Leading With Your Strengths

What if you knew exactly what your strengths are and was able to leverage them every day? What if your colleagues, family and friends knew how to use those strengths to enhance your relationship and achieve goals?

Many people make the mistake of focusing on their shortcomings or weaknesses, when our priority should always be to leverage our strengths. People who use their strengths every day are six times more likely to be engaged on the job, and teams that focus on their strengths are 12.5% more productive, according to Gallup Strengths Center. Innate talents and personality traits are meant to be used daily within relationships, work and hobbies. The issue is that most people don’t know what their strengths are or which opportunities to pursue that will emphasize those talents.

I recently took the Clifton StrenghtsFinder assessment, which is known as the “science of strengths.” This tool is meant to discover your top five strengths, learn how your dominant talents help you excel and begin your journey to better performance and higher engagement. The assessment presents 177 statements that consist of a pair of potential self-descriptors, such as “I read instructions carefully” and “I like to jump right into things.” You are asked to determine which descriptor best describes you and rank how accurately it describes you on a scale. You are only given 20 seconds for each response, which forces you to go with your gut instinct and avoid overthinking the decision.

Immediately following the assessment, you are given your top five strengths, the shared theme description for each and a personalized strengths insight. The personalized strengths insight is incredibly interesting, because it completely customizes that strength to best fit you.

For example, my top strength is “Woo,” which means “winning others over.” The shared theme description is as follows:

People who are especially talented in the Woo theme love the challenge of meeting new people and winning them over. They derive satisfaction from breaking the ice and making a connection with another person.

However, my personalized strength insight for Woo begins as follows:

By nature, you might be candid with others about your challenges, happy moments, and sad events. To some degree, you give freely of your time, energy, and expertise. Perhaps your open nature and willingness to share distinguishes you from others. This partially explains why some people may be attracted to you. Chances are good that you have a facility — that is, an ease and readiness — for speaking. Under very few circumstances do you struggle to find just the right word to express a thought or feeling.

The personalized strength insights are detailed descriptions of your signature talents and are compiled based on each response throughout the assessment. These are meant to give you an in-depth perspective into what makes you unique. This type of insight should be leveraged throughout your work environment and applied on a daily basis.

Companies should use assessments like this when considering where to invest one’s time, energy and attention. Studies show that the best place to start is in an area of strength, which increases productivity, optimism and overall happiness. It’s important to shift focus to strengths and set yourself up for success, in both work and non-work environments.