I recently took part in a mock interview process with some high school seniors. One of the questions I asked was, “Can you tell me about your strengths?”
Every single student I interviewed struggled to answer that question.
On Strengths and Struggles
One of the students asked if he could talk with me some more about the question I asked.
He said, “Nobody has ever asked me about what I think my strengths are.”
He went on to say this discouraging statement:
- His athletic coaches point out his weak technique and they make him train and practice to develop his weaker skills.
- His teachers point out areas where he should focus on his studies
- His parents excel at pointing out things he should do better.
Many people have become masters at pointing out other people’s flaws; however, there is a lot of research out there that supports the notion that we grow when we emphasize our strengths instead of trying to fix our lack.
For example, the Gallup Organization conducted a 30-year study revealing that spending time building upon your strengths was much more productive than logging countless hours in trying to shore-up your weaknesses. They have published a classic book, Now, Discover Your Strengths, based on their revolutionary findings.
Leadership in Focus
We are masters in knowing our flaws and our weaknesses and many of us have spent a lifetime trying to repair and fix those flaws and weaknesses while our strengths are simply taken for granted. Imagine how your life could improve if instead of focusing on your weaknesses, you could be true to who you are by focusing and capitalizing on your strengths!
It takes curiosity, courage, and a sense of optimism to determine and acknowledge what your strengths are. When you can align your strengths and your career goals — watch out!
It’s like rocket fuel for your future success!
Leaders and Managers
Great leaders know their strengths and they use them to their advantage. In 2007, CareerBuilder conducted a survey and they found that 84% of the nation’s workforce is unhappy in their job. Following are some key elements that leaders and managers can blend into their organizations:
- Understand your employees’ talents and strengths are enduring and unique.
- You should position and develop each employee so that their talents are turned into strengths.
- Hire smart — surround yourself with the right people and have a well-rounded team.
- The greatest room for growth comes from focusing on the areas of greatest strength.
Coaches Challenge: Identify Your Strengths
Discovering your strengths is placing emphasis on your authentic self putting you on the path of self-improvement and on your way to achieving even more success and happiness. Following are ten questions you should answer to start identifying your strengths:
- What 2-3 things do you do better than your friends and colleagues?
- What are your hopes and dreams?
- What do you enjoy doing?
- What energizes you or makes you feel invigorated?
- What do you concentrate on?
- What makes you feel strong?
- What makes you special and unique?
- In what areas do you excel in learning or have a sense of satisfaction in learning?
- What are your patterns of success? (What were you doing when you achieved success?)
- How can you capitalize on your strengths?
Be strong! Be courageous! Face up to your natural talents!
So what are you doing to understand your natural strengths? How are you capitalizing on them? What are you doing to understand, align, and carry out a strengths-based program for your team? How are you balancing any corresponding struggles that naturally come with each strength? I would love to hear your thoughts!
Michelle (Shellie) Seyfarth, PhD is President of Seyfarth Diversified Strategies, LLC.
She serves as an executive coach, business coach, and dynamic workshop facilitator
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