“What are 3 things you do really well that differentiate you from others?” I asked my client last week. She is in a sales position in a technology company and is in the process of working toward a new leadership role. We were discussing how to improve her executive presence.
“I don’t know” she said and then caught herself because she knows that the next question I’ll ask her is “well, if you did know, what would at least one of them be”? She laughs and reframes. “I’ve always had solid relationships with my clients. I think they trust that I will consistently deliver great work. I am also constantly trying to introduce new ideas or expand existing ones – bringing the most innovative solutions to them that I can. So I guess it’s relationship building and innovative thinking”.
“Great”, I say and start to continue further down the path of exploration.
She continues. “But that’s easy. Anyone in sales has to do these things well to be successful. So I’m not sure that what I do is any better or different than anyone else”.
If I could count the number of times that this comment comes right after strengths are discussed. The underlying assumption seems to be: if it feels easy to me, then it must be easy for everyone else as well.
Ah, not so.
We referenced a copy of her Strengthfinder 2.0 test that she’s taken and reviewed her top 3 strengths (there are 34 themes with Strengthfinder).
- Maximizer - Focus on strengths as a way to stimulate personal and group excellence. They seek to transform something strong into something superb.
- Ideation - Fascinated by ideas. They are able to find connections between seemingly disparate phenomena.
- Relator - Enjoy close relationships with others. They find deep satisfaction in working hard with people to achieve a goal.
“Can you think of a person in a similar role whose success may come from strengths other than these?” I asked her.
And of course she could and she did!
What I consistently see when working with executives and teams is that it’s hard to understand the impact that we have on others – and equally as hard to not only understand, but to acknowledge our strengths. Sometimes we intuitively experience, see or feel other people’s strengths more easily than our own.
So what can you do?
First of all, it’s important to understand what a strength really is. Gallup’s describes it is a strength if it’s naturally performed repeatedly, happily, and creates success when it’s implemented. Second, once you are aware of your strengths you can leverage them in various ways. Below are some tips, suggestions, and resources:
- Buy the Strengthfinder test: It’s simple and inexpensive.
- For yourself:
- List parts of your job where you’re able to utilize your strengths. If some of your strengths aren’t being utilized, find an opportunity.
- Pick one strength each day to have on your radar. (5 strengths and 5 days per week so why not try a different one each day?). Then find opportunities throughout your workday to leverage each particular strength.
- Hire a coach to help you through this process! (Yes, we happen to do this!)
- For your team:
- Have the full team assess their strengths and share their results.
- Find opportunities to incorporate strengths into team meetings. (I’ve worked with teams that have built meeting agreements in which they make time to identify not only the individual strengths exhibited but also its impact on the group. Viewing each person through a lens of positivity & strength has had a big impact on the energy within the team).
- Compile the team’s results to uncover the areas that you can collectively leverage. Strength-based Leadership is an excellent resource for teams (and individuals).
- And…. Hire a coach to help you with your team!
These are just a couple of suggestions as there are many ways to leverage strengths.
Contact us if you’re interested in learning more about the work that Kraft Your Success is currently doing utilizing Strengths-based as well as other programs.
*conversation has been paraphrased and used as point of illustration – and is anonymous as all work is confidential.
Note: Kraft Your Success utilizes, but does not get any benefit from mentioning Strengthfinder resource.