Focus on Your Strengths.

I will be a presenter at a national Chamber of Commerce convention soon. While preparing for the presentation, I collaborated with other Chamber professionals and asked, “What is it that you do well?” This has got me reflecting on what are my strengths. Everyone has unique skills and strengths. Often in job interviews, recruiters will ask you what your strengths are, which is an uncomfortable question to answer.

About a year ago, I had the opportunity to take two different personality assessments, one was the Disc, and the other was the Clifton StrengthFinder. I found both these to be insightful. Something surprised me, and some things contracted each other. If you are unsure of your strengths, or better yet, play down your strengths, something which I tend to do here is a few things you can do:

  1. Identify Respondents and ask for feedback.

Ask people from inside and outside of work, both past and present colleagues, friends, mentors, and so on, to answer what your strengths are, followed by specific examples.

  • Recognize Patterns.

This means you read all the respondents’ remarks and take note of the similarities. For example, going back to my example in both personality assessments, it said my top trait is that of a learner. Coincidentally just last week, I had an old friend message me, and during our short text conversation, they told me that they appreciated that I am a lifelong learner.

Too often, we fail to recognize the small and unconscious behaviors we have that make a huge impression on others.

  • Compose Your Self-Portrait

Write a description of yourself based on the accumulated information from the feedback. No bullet points, something like “When I am at my best, I…” Write a two to four-paragraph narrative, which also helps you draw connections between themes in your life… This will serve as a reminder of your previous contributions and as a guide for future action.

For example, if I was to write a self-portrait about myself, it might read something like: “When I am at my best, I stand by my values and integrity. I lead by example and choose the hard right over the easier wrong. I am curious and passionate in learning mode and can work intently and untiringly. I have been able to accomplish hard things and do not always assume I am right or know best. I recognize and give credit to others; I know that I cannot achieve all I do without the support and help of dedicated volunteers.

  • Redesign your Job

Once you have pinpointed your strengths, the next step is to redesign your personal job description, building on what you are good at. For example, I am passionate about leadership; I love to teach others about leadership skills and traits and want to help others succeed and develop into strong, influential leaders.

Too often, people remember criticism and awareness of faults does not translate into better performance. Understanding and recognizing your strengths will help you construct a plan to build on them. It will also help you deal with your weaknesses and gain confidence as you work to address them. Leveraging your strengths helps improve your performance which can lead to promotions or other career opportunities.

By Cheryl Viola, Executive Director & CEO, MBA