Leverage to Your Strengths

DG-leverage-strengths_pt1Over the last decade, self-help, coaching and leadership professionals have been placing greater emphasis on positivity and personal strengths. The goal is to help clients maximize what they have and better leverage their inherent talents.

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience and the passion to reach for the stars to change the
world.” 
— Civil-rights activist Harriet Tubman

Large corporations like Wells Fargo, Intel, Best Buy, Toyota and Yahoo now require employees to take surveys that measure talents and strengths. Their CEOs recognize that company success depends on leveraging what already works instead of trying to fix what’s broken.

This approach is logical: You cannot learn how to ensure safety at a nuclear power plant by studying Russia’s Chernobyl disaster. You’re better off reviewing what a successful cleanup entails.

Assessing Your Strengths

Regardless of your job or industry, you can’t always do what you love. Your job description will include responsibilities that challenge you or try your patience.

In my work as a coach, I often hear from clients about such job mismatches. Sometimes, your job will require you to do things you’re not that good at, and for which you don’t do your best work. It’s tough and disagreeable, but you do it anyway.

You can, however, find a way to play to your strengths and approach tasks in ways that bring your best work to light.

First, you’ll need to identify your top five strengths, as well as your five greatest weaknesses. Several excellent books can walk you through the self-assessment process:

  1. Strengths Based Leadership by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie
    (Gallup Press, 2008)
  2. StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath (Gallup Press, 2007)
  3. Go Put Your Strengths to Work: 6 Powerful Steps to Outstanding Performance
    by Marcus Buckingham (Free Press, 2007)

WorKuno.com also offers a free online strengths. As the site notes: “It is hard for people to value and to know their strengths because they don´t see any value in doing an activity that is easy for them; they believe that everybody else can do it. When people realize that what they do easily is extremely hard and valuable for others, they normally will focus more deeply on improving their strengths, which ultimately affects their overall performance.”

What’s been your experience at work? Are you using your strengths? I’d love to hear about how you manage these challenges.

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