How to identify and leverage your personal strengths

Companies need employees with different skill sets to better their organizations. The strengths you bring to the workplace are an advantage for both you and your employer. Once you learn to leverage those skills, you can set professional goals and find the best role to complement the strengths you bring to the workplace. In this article, we explain how to leverage your strengths and why this is important to your career.

Why is it important to leverage your strengths in the workplace?

It’s important to leverage your strengths in the workplace so you can thrive in your role. Once you know your best skills, you can use them to your advantage to perform better on daily tasks, set goals to advance in your position within your company or in another job, and become more satisfied with your career.

Leveraging your strengths does the following for you in the workplace:

  • Helps you find the best role: If you use your strengths to your advantage to get a job, you’re more likely to find a position that is the best fit for your skills and interests. Pursue jobs that rely heavily on your strongest abilities.
  • Increases your productivity: Working in a position that utilizes your strengths makes you more productive if you set goals to focus on your strongest abilities to accomplish daily tasks.
  • Sets you up for leadership: Leaders know how to leverage their own strengths and the strengths of others. They act as mentors to identify and grow the strengths of their team.
  • Allows you to grow: Using your strengths to get the most out of your work experience can help you move toward fulfilling your potential in the workplace.

Examples of strengths to leverage at work

Here are some of the key strengths you can learn to leverage at work:

Soft Skills

Here are some examples of the personal attributes that shape how you work and interact with others:

  • Time-management
  • Communication
  • Critical thinking
  • Leadership
  • Attention to detail
  • Creativity
  • Problem-solving
  • Teamwork
  • Adaptability
  • Organization

Hard Skills

Here are some examples of skills you can learn based on training and life experience:

  • Public speaking
  • Writing
  • Coding
  • Website development
  • Graphic design
  • Instruction
  • Programming
  • Operating machines
  • Operating software
  • Skilled trade work (carpentry, plumbing)
  • Sales
  • Mathematics
  • Engineering
  • Drafting
  • Languages

How to leverage your strengths

Your strengths come from your innate and learned skills. Here are the ways you can leverage those strengths while on the job:

1. Define your strengths

Before you can leverage your strengths, you need to understand your unique abilities. There are plenty of ways to determine your own strengths. Here are some ideas to help you find your strengths:

  • Take an assessment: You can find plenty of online assessments meant for professionals that will list your strengths with explanations of each term to help you better define your strongest skills.
  • Ask people you trust: You can always ask trusted contacts to share what they see about your abilities. You can ask a mentor to make a list of the strengths they’ve observed while mentoring you.
  • Find your passions: Take note of the tasks you’ve completed successfully that also energize you. Your strengths come from activities that you enjoy doing and can do well. Ask yourself what kind of tasks come naturally to you.
  • Consider your resume: Review the key attributes you use to describe yourself to employers in your resume. Use this as a guide to understand your stand-out skills and experience.

2. Set professional goals

Ask a manager to help you set goals that use your strengths. Discuss these strengths with your supervisor and focus on strategies that will positively impact your growth and productivity at work. Take time to address these goals throughout the year instead of just during annual reviews. Ask for feedback as you continue to utilize your strengths to achieve your professional aims. It’s important to work on your strengths no matter what role you play in the company.

3. Show evidence of your strengths

Identify the strengths you use most in your current job. Figure out what behaviors and beliefs help you apply these skills to your advantage. Then, determine what evidence you can produce that shows your strengths in the workplace. Once you can identify how your strengths positively impact your job, plan to generate more successful outcomes.

4. Strengthen your strengths

Work to improve what you’re already good at by looking for growth opportunities. Participate in advanced training for your best skills. You can even offer to mentor or instruct others in areas where you excel. When you can teach someone else from your strengths, your own knowledge automatically increases.

5. Choose strength-building behaviors

Your behaviors and habits can change how you apply your strengths. For example, if you choose to read books and articles from experts in your field, you can strengthen certain skills you want to improve. Focus on beneficial workplace behaviors that make it easier for you to use your strengths.

Tips for leveraging your strengths

Here are some ideas to help you as you leverage your strengths in the workplace:

  • Focus on you. Comparing yourself to others may not be an effective way to identify and utilize your strengths. Instead, rely on your own self-reflection to determine how you can best apply your unique gifts and talents.

Think about hard and soft skills. When you determine your strengths, remember, soft skills are equally as important as hard skills. Try to identify a mix of both as you analyze your abilities.

Fill in your strength gaps. Surround yourself with people who possess strengths different from your own. This is especially important to remember if you are in charge of leading a team. Leaders don’t need to be strong in every skill, they need to identify their own gaps and bring members into the team that have the necessary abilities to benefit the group.

  • Define your core values. Reflecting on your deeply held beliefs will help you figure out the foundation that you can use to build your strengths.
  • How to identify and leverage your personal strengths

    Does your job leverage your natural strengths?

