VIA Survey of Character Strengths for Leadership

The following gives an example of how a leader, working with her Leadership Coach, used the VIA Survey of Character Strengths for leadership growth.

The story below shows how the leader was able to leverage one of her top 5 Character Strengths to become a stronger and happier leader.

These Top 5 Values are a subset of the full 24 VIA Character Strengths.  If you’re wondering, here’s the whole list: VIA Character Strengths List (With all 24 Character Strengths).

Values in Action for Leadership Coaching – Example

Louise, a Vice President at a prominent bank, took the VIA Survey of Character Strengths and found (after validating her results with her Leadership Coach) that her top 5 Values in Action are:

  1. Hope
  2. Love of learning
  3. Curiosity
  4. Social intelligence
  5. Appreciation of beauty

As she and her coach discussed her results, Louise realized that she could leverage her top value of “Hope” to a greater advantage.  She identified the action of painting a stronger Team Vision for her team as a way to use her “Hope” value in her leadership approach.

Louise wrote what she “hoped” the team would accomplish in the next 5 years both within the organization and with their external customers.

The Impact of Leveraging a Top 5 Values in Action in Leadership

Louise felt energized by the Team Vision she created and was able to communicate it with such excitement and specificity that her team became more engaged.  She invited the team to revise the Team Vision with her to make it more their own.

Not only did her team become more motivated, but they also made better decisions based on the vision and prioritized their work more effectively. Within a few months, her boss, and even the CEO, noticed that her team was more focused and committed and were performing better.

Over the next year her team’s absenteeism was reduced, Employee Engagement Survey results increased by 18%, and Customer Satisfaction scores increased by 24%.

Louise also found herself looking forward to going to work every day and felt more fulfilled.  Using her top value of “Hope” in this one way had aligned her work more with her values.  She was excited to find other ways to use “Hope” in her work and to use some of her other Top Values in Action.

Leveraging a Top Value in Action of “Hope” for Leadership

Louise and her Leadership Coach found another powerful use of her strength of “Hope”.  She could apply it to each member of her team and help them write an Individual Vision that supported the Team Vision.

Louise took the action of writing a vision (a list of hopes), for each team member.  Before she shared the Individual Vision, she asked each team member to write a Vision for themselves.

Then Louise met with each team member.  She had the team member share their personal vision/hopes with her.  Then she shared her vision for them.

Together they identified what the two visions had in common and what was different.  Louise asked each team member to select from her vision anything they’d like to incorporate into theirs. She also asked if they would share their Individual Vision with the team (if they were comfortable doing so).

Louise found that almost every member of her team became more engaged and more career-path-oriented by participating in this activity.

In addition, Louise and her coach used the List of Tasks that Utilize Specific Values in Action, a resource provided by Donna Schilder Coaching, to stimulate ideas of ways to use her other four Values.

VIA Survey of Character Strengths for Leadership Growth – PowerPoint

What is the VIA Survey of Character Strengths?

The Values in Action Survey of Character Strengths is a free online survey used to identify your Values in Action (also known as your Character Strengths).

The survey is meant to help you identify your top 5 Values in Action because using some or all of your Top 5 Values in your work is scientifically proven to create more fulfillment and happiness.

Martin Seligman, the father of Positive Psychology, defines a meaningful life as:

“Using your signature strengths and virtues in the service of something much larger than you are.”

Take the Character Strengths Test for Free

(VIA Survey of Character Strengths UPenn)

The VIA Survey is widely used in Positive Psychology, but it is also very useful in professional and leadership development.

Leading a team certainly falls into the category of “something larger than you are”.

You may wonder what difference it makes if you are a happy leader, but happy leaders are more productive, inspiring, and motivating.

In short:

A happy leader is much easier to follow than an unhappy leader!@

Knowing your top 5 Values in Actin will also help you:

  • Align your work with your values
  • Channel your authenticity as a leader
  • Avoid job burnout

It will also help you be more: motivated, successful, and deliberate in selecting which Values in Action to use in specific situations.

Margaret Greenberg, co-author of Profit from the Positive, states that:

“Identifying, understanding, and applying your strengths are cornerstone concepts

for living a productive and meaningful life.”

How the VIA Survey of Character Strengths is Used Leadership Coaching 

In addition, to helping you see how to identify and use your top 5 Values in Action, the VIA Survey helps you see how much you’re using the Values in Action that are most closely associated with happiness.  Using the “happiness values” will also increase a leader’s sense of fulfillment.

Most of our Leadership Coaching (Executive Coaching) clients choose to increase their use of their Top 5 Values in Action and one or two “happiness values”.

Knowing your Values in Action will allow you to select which value(s) to apply to each situation you encounter (this becomes another form of situational leadership).

Knowing your values also allows you to use all of your strengths in balance.

As Charles D. Kerns has said:

“When a virtue is overused or underused it can become a vice.”

— Charles D. Kerns, PhD, MBA, Graziodio Business Review

Your Coach can help you examine your day-to-day leadership approach and actions to determine if you’re overusing or underusing any of your  Character Strengths.

The Value of Debriefing the Values in Action Survey with a Leadership Coach

“Too much of a good thing (virtuous behavior) can indeed be as detrimental to performance and well-being as the display of too little character strength.

Leaders need useful feedback on how effective they are in executing their character strengths and virtuous behavior repertoire.”

Charles D. Kerns, PhD, MBA, Graziodio Business Review

An Executive Coach can help you gain a greater perspective on how you operate as a leader and how effective you are. This introspection and feedback from an unbiased partner, coupled with the Authentic Happiness Organization’s A Survey of Character Strengths debriefing, will uncover opportunities for growth as a person and a leader.

Your Coach will help you translate your improvement goals into:

  • Actions
  • Shifts in thinking
  • New behaviors
  • New habits
  • Elimination of unproductive behaviors
  • New Leadership approaches and tools

Your Coach is a resource for you as you implement these changes to your leadership style. They will help you examine what’s working well and what needs adjustment.

Coaching will provide you with a sounding board, support you in creating strategy and keep your focus on leadership improvement.

The best leaders continuously improve their leadership skills. 

They never say I’m “good enough” now.

Other Uses of the VIA Survey of Character Strengths

In addition to being a great leadership development too, the VIA Survey is especially useful for employees at all levels and can be leveraged by a leader as a tool to increase employee retention, morale, motivation, productivity, and professional growth.  It’s also very helpful in developing high-potential employees and lower-tier leaders.

The Values in Action Survey of Character Strengths can also be used for Career Coaching, Job Search Coaching, and many other types of Coaching, as well as for personal development.

The VIA Survey of Character Strengths is a powerful developmental tool for individuals.

Be the Leader you’ve always wanted to be!

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With Our Consultations Coach: Vicki Rich, MBA, ACC (BIO)
With Our Consultations Coach:  Vicki Rich, MBA, ACC