At some point in your career, you have discovered your strengths and weaknesses — or have you? Reflect on a moment when you were faced with a task, but you were not 100% confident about it. Did you focus more on what you can do? Or, did you fixate on what you can NOT do? On a global level, employees encounter this problem too often, and in many cases, their managers feed into this negative mindset without realizing it instead of focusing on strengths at work.
“The vast majority of people don’t have the opportunity to focus on what they do best,” said Tom Rath, author of Strengths Finder 2.0. “When we’re able to put most of our energy into developing our natural talents, extraordinary room for growth exists.”
Too many people in the workplace try to correct their weaknesses instead of choosing to thrive in their strengths. Many professionals believe putting in the effort to improve flawed areas is a meaningful investment to become more successful in a career. However, the reality is quite the opposite. Focusing on your weaknesses can be counterproductive in the long run. What may seem like a learning opportunity may actually create long-term limitations.
According to Rath, “the key to human development is building on who you already are. The most successful people start with a dominant talent — and then add skills, knowledge, and practice to the mix.”
Focusing on weaknesses not only decreases work and productivity, but it also reduces emotional engagement from employees. In some instances, some may encounter a crossroad and feel pressured to uphold certain talents, even if they do not necessarily enjoy the task at hand. Strength building enables effective learning experiences and instills confidence for completing challenges outside comfort zones.
Strengths are not defined as simply being good at something. Idowu Koyenikan, author of Wealth for All: Living a Life of Success at the Edge of Your Ability, said: “A genius in the wrong position could look like a fool.” If you perform well during a specific task or situation but do not necessarily enjoy it, this is only draining you. Strengths showcase an individual’s ability to excel and earn fulfillment. Strengths differentiate you and demonstrate how you stand out from the rest.
“People who do have the opportunity to focus on their strengths every day are six times as likely to be engaged in their jobs and more than three times as likely to report having an excellent quality of life in general,” Rath said.
How do you encourage strengths and de-emphasize weaknesses? Whether you are a new employee, CEO, or manager — follow these simple tips to implement strength optimization:
- Understand your strengths. This may seem simple, but not everyone is actively aware of their strengths. Using tools Gallup’s StrengthsFinder, DiSC Profile, or other resources can help you gain better insight.
- Utilize collaboration and recognize individual skills. Make effective decisions when creating assignments for employees. Everyone has something different to offer; therefore, no one should feel compelled to carry the same expectations. Working with others will extend opportunities for everyone to contribute something different, whether it be talents, ideas, or personal traits.
- Progress within your talents. Set yourself up for success. Do not compare yourself to others about what you can or cannot do. Establish goals that coincide with your talents. Grow your talents in your current position in order to succeed in your next.