The Importance of Playing to Your Strengths

Posted by on Mar 29, 2011 in ComLead, Organizational Leadership

I think it is safe to say that people enjoy what they are good at. Knowing your strengths is important to success, whether on an individual level or in a team. “Putting Your Company’s Whole Brain to Work” describes how being aware of thinking patterns as well as the thinking patterns of your team-mates impacts outcomes. It seems self-evident, but let’s explore some more.

Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton describe talents as being unique and relatively static. The key to building strengths is narrowing talents and then refining them with knowledge and skills. In order to build upon those talents and enhance strengths, evaluation is necessary. These authors created the StrengthsFinder assessment. It places talents and strengths into themes and helps to explain how to manage them. Some of the thirty-four themes include: Analytical, Ideation and Strategic. Although, it seems strange to focus on strengths instead of weaknesses in order to enhance your management skills, Buckingham and Clifton suggest that focusing on the weaknesses of your strengths is more advantageous.

Numerous times that innovation starts with getting the right people in the room: those who do not think like you. It is natural to gravitate towards the opinion of someone who thinks like you. They typically align with the way you see something. This is not the most effective way to produce the best results. A strong idea begins with a strong understanding of the task at hand and a diverse perspective on how to approach it. By focusing on the weaknesses of your strengths, you can surround yourself with people who can counter them.

StrengthsFinder isn’t the only test that proposes a way to define strengths. WorkPlace Big Five, DiSC and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator are assessments that have similar intent. I asked a classmate what it was like to take WorkPlace Big Five, and the response was positive. While the information is enlightening, it is also overwhelming. It is difficult enough to produce a solution, but then add in the complexity of navigating the strengths of each member? Although clearly not easy, the outcomes can be worth it.

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