When you come to a crossroads in your career, consider using your strengths to advance it.
The Gallup StrengthsFinder 2.0 is an online assessment that helps you identify your top five strengths. Instead of trying to fix our weaknesses, StrengthsFinder allows us to tap into our talents, and use them more purposefully in our life and work. This instrument was created in 1998, yet is still new to many executives. It is powerful because it asks about your natural talents and skills in order to help you focus on what makes you unique. Although I have completed StrengthsFinder training, I do not receive any compensation from Gallup for my own coaching.
As an MBA professor and executive coach, I use the StrengthsFinder 2.0 to help executives understand and apply their strengths. I have used it with my MBA students and with executive leaders and teams I have coached. I recently wrote about the value of using StrengthsFinder in a new book on restoring trust in higher education, and how an emphasis on strengths can help MBA students be more focused in their career journey.
When you come to a crossroads in your career, consider using your strengths to advance it. Most of us intuitively know what we are good at, but this is not exactly the same as understanding and utilizing your strengths. By identifying your top five strengths from the Gallup StrengthsFinder 2.0, you can start to understand why you excel at certain activities. Then you can use that information to help you move forward in your career in a more meaningful way for you.
For instance, my top five strengths are relator, deliberator, intellection, individualization and learner. In reviewing your own strengths, first look at each strength by itself: what is it telling you about yourself? Do you already know this about yourself? Do you see these as strengths, or just as something you always do in your workplace? Sometimes we don’t place a value on these strengths because we think that everyone can do what we do. When I put all of my MBA students’ strengths on a chart together, they begin to see that although they might have some strengths in common with each other, they usually all have at least one strength that is unique just to them.
What if you are the only Relator on your team? You might just be the person who holds the team together and provides a sense of community. What if you are the only Deliberator in your group? You might be the only person on your team who is able to step back and assess next steps carefully, before jumping into something new.
Others might also take our strengths for granted. A previous employer could not quite understand my Relator strength. My boss would say things like, “At least you are good at building relationships with students.” They saw this as something that was frivolous, and not something that they would want to do themselves. I, however, saw my Relator strength as something valuable and distinctive in my work with students. My ability to build close relationships with my MBA students along with my Individualization strength (seeing the uniqueness in each person) allowed me to help them to both understand and appreciate their own strengths and chart a new career path for themselves.
Once you know what your top five strengths are, consider what they tell you about yourself. My top five strengths support my interest in and ability to coach leaders and teams. It is not just something I enjoy, but I am uniquely qualified to do as a result of my top five strengths. This has given me the opportunity to help many MBA students, alumni and executives look at their careers in combination with their strengths to see what direction is next for them. One of my executive MBAs went from working in IT at her firm, to working in her company’s foundation. She has a strength in building relationships and used that to help her build relationships between her company and the community. Another executive MBA decided that her strengths were not meant for a corporate job, but to be an entrepreneur, building her own business.
For about $25, you can take the StrengthsFinder 2.0 and learn about your strengths. Then you can determine where you would like your career to go next.