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Some years ago I had my Gallup Strengths done (see previous post) since then everyone who joins RedBalloon has also completed the review… it is fun and insightful and really helps us as a leadership team to understand how to best get our people in ‘flow’. It is not a recruitment tool.. because no strength is better than another – it just gives us an added way to support our people in their development.

This is not the only strengths finder… but I was curious to know if I used a different vendor’s program would my strengths remain the same. Common sense would concur – I have not changed; but maybe the language around the strengths is different. For me it is all about relevance.

I consulted Margie Hartley from Gram Consulting Group who has developed professional and personal programs based on the VIA Positive Leadership Signature Strengths developed by Martin Seligman and Chris Peterson

After completing the online form – my top five signature strengths were recognised. The question that Margie asked me and that particularly interested me is “how do these impact me as a leader?” How can I best use who I am at my best to support the strategy that we are up to at RedBalloon.

So I discovered:

  1. I am curious and interested in the world
  2. I am grateful
  3. I have a love of learning
  4. I have zest, enthusiasm and energy
  5. I have a capacity to love and be loved.

These impact every area of my life not just my business life (though as an entrepreneur one does often question if there is more to life than the business).

When Margie dug deeper into these I could see how they related to the business strengths that I discovered with the Gallup Strengths finder.

But of greater interest is how I use these as a leader (she gave me insights into this):

  • CURIOSITY: I am at my best when there’s something to achieve, or a problem to solve, using a new idea, skill or piece of knowledge, which in turn inspires new interest in something related. Motivated by complexity, ambiguity, and difficulty. I’m best supported by autonomy to explore. (I’m thwarted by over confidence, anxiety, guilt, fear and concern about external measurement, validation or punishment.)
  • GRATITUDE: I am at my best when I have the opportunity to connect with and depend on others to experience, observe and savor their acts of virtue. I’m best supported when there is an opportunity to express thanks and appreciation. (I’m thwarted by time pressure and solitary, self-sufficient activities and too much emphasis on entitlement and materialism)
  • LOVE of LEARNING: I’m at my best when there is a challenge or new activity that the new knowledge can be applied to. I’m best supported in an environment when there is support from others and a positive benefit in succeeding in the challenge. (I’m thwarted when learning is spoon-fed, or when there is simply no opportunity to learn something new and use it for a positive benefit, such as repetitive work) – no wonder I always have piles of books that I am devouring.
  • ZEST: I’m at my best when physical needs are met with sufficient rest and exercise, and involved in an activity that is engaging. Is best supported by enabling autonomy in relation to the activity. (I’m thwarted by lack of sleep and exercise, and a controlling environment.)… (oh I am grumpy with lack of sleep and no exercise – too true.)
  • LOVE: I’m best when there is plentiful opportunity to connect closely with individuals, bond and be available to actively respond, care and support, and to receive the same from significant others who are sensitive to their needs. I’m best supported by freedom to spend time and focus to connect with and support people for the sake of personal rather than organizational benefit. (Is thwarted in an environment where no-one is sensitive to their personal or emotional needs) – I hope this doesn’t mean I wear my heart on my sleeve… but I do know that I love watching the team around learn grow and develop… as well as watching my children thrive as they discover new things….

Clearly it is my curiosity and love of learning that means that I am so fascinated by such a tool.

Reader Interactions


  1. Thanks for sharing those Naomi – coincedentally they are identical to my top 5! As a devoted disciple of Seligman I completed his Signature Strengths Questionnaire about 5 years ago (through I re-took the test recently in preparation for Margie’s session and interestingly, some of my strengths had shifted. I had assumed strengths were innate and therefore fixed, but the changes made sense and reflected my evolving values, experience and priorities in life (Or perhaps I was jsut telling porky pies the first time round?!)

    If people are interested in understanding how signature strengths play out in practical applications as well as when they can be overplayed, I also highly recommend utilising Margies skills. One of my biggest insights was that strengths are powerful in the right setting, but not all the time – for example love, when overplayed, can result in ’emotional promiscuity’ – coupled with a strong need for affinity, this actually can disempower you in certain situations when you need to be detached and assertive (and for me results in lots of excess people baggage!)

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