Dr. Tracy Hammond, Director of the Institute for Engineering Education & Innovation, and the communications team, Drew Casey, Candice Meyers, and Johaynah Alriffi, led a three-hour CliftonStrengths workshop at the Zachry Leadership Program’s summer retreat. Thirty two students took part in this retreat that was held at Camp Allen in Navasota, Texas and was hosted by Seth Sullivan, Program Director, Zachry Leadership Program, and Maria Polyzoi, Associate Director, Zachry Leadership Program .
The Zachry Leadership Program seeks to empower engineering students to become future leaders who are well versed in the free enterprise system, collaborative in their decision-making skills and humbly self-confident in their behaviors.
The workshop utilized the CliftonStrengths talent assessment, which focuses on developing and leveraging your strengths rather than your weaknesses. The assessment reveals a person’s unique talents and helps one learn how to leverage their strengths to overcome challenges and reach their own personal, academic, and career goals.
Johaynah Alriffi started out with a presentation explaining what CliftonStrengths is, and how it can be used to discover one’s natural talents.
Dr. Tracy Hammond then provided detailed descriptions of each strength, with anecdotes from her own life. She also discussed team dynamics, and the team total breakdown. Surprising no one, the group of undergraduate leaders’ most common themes focused on executing (29.7%) and strategic thinking (28.8%). She spoke about the most common strengths in the group (Achiever), and the least common strength (Deliberative), and how students could channel their strengths, or even use a combination of two or more strengths to complete a task.
CliftonStrength exercises and discussions were then conducted for the students (in their sub-groups), aimed at personalizing their unique strengths. The students learnt more about their teammates’ strengths, worked together to enhance feelings of self-awareness, and began to apply their talents toward specific goals.
Seth Sullivan, Program Director, Zachry Leadership Program said “Self-awareness is the foundation of good leadership, and knowing and understanding your strengths and how you can help others is an important part of that. In the Zachry Leadership Program, students spend time thinking about their strengths, planning how they want to develop them, and reflecting on how they can use them to make a positive impact on the people around them.”
Overall, the workshop focused on honing students’ leadership skills and developing high-performance teams. Participants were able to identify and appreciate strengths in their teammates, facilitate strengths-based conversations, and learn how to leverage team dynamics to reach their goals.