Creating a personal support system, that enables and nurtures growth, is a key aspect of personal identity construction and leadership development. Networks are characterized by components that bond or bridge relationships to serve a specific purpose. Within a personal support network these components may offer advice, aid in development (coaching), pitch in to accomplish tasks, and/or simply provide moral support.
Leaders must be agents of change and willing to challenge assumptions. Events that change the perceptions we have of our selves are developmentally valuable when they occur within a trusted or dependable network. A staunch support network offers structure that aids in identifying the positive characteristics and goals to focus on, rather than the detrimental influences.
The four categories of my personal support network are listed below. I’ve included references to CliftonStrengths talent themes based on experience and the feedback of my clients on this topic.
Self-Knowledge – The foundation of my network is self-knowledge. What do I know about me? How will what I know help or hinder me in this situation? Personal accomplishments, talents/strengths, vicarious experience, and emotional responses combine to create coping mechanisms. These coping mechanisms allow you to hold course in the face of adversity and offer guidance during times of change. Self-knowledge may remain constant or it may shift as you develop additional capabilities or gain perspective from the rest of the network.
Enablers – The second piece of my network consists of the processes I use to enable and inform my decisions. My top CliftonStrengths talent theme is Learner, so it’s not surprising that my go to enabler is research. I gather intelligence, frame questions, and explore possibilities by diving into literature. Another of my favorite enablers is coloring, as the process frees my mind to contemplate the situation (Intellection).
Other enablers, depending on your talents, might include: checklists (Achiever and Arranger), decision-trees (Analytical), brainstorming sessions (Ideation and Strategic), or journaling (Communication and Context).
Peers – Soliciting feedback from your peers is an excellent method to obtain feedback or ask questions. Self-knowledge is subject to perceptions and not always accurate. You don’t know what you don’t know … but your peers might have insight. Ask questions, test the waters, and be sure to listen. Individuals with strong Connectedness, Includer and Relator talents will likely enjoy this step more than others.
Mentors – The final piece of my network encompasses mentoring relationships. Your mentors are the instructors, coaches, and leaders that serve as trusted advisors. An objective opinion offers clarity and helps you determine the appropriate action or response. Set your opinions aside, be vulnerable, and get the feedback that fuels your reflection and growth.
As individuals and leaders, we are responsible for charting our path and deciding how we will engage with the world around us. (This includes tailoring your support network to work for you rather than me!) Understanding that your path is not followed in isolation, and effectively leveraging the support network(s) available, will make the journey through life much more enjoyable.
Need a Navigator? Collaborating with a strengths coach helps you chart your development journey. Where do you want to go? How can your talents get you there? Your coach helps you explore your talents in action and plan next steps. To learn more about how I can help you identify, appreciate, and focus your talents please contact me directly.
If you would like to identify your CliftonStrengths talent themes, please feel free to contact me and/or visit the Gallup Strengths Center at https://www.gallupstrengthscenter.com.