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Knowing Your Strengths

May 22, 2013

One of my favorite mythological stories is that of Achilles – this mortal man, favored by the gods, was dipped in the river Styx and therefore given a unique suit of invisible armor that protected him from harm. Story after story are told about how he was honored for his skills, passions, and strengths. Because he focused on his strengths, he was said to have been the greatest warrior, never losing in battle. While there is some variation among stories depicting his death, they all focus on an arrow shot to his heel – giving us the common name for the tendon on the back of our heel.

Indeed we each have weaknesses. Weaknesses that can signify the end of our success in virtually any business endeavor. While it is good to know these, and avoid exposing them, investing energy towards overcoming them could be seen as a waste. In the story of Achilles; it is not mentioned that anyone knew of his weakness – not even himself.

When we take the time to discover and honor our individual strengths, we can grow easily, almost effortlessly. While there are many tools to help us discover these; I find the greatest impact with the Clifton StrengthsFinder with access through either StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath; strengths finderor Strengths Based Leadership by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie.

strength based leadership

The assessment measures each person across 34 unique themes and reveals your top 5 strengths. Knowing these can serve as a foundation for career choices as well as building a successful company.

But the real power is in applying this across your team. While helping clients through this process we always discover hidden talents and errors in assignments. By knowing the natural strengths of their team, leaders can refine their communication styles and cater to individual preferences with greater ease. I even have some clients using this assessment as part of their hiring process – to make sure they employ people with the necessary strengths to both blend and grow the culture.

By using a common language of strengths, and a practice of honoring them in everyone; I have seen company cultures change and congeal very quickly. It seems we naturally understand the benefit of diversity in these strengths. Though I may not be a high Achiever, I can hire someone who is – especially someone who needs my unique skills.

When I was first introduced to this tool, I was confused about my position and career in sales with a particular company. While some aspects stimulated me (building relationships with clients to help them grow) others provided minimal impact (contests and competitions). After learning my strengths, I began finding ways to utilize them, drastically increase my commissions, and ultimately started my own consulting business – based on the concept of honoring each others’ strenghs, skills, and passions.

It is not surprising that my top 5 themes are: Strategic, Maximizer, Futuristic, Ideation, Relator

After taking the assessment, I invite you to share yours here.

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