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Do you really know your strengths?

15 April 2020

In your last interview, how did you answer the famous question “what are your strengths “? Organized? Working? Resourceful? Is that really what sets you apart? What employers want to know is how you will add value to their business. Unfortunately, most of us struggle to identify our strengths, put them forward and build our careers on them.

Companies whose employees feel that their strengths are maximized are stronger and more robust. Yet studies show that employees in only 20% of organizations feel that their strengths are put forward on a daily basis.

Most organizations are built on two assumptions:

  1. Every individual can become competent in almost any field;
  2. The greatest potential for development of each individual lies in their area of weakness.

Yet, the best managers advocate the following assumptions instead:

  1. Each individual’s talents are enduring and unique;
  2. The greatest potential for growth lies in their greatest strengths.

That being said, this approach does not suggest ignoring your weaknesses, but finding a way to mitigate them and instead focus on your strengths. You will be more successful in a role that highlights your strengths.

In the book “Now discover your strenghts”, authors Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton propose the “StrenghtsFinder” test. This one allows to highlight the 5 main themes of talent of each individual on a possibility of 34 themes (archiever, analytical, communication, developer, empathyetc.). The themes identified by the test do not necessarily represent a current strength. Rather, they correspond to the areas where the individual has the greatest potential.

Buckingham and Clifton define strength as “the result of perfect performance in a specific activity. To hold a strength, you must have the knowledge and skills to do so. These can be acquired, while our talents are innate. Your knowledge will allow you to perform, but never to excel. They determine what you can do, while talent determines how well and how often you will do it.

For example, a person working as a headhunter must acquire the necessary knowledge about the clients, the types of positions to be filled and the skills required in order to ask the right questions in an interview. However, in order to be able to properly identify a candidate and present him or her to the appropriate client, you must have the “Individualization” theme. The headhunter may well understand the positions and the profiles sought, but if he does not have this theme among his strengths, he will always remain an average recruiter.

It is also possible to identify your strengths yourself. Pay attention to your spontaneous and intuitive reactions, especially under stress. These will allow you to reveal your great spheres of talent. A quick learning curve can also help you identify a talent. The same is true when you feel satisfaction from an activity.

Will the results of this test help you determine if you are in the right field? Perhaps. Above all, they will allow you to become aware of your talents and to align your career around them. If you realize that your strengths are not being put forward in your work, it may be time to consider a career change.

Your strengths can also be used outside of work, whether it’s in your involvement or your leisure time. However, some themes may be more difficult to emphasize on a daily basis. This is the case, for example, with the “Learner” theme, which represents the need to always learn.

To achieve this theme outside of work, an individual could make sure to always be learning in their personal life via reading or learning new hobbies.

After reading this article, what strengths do you believe you possess? What is your action plan to develop and promote them? Focus on these and success will be at your feet!

I highly recommend reading the book “Now discover your strenghts” by Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton. The book includes a code to do the “StrenghtsFinder” test. You can also take the test by clicking here on the Gallup website for $49.99.

Catherine Martin, Director, Recruitment/Business Development

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