    If you’re doing work that doesn’t tap into your greatest strengths, your performance and motivation will suffer along with your career. In contrast, when you’re aligned with your talents and interests, you gain a wellspring of confidence and expertise, and you do great work with a sense of purpose. Everyone around you benefits, as well.

    Workplace strengths are often defined in terms of competencies like teamwork, problem-solving, or leadership, but self-knowledge should not be overlooked. Self-knowledge is a powerful tool that can help you apply your greatest strengths to various aspects of your job, from excelling in your area of expertise to being a strong team collaborator and effective leader. If you’re looking to advance your career, assessing and leveraging your strengths is one of the most critical things you can do.

    Assessing and Applying Your Strengths

    Here are five tips to help you assess and apply your personal strengths at work.

    1. Listen to what others say you’re good at.

    What skills do people compliment you on?

    Others quite likely see strengths in you that you haven’t noticed. For example, if you often receive positive feedback on your listening skills, creativity, or command of details, pay attention.

    Ask a friend or colleague to spend a few minutes reflecting on what she thinks are your greatest strengths. Then, ask yourself if the perceptions ring true.

    Did honesty come up as a strength? If so, this quality could manifest at work in the way you tell a client that their budget isn’t sufficient for their project goals, rather than you being labeled a yes-person. Note the return on investment for your transparency (e.g., an expanded budget, the client’s trust, more projects). Be sure to bring it up in your next performance review.

    If dedication and reliability came up as strengths, note occasions where these attributes have paid off for your team. If your team relies on you to arrange meetings and set up conferences, include event planning on your résumé.

    How to identify and leverage your personal strengths

    2. Know what you love.

    If you were granted a wish to do anything you wanted for the rest of your working life, what would you choose? This might be an overwhelming proposal, but go for it—dream big!

    Look at the things you like to do in and out of work. If you love to write but don’t get a chance to do much at work, explore writing opportunities in your current position like an internal blog or newsletter for your department. If you’re an extroverted developer who loves to talk about your product, look for technical sales opportunities.

    Knowing where your gifts and passions lie is essential in creating a career map that plays to your greatest strengths.

    3. Find your flow state.

    Contemplate an ordinary workday. What types of tasks do you most like diving into? Do you prefer team scrums or writing technical specs with no interruptions? What are you doing at your desk when the hours seem to melt away?

    If the hours you spend reviewing new tools for your team fly by, ask for vendor selection project work.

    4. Know your relationship style.

    Knowing what kind of relationships bring out the best in you and what kind are the most difficult for you will help you navigate professional waters. If one of your main strengths is executing drama-free negotiation, ask for opportunities to serve on purchasing committees or to facilitate informal mediations between team members who don’t see eye to eye.

    5. Maximize your specialties.

    Many job candidates rely on generalizations to find employment, such as being a “people person” or an “organizational wizard.” These are great attributes, but you’ll stand out more if you give specifics.

    Tell employers you are a “wizard at conference planning” or you can “build out project schedules and make accurate estimations like nobody’s business.”

    You might have experience working on a marketing team, but you’re really, really excited about SEO. This is a unique skill, and if you master it, you can go far. Maximizing your specialty not only helps your career but also makes you more valuable to your team and organization.

    Tapping Strengths from a Leadership Position

    If you’re in a leadership role, you probably know the huge benefit that comes from knowing—and tapping into—the strengths of your team members. You can assign the right tasks to the right people with the double benefit of getting the highest quality work done as efficiently as possible.

    Then, everyone’s happy.

    How have you identified and leveraged your strengths on a project? Let us know in the comments.

    By Christy Cates and Katrina Onderdonk

    We recently celebrated five years working together at Caltech, so we have had the opportunity to reflect on our journey of building an advancement organization comparable to the best in American higher education. The key to our success has been leveraging our team members’ strengths.

    In 2016 when we launched our Break Through Campaign, recruitment had taken center stage. We increased our advancement staff by 33 percent over two years and kept up with regular turnover. While this alone was a huge accomplishment, we soon learned that finding and onboarding talented people was just the beginning.

    How to identify and leverage your personal strengths

    Exploring Strengths

    It was a heavier lift to begin to build a new culture and shift our management paradigm. We needed to create an environment in which team members would have the opportunity to be engaged: managers would have the knowledge and understanding to coach their staff and individuals would have the opportunity to use their strengths every day. To help us with this part of our journey, we started looking at ways to measure and improve employee engagement. We found Gallup and the StrengthsFinder instrument (now called CliftonStrengths), and this is where the fun started!

    Through Gallup’s research, we learned that doing what you love every day is the backbone of both engagement and performance. Growing your understanding of yourself can bring purpose and intention to your job and directly correlates with improved performance.

    Gallup has found that people who focus on using their strengths are:

    • 3 times as likely to have an excellent quality of life,
    • 6 times as likely to be engaged at work, and
    • 7.8 percent more productive in their roles.

