From Good to Great – use your strengths

From Good to Great

Use your strengths to truly excel! 

How often do you play to your strengths? Do you even know what strengths you have? All too often we take our strengths for granted. They come naturally to us; they’ve often been part of us for as long as we can remember; and as a result we tend to overlook the influence they have in our lives.

Yet, when we do focus on our strengths, we have the possibility to become truly excellent in a particular area – and to enjoy the ride. You see, the things we’re naturally good at are typically the things we also enjoy doing, so we do more of them and in turn get stronger.

“A person or organisation will excel only by amplifying strengths, never by simply fixing weaknesses” – Marcus Buckingham
From Good to Great

This is the case in organisations too. Or rather, it can be if the organisation pro-actively highlights and supports the development of their employees’ strengths.

So why is it that companies often place so much emphasis on the improvement areas? Hiring you for your strengths, but then assessing you on your weaknesses.

Development plans abound with actions to improve areas of weakness, rather than developing core strengths.

This tendency to focus primarily on fixing what’s wrong creates a ‘levelling off’ effect in which true excellence cannot thrive. As a result, the organisation may be good but not great.

“Great companies focus on those few things they can be the best in the world at” – Jim Collins

To go from ‘good’ to ‘great’ means helping people uncover their natural talents and define strategies for developing and applying these strengths in their daily work and life. Employees become flexible with their strengths and are better able to adapt and thrive in an ever-changing workplace. They then become more motivated through the positive encouragement of continuing to excel in the areas that they enjoy.

So what is a strength?

A strength is more than just a natural gift. It is a talent that has been actively developed through practice, skills-building and reflection.

Talent (a natural way of thinking, feeling or behaving)
Investment (time spent practicing, developing your skills, and building your knowledge base)
Strength (the ability to provide consistently near-perfect performance)*

*from ‘StrengthsFinder 2.0’ by Tom Rath

Tips to spot your strengths

Your strengths show themselves in activities…

  • that you “can’t help yourself” but be drawn towards
  • that you “pick up” almost immediately and have a natural aptitude for
  • that engross you to the extent that when you’re engaging in them you lose all track of time
  • that bring you into a state of ‘flow’
  • during which you are amazed and delighted at the quality and creativity of your efforts
  • that boost your energy and overall feeling of well-being to the extent that you can’t wait to engage in them again

How to begin?

“Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.” – Oprah Winfrey
The Clifton StrengthsFinder approach from Gallup uses a book and online assessment tool rooted in more than 40 years of research that has helped millions discover and develop their natural talents.

It’s a simple, cost-effective way to help you and your team begin to explore your strengths and how you might use them to achieve your goals.

Try it as a starting point and watch your motivation, awareness and ability grow.

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