Learnin’ Strengths and Talkin’ (About) Trash

I believe it’s the leader’s job to know their teammates’ strengths, and there are several ways to learn about them. One way is to just ask teammates when they feel they preform at their best. Another way is to observe. In what areas do they really excel or apply all of their energy? A third way – and something I’m a big fan of – is to have your teammates take the StrengthsFinder assessment.

This in depth assessment, developed by the Gallup organization, does a great job of identifying themes that best describe an individual’s area of strength. And when you know your team’s strengths, you can build strengths-based teams for the project at hand; you can ensure that your teammates are working in their “sweet spot;” and you can better tackle your organization’s challenges, like the issue of the break room trash. Ha ha!

I snapped this image several months ago when our teammates were focused on learning their own and each others’ strengths. In the spirit of our strengths, I decided to share with the team what I knew each one of them was thinking about the “trash contest” we were having in the break room!

  • Responsibility – Seriously, is no one going to empty that?
  • Maximizers – Wow, let’s see how high we can pile it on!!!!
  • Intellectual – Yes, you can copy and paste this picture into your blog and write about it.
  • Achievers – Very confused right now. Should they pile on or should they empty? Need clarity here!
  • Analytical – 🙂 No comment
  • Activators – Started the pile contest then ran off to start something else.
  • Discipline – Will have a plan for this never to happen again.
  • Futuristic – Told you this would happen!
  • Strategic – The problem is with the order of the trash. That coffee box should be on the bottom allowing for more foundation so more trash can be piled on.
  • Adaptability – There’s another trash can in the break room. Let’s all use that one.
  • Harmony – Yeah, I like that idea. Everyone gather around, and let’s be happy we have two trash cans.
  • Arranger – I’m with strategic!
  • Command – We will win this goal. We must do this now.
  • Belief – I believe there must be value in this email. I’m just not sure what it is yet.
  • Competitive – Win? Contest? Where? I’m in!
  • Communication – Contest? How & when was this communicated? I don’t like the name of it. We should call it Waist contest. Get it? I played with the wording waste but waist.
  • Empathy – I understand how you feel. So what should we wear to the trash contest?
  • Developer – I see a lot of potential in a few people who could be great trash consultants.
  • Focus – Where are we going with this trash topic? It’s random and irrelevant to my future.
  • Ideation– Wow, trashy leadership…. hummm! I think we can do something with this idea! Maybe an intentional trash track.
  • Individualist – I like the way each of you are thinking…You’re each so unique.
  • Learner – OMG, I didn’t get to read the back of that box before someone threw it away!!!
  • Positivity – You all are so good at not emptying the trash! 🙂 Seriously, I just love this team and how you pile it on.
  • Relator – Let’s take a team picture around the trash can!
  • Restorative – We can fix this…we just need a bigger trash can!
  • Consistency – Balance!!!! Did everyone get a chance to put trash on here?
  • Context – I remember when we first put this trash bag in here. It was empty in the beginning.
  • Self Assurance – Yep, we did good!
  • Connectedness – Think of how many of us put trash in here and our trash touched each other, and now this picture and email is uniting & connecting each of us.
  • Significance – My work here is done. I made a difference; my trash made an impact!
  • WOO – Party on Sasser’s patio!!!!!
  • Includer – Did she mention all the strengths? Did everyone get their strength mentioned.

Ha ha! Did any of these responses resemble you and your strengths?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


  • Anonymous says:

    What creativity!! This is hilarious! I can pick out each one of my co-workers from this list. It is the responsibility strength person in our office that will end up emptying the trash!

  • Jonathan Brown says:

    I am also a huge fan of the work Gallup has done in this area. I have my top 5 memorized, and always refer folks to take the assesment when building teams. This, along with DiSC are my two favorite tools for learning communication styles, individual strengths, and the repective intrinsic motivations of the people I work with. Without understanding the individuals which comprise it, a team cannot succeed in my opinion.

    • Linda says:

      Thanks for your comments Jonathon, glad you have had luck with Strength Finders too. I love it and it’s just fun for everyone because it’s unique. I have not done much with DiSC but have heard good things about it.