Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Coaching’s Cheat Codes

We are happy to share an article from our friend Gary Hughey, Jr, professional coach and founder of SHVA Leadership Advisers, LLC, entitled Coaching’s Cheat Codes.

Coaching’s Cheat Codes

When I was in grade school, our family had an original Nintendo Game System! I would rush home from school and complete my homework as fast as I could, just for the chance to be the first in line to play the fantastic games we had for the system. I had little competition as my other siblings had little interest in the games. However, if I could shave off ten minutes from homework and travel time, I received ten additional minutes of game time! I have so many fond memories of playing Duck Hunt, Super Mario Bros., and various other titles. I also had no fond memories of when I lost games or had to remove the game cartridge and blow in it to get it to work correctly. However, the one I prized the most was the Game Genie which allowed me to enter cheat codes into the games to get unlimited lives, health, speed, and more! Cheat codes help the player play the game faster and easier. I wish I had cheat codes for life!

As a professional coach, coaching executives, and career professionals, I have those same feelings of excitement when clients realize their dreams and reach their goals. However, I often find it challenging to extract clients’ dreams and goals because they usually are not aware of them. Just like playing video games in the past, I found the Game Genie for coaching! Specifically, when combined with behavioral and performance coaching, personality and leadership assessments are great tools to fast track the dream realization and goal setting. To that end, we will discuss how the 360-degree assessment, Motivational Gifts Survey, and the CliftonStrengths Assessment provide leaders and coaches the cheat codes they need to fast track dream realization and client goal attainment. 

360-Degree Assessment

360-degree feedback assessments serve several purposes. In their study, Dr. Joan Brett and Dr. Leann Attwater, published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, pointed out that since the late 1990s, book writers, leaders, and scholars have promoted the use of 360-degree feedback assessments as one of the best ways to improve professionally by leveraging many different peer and supervisor’s observations and opinions. Additionally, 360-degree assessments amplify the Transformational Leadership, Authentic Leadership, and Servant Leadership theories by demonstrating to followers that the leader values their ideas and implements suggested changes. Today, people either hate or love the 360-degree assessment results may be perceived as skewed or biased. Even so, when used with coaching, the 360-degree assessment offers valuable insight into how others perceive the leader and provides the leader with starting points for open and honest discussion and change.

When combined with coaching and honest self-reflection, goal setting, and follow-up, the 360-degree assessment takes on cheat code-like transformative power. In their study published in the journal Medical Education, Dr. Karlijn Overeem and his team found that when followed up by performance coaching, the 360-degree assessment moved hospital executives to have in-depth and honest conversations to find the truth in the more biased feedback. By locating and discussing the truth, the clients more quickly discovered items for improvement and identified and met actionable improvement goals than those without coaching. Companies like and Qualtrics XM offer online pre-built and user-adjustable 360-degree assessments that coaches may administer to clients using any connected Internet device. While primarily used in professional circles, coaches can adjust the questions to fit any situation and focus. With data and feedback generated from the 360-degree assessment, coaches unlock cheat codes for goal discovery and catapult their clients to faster goal setting and attainment.  

Motivational Gifts Survey

In 2015, Dr. Bruce Winston and Dr. Dorena DellaVecchio concluded a study and published a seven-scale instrument that measures the seven motivational gifts found in Romans 12. Later, Dr. DellaVecchio launched an online test which aggregates users’ test results and publishes the results in an easy-to-read PDF format. Coaches may locate this test by navigating to In his 2018 book, Biblical Principles of Hiring and Developing Employees, Dr. Winston outlined the seven motivational gifts: perceiving, serving, teaching, encouraging, giving, ruling, and mercy. Additionally, Dr. Winston shared that the over 20 studies completed to date found positive correlations between a person’s motivational gifts that match the job they fill to high job satisfaction. High Job satisfaction led to lower stress, higher attendance, high performance, and higher retention. 

Coaches should use the test’s results in several ways to benefit job seekers and professionals. Coaches should use client’s Motivational Gifts Test results to aid them in obtaining positions that correlate with their gifts. For example, the client may have a high score in serving or perceiving, but the client feels they should score higher in ruling. This score mismatch could be due to the client being employed in an area that requires high ruling and less serving. The coach could use this information to help the client gain insight into other professional opportunities which fit better with the client’s perceived gifts. In her 2016 Dissertation study titled Profiles of Entrepreneurs: Discriminant and Cluster Analyses of the Romans 12 Motivational Gifts and Locus of Control as Predictors of Entrepreneurs and a Canonical Analysis of the Romans 12 Motivational Gifts and IEO, Dr. Lydia Knopf found that some jobs, like entrepreneurial positions, required high scores in all gifts areas while other professions did not. Armed with this type of information, coaches can use cheat codes to aid professionals, employees, and executives locate occupations that better match their profile and increase job satisfaction and productivity or even find more suitable job candidates for the jobs they offer.

CliftonStrengths Assessment

Invented by Dr. Donald Clifton, the CliftonStrengths Assessment helps people identify their strengths and find ways to improve them. In the book titled, Strengths Based Leadership: Great Leaders, Teams, and Why People Follow, Gallup Inc. explain the CliftonStrengths Assessment operates in a Positive Psychology realm (where leaders focus on strengths, rather than weaknesses) that identifies the 34 strength groups and lists them in numerical order of superiority as used by the test taker. Working from this viewpoint, the test taker receives feedback on what they do right instead of what they do wrong. In their book, Gallup also disclosed that after nearly 50 years of polls and studies, they found that the most influential leaders invest in their strengths. They surround themselves with the right people and help them maximize their strengths and understand their followers’ needs. While mildly expensive, coaches can use the CliftonStrengths Assessment in several ways. 

Coaches should use the CliftonStrengths Assessment to alert clients and leaders to their strengths and design an action plan to improve specific strengths. In his 2019 Dissertation study titled A qualitative analysis of a midwestern community College’s employees’ use of CliftonStrengths, Dr. Isaac Newman determined employees benefited from learning about their strengths. Most study participants found the assessment results highly accurate. When combined with coaching, employees and leaders can realize their strengths and visualize them in numerical order. Because the client is working on a strength, they work harder and faster towards goal attainment. Additionally, leaders can better formulate supervisory and management interactions that focus on strengths instead of shortcomings armed with this information. With the strengths-based information, coaches secure cheat codes that unlock a leader’s ability to identify strengths and formulate plans for continued growth.


Even as a kid, I worked to find faster and easier ways to accomplish goals. Most of my dreams at that time were beating evil game villains or saving pixelated princesses. Upon discovering the Game Genie, I unlocked cheat codes to powers previously unknown yet not unwanted. I save princesses and vanquished villains. As a coach, I love to find ways to unlock cheat codes for streamlining improvement. Using a 360-degree Assessment, I quickly locate behaviors and qualities that others perceive as faults, strengths, or weaknesses. We discuss the findings and find the truth, then design actions for growth. When using the Motivational Gifts Survey, we unlock cheat codes based on Romans 12, which aid leaders and clients in matching professions better suited to their gifts or find ways to match their gifts with their current job. Lastly, by using the CliftonStrengths Assessment, clients secure cheat codes into how their strengths stack up. Once stacked, we work on growing other strengths and increasing already high-scoring strengths. Armed with the cheat codes from these three assessments, coaches can streamline their process and fast-track client growth.

How does it apply to you in your life?
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