Feelings of burnout are common this time of year. But rather than making any rash decisions, think about how you can recalibrate and take control.
Strength on strength: a five-step process to realizing your superpowers
Identifying your strengths is essential to your personal development as well as your current and future career performance. This step-by-step process will help you find them and ensure you reach your full potential.
This is an important process, and one of the most effective ways to develop and accelerate your career. Without it, you may miss opportunities to reach your potential.
What are your leadership strengths? What strengths do you need to develop in order to reach your potential?
If you have never asked yourself these questions, then you might be missing out on one of the most effective ways to develop and accelerate your career. A strength, when properly identified and developed, becomes a superpower, which will get you noticed throughout your executive career.
The process comprises several separate areas: identifying your current unique strengths, the strengths which are important for you to continue building and the corresponding weaknesses. Going through this helps you learn more about yourself and gauge your current performance and future potential. It also helps you match these strengths to your future job or career path and commit to actions which enhance your personal development.
The consequences of failing to undertake this process can include:
- Everyone has strengths, but they often go unused or are not clearly identified. When this happens, you fail to realise opportunities to reach your full potential.
- Recognising and acknowledging both strengths and weaknesses is important. Many times, people have assets or resources that they take for granted or that they are not aware of such as skills, capabilities, ways of thinking, and characteristics.
- Inadequate personal development activities and actions
Here’s a five-step plan for identifying and building your strengths.
Step 1: Start the identification process
Create two lists to start your journey of identifying your strengths.
The first list should have three columns.
- Column a contains a list of the specific tasks you are doing in your job right now. With each of these tasks write what you are doing, when you are doing it and the outcomes you achieve when completing these tasks.
- Column b contains a list of the skills needed to be successful for each of these tasks. Both technical and human skills.
- Column c is a ranking in order of the tasks you lean into most (and enjoy the most). The top three are your main strengths, your superpowers. The bottom three are your areas of significant development.
Think broadly about what counts as a strength. Consider social skills, resource capabilities, and reputation as well as technical and human skills and cognitive abilities. Look at your rate of improvement compared to others with a similar level of experience and training, rather than your absolute performance.
Don’t focus only on what you happen to be good at today. Careers are played out over decades, and you have the potential to develop new strengths.
The second list is your weaknesses and also has three columns:
- Create a list of your gaps, or as some may describe them, your weaknesses. An honest reflection of what you are not so good at, that you lean away from and don’t enjoy.
- Write down if and why they are important for you to be successful in your role – highlighting if you need to honestly develop it, delegate it, or dump it.
- If you are developing it, write down an action of learning you will commit to. If you are delegating it, who will you delegate it to. If you are dumping it, when you will demote it.
Having a weakness is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, when you are aware of and accept weaknesses, you can get on with developing and also focusing on the areas you are good at.
To help you think about what to include in your strengths and weaknesses, try asking yourself questions like:
- What do you like doing?
- What are you good at?
- What is important to you?
- What skills and strengths do you use in your current role?
- What skills and strengths do you want to use more of?
- What parts of your role give you a sense of joy?
- What parts of your role give you a sense of dread?
- What have others complimented you about?
- What are you doing when you are seen at your best?
- What are the best contributors to your reputation?
Step 2. Get feedback from those you trust
Writing a list of your own strength and weaknesses is only one aspect of the identification process. To add a level of depth and unique perspective, seek feedback from people you trust, that know you, and have experienced your character and skills in good and bad times.
Ask five people whose opinions you trust, and who have had the chance to live or work with you for extended periods of time. These are people that have observed your behaviour and character in a number of different situations.
Ask them what it is about you that they think contributes to your success and the weaknesses you have that may caused your performance to be less than optimal at times. Refer back to performance reviews in your career. What patterns of feedback highlight what you do well? What seems to energise you?
Add the feedback to the list you have already created. You’ll start to see that some of the strengths and weaknesses you listed are confirmed by those you trust, while others that you listed aren’t as significant to the people who have spent time with you.
From here, refine your lists. Identify those strengths and weaknesses that are repeated and reconfirmed by those you trust. You will confidently know your strengths and gaps to focus on.
Step 3. Take a strengths test
Personality tests are another useful resource to help you identify strengths and weaknesses. You can simply take a strengths test, which will provide you with results in the form of a report. The key to these reports is how you interpret them and how to choose to use them in your growth journey.
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI):
DISC Personality Testing
Step 4. Identify the sweet spot of productivity and passion
Consider when you were most productive in your current and previous jobs. When did the time pass quickly and the outcomes you were delivering consistently strong? When you enjoy using your strengths your productivity increases and your output improves.
Step 5. Challenge yourself
After you’ve identified these strengths and corresponding weaknesses, it’s critical that you commit to actions in order to address them. A strength, well-developed, becomes a superpower – what more can you be doing to convert strengths into superpowers? For example, try a new activity, skill, or hobby.
The same goes for weaknesses. When a project arises that uses strengths outside of your current skillset, take a risk and contribute. Seek out new leadership roles, shadow mentors, or take classes in a specific development area.
Most importantly, remember that you’re accountable for your own self-development. So, ensure you hold yourself to these goals.
Be aware that your strengths and weakness give you opportunities to grow professionally and personally. You don’t know what you don’t know, so stepping out of your comfort zone will test your skills and character and will help you focus in what you need to do.
When you can articulate your strengths and realize your superpower, you know how you can help organizations make money and save money, demonstrating how you are a valuable investment and one worth backing.
Hunton Executive is here to support you on your leadership journey to create a sustainable and successful career.
At some point in your career, you’re likely to find yourself in a period of transition – whether that’s redundancy, waiting for promotion, or simply