I recently participated in StrengthsQuest, which is an assessment to determine what my strengths are. It is designed to help everyone learn ways to leverage their talents at work in order to help them become more engaged, productive, and successful. I have to admit that I am always very skeptical of any type of tool that’s gong to try to sum me up after a short period of asking questions. Much to my dismay, I think this thing nailed it.
I don’t think it revealed anything about me that I wasn’t already aware of. It did, however, provide me with some tools to articulate or explain how I operate and what types of things in the workplace suit my strengths. One of the premises of StrengthsQeust is the position that we need to spend more time fostering our strengths and less time worrying about our weaknesses. They certainly don’t suggest ignoring them altogether, but instead encourage people to put energy into getting better at what they are good at already.
So, what are you good at? What are your strengths? I would hope they suit your profession well enough so that you have the tools and skills necessary to be successful. And if not, what can you build on? Looking from the outside in, if you were a client, would you seek your professional services? The people who I want to follow and learn from are leaders who are:
- Educated, open-minded
- Up to date and current in their chosen field
- Hard workers
So, have you considered some self-reflection lately? I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary to have an expensive assessment to take a look at what you do well. Consider asking colleagues or having your annual performance assessment include input from people you supervise, clients, co-workers and others. To be successful in our line of work, it’s important that you work developing your strengths – beyond just the physical. We are leaders. It comes with the territory. Whether we are leading one person, or a group, we need to be strong and confident in our abilities.
Over the years I have participated in a few different types of assessments. I have been able to learn these things about myself through those processes:
- I am introverted and deliberate. I hate small talk and prefer authentic relationships.
- I seek knowledge and live by my own standards.
- I am a skeptic. I need explanation and answers.
- I value intelligence, insight, fairness, and justice.
- I am a natural non-conformist and visionary.
- I am a problem solver and strategic in my thought patterns.
But more importantly, I have also found that people may see me this way:
- Arrogant, aloof – hard to approach
- Afraid to open up
- Unappreciative or stingy with praise
So, I try to find balance of finding the work that suits my strengths and adding value to my team, while being aware of my weakness and how people might perceive me. I’m working on both. It’s a balancing act. I encourage you to do the same. Here are some suggestions for building on your strengths while addressing that you have weaknesses:
- Spend some time with self-reflection. Do some journaling after things go great, and things that don’t go so well. Some patterns may emerge and give you some insight as to what you are good at and what you aren’t so good at.
- Sometimes some of our greatest stressors at work come from doing things that we just aren’t that good at. Could you examine your responsibilities and discuss them with your supervisor – or collaborate with someone who IS good at those things?
- Ask some people who know you well what they think about your skill set. If you aren’t comfortable with doing this in person, you can use survey tools to get anonymous input.
- Set goals related to professional development outside of the technical part of your job. We all LOVE going to conferences learning hands-on skills, current trends and otherwise. But, what about developing leadership, interpersonal, and other necessary skills?
- Seek out a mentor who can help you with your professional development.