What does a Strengths-Based Goal Setting Session Look Like?

Last weekend I had the privilege of facilitating a Strengths-based goal setting session with the Founding Faculty (aka 'Pros') of NEXT High School in beautiful Tennessee.

NEXT High School is a new High School launching in Greenville, South Carolina this Fall. The mission of NEXT is to prepare every graduate for life and this team's goal is to launch and build the most innovative High School in the Southeast. The bar is high and I wanted to be sure I facilitated a session which would support the team well as they set their personal goals to fulfill the school's bold mission.

Ahead of the session everyone read Strengths Based Leadership and submitted their Top 5 Strengths. Many of you know I am a huge fan of the Strengths methodology - a methodology which invites people to identify what they are good at and to do more of it. When I prep for one of these sessions, I love to see the shape of the team strengths begin to take shape as folks forward their Top 5 strengths and I plug them into the team spreadsheet template. Check out the NEXT Pros Team Strengths Profile - this is a rockin' team!

We kicked off the Saturday discussion with a mini 'book group’ style discussion - centering on what resonated in the the Strengths methodology and results and the questions which the reading and results raised. We discussed the team profile and folks were eager to learn about each other’s strengths - and had pegged many of them already :)

With the foundation of Strengths in place, the team took an individual look in the rear view mirror and reflected on their life map and learning journey thus far. Grounding in personal history and strengths, the team then brainstormed goals for the year ahead using this tool.  Many team members reported back that they learned more about themselves and each other in this exercise than in the past several months :) The life map and learning journey is a powerful tool to reflect on what is meaningful to you and what you want to design moving forward.

Team members underscored several takeaways:

  • Goal(s) should be written in English and so important and meaningful to us that we don’t have to refer back on a goals document to remember what they are.
  • We can achieve so much more by focusing on our Strengths - ours and those of our students.
  • The importance of sharing goals with fellow team members and asking for support - and keeping the conversation going throughout the year.
  • Getting clear on what success will look like helps identify quantifiable and qualitative measures.

To ensure the learning is taken forward, Josh Neuer, Professional Student Counselor, will check-in with each of team members and help bring all the goals together in one shared document. In addition, each team member committed to having individual conversations with each other to share respective life maps and goals for the year ahead before the school opens in the Fall.

We have a structure in place where the IFL will be onsite in Greenville in December 2015 and May 2016, with a couple of Google Hangouts in between. This will help mitigate the gravitational pull of ‘drive by professional development’ :) - and help ensure the team is well supported in the year ahead as they work on their goals and leverage their Strengths.

Next step in the process? The talented peeps at NEXT will brainstorm how to mirror this process with the Founding Students (aka 'Peers') - watch this space for an update!