    During the past three years, we have learned, trained and coached our teams on the value of using a “strengths-based” approach to the workplace. By incorporating the StrengthsFinder assessment into our team-building efforts, we have helped our team members identify and leverage their own talents and deepen the talents and potential of their teams. As a result, managers who focus on their team members’ individual strengths see improvement in their team’s overall engagement and productivity.

    Strategically Using Our Talents

    As enthusiastic practitioners of the strengths philosophy, our small talent management team of three has benefited. Our understanding of each other’s strengths allows us to use these talents strategically. For example, Christy’s strong influencing talents rally our partners for their commitment and support while Katrina’s strong executing talents ensure projects are well planned and efficiently executed. Our colleague, Lilli, has strong relationship-building talents and guarantees our partners and constituents are fully considered.

    As members of our team, we all have strategic thinking talents that help us envision and prepare for what is ahead. We pride ourselves on being a high-performing team where we use our talents every day and rely on each other’s strengths to tackle challenges, reach new heights and achieve success.

    Christy Cates in the executive director of advancement services for development and institute relations at the California Institute of Technology. Her areas of focus include prospect research, prospect management, reporting, prospect analytics, talent acquisition, professional development, staff engagement and performance management.

    Katrina Onderdonk is the director of talent management for development and institute relations at the California Institute of Technology where she specializes in executive search, employee engagement, individual coaching and team building.

    How to identify and leverage your personal strengths

    Learn more about leveraging your team’s strengths. Join conference chair Katrina Onderdonk at the CASE Strategic Talent Management conference, March 6–8, in Chicago, to address the challenges facing your organization and implement talent management solutions that fit your needs.

    How to identify and leverage your personal strengths

    When you are interviewing for a job, it’s common to be asked about your greatest strengths and how they will help you perform on the job. It’s always a good idea to have examples of your strengths ready to share with interviewers.

    Be prepared with examples to show the interviewer how you’ve used your strengths to succeed on the job.

    What the Interviewer Wants to Know

    Interviewers ask this question to see whether or not your skillset is a good fit for the position and the company. This question also helps interviewers see whether or not you have researched the job and the company thoroughly.

    How to Answer the Question

    When you’re asked to describe your strengths, be careful to set the right tone. Some interviewers may ask you to “brag a little about yourself.” In answering, you’ll want to display a gracious self-confidence.

    Don’t understate your talents, but don’t come off too boastful either.

    The best strategy is to practice answers about your strengths before the interview, taking time to plot out how you can sell your strength by also explaining how and why you think it will fill an employer’s need in a specific area.

    This allows you the great opportunity to redirect the focus upon the employer and how you’d benefit the company.

    Examples of the Best Answers

    Adapt the following answers to your background and experience.

    My greatest strength is my ability to work effectively with many different people. My strong communication skills have made me an effective project manager on dozens of projects over the past five years. Because this job involves a lot of team projects, I know that my communication and interpersonal skills make me an ideal fit for the position.

    Why it Works: This response relates the candidate’s prior work experience to the skills the job requires, showing the employer why they are a good fit for the position.

    My greatest strength is my ability to stay focused on my work and finish tasks in advance of a deadline. I’m not easily distracted, and this means my performance is very strong. This skill will come in handy because I know this is a very busy office under constant deadline pressure. My focus will allow me to meet these deadlines successfully.

    Why it Works: The candidate shows the hiring manager that they know this is a deadline-oriented position and they have the ability to thrive under pressure.

    My time management and organizational skills are my greatest strengths. I’m capable of juggling multiple projects at the same time. At my last job, I was typically assigned to be project manager on team assignments due to my ability to adhere to deadlines and keep track of the team’s progress. These organizational skills will allow me to effectively juggle all of the day-to-day operations of the office as your office manager.

    Why it Works: This answer discusses the applicant’s greatest strengths and explains how it will help them multitask to handle the job for which they are interviewing.

    My greatest strength is my listening ability. I pay careful attention to what I am being told, including specific information relating to current projects, details about future projects, and even what my colleagues did over the weekend. Being a good listener, I am highly effective at completing projects efficiently because I don’t have to be told something twice. My listening skills also enable me to effectively motivate others, which would be a part of my job as head of the department.

    Why it Works: The candidate explains how their skills can help in different facets of the job, enabling them to be successful at both motivating employees and project management.

    I am a very methodical and organized individual. In my previous administrative assistant position, I restructured the office filing system, which made it easier and quicker to access client charts. These strengths mean I will be able to keep department records and files organized and structured so that departmental tasks can be completed in a shorter amount of time.

    Why it Works: This response shows the interviewing, by sharing a specific example of a success story at work, how they could bring those abilities to the new employer.

