Growing up I had a vision of what a good leader should be. In my mind, they were perfect and always in control. Of course, once I actually entered the workforce, I realised that this is far from the reality. After all, everyone has their strength and weaknesses and, certainly for most women leaders, they are also battling with their own version of imposter syndrome. And as became more experienced and senior, and now being privileged to coach some outstanding leaders, I recognise the one common trait that determines success and happiness is playing to your unique strengths and interests.
And I love this! It is so empowering. It means we can stop striving for the unattainable goal of perfection. And we let go of our own expectations of being good at everything. PHEW!
So here I’ll share with you:
- Why you should play to your strengths
- How to identify your strengths; and finally
- Why self-awareness is crucial to your success
Why play to your strengths?
When I studied management back in the early ’00’s , there was a lot of focus on SWOT analysis and how to develop your weaknesses. And while I encourage you to become self-aware and committed to raising the bar for yourself, I actually want you to focus on further developing your strengths, not your weaknesses, because this is where your zone of genius lies.
This means you don’t need to be ‘well-rounded’. It means instead that you get support in the areas they need it knowing that you’re never going to be great at everything and the more you can outsource or delegate & play to other peoples strengths, the strong you & your team will be overall.
And from this place, where you are doing what you do best, you are able to work with flow and ease, and enjoy your work. You’ll also show up as genuine, sincere and engaged in your messaging, all of which are necessary traits for great leaders.
How to identify your strengths
In order to play to our strengths we need to first know what they are.
For some this might be instinctive, but for other it might require some consideration. A good place to start is by asking yourself these questions:
- List activities do I most enjoy doing, that feel natural to me?
- What activities energise and excite me?
- When do I feel ‘in-flow’?
- What are the things that I get consistently positive feedback on?
- What do others rely on me for or request my help with?
Another way to identify your strengths is by using a tool like the VIA’s free character survey or Clifton Strengths by Gallup.
Whatever answers or results you get, give yourself time to sit with these and reflect on them. Trust your instinct to guide you.
Why self-awareness is crucial
Knowing and playing to our strengths is key to our success and happiness. But actually doing this requires both self-awareness and humilty.
Self-awareness allows you to be conscious of where you excel and where you struggle. And humility allows you to confidently admit and truly own both your strengths and weakness, acknowledging both the good and the bad.
Once we are truly self-aware and committed to playing to our strengths, we are then able to step into our own success and happiness.
And in the process, we also allow others to do the same by effectively delegating and creating a culture that embraces diversity, contribution and inclusivity. Creating a better, more enjoyable workplace for everyone.
What are your key strengths and you do lean into them? Share in the comments below.