You know what? The key to success in whatever you are working towards has a very simple and doable answer: follow your leadership strengths instead of trying to fix your weaknesses. That’s right, hear it again my fellow type A, perfectionists – you don’t have to be good at everything. In fact, if you try to be good at everything, you won’t be great at anything.
It does sound counter-intuitive, as it’s human nature to ‘fix’ things, to solve problems, fill the gaps. But strengths-based leadership is now a well-known leadership and success approach. It stresses tactics where you find and follow your strengths to maximize your productivity and performance.
The benefits of following your leadership strengths
A study by Harvard Business Review found that awareness of faults doesn’t translate into better performance. The truth is, you may never fully overcome your weaknesses, but you can make significant changes to how you live and work by focusing on what you are good at. Our own perfectionism inhibits the full use of our talents, undermines our self-confidence and creates paralysis from fear of making mistakes. Remembering that you don’t need to be all-knowing and all-talented supports our own resilience, progress, and success. It’s somewhat freeing, isn’t it? You don’t have to change who you are, you just have to become more of who you are.
How to find and follow your leadership strengths
So how do you go about finding your leadership strengths, so that you can leverage and grow them? Several ideas for you below:
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The gallup “Strengths Finder” book and assessment (Amazon aff. link) is the one that started it all. It’s the definitive book and accompanying online questionnaire that shows you your top strengths, hundreds of strategies for applying your strengths, and will change the way you look at yourself, and get you on the road to leveraging your strengths to the max. It is a reference that I find myself going back to again and again as I encounter new challenges and new personalities to work with.
16personalities is an online, free test, requiring no registration, that outlines your personality aspects (mind, energy, nature, tactics, identity), with each aspect forming a scale, and your place on that scale combines to provide insight into your preferred role and strategies.
Also an online, free test, requires you to create a login. After answering a series of questions, you are given your ‘high 5’ strengths, along with a detailed description of each, and options for more in-depth reports.
Watch for your own signs of excitement
When you engage in an activity you are truly good at, your excitement is visible. Your pupils dilate, your speech is fast and fluid, and your arms spread wider. Ask a close mentor when you appear most animated or observe yourself for a day. When do you feel most engaged? Most energized? When people are using their strengths, they pop out of the backdrop.
Notice what you do differently than everyone else
In a situation where you are truly using your strengths, you will stand out from a crowd. Your approach will be unique. To find your strengths, you want to identify those moments and articulate how you are different.
Happy leadership strengths-finding!