Inside Outside Storytelling: Strong Leaders, Strong Teams

Inside Outside Storytelling: Strong Leaders, Strong Teams

Publication date: 
October, 2014

Interview with Cindy Pladziewicz, president, Professional Development Perspectives

Can you strengthen your leadership when you are clear about what you do best? Can teams – staff, boards, coalitions, volunteers, etc. – work together more effectively and efficiently when they know the specific strengths of individual members and the team as a whole? Yes, says Cindy Pladziewicz, president of the Dallas-based Professional Development Perspectives. “Not surprisingly, there are extensive data showing that people who work within their strengths are more engaged, more productive and happier,” says Pladziewicz.

A clinical psychologist, Pladziewicz will lead a session at the upcoming 2014 Philanthropy Southwest Annual Conference focused on using the Clifton Strengthsfinder® assessment to strengthen leadership and teams. Having worked with an array of individuals and teams in small-to-large for-profit and nonprofit organizations, Pladziewicz is a firm believer in the Strengthsfinder®.

“No other assessment has its strength; it’s based on 40 years of research, draws on a database of 10 million sources, and includes 34 empirically-derived talent themes,” says Pladziewicz. “This means each person receives a uniquely tailored assessment. The odds of two people having the same top five strengths is one in 33 million. It’s also very easy to use with teams and staff because it’s absolutely understandable and tells you what you’re good at. No one minds their information being shared because it’s all positive.”

She notes that when companies adopt a strengths-based approach, their staff, board members and teams can work together more harmoniously, better appreciating the gifts each person brings. Work gets done more quickly and more effectively, and there is less drama.

Pladziewicz has led Strengthsfinder® sessions for Philanthropy Southwest’s annual Retreat for New Foundation Staff for several years now, as well as its Women in Philanthropy Retreat, and worked with the planning committee for this year’s Annual Conference. Participants in next month’s Annual Conference session will have an opportunity to take the assessment prior to the session. During the session, each participant will learn their five top talents and discover how to harness them for greater organizational and mission-driven results, as well as personal fulfillment. 

“Strengthsfinders was an eye-opening experience for me, offering fresh insight about the nature of my personal tendencies and positively influencing my approach to work and life in general. Its application to the planning committee was equally powerful as it taught us the value of harnessing our combined strengths for maximum productivity thereby highlighting Philanthropy Southwest’s values of diversity, connectivity and learning.”
– Karin Gerstenhaber, Director of Grants Management, Tocker Foundation

“By focusing on the positive – your strengths – Strengthsfinder® is not saying that weaknesses don’t matter. It also helps us consider how to use our strengths appropriately. For example, someone who has a strength called “harmony” (a gifted peacemaker) needs to take care not to tamp down friction when it would be better to engage in a bit of healthy conflict to resolve an issue,” says Pladziewicz. “Clearly the greatest tools any of us have are our strengths – we should be able to use them skillfully.” 

“Strengthsfinder was an excellent ice-breaker and allowed the annual conference planning committee members to learn much about their colleagues in a very short period of time. As conference sessions were being formulated, members were asked to pair up by taking into consideration Strengthsfinder outcomes to ensure maximum diversity of thought. The proof will be in the session outcomes. By recognizing individual strengths, Philanthropy Southwest will maximize intellectual capital for the betterment of all.” – Tom McGuire, Grant Manager, Kronkosky Charitable Foundation
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