Though Dow and Hodges have very different strengths, they have learned that gaining perspective on each other’s strengths is essential to building synergistic working relationships. As Associate Director of Undergraduate Advising & Transition, Dr. Lacy Hodges was instrumental in introducing CliftonStrengths to all GT 1000 students at Georgia Tech and has integrated strengths into the GT 1000 course learning objectives and activities. Ms. Savitra Dow is the Academic Transition Programs and Operations Manager and reports to Hodges. Additionally, Dow and Hodges both serve as Gallup Certified Strengths Coaches and Facilitators.
Hodges’ #2 Strength in Learner is an important asset to her working relationship with Dow. Dow recognizes that she uses this strength in her role as supervisor: “I believe Lacy’s strength in Learner shows up in her role as a supervisor. Lacy is open to learning new things and encourages those who she manages to do the same, which I appreciate. She doesn’t stifle my ability or desire to learn or grow. She’s always been open to professional development opportunities.”
On the other hand, Hodges highlights Dow’s strength as Developer as valuable in her role of working with student leaders. She says, “I’m so focused achieving the goal that I don’t always think about how this is benefiting the people we’re working with, but Savitra focuses on what we can do for the students: How can we make sure that we’re assigning students a role to best meet their needs and best develop them as people?” In all, their astute knowledge of each other’s strengths creates the synergy.
And undoubtedly when the COVID-19 pandemic became a stark reality, their awareness of each other’s strengths was significantly valuable. Amid such complex times of uncertainty, adapting and adjusting became the mantra for all. Gaining perspective on each other’s strengths—how they process information– not only helped Dow and Hodges readily adapt during the pandemic, it also strengthened their working relationship. Hodges pointed out that “actual physical distance” ultimately allowed for innovation to take place. “We couldn’t just do what we were doing in the past,” she points out, “I had to take a step back and stop overrelying on some of my strengths and allow myself to understand that it’s better to use a complementary strength.” Dow’s strengths in Futuristic and Restorative were quite fruitful in this new realm of adjusting and adapting. She notes, “I felt free and a sense of ownership using my problem solving and creative ability, while still checking in with Lacy to discuss details in depth.” Ultimately, the drastic shifts amid the pandemic improved their working relationship.
As teamwork activators and collaborators, they have some advice for others who would like to have synergistic relationships with their co-workers.
“Knowing each other’s strengths and being willing to trust that the other person knows how to use their strengths in a way that works for them is really important,” Dr. Hodges advises.
Ms. Savitra Dow adds, “Transparency is very important as it creates openness and understanding for each person to want to learn from the other person.”