Most of us spend a great deal of our lives being part of one team or another: at school, in the community, in clubs, in sport and at work.
Strengths in Teams is a set of 30 lavishly illustrated, full-colour cards depicting a zany and delightfully whacky circus troupe. Except this troupe looks very familiar. In fact, it shares all the idiosyncrasies and foibles of just about any team. But like any effective team, these characters also demonstrate that they have strengths, and they depend upon the strengths of all members.
This card set has two simple messages: we all contribute strengths to our teams and we all gain strengths from our teams. Strengths in Teams is all about noticing, identifying, mobilising and celebrating these strengths. We hope you will chuckle with this new edition of an Innovative Resources classic!
Also available as stickers!
Stories and Reviews
‘I have just been given Sometimes Magic, Strength Cards and Strengths in Teams to catalogue for our school library. These resources are so impressive that I had to sit and write to you straight away. Lovely graphics and the concepts so well delivered. Congratulations and keep up the fantastic work.’
Ruth Jones, Teacher librarian (Larapinta Primary School, NT)
Strengths Move the Heart (SOON vol. 5, 2005)
‘We have an hour to go. How would you like to spend it?’
‘I wanna play with them cards some more!’
Having worked with Aboriginal people in the far northern communities of Queensland for nearly 10 years, these words almost brought tears to my eyes. The cards this teacher aide was referring to were Strengths in Teams and The Bears.
I was asked to work with a small team of Indigenous teachers at a school to concentrate on setting up a great classroom environment. (I think they wanted me to work on the ‘exterior’ but I decided that the ‘interior’ would be an interesting place to start!)
We started the two-day session by talking about the strengths that each person would bring to the team. I had goose bumps when it was clear that each member was going to bring amazing strengths that could support the rest of the team in times of need. Again, I held back the tears. It was moving to see the smiles on the teacher’s faces when they realised that they were being appreciated for who they are and what they can offer.
The team decided that they were going to display their strengths by using the Strengths in Teams stickers on a wall in the shared office. They could then look at the wall when they were going through a difficult or great time to see who they could share with.
Never before in my 10 years of working with teachers had I seen so much communicated in such a short time. We even addressed all the ‘tough questions’. Unbelievable!
Thank you to the amazing team at Innovative Resources for producing, believing in and sharing the tools that allows us to develop closer relationships with those around us.
Jenni McDonald – Director and Educational Consultant
Class Act Educational Supplies, Cairns, Queensland
Career Counsellor Identifies Strengths
The careers and employment landscape in Australia has changed dramatically in the past decade. A job that begins at the end of a person’s professional training and ends with retirement is a rare commodity these days. In fact, for more and more people, the life-long career is a thing of the past.
It is the task of careers advisors in schools to help young people navigate this rapidly changing landscape. Bob Glasheen is a careers counsellor at All Saints College in Bull Creek, Western Australia.
‘Many young people, especially boys, think that they will need to make only one decision regarding a choice of career,’ said Bob. ‘I try to help them understand that they may well have several different jobs during their working lives or even several part-time jobs at the same time. Each of these jobs may require a different set of skills, so multi-skilling is very important. I encourage them to keep their options as open as possible.’
Bob uses a variety of Innovative Resources’ materials in his work with students. ‘The Strength Cards are useful for helping students identify their own personal strengths and the strengths that different jobs may require. Sometimes we will use role play situations. For example, I may ask a student what strengths they will need to call upon when dealing with a difficult customer. Sometimes, I use the cards to encourage students to reflect upon the strengths they felt they had in Year 7 and then I ask them to identify the strengths they now have. I might then ask them what they think has helped them to develop these strengths and how these strengths could be used in the workplace.
‘I also use the Strengths in Teams cards to help students develop the skills that they will need to function well as a member of a team in the workplace. I have a particular interest in issues surrounding ‘boys in education’ and in my work as a mentor with boys, I have come to see that the development of self-esteem is crucial for later success in the work-place.’
Bob believes that the Reflexions cards offer careers counsellors another opportunity to work with emotions and situations that affect self-esteem. He sees opportunities too, for using these cards as prompts for conversations and for writing.
Teaching Strengths to Teams
Ros Kempton is the Coordinator of the Certificate for Community Services and Disability at the Bendigo Regional Institute of TAFE. She teaches people who are training to be disability support workers and was herself a disability support worker with St Luke’s for five years.
Because of her background at St Luke’s, Ros was familiar with the materials published at Innovative Resources and how they could be used with clients. ‘It took me a while after I left St Luke’s to reflect on how the strengths-based philosophy and the resources had affected me,’ she says. ‘I had a natural affiliation with this approach, but I notice that now it is so much a part of me that I simply assume strengths in people. This is an asset in my current role working with students.’
One of the assessment tasks for her class was to plan a day-long group outing. The date for the outing was set and the planning began. Midway through the planning process, Ros perceived that some tension was arising in the group as the individuals tried to function as a cohesive team. Putting teamwork theory into practice was proving challenging for the students. They were required to identify tasks, negotiate, collate and share information. As is often the case with planning in teams, the stress was around communication and roles.
‘I decided that some gentle intervention might help to ease the tension. I invited everyone to get out from behind the desks and sit in a circle. I spread the Strength in Teams cards on the floor and asked each person to choose two cards that he or she saw as important characteristics for effective planning in teams. We discussed these and then I asked the group to select the elements that they felt were needed by this group to work more cohesively. What did they need to build in?
‘I was very excited by this process of using the cards. Being able to focus on the ideals of effective teamwork and then focus on what we needed to do to get there was very useful. The team left with a renewed sense of respect and focus. They were able to stay on task and retain their ability to work together, which was my aim.’
The outing was later evaluated in class using Innovative Resources’ Scaling Kit. The students were able to acknowledge that, with a flexible team approach and trusting in their strengths as a team, they had achieved what they had set out to do. As Ros acknowledges, ‘The Strengths in Teams intervention contributed to that outcome.’
‘Review—Strengths in Teams,’ Women’s Health Loddon Mallee News Journal, no. 21, Summer 2006.
‘Strengths in Teams is a simple tool designed to explore 28 key qualities of successful teamwork; to explore the chemistry of many different kinds of teams from families, sporting teams, work teams, classes, from a team of 2 to large organisations.
The A5-sized, beautifully illustrated cards prompt conversation on such topics as:
No matter what teams you are part of, Strengths in Teams can
- Remind you of the strengths that exist already;
- Help you to recognise individual strengths and contributions;
- Suggest ways to build new strengths and solve problems;
- Build self-esteem and pride in the team;
- Provide encouragement;
- Prevent bullying, intimidation and put-downs.
This resource has been developed out of a commitment to building a society that is characterised by social justice, fairness and respect for the dignity of all people. Teams can use this tool as a source for growth and fulfilment, or troubleshooting and problem solving.’