Does your job leverage your natural strengths?
If you’re doing work that doesn’t tap into your greatest strengths, your performance and motivation will suffer along with your career. In contrast, when you’re aligned with your talents and interests, you gain a wellspring of confidence and expertise, and you do great work with a sense of purpose. Everyone around you benefits, as well.
Workplace strengths are often defined in terms of competencies like teamwork, problem-solving, or leadership, but self-knowledge should not be overlooked. Self-knowledge is a powerful tool that can help you apply your greatest strengths to various aspects of your job, from excelling in your area of expertise to being a strong team collaborator and effective leader. If you’re looking to advance your career, assessing and leveraging your strengths is one of the most critical things you can do.
Assessing and Applying Your Strengths
Here are five tips to help you assess and apply your personal strengths at work.
1. Listen to what others say you’re good at.
What skills do people compliment you on?
Others quite likely see strengths in you that you haven’t noticed. For example, if you often receive positive feedback on your listening skills, creativity, or command of details, pay attention.
Ask a friend or colleague to spend a few minutes reflecting on what she thinks are your greatest strengths. Then, ask yourself if the perceptions ring true.
Did honesty come up as a strength? If so, this quality could manifest at work in the way you tell a client that their budget isn’t sufficient for their project goals, rather than you being labeled a yes-person. Note the return on investment for your transparency (e.g., an expanded budget, the client’s trust, more projects). Be sure to bring it up in your next performance review.
If dedication and reliability came up as strengths, note occasions where these attributes have paid off for your team. If your team relies on you to arrange meetings and set up conferences, include event planning on your résumé.
2. Know what you love.
If you were granted a wish to do anything you wanted for the rest of your working life, what would you choose? This might be an overwhelming proposal, but go for it—dream big!
Look at the things you like to do in and out of work. If you love to write but don’t get a chance to do much at work, explore writing opportunities in your current position like an internal blog or newsletter for your department. If you’re an extroverted developer who loves to talk about your product, look for technical sales opportunities.
Knowing where your gifts and passions lie is essential in creating a career map that plays to your greatest strengths.
3. Find your flow state.
Contemplate an ordinary workday. What types of tasks do you most like diving into? Do you prefer team scrums or writing technical specs with no interruptions? What are you doing at your desk when the hours seem to melt away?
If the hours you spend reviewing new tools for your team fly by, ask for vendor selection project work.
4. Know your relationship style.
Knowing what kind of relationships bring out the best in you and what kind are the most difficult for you will help you navigate professional waters. If one of your main strengths is executing drama-free negotiation, ask for opportunities to serve on purchasing committees or to facilitate informal mediations between team members who don’t see eye to eye.
5. Maximize your specialties.
Many job candidates rely on generalizations to find employment, such as being a “people person” or an “organizational wizard.” These are great attributes, but you’ll stand out more if you give specifics.
Tell employers you are a “wizard at conference planning” or you can “build out project schedules and make accurate estimations like nobody’s business.”
You might have experience working on a marketing team, but you’re really, really excited about SEO. This is a unique skill, and if you master it, you can go far. Maximizing your specialty not only helps your career but also makes you more valuable to your team and organization.
Tapping Strengths from a Leadership Position
If you’re in a leadership role, you probably know the huge benefit that comes from knowing—and tapping into—the strengths of your team members. You can assign the right tasks to the right people with the double benefit of getting the highest quality work done as efficiently as possible.
Then, everyone’s happy.
How have you identified and leveraged your strengths on a project? Let us know in the comments.