    I think that my greatest strength is my curiosity! I’m fascinated by learning what makes people tick, and so I enjoy asking my clients questions about their backgrounds and hobbies, as well as about their requirements. This helps me to establish a personal rapport with them and ensures that our consultative dialogues are productive. Since I know that your company and your sales program emphasize the importance of quality relationship building, I think you’d find that I’d fit into your climate quite well.

    Why it Works: In this response, the applicant uses the question as an opportunity to show why they’d be a terrific fit for the company, as well as a strong candidate for the position.

    Tips for Giving the Best Response

    An effective answer to this question will demonstrate how your greatest strength, or multiple strengths, will make you an asset to the company.

    When you respond, specifically relate your strengths as they relate to the job description. It’s a good idea to use examples from prior positions you’ve held to show how your abilities helped you perform successfully in the workplace.

    If you’re not sure which strengths to discuss, this list of the top strengths employers look for can help you decide.

    Read the job description thoroughly in advance of the interview, noting key skills that fit your experiences. For each of these skills, think of a specific instance when you displayed that skill. Also, look closely at the responsibilities you would be assuming and any projects you might be undertaking.

    Possible Follow-Up Questions

    • What is your greatest weakness? – Best Answers
    • How will your greatest strength help you perform? – Best Answers
    • What motivates you? – Best Answers

    Key Takeaways

    Make a Match: Use your response to show the interviewer why you’re a perfect match for the job.

    Share Examples: Have examples of how you used your strengths at work to show the interviewer how you can perform successfully.

    Don’t Overdo It: It’s fine to be proud of your accomplishments, but don’t be boastful or brag about them.

    3 Strategies to Leverage Your Character Strengths:

    Feel Happier in Your Life and Leadership Roles

    Do you want to gain momentum and feel happier in this season of your personal and professional life?

    Capitalize on your strengths. Leverage your top character strengths not only to lead more effectively but to feel greater well-being during the process. Your personal strengths can help you flourish in your life, your work, and your contributions to the world.

    What are Character Strengths?

    Your character strengths reflect your core personal identity and can bolster your thinking, feeling, meaning, and engagement. According to Martin Seligman, PhD, father of positive psychology, the 24 character strengths are the cornerstone of personal well-being and a flourishing life. These strengths are: creativity, curiosity, judgment, love of learning, perspective, bravery, perseverance, honesty, zest, love, kindness, social intelligence, teamwork, fairness, leadership, forgiveness, humility, prudence, self-regulation, appreciation of beauty and excellence, gratitude, hope, humor, and spirituality.

    Know Your Top Strengths

    To build your momentum toward achieving your professional and personal goals, identify your top strengths and learn to use them in new and more effective ways. Building on our top (signature) strengths has been consistently shown to increase our happiness and improve work engagement, life satisfaction, and well-being.

    Strategy 1: Here are 4 steps identified by positive psychologist Ryan Niemiec, PhD, the leading authority on character strengths, to help you identify and use your top strengths. These steps have been validated internationally with populations of children and adults:

      1. To boost your leadership capital for life and work, identify your top strengths. Take the free VIA Survey, a quick (less than 15 minutes), self-assessment of your personal strengths. It’s highly evidence-based and has been taken by over 7 million people throughout the world. You can find the VIA at http://www.viacharacter.org/www/Character-Strengths-Survey
      2. Look at your VIA findings, and as Dr. Niemiec suggests, ask yourself what strengths are most essential to who you are as an individual.
      3. Choose one of these strengths and find a way to use it in a new way each day for a week – at home or at work.
      4. Notice how you feel and what thoughts and emotions emerge when you capitalize on this strength (Seligman, Steen, Park & Peterson (2005) .

    How to identify and leverage your personal strengths

    Strategy 2: Apply Your Top Character Strengths in Your Personal and Professional Life.
    Now figure out how to apply your top strengths to propel yourself toward your goals. Here are a few ways to use some of the 24 strengths:

    Leadership – Developing and maintaining good relations among a group and engaging them toward accomplishment:

    • Compliment employees, colleagues, family, and friends on a job well done – one-to-one, in a meeting, or by email.
    • Strengthen interpersonal relationships by paying attention to your positivity ratio – share more positive than negative messages with people when you communicate (Cameron, 2012) .
    • Create your own consultation team with co-workers or other professionals in your field, and offer each other moral support.
    • Assist a colleague or co-worker who is struggling in the leadership process.
    • Seek assistance and encouragement from others when you need it.

    Perseverance – Staying on task toward what you start, despite challenges or obstacles:

    • Set a meaningful long-term goal for your professional or personal life.
    • On a daily or weekly basis, set small, manageable sub-goals to propel you toward this goal.
    • Track your progress on your calendar or computer.
    • When something gets in the way, be adaptive. Figure out how to move past it, and reach your goal.
    • Identify your most productive hours of the day. Work on your goal during those times.

