Updated: Apr 15
Our strengths are those things we’re really great at AND really enjoy. When we use our strengths we're energised and motivated, happy and confident, creative and collaborative, less stressed and more resilient.
Why align your career with your strengths?
When our career is aligned with our strengths we perform at our best.
This will be visible to your leaders, your team, your colleagues and stakeholders. They’ll see you shine at what you do, they’ll see the results you achieve, and they’ll want you to do more of it. You'll create a virtuous circle of being able to do more of what you enjoy and are great at.
How does knowing your strengths help you find a career, role or organisation that’s right for you?
How do you find an organisation with the right culture for you? A place where you'll enjoy your work and be able to do the things that matter to you? Understanding your strengths can really help.
Here's an example:
Kate, an L&D Manager, had previously left two roles because she was frustrated and bored. She could see when things could be improved, where development programmes could be delivered more effectively and efficiently. She had researched her ideas, created costed proposals and presented them to senior leaders, who agreed that things needed to change and her ideas were great. But nothing happened. There was little appetite for change. People shrugged their shoulders - 'It's always been like this'; ‘It’s too hard to do’; ‘We don’t have the resources’.
When we looked at Kate's Strengths Profile, her Unrealised Strengths included:
Innovation: "I can look at things from a different perspective to others. I don't get blinkered by what exists now."
Improver: "I love to take something that isn't working as well as it could be and make it simpler, clearer, more logical, more efficient and simply better."
Catalyst: "I particularly enjoy getting new projects off the ground and putting ideas into action by involving others."
With this insight, Kate could:
💡 See why she'd felt so frustrated and bored in these roles - she'd been unable to do the things she was great at and really enjoyed.
💡 Understand that her next role needed to provide opportunities for her to use these strengths so that she could feel excited by her work.
💡Rewrite her CV to showcase her strengths and achievements in this area.
💡 Prepare questions to ask of the interviewers to check if her love of improving things would be valued in the organisation.
How can knowing my strengths help me to thrive in my career?
Here’s another example, from my own experience:
When I started work I didn't have a clue what I wanted to do. So I drifted into what was considered 'a good career', working for large corporates. I moved jobs 4 times in my first company until I found something that didn't bore me to tears every day!
But then after a career break to travel, I found myself stuck back in boring roles (because 'this was my experience' and I didn’t know how to market my transferable skills – and didn’t even know what I wanted to do).
I put up with this for some years then took another career break to travel and again, exactly the same happened on my return.
So I decided I needed to be more active in managing my career. I couldn't spend another 30 years being bored until retirement!
I didn't know the language of strengths then, but thought about what I really enjoyed doing and what energised me and identified some key things that I need in my career:
Strategy rather than operations (more variety)
Leading teams and enabling people to develop
Learning and growth
Collaborating with different people and teams to create and improve things
Once I got clear on this I was able to talk with my leader and she helped me find a secondment to a new 'head office' training team.
From there, I started to do work I enjoyed and was great at. This got noticed, my secondment became a permanent role and after a short while I became the manager of the team.
Then I discovered actual Strengths profiling and the language of strengths, and everything became clear.
Then I could do even more of what I loved! I could develop my team more effectively. We achieved goals, proposed new ways of doing things, exceeded expectations.
I developed a great network throughout the business and became known for and sought out for the things I enjoyed doing.
And because I was working to my strengths, it felt fairly effortless really! I wasn't chasing promotion, a bigger remit, pay rises - these things just occurred as a result of working to my strengths.
And this is exactly why I use strengths coaching as an integral part of my career coaching programmes - because I know it works!
How do I find out what my strengths are?
Your strengths are those things you really enjoy AND are really great at. You can identify your own strengths by asking yourself these questions:
? When do I find time disappearing, I’m so ‘in the zone’ I forget to look at the clock?
? What exactly am I doing, and how am I doing it?
? What do other people tell me, I’m really great at?
? When I’ve achieved something that I’m really proud of, and would love to do again, what did I do and how?
These questions will help you to identify your strengths, in your own words.
If you’d love to know much more about your strengths, have a look at my Strengths Profile coaching. You’ll get your personalised report of 60 strengths categorised into what energises you and what drains you, and 90 minutes of coaching to explore how you use this to thrive in your career.
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About Karen Felton
Karen is a leadership career change success coach with over 25 years’ experience leading teams, coaching and mentoring people and developing leaders, in HR and Financial Services. She is passionate about enabling people to be their best selves so they can perform at their best in work and in life.
Learn more about Karen here.