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Leverage your strengths - know your weaknesses

Updated: Feb 22, 2022

With the New Year fast approaching, you may be thinking about making some changes in your career. Perhaps this year, you’re finally going to push for that promotion, transition within your organisation or seek new employment entirely.

Whatever your circumstances, when you’re looking to change jobs, being able to discuss your strengths and weaknesses is an essential part of the process. Whether you’re still updating your CV or at interview stage, you must be prepared to discuss your competencies.

True success lies in knowing your weaknesses and playing to your strengths.”
Sophia Amoruso.

In a work environment, being compared to your peers is commonplace. If you wish to stand out and climb that corporate ladder, you must know what your strengths are to leverage them.

Weaknesses are a little different. You need to be conscious of them, but how much attention you should give them, depends on how pertinent they are to achieving our desired role.

Make a List

The first step in familiarising yourself with your strengths and weaknesses is to get them down on paper.

That sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? After all, who do we know better than ourselves?

Then, why is it so hard to write them down?

There is a deep-rooted awkwardness in Britain when it comes to ‘bigging up oneself’; no one wants to come across as arrogant.

In fact, because of our self-deprecating humour, us Brits tend to spend more time joking about the things we’re bad at, than banging our own drum. Unfortunately, such negativity can be detrimental to our confidence.

Knowing your strengths doesn’t mean you need to shout them from the rooftops; you do, however, need to be self-aware. Knowing and accepting you’re good at something builds underlying levels of self-esteem and confidence; do this, and people will start to see your strengths for themselves.

On the other hand, maybe you can already identify your strengths, but it’s the weaknesses you struggle with. Often, this comes from a place of fear; you may be afraid to voice your weaknesses in case they somehow hold you back or make you vulnerable.

The issue here is the word ‘weakness.’ If, instead of something negative, you think of weaknesses as an opportunity for growth, it may make you more inclined to nurture them.

In simple terms, until you are brutally honest and can admit to yourself what you struggle with, you won’t know what to work on; this means YOU will be holding yourself back.

“Being aware of your own weakness, could be your biggest strength.”
Gordon Hester.

Ask your (trusted) Colleagues

Whether you’re having trouble identifying your strengths and weaknesses or not, it’s always a good idea to ask the people you work with/have worked with, for their opinions too.

Our colleagues see us at our best and our worst; these people know you.

If you don’t feel comfortable asking, or the situation is too sensitive to speak with people inside your own organisation, that’s when working with an Executive Coach can help. More about that soon…

Personality Tests

At this point in your career, you will most likely have heard of the Myers Brigs Test, Caliper Tests and/or DiSC Profiling. The use of personality analysis in recruiting is abundant in the corporate sector, so odds are, you may even already know what ‘personality type’ you are.

If you don’t, get ready to find out on your next move.

80% of Fortune 500 companies use personality tests to assess potential and current employees to make hiring, team building and developmental decisions.”
Rachel Butler, Helios HR

A personality test uses a series of situation-based questions and psychometrics to identify your personality traits, likes and dislikes, strengths, and weaknesses. If you’re struggling to identify areas of strength or are unsure exactly what direction to head in, these tests are a great way of getting to know yourself a little better.

To grow yourself, you must know yourself.
John C. Maxwell

Read a Book

If you’re still having trouble identifying your strengths, there’s a book I can recommend:

Strength Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath (based on the psychological assessment, Clifton Strengths – by Don Clifton).

The American Psychological Association describes Donald O. Clifton as “the father of strengths-based psychology and grandfather of positive psychology.”

Tom Rath’s book provides you with a code that gives you access to the comprehensive Clifton Strengths quiz about yourself; the result of which is finding out what your top 5 strengths are.

These strengths are then described in great detail within the book; there’s also tips on how to improve them, leverage them and suggestions for career direction.

“Our definition of weakness is anything that gets in the way of excellent performance.”
Donald O. Clifton

What’s Next?

You’ve written your lists, asked your peers or consulted a professional and completed a personality test. Now what? Where do you find yourself?

You may have discovered you already have your ducks in a row and can now make that move towards your dream role. In that case shine, my friend; shine like the star that you are. Let people see what you’re good at. Write about your strengths in your CV, talk about them at interviews. Leverage those skills to get you to where you want to be.

Or perhaps you’ve realised that you still have areas you need to work on; gaps in your knowledge or a skill that’s gotten rusty.

Maybe, as a result of exploring your strengths and weaknesses, you’re now looking to take your career in an entirely new direction.

In the latter two cases, you need to make sure that you are completely clear about what you want to do in your career and then develop the skills you need to be highly successful in that space.

In other words, only spend time working on a weakness If it will assist you in reaching your career goal. If it’s not pertinent to your journey, it’s nothing but a distraction.

“Stop getting distracted by the things that have nothing to do with your goals.”

I once wrote a development plan for my goal to become a sub 10 handicap golfer. I love golf and I lived the game, but I was rubbish! I did, however, religiously follow my development plan and within 6 months, I’d had my first sub 10 round.

If your goals are SMART (See my previous article) and you have a great development plan, then the steps required of you to reach that summit should already be pretty well defined. All you really need then, is absolute commitment (and/or a great Executive Coach ) to get you there.

As a coach, it’s my job to help you to figure out exactly what it is that you want to do, develop a solid plan with you to get you there, and then ensure that you stick to it.

Why not let me help you to be all you can be, in 2022.

If anything in this article has resonated with you or if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Or pick up the phone: 07799474776

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