    Kindness – Caring about the needs of others and being willing to do a good deed without expecting a return:

    • Offer a kind word to people as you go through the day, for example, at the office, coffee shop, grocery store, via email, at meetings, or while traveling.
    • Offer a small random act of kindness toward someone else – whether someone you know or a complete stranger.
    • Share something with another person or offer to help them if you know something they don’t know.
    • Be kind to yourself. Acknowledge your progress and achievements.Take good care of yourself with nutritious foods, exercise, and enough sleep.

    Strategy 3: Act As If
    If, like many people, you have a negativity bias, focusing on areas of weakness rather than strengths, try this strategy recommended by Shannon Polly and Kathryn Britton in their book, Character Strengths Matter. You can “act as if” to pull up strengths at the lower end of your VIA strengths ratings. Pretend you have that lower strength as a top strength and act as if. Like an actor, practice positive outcomes and create new stories about how you utilize this strength to build momentum and positive engagement. This strategy can make a difference in personal and professional realms – in your leadership role at work and as a leader in your own life.

    Crossing the Finish Line
    As you leverage your strengths – empowering yourself and others toward achieving positive results in life and at work – you may experience greater well-being than you might have imagined.

    How to identify and leverage your personal strengths

    “A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” — Christopher Reeve

    The following list of strengths will help you identify and label your own strengths.

    Your personal strengths are your natural patterns for thinking, feeling, and doing. These are the activities you can do all day long.

    You get energy from doing these activities rather than get drained. Things that drain you are your personal weaknesses.

    Spend More Time In Your Strengths and Less Time In Your Weaknesses

    I’m spelling out these specific distinctions of strengths and weaknesses because many people just think of them as things you are good at or things you are bad at.

    It’s actually more effective to look in terms of things that come natural to you, and things that go against your grain.

    If you focus on your personal strengths in terms of your natural thinking, feeling, and doing patterns, then you can amplify your results and you energize everything you do.

    Your personal power, unique capabilities, and inspired action comes from spending more time in your strengths, and less time in your weaknesses.

    Why a Language for Personal Strengths

    One of the challenges to knowing your personal strengths is knowing what to call your strengths. Lucky for us, we can leverage some existing vocabularies for personal strengths.

    Having a vocabulary helps you both understand the key concepts and it gives you a lens for looking at your personal strengths.

    You can build your vocabulary of character strengths, by drawing from multiple bodies of work within the strengths arena.

    Here are a few character strength vocabularies to draw from …

    The 24 Signature Strengths from Martin Seligman

    Martin Seligman named a set of 24 Signature Strengths. You can find out more about Martin Seligman’s work on character strengths in the book Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification.

    Here are Seligman’s 24 Signature Strengths:

    1. Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence
    2. Bravery and Valor
    3. Capacity to Love and Be Loved
    4. Caution, Prudence, and Discretion
    5. Citizenship, Teamwork, and Loyalty
    6. Creativity, Ingenuity, and Originality
    7. Curiosity and Interest in the World
    8. Fairness, Equity, and Justice
    9. Forgiveness and Mercy
    10. Gratitude
    11. Honesty, Authenticity, and Genuineness
    12. Hope, Optimism, and Future-mindedness
    13. Humor and playfulness
    14. Industry, Diligence, and Perseverance
    15. Judgment, Critical Thinking, and Open-Mindedness
    16. Kindness and Generosity
    17. Leadership
    18. Love of Learning
    19. Modesty and Humility
    20. Perspective and Wisdom
    21. Self-Control and Self-Regulation
    22. Social Intelligence
    23. Spirituality, Sense of Purpose, and Faith
    24. Zest, Enthusiasm, and Energy

    The 34 Key Strengths from Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton

    Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton, Ph.D. identified 34 key signature themes of strength. I have a brief description of each strength in my post, Finding Your Strengths.

    Here are the 34 signature themes:

    1. Achiever
    2. Activator
    3. Adaptability
    4. Analytical
    5. Arranger
    6. Belief
    7. Command
    8. Communication
    9. Competition
    10. Connectedness
    11. Context
    12. Deliberative
    13. Developer
    14. Discipline
    15. Empathy
    16. Fairness
    17. Focus
    18. Futuristic
    19. Harmony
    20. Ideation
    21. Inclusiveness
    22. Individualization
    23. Input
    24. Intellection
    25. Learner
    26. Maximizer
    27. Positivity
    28. Relater
    29. Responsibility
    30. Restorative
    31. Self-assurance
    32. Significance
    33. Strategic
    34. Woo

    How To Use the Language of Strengths

    One way to use the labels for strengths is to take the tests and find out what they say about you. I do like the fact that they frame and name the strengths, which makes it easy to explore, test, and evaluate.

    Personally, I’ve found more value by simply exploring the labels and using them as lenses.

    I’ve been rationalizing them against the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) as well as my own frames for strengths, looking for underlying patterns and practices.

    At the end of the day, the most important thing for me has been finding where I get energy from, and finding what takes it away.

