Mar 25
Stacey Ashley Blog

3 Ways to Identify and Leverage Your Strengths for Leadership

Common sense tells us that spending more time operating in our strengths and leveraging them into our work and leadership means that we can find flow easier and more often. Research from the Corporate Leadership Council confirms this in their study of performance review conversations and the impact having a strengths focus has on the subsequent performance period. Where the focus is on performance weaknesses, subsequent performance actually declines. Where the focus is on performance strengths, then future performance improves.

It makes sense. When you are operating in your strengths you can make the biggest difference. You can have the most impact because you are operating in the area of your potential.

I find when I’m working with leaders that many of them have yet to identify all of their strengths, and so they are finding work hard. They are finding leadership hard. At least harder than it needs to be. It feels like they are always rowing against the tide.

Have you ever felt like this?

I’ve had numerous conversations that start with something like “How do I find out what my strengths are?” or “I’m really good at what I do, but I’m not sure I enjoy it. Where do I go from here?”

Good questions. Identifying your strengths creates an enormous opportunity for you to leverage them.

Before we start identifying your strengths, let me be clear about an important distinction. The difference between a strength and a competence. You can be very good at doing something, very capable, very able. It does not mean it is a strength of yours. If it takes too much of your energy it is unlikely to be a strength. For example, I was a competent accountant early in my career, dealing with lots of fine detail. I found it hard work though because detailed work is not a strength of mine. Instead, it saps my energy.

So, strengths are things that bring you energy, where you find joy, achievement, success, and progress. These are the things where you are more likely to find yourself in flow.

So finding your strengths is the first part of this equation. The second is to build your competence in your areas of strength, so you become capable too. Just because you love to make decisions and this brings you energy, does not automatically make you a good decision maker.

So it is important for you to build capability to support your strengths.  This mean the things you enjoy, that bring you energy, also become the things you are good at. This creates the opportunity for you to capitalise on your own potential. You become equipped to realise your own potential. Which means you can make a bigger, more impactful contribution in your leadership.

Let me help you to understand how you can identify your specific strengths.

Consider the concept of First lead Yourself, the first dimension of leadership. The initial factor here is to Face Up. To know yourself.

First Lead Yourself -venn diagram

1. REFLECTION

Think about times when you have been in flow, when you have found something to be easy or effortless. When you have enjoyed it, when you have found achievement and success and progress in it. Where it has actually created energy for you.

You might reflect every day, or week. You are likely to see patterns emerge around when you feel that energy flowing.

2. FEEDBACK

The second opportunity to ask others for their input.  To elicit feedback specifically about when you have been in flow. When you have made great contribution. When people have noticed that you have really enjoyed what you are doing and that you have brought great energy to it. Perhaps when they have seen you thrive. This is the second way of getting insight into what your strengths might be.

3. PROFILING

The third way to learn about yourself is to undertake some profiling. Typically an independent online assessment that focuses specifically on the areas of strengths. There are a range of profiling options available. From a profiling process, you will gain insight into your strengths. And the opportunities for you to leverage your strengths in your life and work, into your leadership.

“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”

Aristotle

These 3 ways of drawing out information: reflection, feedback, and profiling, will offer you information about your areas of strength. The question then is, whatever will you do with this new information and insight?

Make your leadership life easier and find the flow by operating in your strengths. Build competence in your strengths, then you are better able to make a great contribution. Then what you have is this beautiful intersection of what you know, what you love, and how you can contribute.

How will you leverage your strengths in your leadership?

What is the big opportunity for you?

 

I’d love to know your thoughts.

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