Using strengths to build your business

My name’s Dr Paul Brewerton, aka the strengthsguy, Doctor of Psychology and Founder of Strengthscope. Today I’m going to be talking to Steph Tranter, friend to Strengthscope and friend to me. The reason we’re doing this, and I massively appreciate you taking the time, is because Steph knows so much about taking the strengths approach into various different types of organisations and making it work and that’s something we wanted to share with the wider Strengthscope community. So what I’d love us to cover in the time we have is how you position strengths, how you sell it in, where it works and where it doesn’t, some of your success stories, how you assess the impact you’ve had and really just totally get all your strengths wisdom and strengths experience as an independent practitioner out on the table so that more people can benefit.

Steph’s background is in corporate plus as an independent practitioner, working with individuals, SMEs, charities and corporates.


Tell me a bit about your business and your story so far

I describe myself as a hybrid Exec coach – working 121 with senior directors + teams working better + building emotional resilience. My background – I was at Tesco for 11 years, culminating at working at the Leadership Academy. Now – for nearly 10 years, I have been running my own business. I now work in two specific areas:

  • Small from 20-30, medium – UK Sport and Camelot, up all the way up to global corporates like Wework and Whitbred and charities like the Alzheimers Society Brain Tumour charity
  • Individuals who run their own businesses (Copywriters, Finance Professionals, Leadership coaches, MDs of Brand/Marketing companies).
What kinds of work have you done? What about strengths?
  • These days, mainly coaching Directors at crossroads in their careers
  • Helping teams understand and work better together (after a re-structure)
  • Building resilience – 121 or in groups (after re-structures)
What results have you achieved with this approach (headlines)?
  • 121 clients – spot opportunities that perhaps, they wouldn’t have realised before, more confidence to go after what they want, leave and set up on their own, manage their emotions better and more understanding and belief in who they are
  • Teams – Harrods – working with a Retail Director – helping a good team be even better, Strengthscope helped them to do that.
  • Teams – United Biscuits – working with the CFO – disparate, disengaged, dysfunctional team now working with more passion and cohesion
What are your top strengths?
  • Empathy
  • Critical thinking
  • Strategic Mindedness
  • Initiative/Creativity
How do you position strengths? What’s your top tips?
  • Depends what they want to do. And who it’s for.
  • Using the strengths approach requires a mindset shift in how to do development. The approach relates to strengths and uniqueness (not categorisation or weaknesses)
  • Also that it is more versatile and therefore more efficient tool e.g: can use individual, team and organisation. So I don’t have to keep switching between tools. Also at different levels. In some organisations, they use Insights at lower levels but Hogan at the top. So there isn’t the same language or approach across the organisation. Strengthscope avoids this by providing a suite of tools for all levels.
What kind of pushback do you get?
  • I’ve not really come across it, but perhaps where organisations where they have already been using a tool.
What are your top tips on ‘selling in’ a strengths-based solution? Are there any particular resources or models that you find super helpful?
  • Offer free session to the stakeholder/budget holder
  • Mindset shift and the results from that – engagement, confidence, creativity, productivity
  • Versatility
  • Simplicity
  • Added system behind it.
What kinds of work do you get asked to do where strengths is appropriate?
  • Careers
  • Identity
  • Self-esteem
  • Resilience
  • Team understanding
When wouldn’t you use the strengths approach?

Performance issue – conduct – even then, it can help self-awareness and understanding…

Do you ever get asked to not use an assessment/profiler? Or not Strengthscope but an alternative? How do you respond?

Yes and no.  It comes up but I generally sell the benefits of SS over any existing tool. In one client, I questioned why Myers Briggs was in their 9-month management development programme – only tool CEO had done and they had said do that. I questioned CEO and sold the benefits of Strengthscope. That then became the golden thread throughout the programme, underpinning most of the sessions. Even if it was a technical session like understanding P&L – I challenged them to ask themselves what strengths could they use in that context.

What have been your greatest challenges?
  • When people are resistant to hearing about their strengths.
  • I find people with a high emotional control strength quite a challenge too!
  • Also, when the budget holder is not the main point of contact – so perhaps an L&D manager who likes the approach but finds it hard to influence their senior managers
How do you assess impact? What results have you had?
  1. 121 – Feedback and actions – does someone go on to get promoted, or find a more fulfilling role, or not question themselves anymore. I also do a self-report out of 10, around objectives set.
  2. Team – hard to measure because development needs more than one hit. It’s an ongoing process, and teams change and merge, and evolve. But again I do questionnaires at the beginning and then measure again at the end.
Any final wisdom to share with people? Like what would you tell yourself at the start of your career that you know now.
  • Don’t go tool-tastic – pick one you’re passionate about
  • Keep working on who you are and what makes you different and what you believe helps people make changes. Then you’ll get known for that. I’m known for emotions and strengths.
  • I often get work because of Strengthscope and its focus on uniqueness.

If people want to learn more about you and what you can do for them, like if they wanted to sign up for your newsletter etc., where should they go?

Thanks so much Steph, I really appreciate you taking the time, and you coming out to see me too!