In my previous post using strengths-based icebreakers, I suggested using Martin Seligman’s free instrument, the Signature Strengths Questionnaire, having people group according to highest strength, talk and report out.
That’s one approach. Here’s another that works especially well for large groups (50+) and requires less prep for the facilitator:
1. Have everyone take the strength instrument du jour. I like Seligman’s because he’s using it to do further research and the results feel the most personal. The other Strengths-based instruments such as the one from Gallup seem to me more business-oriented in their language, which can be a plus for groups who fear navel-gazing. Personally, I’ve taken them all and find comparing the results fascinating.
2. Make sure participants bring a list of their top five strengths to the meeting.
3. Introduce strengths and what it means to use them so people understand the difference between a deficit-based approach to leadership versus a strengths-based approach.
4. Have people stand and sort themselves into groups according to their #1 strength
5. Ask each group how their #1 strength can contribute to the group.
6. Have each group report out.
You can repeat this for as many of the top 5 strengths as you have time for and the group has interest in. Keep this moving and the reports-outs concise. I find it easy to get through the top 3, and doable to get through the top 5. Keep the summary and debrief short: All that’s needed is to highlight the treasure trove of strengths available to the group, and remind them they are responsible for mining them. If the group were a treasure map, you’ve shown them where the “X” is that marks where the treasure is buried. They’ve got to dig them out.