things happen, influence others and build relationships.    According to GALLUP®’s website when a theme is in the Strategic Thinking domain that lets you know that theme answer the question “How do you absorb, think about and analyze information and situations?” If you possess a theme in the Strategic Thinking domain that theme may help you make better decisions and create better outcomes.  GALLUP® places the Analytical® theme in the domain of Strategic Thinking.

Is the Analytical® theme one of your top talents? Are you someone who searches for reasons and causes? Do you look at the big picture that others might miss and think about all of the issues that could affect a situation?

Using your Analytical® theme look for jobs where you are paid to analyze data, find patterns, or organize ideas. For example, you might excel at research, database management, editing, or risk management.

Sandy Evans has been my accountant for over 25 years.  Whenever I ask her about retirement, she says that she would have to be working to retire and she doesn’t consider what she does work.  One day I asked her, “What is it about being an accountant that you love so much you don’t consider it work?”  Even without knowing her strengths, from her description of what she loved about the job, I suspected Analytical® had to be in her top five.

Sandy said she always wanted to do something with numbers and data.  She developed a love of data because “data always tells you the truth.”  These thoughts  are the true Analytical® style of “prove it.” Being the numbers and data person sometimes made her feel a bit alone.  It was not the cool thing to want to be a part of, but it was where her heart was.

After college, she went to work for a small CPA firm, and that was an eye-opening experience for her.  By watching the people that worked there, she discovered that she helped them by using her Analytical® talent.  She could use her love of numbers and data to assess, analyze and assist her clients with managing risk in their business.  Her skepticism about what people said was going on in their company made her dig into their data, and research what was happening, not just what the business owner thought was going on.  Sandy’s ability to ask questions, to understand how the patterns in the data fit together and affect one another, gave her small business owners the confidence to move forward in their decisions in their business.  With this ability to present the data about their business to the owners, she has become a trusted advisor for them.  Her Analytical® talent no longer makes her feel alone but a valued part of each business.

When the owner of the small CPA firm decided it was time for him to retire, the first person he thought of to purchase the firm was Sandy.  He saw how the refinement of her Anlytical® strength allowed her to take her love of data and analysis not just to give the clients the basics of accounting but to build a relationship with each one of them.

Sandy jumped at the chance to be one of the small business owners that she has spent all these years refining her Analytical® strength to help.

Like Sandy, knowing your strength well will allow you the freedom that Sandy found to move and work in your strength. The crucial use of the strength of Analytical® is the quality of problem-solving, the precision of questions, and the excellence of decision-making.

Do you have the StrengthsFinder® theme of Analytical®? If you do, what ideas do you have to make money with your Analytical® strength and how will you implement them?   Please leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts’.

Want to talk, schedule your @sk Brent Anything 30 minute free call.

Gallup’s employee engagement work is based on more than 30 years of in-depth behavioral economic research involving more than 17 million employees. Using this rigorous research, Gallup has identified 12 core elements — the Q12 – these core elements link powerfully to key business outcomes. These 12 questions emerged as those that best predict world class employee engagement and work group performance.

The first question that Gallup asks in their Q12 survey I know what is expected of me at work addresses one’s ability to understand their place within an organization’s team. Do you know how your role is defined? Are you aware of your responsibilities on any given day?

Everyone’s initial reaction is – of course I know what is expected of me at work, I do it every day. It does seem like a pretty simple and straightforward question but is it?

Do you understand your place within the organization? If someone from the outside asked you how you fit into the organization could you answer this question with clarity? What was I hired to do? How do I know what is expected of me in my work? Who decides what is expected of me? When you start to unpack that question, it is not as simple as it appears.

My favorite story that illustrates this is a conversation that is said to have taken place between John F. Kennedy and a janitor at NASA. The story goes like this. President John F. Kennedy was visiting NASA headquarters for the first time in 1961. While touring the facility, he introduced himself to a janitor who was mopping the floor and asked him what he did at NASA.

“Well, Mr. President,” the janitor responded, “I’m helping put a man on the moon.”

The janitor got it. He understood the vision, his part in it, and he had a purpose.

Your manager probably thinks that the answer to you is as apparent as it was to the janitor at NASA. If management is not clear in their communication about the goals and objectives in your job expectations how are you supposed to have that same clarity about where you fit in the organization? As obvious as it should be, ongoing communication is the key. In addition to the communication of expectations to the entire team, there is also the need for personal discussion with each team member. Employees who don’t know what their manager expects of them can’t be engaged or successful in the workplace.

In addition to knowing what is expected of us at work, we also need another piece of information from management. We need to know what success looks like to the organization. I may have one idea of what the outcomes of my work should be but do they line up with the organization’s views of success? This information needs to be a part of the conversation but is often overlooked in a rush to get the task done. When the job is done and is not what was required it can be time-consuming to do the task again when clear communication on the what and the successful outcome could have saved all that time.