    This leads me to a personalized strengths frame that I can use as a lens for investing in my portfolio of strengths … and this is the key to exponential results.

    An Example of Using Strengths

    At work, there are a lot of demands on my time and competition is fierce. I’ve learned to keep my energy strong while making things happen.

    The best ways I’ve found to do that are follow my growth and follow my passion.

    Another way, that’s very important, is to play to my strengths. Spending time in my strengths is the key to hitting the high notes and getting exponential results.

    It keeps me strong, my energy high, and produces more impactful results in less amount of time.

    Whenever I find myself drained, all I need to do is take a look at where I’ve been spending my time. Sure enough, it’s always from spending too much time in my weaknesses and not enough time in my strengths.

    That’s the interesting lesson too … I can spend more time in my weaknesses, as long as I’m spending enough time in my strengths.

    By strengths, I’m not talking about the skills I’ve learned. I’m talking about my natural strengths – the ones that I can count on no matter what. I didn’t find my strengths over night and it’s a continuous process of gaining clarity and precision.

    The key here is knowing the language.

    When you know what to look for, it’s easier to find your own strengths, label them, and use them to your advantage.

    Gain momentum in your personal and professional life

    Posted May 7, 2019

    Do you want to gain momentum and feel happier in your personal and professional life?

    Capitalize on your strengths. Leverage your top character strengths not only to lead more effectively but to feel greater well-being in your life and work.

    How to identify and leverage your personal strengths

    What are Character Strengths?

    Your character strengths reflect your core personal identity and can bolster your thinking, feeling, meaning, and engagement. According to Martin Seligman, Ph.D., (2011) founder of positive psychology, the 24 character strengths are the cornerstone of personal well-being and a flourishing life. These strengths are: creativity, curiosity, judgment, love of learning, perspective, bravery, perseverance, honesty, zest, love, kindness, social intelligence, teamwork, fairness, leadership, forgiveness, humility, prudence, self-regulation, appreciation of beauty and excellence, gratitude, hope, humor, and spirituality (Peterson & Seligman, 2004).

    Know Your Top Strengths

    To build greater momentum toward achieving your professional and personal goals, identify your top strengths and learn to use them more effectively. Building on our top (signature) strengths has been consistently shown to increase our happiness and improve work engagement, life satisfaction, and well-being (Niemiec, 2018). Using our strengths can increase our effectiveness across the domains of our lives, including work, school, community, relationships, and spirituality.

    Strategy 1: Here are 4 steps identified by positive psychologist Ryan Niemiec, Ph.D., to help you identify and use your top strengths. These steps have been validated internationally with populations of children and adults:

    1. To boost your personal capital for life and leadership, identify your top strengths. Take the free VIA Survey, a quick (less than 15 minutes), self-assessment of your personal strengths. It’s highly evidence-based and has been taken by over 7 million people throughout the world. You can find the VIA at http://www.viacharacter.org/www/Character-Strengths-Survey
    2. Look at your VIA findings, and as Dr. Niemiec suggests, ask yourself what strengths are most essential to who you are as an individual.
    3. Choose one of these strengths and find a way to use it in a new way each day for a week – at home or at work (Seligman, Steen, Park & Peterson (2005).
    4. Notice how you feel and what thoughts and emotions emerge when you capitalize on this strength.

    Strategy 2: Apply Your Top Character Strengths in Your Personal and Professional Life

    Now figure out how to apply your top strengths to propel yourself toward your goals. Here are a few ways to use some of the 24 strengths:

    Leadership – Developing and maintaining good relations among a group and engaging them toward accomplishment:

    • Complement employees, colleagues, clients, family, and friends on a job well done – one-to-one, in a meeting, or by email.
    • Strengthen interpersonal relationships by paying attention to your positivity ratio – share more positive than negative messages with people when you communicate (Cameron, 2012).
    • Create your own consultation team with co-workers or other professionals in your field, and offer each other moral support.
    • Assist a colleague, co-worker, or team member, who is struggling in the leadership process.
    • Seek assistance and encouragement from others when you need it.

    Perseverance – Staying on task toward what you start, despite challenges or obstacles:

    • Set a meaningful long-term goal for your professional or personal life.
    • On a daily or weekly basis, set small, manageable sub-goals to propel you toward this goal.
    • Track your progress on your calendar or computer.
    • When something gets in the way, be adaptive. Figure out how to move past it to reach your goal.
    • Identify your most productive hours of the day. Work on your goal during those times.

    Kindness – Caring about the needs of others and being willing to do a good deed without expecting a return:

    • Offer a kind word to people as you go through the day, for example, at home, the office, coffee shop, via email, at meetings, or while traveling.
    • Offer a small random act of kindness toward someone else – whether someone you know or a complete stranger.
    • Share something with another person or offer to help them if you know something they don’t know.
    • Be kind to yourself. Acknowledge your progress and achievements. Take good care of yourself with nutritious foods, exercise, and enough sleep.

