posted November 1, 2018

3 Ways to Maximize Your Strengths

Hillary Painter

Recently, we were asked to complete the CliftonStrengths assessment and come prepared to discuss our top five themes at our annual Dagger retreat in New Orleans. As an avid procrastinator, I sat down to complete the online assessment just hours before our flight. The format of the assessment was different than most personality or talent tests that I’ve taken in the past—it’s a situational judgment test and you have 20 seconds per question, which naturally makes you go with your gut instinct response if you hesitate.

My top five talents: Strategic, Competition, Futuristic, Achiever and Maximizer.

What interested me the most about the assessment is that results might not align with how you see yourself, rather how you come across to others. Perception is reality.

During our retreat programming, we broke into groups and had a discussion around our individual results. It was extremely interesting to hear other’s results and make correlations between roles. But it shouldn’t stop at just learning about your talents. You have to take action.

One important thing to understand is that your results aren’t an indication of your current strengths, but do reveal what your natural talents are and where you should focus time developing in order for those to become strengths.

Within each talent theme, CliftonStrengths offers ideas for action and highlights the importance of pushing yourself to cultivate your strengths.  

Here are 3 ways to put your natural talents into practice at work:

Goal Setting

If you’re intentionally seeking out ways to best use your natural talents to develop strengths, the hope is that you’re also aligning strengths with your role or where you want to be at work. By aligning your talents with goals, it’s going to create more engagement at work and ultimately lead to higher performance. That said, Gallup revealed that only 3% of people that responded actually are aware of and align their strengths with their goals. Be aware of what talents you bring to the organization and be intentional about activating them.

1:1s

Have a strength-based discussion with your manager and direct reports during your 1:1s. This can open up discussion and reveal how best to work with each other. For example, learning more about my Strategic talent brought to light why I don’t thrive during brainstorming sessions when the topic hasn’t been shared prior to the meeting. I like to understand an ask or challenge and go away for a bit on my own to work through possible solutions to present back. It’s not a right or wrong way to work, but it shed some light on ways I perform better and how best to engage me with my manager.

Talent Resourcing

Many people naturally gravitate to and hire people that are similar to themselves, but good leaders understand the importance of having people on their team that fill their strength gaps. Understanding where you excel and where you may need support in order to have a well-rounded team is crucial to the company’s (and your personal) success. This will also allow individuals to focus on developing their talents so they become strengths. For example, one of my talents is being Futuristic. As a business leader, it’s important for me to clearly paint what the future state of an account is going to look like and hire or partner with people that are strong Activators. A perfect example of this is hiring the right project manager who is detailed oriented and able to activate teams.

I hope this has inspired you to learn more about your talents and invest in developing your skills to live in the “strengths zone”. You’ll find that understanding not only your own natural talents, but those you work with will make for a better career and work environment.