My Journey from Solo to Team
Unlocking the Magic of Collective Strengths
by Chrissy Heyne | November 2023
In June of 2020, like so many people, I was laid off from my job due to the pandemic. I was fortunate enough to get a severance, which gave me the parachute I needed to explore a baby dream I had been mulling over for years: working for myself. I was increasingly passionate about supporting and developing people leaders and felt ready to put more of my energy and passion into that work.
Yearning for a Team
For the last 3 years, I’ve been doing just that. And I’m not going to lie, it’s been amazing. I’ve had full autonomy and freedom over my schedule, I’ve rarely had to do work that I didn’t want to do, I’ve met so many amazing people across so many industries, I’ve had very low work stress, and I’ve spent more time with my kids than ever before. It’s been SUCH a gift, and one I’ve tried very hard not to take for granted.
AND, I’ve really missed being a part of a team. To be honest, I didn’t really feel it until the middle of the third year on my own, but it slowly started to creep in and became harder and harder to ignore. I really missed the collaboration, creativity and energy of problem solving with other people. I was deeply missing some of the strengths that past colleagues have contributed to my work, and felt a pull to be back on a team.
Enter: AG Collaborative. I had facilitated some professional development to the team at AGC, and continued to be intrigued by the work they were doing. But more importantly, I was absolutely smitten with the individuals that made up this team (truly the kindest, funniest, most welcoming group of people I’ve ever met!). After a series of conversations, it became clearer and clearer to me that I was ready to make the leap back into working with a team.
“ I was ready to make the leap back into working with a team. ”
My First Week at AGC
In my first week at AG Collaborative, I took Gallup’s CliftonStrengths Assessment as part of my onboarding experience. Honestly, I love any and all “personality” assessments. I find them incredibly useful as tools for self-reflection and the common language in and across teams facilitates conversations that get to depth and connection. I got my report back and immediately zoomed in on the top 5:
- Positivity: People exceptionally talented in the Positivity theme have contagious enthusiasm. They are upbeat and can get others excited about what they are going to do.
- Activator: People exceptionally talented in the Activator theme can make things happen by turning thoughts into action. They want to do things now, rather than simply talk about them.
- Communication: People exceptionally talented in the Communication theme generally find it easy to put their thoughts into words. They are good conversationalists and presenters.
- Includer: People exceptionally talented in the Includer theme accept others. They show awareness of those who feel left out and make an effort to include them.
- Strategic: People exceptionally talented in the Strategic theme create alternative ways to proceed. Faced with any given scenario, they can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues.
My results weren’t entirely shocking – four of my top 5 strengths were in the Building Relationships and Influencing categories (Positivity, Activator, Communication and Includer). And honestly, that tracks as I’ve been getting feedback on those strengths as early as 1st grade. But it also helped give me language for better understanding my success as a solopreneur. My tendencies around building strong relationships, generating enthusiasm, making things happen, and putting my thoughts into words have truly been foundational in navigating the last three years. It’s also true that I completely minimize those personal strengths, but that’s for another blog!
Don’t get me wrong, those top strengths are a gift! Look at me – I’m positive! I communicate! I activate! I include! What a gem.
The Power of Leveraging Collective Strengths
Hold your horses, dear reader, it goes downhill from there. For funsies, I scrolled down to the strengths that I scored as least dominant. I know I know I’m supposed to focus on my strengths, it’s literally in the name. But I can’t be the only that’s kept scrolling right?! Among the ones that stood out:
- Focus: People exceptionally talented in the Focus theme can take a direction, follow through and make the corrections necessary to stay on track. They prioritize, then act.
- Discipline: People exceptionally talented in the Discipline theme enjoy routine and structure. Their world is best described by the order they create.
- Achiever: People exceptionally talented in the Achiever theme work hard and possess a great deal of stamina. They take immense satisfaction in being busy and productive.
- Consistency: People exceptionally talented in the Consistency theme are keenly aware of the need to treat people the same. They crave stable routines and clear rules and procedures that everyone can follow.
I had to laugh out loud when I saw these on paper- I felt both seen and attacked! It’s worth noting that all 4 of these strengths fall in the “Executing” Domain of the CliftonStrengths Assessment, and honestly, I’ve had to drag myself across the finish line these last few years as I went at it alone. Like all lesser dominant traits, I CAN do these things, but they take much more energy for me to do, and they give me very little satisfaction. Since they are so draining, I tend to avoid them or feel exhausted when I force myself. There weren’t any teammates to keep me in line, leading with their strengths and shoring up my gaps (and ultimately making me better) in the process.
I can think of past professional experiences, and see the faces of the people I’ve been able to lean on (Kristen, Ashley, Dana, Robin, Hana… SO many others). None of us have to be great at all the things, and that’s the power of leveraging the strengths of the collective team.
Being on your own has its perks, for sure. But for me, there’s nothing better than being a part of a team where everyone comes together, capitalizes on individual strengths, and collectively creates something amazing.
I’m only 3 weeks into my role at AG Collaborative, and I’m already breathing a big sigh of relief and gratitude around the power of collective strengths.
CliftonStrengths for your Team
If you want to see more of this goodness in your team, we do too! And we’ve got your back; you don’t have to do it alone! It is literally what gets us out of bed in the morning.
Explore some of our programs designed around strengths or reach out to schedule a discovery call to explore the right fit for your team.