When you are in that position what do you do? Wing it and hope it works out? Fall into analysis paralysis and not make any progress? The simple answer is to ask for clarification from the person who made the assignment. But it takes courageous communication to keep clarifying expectations.

How can you as a manager create an environment where employees input and ideas are valued? How can you as an employee create an environment where your manager values your input and ideas? It takes some work on both sides to make sure everyone can answer the question “Do you know what is expected of you?” with confidence — always remembering that you both want to create a culture of trust.

Gallup’s Q12 survey includes 12 questions to measure engagement that link to important business outcomes, such as improved productivity, profitability and customer ratings. This survey provides a company with a clear picture of their work environment and how successful each manager is in meeting employee needs.

Gallup’s analysis of the link between achievement, accountability, and accessibility and employee engagement, showed that managers who are successful in fulfilling employees’ needs on each of the three elements would have employees that are more likely to be engaged:

• Among employees who strongly agree with the statement, “My manager helps me set work priorities,” 38% are engaged. Among employees who disagree, only 4% are engaged.
• Among employees who strongly agree with the statement, “My manager holds me accountable for my performance,” 28% are engaged. Among employees who disagree, only 6% are engaged.
• Among employees who strongly agree that “I feel I can approach my manager with any type of question,” 31% are engaged. Among employees who disagree, only 2% are engaged.

When employees are engaged, they will perform at a higher level and bring passion and interest to their job, which often leads to innovation in the workplace. If an employee is engaged in the workplace, they will feel they have a real stake in the organization. Open communication and collaboration between engaged employees and management can lead to a culture of trust and growth.

Who are you in this discussion? Manager, seasoned employee or new employee that needs to know what is expected of you at work?

Want to learn how to use the Q12 and boost engagement? Then apply for my Strengths Champion Certified Coach masterclass at www.strengthschampion.com.

Just knowing your strengths isn’t enough; you must make your
strengths a part of your daily habits. The best way I know is to improve your
self-talk. Here’s what you do: Find a quiet place, clear your mind, and take a
deep breath. On a piece of paper, write, “I feel strong when…” Finish the
sentence with what immediately comes to mind. Here are a few examples from my
own life:

I feel strong when speaking to big crowds. I feel strong
when serving during a tennis match. I feel strong when I’m sitting with someone
and talking one-on-one, from the heart.

When I did this exercise, I wrote volumes. Then, I began to
apply my realizations to specific areas of my life.

To better understand your strengths, complete the sentences:

I feel strong at work when…

I feel strong in my marriage when…

I feel strong in my parenting when…

I feel strong on my team when…

I feel strong spiritually when…

Who is the best judge of your strengths? I’ll give you a
hint. It’s not your boss. It’s not your spouse. It’s not your kids. It’s not
your parents. It’s you. While it’s true that other people have valuable
insights on your strengths, they don’t know what’s in your mind or your heart;
therefore, they aren’t privy to all your strength signals.

I am a long-time tennis player. I started playing when I was
thirteen years old, after finding out that I had a natural talent for the
sport. I was quick, I had fat hands, and I was focused enough to keep my eye on
the ball. Plus, I liked the independence and freedom I felt while playing
tennis. Over the years, I have developed my tennis talent, knowledge, and

As a result, I became a skillful tennis player at an early
age. Within two years of aiming to leap from the bottom rung of the tennis
ladder, I won the Texas state doubles championship. That was the first
experience in my life where I felt like a winner. It was a momentous success,
but it was also the product of hard work and quite a few losses. In the
summertime, I spent nine hours a day hitting balls on a ball machine while my
friends were swimming and having a good time in the pool next to the tennis
courts. I was there by myself, but I was determined, and I felt strong. So, I
set a goal for myself that tennis would pay my way through college. And it did.
Tennis has been an incredible gift of pleasure and exercise for thirty-four
years of my life. Today, I’m on a tennis team and I still compete in

The point of this story is that I feel strong when I’m
playing tennis.

You probably have something in your life like that. It could
be music, art, technology—something that makes you feel strong. Identifying
what makes you feel strong is vital to your success.

Turn the best of your life into the most of your life. That’s what discovering your strengths is all about. Instead of trying to whittle down your weak spots, strengths-based living is about focusing on your talents and designing your life accordingly. Structure your relationships with your kids, your spouse, your friends, and your extended family around your strengths. Plan your free time around enjoying your strengths, too. Discovering your strengths is the most exciting, meaningful, purposeful thing that any of us can do.

Please share below at least 1 of your answers to, “I feel strong when…” I’d love to hear about your strengths.