In 2019, I visited a grassroot community in Uganda, called Bududa. Running a google search on that community, it should mostly one thing – a community of landslides.

What? Landslides. It is recorded that there are many families that have lost parents and kids in landslide and this happens all year round.

The thoughts that will come to mind is, ‘don’t go to that community, it is too dangerous’. Yes, that could be dangerous, as it was event during rainy season that the landslide happen often.

One thing that eventually made me visit, as I had planned the trip 2 month before that time, was this one question, ‘if the landslides are so bad, why is it that people are still living there?’

I wanted to go and listen to (and maybe, encourage too) the things that is giving them the confidence, courage or hope to still live in such dangerous community.

After spending about 2 weeks in Bududa, having focused group discussions (FGD), I realized that the beauty, wisdom, solutions and initiatives that the people of Bududa have created either to reduce the landslides or to empower themselves to reach sustained livelihood has not made it to the news.

Why does bad news spread so fast, but good news struggle to fly? Why do we concentrate so much on weaknesses and rarely talk about strengths?

In almost any community I have worked, most of the first few things people talk about all the bad things they are experiencing, not the strengths and the goodness available.

It seems, as humans there is a lot of conditioning that we mostly grow up to – the feeling of not enough, not having enough, etc – with the intention of wanting us to do better to be able to fell enough and have enough.

In 2015, I became fascinated and began to read more on the importance of leveraging on our strength. It was during the research, I stumbled on Asset-based community development (ABCD) – it deals with making visible, the values, skills, knowledge, connections and potential in a community.

It places emphasis on the need to redress the balance between meeting needs and nurturing the strengths and resources of people and communities.

Strength-Based Coaching

When we gather, we often ask, “how is your day?” What if we ask, “what went well today?”

Something will automatically change in the brain. So, your mind begins to scan for what is working instead of what isn’t working.

Our brains have been conditioned in a certain way. We need to rewire that conditioning till we are able to respond differently.

As a coach, we are not fixers! We don’t fix what is wrong with people, we are there to help the coachee to see that the answers and solutions they have been looking for is right within them and see to it that they being to use those answers to achieve success.

Strength = Talent + Skills (competence, something you do well) + Knowledge.

As a coach, you can start a coaching conversation with, “what are the exciting thing you will like us to talk about today?”

It is important to also check out the drivers and motivations of your coachee to see how to make strength-based coaching work for them.

Tools to find out your strengths?

1. Strength finder 2.0

2. Strength profile: is an assessment tool giving deep insights into your strengths, learned behaviours and weaknesses.

3. Johari Window: is a technique that helps people to better understand their relationship with themselves and others.

4. The Ofman methodology: is mainly used to examine how you operate on a personal level. The methodology charts your core qualities, pitfalls, challenges and allergies.

Can be used to discover, and give tremendous insight, in who you are and what your core qualities, pitfalls, challenges and allergies are in life. Core qualities can be made visible in a core quadrant.

Core quality: A core quality is a recognized, foundational strength for a leader—something widely understood and appreciated as valuable.

Some questions can be: ‘What does other appreciate about me? What do I expect or demand from others?’

Pitfall: No matter what the core quality may be, it’s always possible to have too much of a good thing. The pitfall is what we see if that core quality is overused and comes across as overstrength (can you have too much of a good thing)?

Some questions can be: ‘What do I tolerate in myself? What do other blame me for?’

Challenges: is the positive opposite of your pitfall. This is an adaptive behavior that would be worthwhile for a person to display in order to avoid succumbing to the pitfall.

Some questions can be: ‘What do I lack in myself? What do I admire in others?’

Allergies: is the negative opposite of your core quality. It is an aversion to a new behavior if it feels too much the opposite of the core quality

Some questions can be: ‘What would I hate in myself? What do I despise in others?

Here is an example to reflect on:

Core QualityPitfallChallengeAllergy
Power of moderationFrivolousnessSeriousnessMelancholy
Credits: https://www.arteveldehogeschool.be/spotlight/node/93/

Here’s mine:

Mine – Effective ListeningOverwhelmingEnjoyableNot speaking/speaking always

This exercise helped me to understand one of my core qualities and was able to reflect on the fact that I had experience overwhelm before, just by over-listening to someone’s concerns.

This is a powerful tool that has helped me so far to not just listen and listen away, but for example, ask questions, try to say back to people what they said, to be sure I understand and we are on the same page.

It is helpful to constantly reflect on the strengths we have (just like for our coachee too) and help them to see through how to experience some form of balance from it.

My Key Takeaway:

I enjoyed this session a lot, as it connects so well to a mindset and action I have been using in my work, then seeing that coaching embraces this was just a beautiful thing to learn and practice more of it.

What are my strengths? What am I good at? What am I trained for?
I looked through mine: Effective Listening, Writing, Idea generation and Strategy/Ask questions.