When you feel your best, how do you know? Often you will find you have been playing to your strengths. One of the definitions for ‘strength’ is ‘A good or beneficial quality or attribute of a person or thing.’ Are you aware of your top qualities so you can leverage them more often?
I thought I was self-aware with my strengths—which were listed on my last updated CV as drive, ambition, strong relationship skills, adaptability, passion and responsiveness. When I recently took the VIA Survey of Character Strengths, however, a completely different picture emerged. My top five strengths included ‘Love of Learning’, ‘Gratitude’ and ‘Curiosity and interest in the world.’
Whilst I have always advocated lifelong learning, I thought of it as something I enjoyed instead a character strength. The same too with gratitude, which I saw as a personal practice rather than a strength. Now on reflection, I see feeling thankful and present each day as a strength which makes me a better listener and more empathetic.
Becoming intrigued with strengths, I took the process a step further and took the widely known Clifton StrengthsFinder. My top strengths linked well to my VIA Character Strengths and included ‘Strategic,’ ‘Ideation’ and ‘Maximizer’. I realized through a debriefing session that a complementary strengths partnership for me would be with a “Relator.” I had to laugh as my husband Owain found that this was his number 1 strength-they say opposites attract!
Why is a strengths-based approach beneficial? What I love about the Clifton StrengthsFinder is that there’s only a 1 in 34 million chance that someone has the same top 5 strengths in your order. This makes the approach very unique, different to personality profiling tools where you’re often grouped into a box.
Learn about your strengths from your team
Leading with strengths is a key component of many thriving organizational cultures. A company I visited recently integrates strengths-based speed dating into team meetings. You can try this yourself breaking up into pairs and answering the following fill in the blank statements about each other:
- I see your strengths play out when ___[fill in the blank]___.
- You are your best when ___[fill in the blank]___.
- You can support me leveraging my strengths by ___[fill in the blank]___.
At IECL (where I live in the grey), we are now running a team strengths debrief to see where we each sit in Gallup’s four strength domains of influencing, strategic thinking, executing and relationship building. For workplace teams, it is useful to have a spread across all the domains. You can learn more about strengths and leadership from this Gallup article.
So what does this mean for you?
Are you aware of your strengths? If so, are you able to capitalize on and integrate them into your life every day? What would it mean for you and others around you if you could? A world of possibility!
Tips for unleashing your strengths
As you look to discover and capitalize on your strengths, here are some tips to help the process:
- Discover your strengths through on online survey. (I recommend starting with the VIA Survey of Character Strengths.)
- Write down your top strengths and position them somewhere visible to you every day.
- Share your strengths with your network including a significant other, close friend and leader in the workplace.
- Track how often you play to your strengths in your everyday interactions.
- Ask yourself regularly, “How can I utilize my top strengths more every day?
Let me know what you discover!