Back at the formal start of Positive Psychology in 1998 one of the many challenges was the lack of an agreed way to characterize and measure good character… on the assumption that good character is one of the elements of positive human development. A project created in 2000 by the Mayerson Foundation called the Values in Action Institute, now known simply VIA Character, was the start of the VIA Classification of Character Strengths.
The classification came about through a broad study to identify cross cultural, morally valued virtues and strengths of character. Led by Professors Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman, it includes 24 character strengths such as teamwork, kindness, creativity and authenticity.
Today, I love using VIA Character as one of the tools to help people understand their strengths… I say love using it because being able to spend time with somebody talking about their strengths and how that translates into what they are great at, has been a universally positive experience on both side. And with the recent release of the VIA Character Team Report, using VIA Character with teams has become even easier.
Practically, being clear about our strengths can make working on and choosing projects or work assignments easier; and if you’re able to adjust or tweak your work so you can emphasise your strengths, it can make an enormous difference to both effectiveness and enjoyment.
In a team, sharing character strengths can help to grow the bond between the individuals and foster and improve the chances of successful collaboration – and so the results of the team. It can also help highlight gaps that can be consciously compensated for or at least considered.
VIA have recently published a video study with Allied Health in Wisconsin, USA which shows how they’ve used VIA Character… it’s worth a view.
If you have any problems viewing the video in the page, you can watch it here)