How to Know Your Strengths

In order to lead from your strengths and leverage them, you first need to know what they are. You might think you know your strengths. Chances are, you are probably wrong. You see, most people overlook their key strengths. Why? Because they are so innate, you don't recognize them as strengths. As Peter Drucker said, ""Most people think they know what they are good at. They are usually wrong" .

A self-leader actively seeks to know more about their strengths and weaknesses. They want to increase their self awareness. They want to know what they are doing well, what works, and the areas in which they need improvement.

There are plenty of personality assessments you could take. I have taken quite a few. In fact, I have a "Personal Development" folder in which I keep track of the different assessments/programs I have taken. One book and tool that I have found most helpful when it comes to directly identifying my strengths is StrengthsFinder2.0. You can either go to the website and take the assessment, or purchase the book.

A quick aside - I had heard of Strengths Finders and purchased the book, but didn't make it a priority until a friend and colleague, Dr Anita Polite-Wilson, who is a certified Strengths Finder coach, encouraged me to take the test.

Built upon years of research from the Gallup organization, the Strengths Finder assessment identifies the top 34 main strengths and identifies your top strengths in order. Each strength is broken out into 4 domains: Executing, Influencing, Relationship Building and Strategic Thinking.

The Executing domain is the active, energetic domain. People with these strengths are the ones who get things done. They are all about speed, execution, focus, responsibility and being disciplined. The strengths are: Achiever, Arranger, Belief, Consistency, Deliberative, Discipline, Focus, Responsibility, & Restorative

The Influencing domain is about moving people to action. Individuals with strengths in this area are good at selling ideas, communicating, winning people over, and commanding a room. They have presence and charisma. The strengths are: Activator, Command, Communication, Competition, Maximizer, Self-Assurance, Significance, & Woo

The Relationship Building domain tends to focus on the human element. These individuals naturally connect with people, look at the impact that decisions have on people, and foster welcoming work environments. The strengths are: Adaptability, Connectedness, Developer, Empathy, Harmony, Includer, Individualization, Positivity & Relator

The Strategic Thinking domain focuses on thinking and problem solving. People with these strengths are great at creative thinking, analysis, learning, and creating plans. The strengths are: Analytical, Context, Futuristic, Ideation, Input, Intellection, Learner & Strategic

The book breaks down each of the 34 strengths. It starts off with a description of the strength and a few examples of how to recognize individuals who have that strength. It then provides ideas for how to leverage that strength, if it is a strength that you have. Afterwards, it gives ideas for how to engage with people who have that strength. It is an easy and instructive read. The material is actionable. If the action steps are implemented, you will find yourself being more productive, and enhance the productivity in your team as well.

I always thought that one of my key strengths was getting things done. Others have recognized that in me as well. However, after taking the assessment, I realized that my main strengths are not in the Executing domain. Of my top 5 strengths, two are in the Strategic Thinking domain, 2 are in the Relationship Building domain, and one is in the Executing domain. Given, my #2 strength is "Achiever", which is the Executing domain; so it is very strong. However, my key strengths lie in my desire to learn, my ability to grasp new concepts, and my willingness to connect with other people, which then helps me achieve more in a team environment. I do get things done. My method is not through brute force; it is through thinking of the options and motivating others.

Knowing this, I can better leverage my strengths. How about you? What are your strengths? Have you missed out on opportunities to leverage your strongest strengths?

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