CEO Uses Profiles to Build His Team — and Others


Graham Yoko

Graham Yoko

ACE South Africa CEO Graham Yoko was first drawn to the Leading From Your Strengths profiles when listening to a Focus on the Family radio interview with Dr. John Trent, profile co-creator. “I have always been passionate about people finding their ‘groove’ in life,” says Graham. “This sounded like a tool that I could use with teams I coach.” He ordered a Team Building Kit from Ministry Insights and completed its complimentary, individual profile.

The results were so accurate that Graham had his leadership team at Accelerated Christian Education South Africa complete individual assessments, too. “The exercises transformed our team and improved our effectiveness on so many levels that we began telling other groups about our experiences,” says Graham. He has since used the profiles with ministry teams, couples, Christian business teams, and school staffs, becoming connected through his many speaking engagements or in the course of his work.

Team Profiles Are Like Puzzle Pieces – ACE and Elsewhere

In presenting the profile and associated team building exercises Graham uses the analogy of a jigsaw puzzle, likening each member of the team to a piece of the whole. A team never consists of only one piece but rather several or many, Graham says. Even in a marriage there are two pieces. Each puzzle piece interlocks with the others. He compares a person’s strengths to a puzzle piece’s protruding tabs, serving to add to and complete other pieces.  Each team member – and each puzzle piece – also has indentations which others complete.  Once team members grasp the reality that they are not a one-piece puzzle but are interdependent on those around them, they are able to value those around them. “It is at that point they readily defer to others in their area of strength,” says Graham. “The result is a happier, more productive, and focused team.”

Putting the Pieces Together in Practical Ways

In one instance, Graham presented the profiles to a ministry staff serving in a widely diverse community.  The team was caught up in the challenges of prioritizing its activities and frantically assigning personnel to meet many needs.  The leader’s hectic schedule left little time for planning and team building.  Strengths were overlooked, leading to frustration. Graham’s task was to bring structure to the team. As the group completed the profiles and proceeded through the team building exercises, the proverbial light bulb came on. Recognizing that the profile is a living document that can be used with real life situations, the team implemented that data to assign tasks to members in line with their strengths.  The leader was freed to be who he is supposed to be and welcomed other members of the team to fill roles in areas that he does not feel gifted. The group made a point to further apply their discoveries in other practical ways.  The Strengths Wheel, a visual reminder of their collective strengths, is displayed in a prominent spot on the office wall and is now a focal point of all that this dynamic team attempts together.  Each team member extracted a 6-statement paragraph from his profile detailing favorite and least-favorite modes of communication, and posted the personalized list on the front of his workstation. Colleagues discipline themselves to communicate in a way that is appropriate for that individual.

Objectivity: a Key Piece of the Puzzle

Prior to working with a team, Graham often encourages a team leader and spouse to complete the profile assessment first and read each other’s reports. The immediate feedback gives the couple a working document to apply immediately in daily life. On the rare occasion that a spouse raises questions about the results, the other provides wholehearted confirmation of the partner’s report. “The profile provides a neutral reference point for bringing people together,” says Graham.  “Its credibility helps maintain objectivity … it is great to be able to deflect the attention away from the individual and put the ‘blame’ on the profile.” Once they have seen the benefit of recognizing and valuing strengths in their marriages, leaders are eager to take the process to their teams.   The section outlining perceptions is particularly helpful in resolving interpersonal conflict. Graham’s organization now uses Position Insights profiles to define specific roles on the team. The data matches potential staff in terms of suitability to a position. “We do not hire any new staff until that individual completes the profile and we have the opportunity to compare their results to the Position Profile for that specific role,” says Graham. “In my experience, Leading From Your Strengths profiles are not just another personality or strengths test,” says Graham. “They are a life-giving and life-changing experience that makes working together fun … and allows team members to enjoy each other rather than having to endure each other. “

Graham Yoko is a Ministry Insights Certified Practitioner and CEO of Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) South Africa, which provides educational materials and services to schools and home schoolers. As a motivational speaker Graham has addressed audiences at conferences and seminars on four continents. His book, Get Out of Your Rut and Into Your Groove (CMP, 2010) addresses finding a personal niche in life and career. He lives with his wife Pam and their three children in Durban, South Africa.

More about how other ministries use Leading From Your Strengths profiles

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