How can you identify and capitalise on your strengths?

There is a powerful driving force inside every human being that, once unleashed, can make any vision, dream, or desire a reality.

How does this quote from Anthony Robbins make you feel?
It's perfectly natural if it makes you light-headed!
This is a phrase that hints at the driving power of an inner force, so imagine how much more powerful it could be if we were to make it plural: “There are powerful driving forces inside every human being that, once unleashed, can make...”

And that's what this article is all about, so that managers can apply it in their daily work.
Culturally, we are more inclined to look at ‘weaknesses’ rather than ‘strengths’, but this (bad) habit has become very common in the workplace, often with catastrophic results: stigmatisation of employees, lack of room for error, harassment, etc.
Fortunately, there is still time to reverse beliefs and break habits.

Current circumstances are very conducive to this, which is a good first step.
This is an opportunity to explore the path of change by (re)connecting with your strengths and capitalising on them to overcome your obstacles and stumbling blocks. It is a powerful management tool!

1. What do we mean by ‘strengths’?

While the term 'strengths' can be defined in many different ways, here we are talking about our strengths in terms of our ability to withstand and overcome challenges. Therefore, they could be regarded as life skills, a kind of inner energy generated for our well-being.

The problem is that, like emotions, we have virtually no vocabulary relating to strengths, regardless of our age.

Personally, when I speak at companies and universities and I ask the following question: "Could you name at least 3 strengths that define you?” 95% of the time I get the following reactions:
Great astonishment and silence, my listeners’ surprise often caught off guard by the unknown;
and/or "My strengths? I've never really thought about it and I have no idea!”.
Some people might be discouraged by this, but it is also a great way to bounce back and stimulate further learning (here we are!).

Work on strengths (identification and development) has mainly occurred over the last 20 years, with the advent of Positive Psychology, led by Martin Seligman and Christopher Peterson in the United States.
They identified and described 24 strengths, called "character strengths", grouped under 6 core virtues: Creativity, Curiosity, Critical thinking and judgement, Love of learning, Wisdom, Bravery, Perseverance, Honesty, Zest, Kindness, Love, Social intelligence, Fairness, Leadership, Teamwork, Forgiveness, Humility, Prudence, Self-regulation, Appreciation of beauty, Gratitude, Hope and optimism, Humour, Spirituality.
The work of Ilona Boniwell and Charles Martin-Krumm in France lists about fifty of them in detail.

If you believe that quantity does not necessarily equal quality, we invite you to focus on the following two points:

Each of us has all of these strengths within us, expressed in varying degrees;

Our upbringing, our culture, our life experiences, our learning, our backgrounds can influence the prevalence of particular strengths from one person to another.

2. Recognising your strengths

To identify your strengths, why not start by stimulating one of them: curiosity?

Here, working on yourself is THE first major step, especially if time runs away with you and you forget to take care of yourself.

Of course, you can use many different means/tools to assist you in your efforts and you can even use a combination of them to add a pinch of creativity:

Take an online test to determine where your strengths and ‘signature strengths’ lie. These are your core strengths. They are natural and effortless, they benefit you and/or others and they make you feel good.
There are numerous tests (particularly in English, either free or paid). Of course, we’ll leave it up to you. Search for them and select them according to your needs and expectations;

Use materials (cards, games, etc.) that allow you to visualise your strengths using metaphors and/or definitions;

Read literature about strengths and how to use them in the workplace;

Attend workshops that explore the topic of strengths. They can help you to explore your strengths as a group or to get feedback on them from other participants. This is an excellent way to question yourself and shift/expand the focus on your own strengths and those of others.

Take one-to-one coaching. You will be guided by a professional whose approach, questioning and stance will help you to identify your strengths.

3. Develop and capitalise on your strengths

- Why?
Firstly, to capture and retain the benefits and avoid the almost systematic requirement to work on your weaknesses.
The result is a radical change in thinking and an invaluable resource for action and nurturing resilience in a changing business environment that demands adaptability and flexibility from managers and their teams.
Nothing is set in stone, anything can change and therefore strengths can be worked on and developed, just like the weaknesses that we automatically always try to overcome.

Below are some ideas that we invite you to explore:
It all starts with how you say things. Positive semantics and nuances are important language skills for you and for others, especially at work.
For example, instead of focusing on "we didn't make it" as a way of admonishing your team,

celebrate noteworthy successes by saying "we made it" or add "we haven't made it yet" to suggest that it is likely to happen.

Individually or in groups,

Examine your background(s) : this is an ideal way to start or continue to get to know yourself and others and vice versa. What have you achieved in your career that has had a positive impact on you and/or others?

Revisit the challenging moments/hard times you have already been through by looking back: How did you deal with the challenges you faced? And if you had acted differently, what would have happened?

Identify the strengths you have demonstrated at the various key stages of your career: What strength(s) did you/would you apply in these situations/circumstances? Do others see these strengths in you?

Consider your strengths in different ways i.e. systemically: What are your strengths according to the people around you (relatives, friends, colleagues, co-workers, superiors, etc.)?

Apply your strengths to the present situation:

How can the strengths you have identified help you in the current situation/circumstances?

Assess your strengths and focus on those that need to be worked on and/or developed: What strengths do I already have? How can I put them into practice? What is/are the strength(s) that need to be developed?

And most importantly, keep an open mind and be critical so that you can channel your energy where it is most needed: Do I really need to develop these strengths in the present circumstances?

If you like metaphors, strengths can easily be compared to a renewable source of energy: an inexhaustible resource, present and readily available. In management, they are a powerful lever for thinking, acting and dealing with change and the challenges that go with it.

Don't forget that identifying, developing and capitalising on our strengths entails a radical and beneficial change in the way we function since it requires us to take a good look at what we possess within ourselves and at what others have within themselves.

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Would you like to enhance your strengths? Ask'n Get by ARANSI can help you.