    Strategy 3: Act As If

    If, like many people, you have a negativity bias, focusing on areas of weakness rather than strengths, here’s a strategy recommended by Shannon Polly and Kathryn Britton in their book, Character Strengths Matter. “Act as if” to pull up strengths at the lower end of your VIA strengths ratings. You can pretend you have that lower strength as a top strength and act as if. Like an actor, practice positive outcomes and create new stories about how you utilize this strength to build momentum and positive engagement. This strategy can make a difference in personal and professional realms – in your leadership role at work and as a leader in your own life.

    How will you leverage your character strengths to gain momentum and feel happier in your personal and professional life?

    *This post is for educational purposes and should not substitute for psychotherapy with a qualified professional.

    Cameron, K. (2012). Positive Leadership: Strategies for extraordinary performance. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

    Niemiec, R. (2018). Character strengths interventions: A field guide for practitioners. Boston, MA: Hogrefe.

    Peterson, C. & Seligman, E.P. (2004). Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification. Washington DC: American Psychological Association.

    Polly, S. & Britton, K. (2015) Character strengths matter: How to live a full life. Positive Psychology News, LLC., USA.

    Seligman, M.E.P. (2011). Flourish: A visionary new understanding of happiness and well-being. New York: NY: Atria Paperback.

    Seligman, M. E. P., Steen, T. A., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2005). Positive Psychology Progress: Empirical Validation of Interventions. American Psychologist, 60(5), 410-421.

    When you know your strengths, you’re able to leverage them for success

    Posted by: Team Tony

    How to identify and leverage your personal strengths

    Identifying personal strengths is critical for business success

    How to identify and leverage your personal strengths

    Identifying strengths using a career personality test

    Career personality tests are extremely effective at identifying strengths in any industry. To learn how to identify your strengths, ask yourself which of the following categories resonate the most.

    Artist

    If you’re an artist by nature, you’ll find yourself identifying strengths related to creativity and inspiring others . You have an extraordinary talent or skill, which is your primary focus. You love to design and create products and experiences of enormous, unparalleled value. You experience the greatest rewards from igniting people’s lives with what you’ve dreamed and done: your product, service or innovative idea.

    How to identify and leverage your personal strengths

    Manager / leader

    If you’re a natural-born leader, you’ll begin identifying personal strengths related to managing others and inspiring them to action. Just as important, you enjoy the management role. You are ignited by leading people and managing processes. You love to figure out how to make systems work better, make them more efficient and more effective. You may even view business as a living structure, to be kept well-oiled and growing and expanding through your oversight and direction. This lights you up because you’re so good at it!

    How to identify and leverage your personal strengths

    Entrepreneur

    True entrepreneurs find themselves identifying personal strengths related to goal attainment . You are happy to take substantial risks to get what you want and are able to bounce back from failure. You’re constantly scouting for opportunities and talent. You know how to use your need for uncertainty and chance to make a fortune and win in every situation.

    How to identify and leverage your personal strengths

    Learn how to identify your strengths

    Taking stock of yourself and your strengths will elevate your entire life. Employ the following strategies for identifying personal strengths:

    1. Prioritize your passions

    When you’re identifying personal strengths, put your passions at the top of your list. Think of this as your wish list – the skills you’d put to use everyday in your dream life. If you love writing, what would your ideal day look like? To put your plan into motion, look for writing-intensive opportunities at your current job. Identifying strengths becomes a tool in your box for fulfilling your dreams.

    2. Seek out activities that feel effortless

    Learning how to identify your strengths does not mean getting lost in your dreams for the future. You can discover strengths right here, right now by finding parts of your day-to-day routine that feel effortless. Think about your work and home life. When do you feel joyful and content? What activities are you doing when you feel that way? These moments point to skills that are natural for you. By developing them, you get closer to identifying personal strengths that will elevate your life.

    3. Ask for other people’s input

    Self-perception can be deceptive, so ask for other people’s input on what your strengths are. Your peers, colleagues and loved ones are a gold mine when it comes to identifying personal strengths you might be unaware of. Ask yourself how their feedback points to skills that elevate your career. If your coworkers appreciate your honesty, realize that this is a valuable skill for client interactions. Since honesty increases others’ trust, it is key to building your brand . Employ this process for every strength you have and you’ll build your self-confidence .

    4. Be specific

    When you start out identifying personal strengths, you’ll probably come up with fairly general skills, like being a “people person.” Drill down into this list of broad skills to find your own unique specialization. What makes you a people person – your natural empathy , ability to create connections or capacity for fostering leadership in others ? When you get specific, you’re able to hone in on new career ideas you may not have considered before.

    Now is the time to begin identifying personal strengths that will propel your career forward. Take our complimentary career personality test and find out which of these three personality types you align with most. Once you know how to classify your professional behavior, you can better leverage your skills to achieve the highest level of success in your field.

