The Art of Strengths Coaching

F is for Following The Old Advice ‘Find A Need And Fill It’

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There are many ways to do satisfying work that earns a salary. One approach is to follow the old advice of ‘Find a need and fill it.’

Some people say this approach needs to be extended. They say it is important to focus on what people want, rather than just what they need.

Sometimes even the ‘want’ approach can be extended. Some new inventions, for example, can also open people’s eyes to what they want. Henry Ford may or may not have uttered the famous phrase, but there is some truth in the view that:

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

Bearing these factors in mind, one approach is to focus on the following kinds of needs.

The needs that people have at the moment.

The needs that people may have in the future.

The needs that people may not even know about but, if these are filled, then their lives may be even more satisfying.

Looking back on your own work, can you think of a time when you saw or anticipated a need and filled it? You may have done this when doing project work or providing some other product or service.

What did you do to see or anticipate the need? How did you position what you offered in a way that was attractive to the potential buyers? What did you then do to satisfy the need?

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe a specific situation when you saw or anticipated a need and then filled it.

Describe the specific things you did to see or anticipate the need and then fill it. 

Describe the specific things that happened as a result of taking these steps.

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Different people choose different ways to find and fill needs. Some knowledge workers, for example, like to meet clients, explore their challenges and offer practical tools that help them to succeed.

They like to give to others, rather than try to sell. During this process they may uncover needs and offer solutions. As a by-product, this sometimes leads to sales.

Such workers often follow the steps taken by many people who get paid for doing satisfying work. They explore the following themes.

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Another approach to uncovering future needs is to work with pacesetting organisations. Pacesetters take the lead, maintain the lead and then extend the lead. Sometimes they make the new rules for the game.

Such organisations are often tackling challenges that others will encounter in the future. Working with them helps to develop a repertoire of solutions that can help others. You can then use these tools to help other organisations to achieve success.

You will have your own way of finding and filling needs. If you wish, try tackling the exercise of this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe the specific things you can do to find and fill a need in the future. 

Describe the specific benefits of taking this approach towards finding and filling a need.

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    I is for Continuous Improvement


    Peak performers are addicted to constant improvement. Different people use different models for making this happen.

    One approach is to use the following framework. This is one I have employed when working with young people, athletes, performing artists, coaches, leaders and professionals in many other fields.

    Before meeting them in a one-to-one session, I invited the person to reflect back on the last week. They may have been living in a therapeutic community, playing sports, performing on stage, coaching other people, leading a team or whatever.

    The person was invited to complete the following exercise. This encouraged them to build on their strengths and also tackle areas for improvement. They were asked to provide specific examples under the following headings.

    Doing Well

    The specific things I have done well – or that have gone well – in
    the past week and how I can do more of these things in the future are:




    Doing Better

    The specific things I can do better in the future and how are:




    The aim was to help the person to develop the habit of self-improvement. This called for them being able:

    To read reality.

    To build on their strengths and tackle areas for improvement.

    To continue to develop.

    Different people came with different examples. Here are some.

    The teenager described how they had been kind, encouraged others and stayed out of trouble, even when provoked. They also described how they could say ‘No,’ and walk on when offered drugs by former friends they met on the street.

    The soccer player described how they had organised the defence, made crucial tackles and hit good passes. They also described how they could retain their composure when dealing with incorrect decisions by the referee.  

    The leader described how they had communicated the vision, explained the strategy and made clear working contracts with people. They also described how they needed to behave towards an individual who was causing havoc in the team.

    Over the years I have used different names for this exercise. The approach has remained similar, however, and has encouraged people to keep developing. Here is one format for the exercise.

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    Different people used different methods to improve performance. Masaaki Imai introduced many people to Kaizen, for example, which is the Japanese concept of continuous improvement.

    His books became bestsellers during the 1980s. You can learn more about his work at the official site.

    Masaaki explained that the original definition of Kaizen stemmed from two Chinese characters. In those characters, ‘Kai’ meant ‘change’ and ‘zen’ meant ‘for the better’.

    The concept of ‘change for the better’ was then translated into ‘continuous improvement’. The Kaizen Institute websites explains that this is based on certain guiding principles.

    Good processes bring good results

    Go see for yourself to grasp the current situation

    Speak with data, manage by facts

    Take action to contain and correct root causes of problems

    Work as a team

    Kaizen is everybody’s business

    And much more!

    Kaizen involves using many different models, techniques and tools for making improvements. These may take the form of quality circles; the Plan, Do, Check, Act model or other approaches to eliminating waste and improving the work.

    Some of these ideas grew from the influence of Dr. W. Edwards Deming. His work on Quality Management was widely adopted in the manufacturing industries in Japan. The aim was to achieve better quality, greater efficiency and, where appropriate, improved profits.

    You will have your own approach to continuing to develop. You may have a specific framework you use to reflect on your work, for example, and then focus on how to improve.

    If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

    Describe the specific approach you want to take – including any frameworks you want to use – towards continuing to improve. 

    Describe the specific benefits of taking this approach and continuing to improve.

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