Embodying the Spirit of Strengths based Facilitation as a Trainer, Facilitator, Coach and Consultant

by Vikas Agarwal, Master Facilitator, DOOR International B.V.

Are you a facilitator, trainer or a coach looking for creating higher impact in your trainings, facilitations and coaching? Are you looking for new ways to support your learners and clients in their learning and achieving their goals?

Regardless if you are a new trainer or have a ton of experience, you can use this approach to create an overall positive impact in the lives of your learners.

The Plot

I conducted survey a couple a of years back more like my own research to capture how individuals respond to constructive feedback and limiting feedback. I used tough words with a group to disagree with them and then I did exactly the opposite for another group. What I saw was how just one or many such interactions started affecting my relationship and equation with them. It was amazing and astounding to see how one’s words and energies can impact others in ways one cannot even imagine.

Classically, development has always or mostly been about fixing weaknesses. And then about 15 years back I learnt to ask the question what if I invest even half the energy building on to strengths of my learners? And this article is the result of that journey. As a facilitator it is a huge responsibility in how you shape people and how you help them shape the stories they tell themselves and others. So here is what you could do in your capacity.

How do I see the meaning and essence of Strengths based Facilitation?

Strengths based focus is the ability to identify, shape, acknowledge and leverage the natural talents, instincts, and ways of working of your learners that bring out the best them. In other words, working with their strengths rather than trying to fix their weaknesses or fill in the gaps.

For facilitating this transformational journey, you do not need to be certified or accredited or honored. All you need are 2 things:

1. The natural instinct to recognize themes, patterns and traits that reflect the true passion and strengths of a person.

2. The noble intent to help the person truly embody, consciously shape and gracefully leverage those talents.

What is a strength, in my view and how does one leverage it?

A strength is a naturally occurring pattern of the way I think, feel and behave in a consistent and continual format. Continual is different from continuous in my view because continuous is about repetition but continual refers to diligent practice with feedback and awareness. So continual includes the power to pause, reflect, analyze, scrutinize, reshape and thus have stronger control and more effective channelization of one’s own strengths.

Recognizing strengths and facilitating the journey

Recognizing a strength requires a facilitator to surface it, help own it and co-partner with the learner to draw actions to invest in them. Each time we use a strength we are emitting some clues to self and others. The role of the facilitator is to notice, observe and pick those cues to help the individual recognize those patterns. Here are five such cues which could facilitate the process:

  1. Tele: The undying energy and spark emitted by a person while performing an activity, translates into a body language and an aura of positive energy, relentless pursuit and high passion.
  2. Flow: The individual’s ability to have a natural process of doing things, which seem impossible and magical to the others.
  3. Idealism: The need to have highest standards of excellence for certain things and not to negotiate with that cause or underplay it due to external forces, maintaining the sanctity and purity of the purpose.
  4. Bliss: The inner joy of doing things which add meaning, purpose and a personal value to the individual irrespective of it’s monetary or appreciative value by others
  5. Curiosity: Intellectual and emotional thirst which drives the individual to strive, fall, yet be able to learn stronger, faster and deeper in areas which her/his talents lie most.

So why should you do this? Here is what I think: “Even if another life breathed easier and I was the instrument to it, that’s a life worth living.” Our role is to serve, and as trainers, coaches and facilitators, we shape lives and in turn characters.

No one else is you. And that, right there, is your Power.
Marcus Buckingham
Author, Motivational Speaker
Marcus Buckingham