How to Identify and Lead With Your Strengths

Explore the science behind the VIA Character Strengths diagnostic tool, and discover how you can incorporate it into your life coaching practice.

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Coaching To Character Strengths

What are “strengths” from a coaching perspective? 

Strength itself is a pretty broad word. Typically, it means something that you’re good at. Let’s call those things your talents or natural aptitudes. In the world of positive psychology, what we’re referring to when we say “strengths” is rather different. Strengths in this context has a more specific, research-based definition.

This version of strengths is centered not on what you're good "at", but "how" you are good. In other words: your virtues.

According to the VIA Institute on Character, “character strengths are the positive parts of your personality that impact how you think, feel and behave. Character strengths are different than your other personal strengths, such as your unique skills, talents, interests and resources, because they reflect the 'real' you—who you are at your core.”

Scientists have identified 24 character strengths that we have the capacity to express.

Every one of these strengths are present within us, but there are generally a handful that rise to the top. This is what creates our unique character profile, and can be a helpful resource to draw from when thinking about the kinds of work, activities and relationships that are most likely to satisfy us in life.

All of the research in this area shows that consistently drawing from your top 5 character strengths leads to the development of deeper authenticity, connection and contentment in life.

Character Strengths are morally valued, internal strengths that contribute to the good life for ourselves and others. When we are in touch with our unique constellation of strengths, it allows us to set priorities and make decisions from the inside-out, rather than the outside-in. 

The 24 Character strengths are organized into 6 virtues: 

  • Wisdom/Knowledge
  • Courage 
  • Love
  • Justice
  • Temperance
  • Transcendence

Using Character Strengths In Your Life Coaching Practice

There’s an extensive body of work available to help you incorporate Character Strengths into your coaching practice. At its most basic, you can invite your clients to complete the free VIA Character Strengths Survey tool. In about 15 minutes, your client (and you!) will discover their strengths profile.

Exploring their character strengths allows clients to discover and lean into the virtues that make them tick. We like to think of this as a specific recipe for baking a “flow cake” that is uniquely yours.

As a life coach, utilizing an assessment tool like the VIA Character Strengths Survey is a wonderful way to get to know new clients, work teams, family and friends in order to understand their needs and what makes them tick.

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