And because I spend a lot of my time talking with people, I am convinced that each of us has at least one strength we are not aware of at all. Or perhaps we are aware of something of a strength, but do not fully appreciate that strength the way it is perceived by others. I especially love talking about those.
The thing about strengths…
The nature of a strength is that it is something you do which doesn’t cost you a great deal to be good at. In fact, using your strength is a source of mental energy for you, making it a pleasure to engage with it. Knowing this, it is easy to see how our strengths might elude us, but not others: they might really catch the eye of others, but to us what we do is the norm, and so we take our strength for granted.
The case of Bob’s hidden strength
Take for example Bob*. Bob had invited me to facilitate a team development day with him and his team. Using VIA Strengths Cards the team explored each others’ strengths to build a team profile. Working in pairs the team chose those cards they felt applied to their colleague, explaining along the way why they opted for each one.
The conversations around the room were revealing. Every participant discovered how something they ‘just do’ was considered a strength in the eyes of their colleague. It was a very cheerful session, peppered with hoots of laughter and the odd squeal of disbelief.
Bob had opted to study his cards on his own instead of joining a pair to make a three. When the team decided to pick Bob’s strengths cards for him, they noted with surprise that ‘creativity’ was not a card he had picked for himself. The discussion which followed highlighted not only how Bob’s talent for problem solving was seen as above average by all, it also showed Bob that his personal interpretation of ‘creativity’ was entirely different from his colleagues’.
And the point of all this is…?
Bob made two discoveries: he was offered an updated definition for the strength of creativity, which included problem solving. He also found out how his team perceived him in this respect, adding a new insight into his leadership. Both of these revelations were important to him.
Working with strengths, whether in a 1:1 coaching session or in a team setting, is a positive way of exploring how others perceive you. You are very likely to discover that something you do and have been taking for granted yourself is a major contribution to team life in the eyes of co-workers.
Truly, what’s not to like?
Go on your own strengths discovery
Curious? Want some yourself? Well, here are a few tips to get you going.
- Do a free online strengths profile here (registration is required; free). Tip: write down your strengths before closing the window!
- Read some more about strengths to deepen your understanding of your strengths profile, here.
- Buy your own set of strengths cards, here. They can be used at work as well as with family! In fact, they have been known to open up the least talkative of teenagers to a good conversation.
- 10 tips to use Strengths Cards can be found here: Strenghts based cards 10_tips
- Drop me an email or a line to find out what I might be able to do for you or your team!
* Not his real name