Quick, tell me the top 5 things you’re good at. What are the 3 most valuable traits you bring to your company? Can’t do it? I’ll bet you can tell me what you’re not good at. Many of us spend more time focused on (and trying to fix) what we’re not good at, instead of discovering, appreciating, and cultivating our strengths.
Or, we know we’re adding value at work, but we haven’t been able to articulate it to ourselves or others. It’s true, if you don’t know your value, how will anyone else?
The strengths we possess and the value we add should be obvious, but often, it’s not.
Be intentional about knowing your value and strengths – you will gain clarity, inspiration, and motivation with one simple act of self-discovery. Today, you can discover your Strengths.
Last year a friend who is a highly effective executive coach for leaders and emerging leaders in the Fortune 500 mentioned the Strengthsfinder assessment to me. I had never heard of it. I’ve taken various “assessments” over the years – including Myers-Briggs and DISC – but this one was different.
Out of curiosity, I went to Strengthsfinder and spent $10 and 20 minutes to discover my top 5 Strengths.
What followed was a series of epiphanies that led to motivation, action and momentum.
Turns out that for most of my career, I had not recognized, or had downplayed a few of my key Strengths. That habit I have of spurring others to take action in pursuing goals and objectives? It’s not just a nice thing I do to be helpful – it is one of my key Strengths, called Activator.
My love of collecting, curating, and sharing information is not a time-sinking, hoarding habit, it’s a Strength called Input. (And probably explains why I won $11,500 on a TV game show when I was 24!) A lot of writers and journalists also possess Input.
For years, my husband has said one of the best things I ever did for him was to encourage him to act on his dream of starting a company. Since I also had this dream, we embarked on this together (we had previously daydreamed out loud about starting a company on our first date!)
My support of his aspiration to start a company was not that of a sacrificial spouse (lots of spouses do not want the entrepreneur’s life) – it was simply an expression of who I am, I was born this way – and after taking the Strengthsfinder assessment, I gained a new appreciation for it.
Now, let’s talk about you. Whether you’re an executive, an emerging entrepreneur, or you are reinventing your career, I encourage you to discover your Strengths. You will make the impact you want, be happier and receive the rewards you deserve.
When we identify our strengths and focus on them, we are more productive, perform better, are more engaged, and have greater joy in work and life.
Do you anticipate potential issues more easily than others? You may have a Strength called Strategic.
Are you able to transform ideas into immediate action? Activator may be a Strength that describes you.
Do you excel in new entrepreneurial projects within your organization? Your Strength may be Futuristic.
What are Strengths?
Strengths are a unique combination of your skills, talents, knowledge and experience. You have many Strengths, some are obvious, but many others aren’t. Many of your Strengths go underutilized, unappreciated, and too often, unrewarded.
Gallup offers a streamlined approach to help you discover your Strengths (they’ve been doing the research with nearly 12 million people over 20 years). It is easier than you can imagine – all you need is 20 minutes and $10 to take the assessment and receive a detailed report about YOU. (btw, I am not an affiliate or in any way associated with Gallup.)
After you take the Strengthsfinder assessment online, here’s what you can expect:
1. A list of the top 5 ways you stand out in the form of an easy to read, customized report with a description of your top five Strengths.
2. Ideas for Action: a tailor made step by step guide on how to appreciate, maximize, and take action today that will dramatically increase your engagement and satisfaction in your work immediately.
3. A huge boost in confidence and clarity that comes from a greater appreciation of how valuable you are.
4. A new vocabulary to describe what you do best, and how to articulate the value you bring to your work and life. You can use this vocabulary instantly in your work as you communicate with others about your projects, goals, expectations, and as you advocate for your value, ask for a raise and promotion.
Many people I’ve advised or mentored have found this vocabulary powerful in navigating their current positions, and in providing them more impactful descriptions of their value as they update their resumes or LinkedIn profiles, for example.
5. A new appreciation for attributes that you have previously undervalued in yourself. I spoke about my Input strength above – I used to think that my lifelong habit of saving news articles in a file was a mild case of hoarding! I actually felt a bit guilty about it – instead of celebrating the value it has always added.
Strengths are often the traits that come quite naturally to you, not everyone is as good at certain things as you are, particularly because of the unique combination of Strengths you possess.
6. Improved people skills, including more patience and appreciation for the people you work with.
By knowing your Strengths better, you can identify and appreciate others’. This is a critical workplace asset that can change how you interact with everyone today. You may find that some of the idiosyncrasies that annoy you in others actually represent their Strengths; theirs are different than yours.
Donald O. Clifton, the late professor and creator of Strengthsfinder, once said:
“You are not powerless, even in a job where you are not satisfied. Today, make the investment in understanding and leading with your strengths. Each person’s greatest room for growth is in the areas of his or her greatest strength.”
Knowing your unique capabilities will transform how you perceive yourself and others. You may choose to bring the results of the Strengthsfinder assessment to your organization, your project team, or your management.
Strengthsfinder can also show you how to approach projects, how to choose projects in the first place, and even how to choose reporting relationships when that is a possibility.
Once you have the descriptions on how you stand out, and the Ideas for Action, refer to them often – they will give you greater clarity and confidence each time you do. What could be better than that?!
It’s worth noting that 2 of the books that are constantly on business bestsellers lists are about Strengthsfinder:
Strengthsfinder 2.0 by Tom Rath
Strengths Based Leadership by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie
Being more intentional about understanding your Strengths and value will propel you toward the life and work you were born to do (and, btw, you may be in the right place now, in your current position – with these insights you may just need a tweak or two, or to have a courageous conversation).
When you #KnowYourValue, and you take action to use it and advocate for yourself, you are more engaged and have greater impact and happiness in your work.
Do you know your Strengths and value better than your weaknesses? What are your Strengths?