This week, I’m excited to welcome back guest blogger Lisa Penn to talk about the importance and value of knowing your strengths. Since we last heard from Lisa, she has become a Gallup-certified Strengths Coach. She has also assumed a new position at SEI as the Director of Coaching for our SEI Wealth Platform Development and Operations teams. She is practicing what she preaches, building a career that plays to her strengths.
Last October, Al and I had a conversation on the power of knowing your strengths as a leader. He invited readers of this blog to take the StrengthsFinder assessment, not only to understand your limitations, but to know and “own” your strengths. As leaders, taking this assessment can have career-long benefits that not only help you as an individual, but can strengthen your effectiveness as a leader, as well.
What is a strength, really? It can be such an overused word in business. To help put it into context, watch this video (it’s just a few minutes long) of Al and me discussing the anatomy of a strength and also how important it is for our talents to be “fed.”
How hungry are your talents?
The video explains that we are given talents, but it is our obligation to “know what we have” – and nurture that with skills and knowledge so that our talents become strengths.
I talk about the importance of “feeding” your talents. When I coach leaders, this piece of information is often an “a-ha” moment. We all seem to know when we are happy or frustrated at work and attribute it to specific activities. But, at the heart of it, what is really happening is those activities are either calling upon your TALENTS or they’re not. Your business relationships either honor your talents or they don’t. The “a-ha” happens when you realize that the utilization of your talents – the feeding of them – is at the heart of your workplace efficiency and effectiveness. Your talents act as your own personal compass to lead you to increased fulfillment in your role. If the talents are not happy, no one is happy.
Your talents aren’t going to feed themselves
The first step in the StrengthsFinder process is taking the assessment and learning what your personal talents are. But that’s just the beginning. It is your responsibility to make sure your talents are being fed. No one is going to do that for you. But I have learned a few things over the years that may help.
Here are the top three ways to ensure your talents are being fed:
- Know and own your talents. You have to know what you have before you know what needs to be fed.
- Align yourself in a role that maximizes your talents. Review your job responsibilities to ensure your talents are being “called up” and perhaps you can enhance your current role just by using a talent that may currently be dormant.
- Talk about your talent areas. We often need to be our own marketing agent when we discuss current and future role responsibilities. For example, I can effectively coordinate different components of a product launch (Talent: Arranger); it is easy for me to see and talk about the future state of our company (Talent: Futuristic); I can see and get the best out of people (Talent: Maximizer).
Feed your talents until they are full
These are intentionally uncomplicated ways to feeding your talents. When we work within our strengths, everything is easier for us as individuals. But you have to know what they are and how to apply them in your daily role – and then never stop doing that. If you make a commitment to this, I believe that you will be more engaged, more productive and more successful as you progress in your career. You will also feel more fulfilled in your contributions to your company, your team and yourself.