    How to identify and leverage your personal strengths

    “Mastering others is strength. Mastering yourself is true power.” — Lao Tzu

    Finding your strengths is one of the best ways to improve your energy and effectiveness.

    If you know your unique combination of strengths, and you play to your strengths instead of focus on your weaknesses, you can dramatically amplify your impact.

    Don’t Spend Too Much Time in Your Weaknesses

    One of the key things that can hold you back is spending too much time on your weaknesses and not enough time on your strengths.

    The better you know your strengths and talents, the better you can pick the right situations or job to leverage your innate abilities.

    How do you find your strengths, though? … What are your key strengths?

    What are your talents that come easy for you, but are difficult for others? Are you fully leveraging your unique combination of strengths?

    In Now, Discover Your Strengths, Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton, Ph.D. identify 34 key signature themes of strength, based on years of empirical research.

    How To Identify Your Strengths

    You can go to the authors’ site at StrengthFinder.com – http://strengthsfinder.com/ and take the evaluation. You need a copy of the book, Now, Discover Your Strengths, for an access code to take the evaluation.

    You’ll likely recognize a lot of these strengths in yourself. The key isn’t to whittle the list down to your absolute strongest talents. Instead, find the strengths that differentiate you from others and that come easiest for you.

    Many of the strengths resonated for me. I took two passes. On my first pass, I made the following list:: Achiever; Arranger; Competition; Deliberative; Developer; Fairness; Focus; Empathy; Ideation; Individualization; Intellection; Learner; Maximizer; Self-assurance; Significant.

    On my second, pass, I modified some of my choices and whittled it down to the following five strengths:Achiever; Ideation; Individualization; Maximizer; Self-assurance; Significant

    I don’t know that I’ve yet got the precision I need but it’s a start. I plan to ask others for their feedback and to help me find my blind spots. I also plan to take the StrengthsFinder evaluation.

    34 Themes of Strengths and Talent

    Familiarize yourself with the 34 key themes of strength. If you can identify your top five themes, you can use the information to start cultivating your strengths for personal excellence and stop focusing on weaknesses.

    Here are the 34 signature themes of strength according to Buckingham and Clifton:

    1. Achiever– A relentless need for achievement.
    2. Activator– “When can we start?” is a recurring question in your life.
    3. Adaptability– You live in the moment.
    4. Analytical– “Prove it. Show me why what you are claiming is true.”
    5. Arranger – You are a conductor.
    6. Belief– You have certain core values that are enduring.
    7. Command– You take charge.
    8. Communication– You like to explain, to describe, to host, to speak in public, and to write.
    9. Competition– You have a need to outperform your peers.
    10. Connectedness – You know that we are all connected.
    11. Context– You look back to understand the present.
    12. Deliberative– You identify, assess, and reduce risk.
    13. Developer – You see the potential in others.
    14. Discipline– Your world needs to be ordered and planned.
    15. Empathy– You can sense the emotions of those around you.
    16. Fairness– Balance is important to you.
    17. Focus– Your goals are your compass.
    18. Futuristic– “Wouldn’t it be great if …” The future fascinates you.
    19. Harmony– You look for areas of agreement.
    20. Ideation– You are fascinated by ideas.
    21. Inclusiveness –“Stretch the circle wider.” You can to include people and make them feel like part of the group.
    22. Individualization– You’re intrigued by the unique qualities of each person.
    23. Input– You collection information – words, facts, books and quotations.
    24. Intellection – You like to think. You like mental activity.
    25. Learner – You love to learn.
    26. Maximizer– Excellence, not average, is your measure.
    27. Positivity– You are generous with praise, quick with smile, and always on the look out for the positive in the situation.
    28. Relater– You derive a great deal of pleasure and strength from being around your close friends.
    29. Responsibility– You take psychological ownership for anything you commit to, and you feel emotionally bound to follow it through to completion.
    30. Restorative– You love to solve problems.
    31. Self-assurance– You have faith in your strengths.
    32. Significance– You want to be very significant in the eyes of other people.
    33. Strategic– You sort through clutter and find the best route.
    34. Woo– You win others over.

    Key Takeaways

    Here are my key takeaways:

    • Identify your signature strengths. Don’t just know what you’re good at. Identify what you are great at. This difference makes all the difference in the world.
    • Be your best. The key here is to be your personal best. This is why modeling somebody else’s success may not come easy for you. You may not have the same strengths.
    • Cultivate your strengths. The key is to focus on your strengths and not your weaknesses. Reducing your weaknesses is not the path to greatness. Improving your key strengths is your personal path to excellence.
    • Use the sum of your talents. It’s not about having a single strength, it’s about using the synergy of your strengths.
    • Find a fit for your strengths. Leveraging your strengths turns your work into passion. What’s work for somebody else is your play if you find the right way to leverage your unique talents.
    • Amplify your results with your network. Once you know your key strengths, you can find the people that complement you in strengths that you lack.