From weaknesses to strengths overplayed
What I’ve learnt is rather than distinguishing strengths and weaknesses, is thinking instead of strengths you’ve got and how they can be overplayed
I’ve been working with my coach to help me solve problems in my work as a leader and think about my career development. One of the exercises I did as part of this was a 360 with my manager, a selection of directors and strategic partners I work with, and a selection of peers and my team, as well as self-assessing myself.
Beyond the strengths that are most significant, there are clusters where I’m more rounded than others. I’m more rounded on the “relational” strength cluster where I score between 4–7, than on the “thinking” cluster where I score as high as 10 on same and as low as 2 on others. That shows that I need to improve how I think in different situations, while recognise that I’m good at using different relational skills to navigate different environments. I need to improve my emotions and practice different types of delivery.
What I’m finding most useful is the strengths habit tracker, which focuses on:
- How you can stretch a strength to the next level
- Where a strength goes in overdrive and how I can reduce this happening
Stretching your strength to the next level
- Ask your manager for an opportunity to run short ‘creative burst’ sessions to improve work processes and practices or to deal with specific challenges
- Identify the three top problems or challenges facing your team or organisation currently and use your creativity strength to address these
- Observe and reflect how you use your intuition — gut feelings and hunches — and learn how to listen to these more consciously in order to generate ideas and original solutions that move things forward
I run creative burst sessions regularly and have worked across the organisation to identify what are our key challenges, but I do need to trust my gut more systematically!
Overdrive risk to watch out for and how to reduce them
I do sometimes generate unworkable, eccentric ideas that take little account of the realities of the organisation and its context, and sometimes do overlook the more obvious, tried and tested solution.
I’m now starting to intentionally buddy up with colleagues who have more pragmatic, common-sense thinking styles than me
Apparently, I’m very aware of your emotional ‘triggers’ and how to control these to help me remain calm and productive
To strengthen my performance in this area:
I’m going to identify how I can prioritise activities what helps most, i.e. negotiating with people, navigating competing priorities and even conflict, working, dealing with emergencies. I do this regularly anyway, but there are perhaps areas of work my team do where that could help more.
Following a discussion with my coach, I’m going to observe my own emotions, learning to be completely honest with myself about I you feel at any one time. I’ll use that this to understand why I feel the way I do, and then make choices about how I’d like to respond to different circumstances before I actually do.
I perhaps need to help more people I work with who maybe don’t control their emotions as much, understand why that is and provide them with feedback on how they are being perceived, so they can improve.
Overdrive risk to watch out for and how to reduce them
My emotional control can make me come across as dispassionate and aloof when I don’t share my emotions and feelings productively with others.
I think I need ‘dial up’ my emotions in a way that is visible to others to ensure they understand how I’m feeling on topics where I do need to show emotion, and have started doing that more on the uncomfortable conversations in my team we’ve had on race, discrimination and unconscious bias.
If I find that others do not understand my feelings or views on a topic that is important to me, I need to take the time to explain carefully why something is important to me, even explaining that this may not be obvious in how I speak or act, but that doesn’t mean I don’t feel strongly about it.
One of my other strengths is I remain adaptable and flexible in the face of unfamiliar or changing situations
To strengthen my performance in this area, I will work with others less adaptable than myself by helping them develop a more positive attitude toward change, including helping them to see the benefits, help them adapt their mindset and behaviours to the changes and remind them to reward themselves for achieving their goals. I will also find opportunities to lead or influence fast-changing, uncertain situations at work, helping others to see the benefits of adapting and flexing
To avoid this strength going into overdrive
I know that sometimes it might feel like I prefer change for change’s sake, without considering the implications of my actions. Others might see me as restless, and making changes for the sake of it.
To counter that, I’m going to seek new projects or situations which require change and ensure I prioritise the activities that are going to create the most value for my team and the organisation.
One of my strengths is taking independent action to make things happen.
To stretch my strength to the next level, I’m going to seek opportunities to take the lead on important organisational improvement projects or tasks where nobody appears to be taking responsibility, or where progress has slowed or stalled.
Define a given number of proposals that you are going to make in relation to the meeting agenda and volunteer for action items that would not necessarily form part of your own area of responsibility
By delving further, this will improve my understanding of how things work, which may encourage me to think of better processes and innovative ideas