Nov 30 2017
Using your strengths for success

Wouldn’t it be great if, instead of spending all your time focussing on what you don’t do well at work, you could use what you’re naturally good at to be even better? Studies in the field of positive psychology have found that high achievers both focus on strengths and manage weaknesses. Developing our character strengths – the things that we get energy from, enjoy doing, and reflect who we really are at our core – can help us to feel more confident, engaged and energised, and ultimately have a significant impact on our performance. Here are some tips for making the most of them:

Know your strengths

Before we can best leverage our strengths, we have to identify what they are. There are several diagnostic tools available (such as the VIA Survey or Gallup’s StrengthsFinder), but a more simple way is to pay attention to the activities that you look forward to, feel excited about, or lose track of time doing – they’ll be the ones where you’re using your strengths. You can also ask people who know you well for specific examples of what you’re like at your best and look for common themes. Then make a list of the words that describe the strengths you and other observed, such as perseverance, adaptability or curiosity.

Put your strengths into action

Just knowing our strengths isn’t enough – we have to put them into action regularly in order for them to have a meaningful impact on our performance, and one way is to align our strengths with our jobs. Not everyone has the luxury of being able to make a living doing exactly what they love, but we can all use our strengths to increase our levels of engagement and productivity whatever our role. Write down the main five tasks that you perform every day – say, dealing with emails, writing reports, managing meetings – and then your top five strengths alongside them. Now find the alignment in the ‘what you have to do’ with the ‘how you like to work’. For example, could you use humour to better engage with your colleagues? Or be creative around how you deal with challenging issues for your department? Choose at least one way to incorporating each of your strengths into your daily work, and remember to make your actions a habit so you can really optimise their impact and build on your success.

Strengths spot in your team

Once you’re more aware of how powerful harnessing your strengths can be, share the secret with your colleagues. Looking for the best in others and finding ways to help them bring more of this out in their work isn’t something most of us usually focus on, but it can be a really powerful way of unlocking potential. So use the tips above to spot their strengths, then let them know what you’ve noticed and appreciate. For example, you might tell someone who you observe make sound decisions in a meeting that you value their judgement, or recognise a kind gesture. Giving someone positive feedback on what comes naturally to them is a great motivator!

For more information on how positive psychology can impact your work, take a look at our course Increasing performance with positive psychology

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