Building a Strengths-based Partnership

By Liz Bapasola, Gallup Certified Strengths Coach and Founder and CEO of Liz Bapasola & Associates

I recently had a great coaching session with a client, during which I introduced him to The Equation, my philosophy and approach to  reaching your full potential, and debriefed his CliftonStrengths report. Many insights were gleaned from that conversation, and one of them was that it would be very beneficial for his fiancee and business partner to take the CliftonStrengths assessment as well. With an understanding of her unique talents, my client could understand how to apply The Equation to that cherished relationship. After his fiancee took the assessment and sent me her finding we had a coaching call together and three key things became evident.

1) Know Yourself and Know Your Partner. It is critical that you and your partner, whether a partner in business, in your personal life, or in both, demonstrate Emotional Intelligence by being self-awareness of your unique talents, passions, values, and goals. It is equally important to exhibit empathy and become socially aware of your partner's unique talents, passions, values, and goals. 

2) Embrace Your Uniqueness and Your Partner's and Look for Synergies. With the knowledge of yourself and your partner developed by self-awareness and social awareness, recognize that what makes you and your partner so special are the unique ways you think, behave, and feel (ie, your talents). With your CliftonStrengths reports shared side-by-side, as a coach I can map where your talents overlap and where they can complement one another. For instance, my client is well balanced in the CliftonStrengths 4 Domains of Leadership (Executing, Influencing, Relationship Building, and Strategic Thinking), whereas his partner is especially strong in Relationship Building. Recognizing his partner's strength in supporting the needs of others, I encouraged my client to see how he can embrace her talents, such as Empathy and Developer, and have her balance out his talent of Command. (For descriptions of these talents and more, please go to

3) Recognize Where Your Uniqueness and Your Partner's May Conflict. It's important to understand that your individual talents and that of your partner may sometimes unintentionally be in conflict with one another. For instance, my client's strong talent of Command sometimes can make him appear, in his words, like a "jerk," because he has such a strong presence. His partner's unique talent of Empathy would naturally make her especially attuned to his strong presence. At times, this could create a rift because she could be hurt by his unfiltered communication. With the knowledge that your natural way of thinking, behaving, and feeling can create a filter in which you see and interact with others, you can be more likely to avoid unnecessary conflicts and see the tension as an opportunity to recognize and appreciate each other's talents more deeply.

Armed with these three things in mind, you’re on your way for a stronger partnership each and every day.