You have heard the adages “there is a time and a place for everything,” and “everything in moderation.” These adages apply to effectively using your high-performance traits. Our analytics help you find your sweet spot for a given role — situational strengths. Applying a strength in the wrong situation, or overextending it can make you weaker. Your superpowers are dominant — use them responsibly.
“Instead of striving to use your strengths more often, aim to use them more wisely.” — Adam Grant
Dr. Adam Grant is an organizational psychologist at Wharton. For two decades, his research focuses on building your career and connections. Also, Grant is the author of the book the Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World and a TedTalk on the science of making work a little less awful. Dr. Larry Cash, the founder of SuccessFinder, did similar research for the past four decades.
The movement to play to our strengths continues to gain momentum in the world of work. However, the secret to career satisfaction is finding fulfillment at work. Moreover, it is a shame that many people are obsessed with addressing their weaknesses.
Four Things You Need
To increase the chance to do what you do best every day, you need four things,
- knowing the high-performance traits required in the role
- understanding how your attributes match with the position
- leveraging your strengths that align with the task at the right time and exercising caution with other your superpowers — they may be too dominant for the job
- developing strategies to manage your challenges with the high-performance traits required in the role
However, there is a widespread problem. Most people are not aware of when to use their superpowers — to do what they do best.
“I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” — Abraham Maslow
The Dinner Party
To illustrate the point, Grant uses a story that we all can relate to.
“I had dinner with an unusually charming friend. He entertained us with stories of arctic adventures, and he captivated us with commentary on how the Lannister-Stark conflict in “Game of Thrones” could explain foreign affairs in real life.
But I left with a nagging feeling that something was off. One of the other guests pinpointed the issue: In more than two hours, he did not ask a single question. A few weeks later, at dinner with another friend, I had déjà vu: In three hours, she posed a grand total of zero questions.
I might have expected that from a pair of self-absorbed narcissists, but neither friend fit the bill. He goes out of his way to recognize others and give credit where it is due, and she goes far above and beyond as a mentor — she takes complete strangers under her wing. What the two friends have in common is that they are both dynamic speakers. On a stage, they are at their best when they are interesting. But in a small dinner, that same quality made them come across as uninterested. It was not because their social skills were weak. It was because they were misusing their greatest strength.”
It is worth noting that this concept is not new. Twenty-three hundred years ago, Aristotle argued that virtues lie between deficiency and excess —right time and the right place for things.
“To feel these feelings at the right time, on the right occasion, towards the right people, for the right purpose and in the right manner, is to feel the best amount of them, which is the mean amount - and the best amount is, of course, the mark of virtue.” ― Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics
There is a growing body of evidence suggesting that success does not come from always playing to your strengths. Notably, it comes from playing your superpowers in the right situations and at the right time. I call this “situational strengths.”
In a study, co-workers rated their managers on four essential leadership behaviours:
- taking charge
- empowering others
- creating a vision
The researchers asked: Did the managers do too little, the right amount or too much of each behaviour?
Interestingly, the researchers observed that more than half of the managers were overdoing at least one leadership behaviour. Moreover, their strengths predicted which one. For example,
- ambitious managers tend to overdo decisiveness and provide too little empowerment
- sensitive managers tend to be too encouraging and not forceful enough
- inquisitive managers tend to overemphasize innovation and underemphasized results
- conscientious managers tend to focus on the details and pay too little attention to the big picture
Strengths Are Like Muscles
Think of your strengths the way you think about your muscles. Weight lifting exercises that work all muscle groups is especially important to improving your body. A good weight training program focuses on every prominent muscle group within your body. Also, high-performance athletes pay special attention to muscles that help them excel in their sport.
“Often our greatest weaknesses are the other side of our strengths.” — Melinda Gates
Here are a few examples, if one of your strengths is
- openness — remember that there is a fine line between sharing and oversharing
- innovation — watch out that you do not appear disgruntled as you know everything can be improved
- decisiveness — when you are the first to decide on everything, team members may see you as being “my way or the highway” type of leader, in a collegial environment this creates a high-level of conflict
- moxie — watch out for moments when you are imposing on others
- storyteller — consider if a dinner party is an ideal time to perform
Choosing the Right Strengths for the Situation
We need learning leaders. They are the people who can stay flexible, grow from mistakes, handle a diverse range of challenges, and use the right approach at the right time. On the one hand, managers tend to “lead” the way they do because it is their fundamental interpersonal nature. On the other hand, there is no correlation between one’s style of leadership and one’s leadership performance.
However, if you leave it to the average manager, they will rely on their personality type versus leadership type to “manage others.” This behaviour leaves us in a quandary. I think that there are as many approaches to leadership as there are leaders.
The best research in high performing leaders reveals that 14 leadership styles apply. The styles include authoritarian, democratic, laissez-faire, servant, transactional, transformational, inspirational, entrepreneurial, utilitarian, directive, administrative, collegial and agile leadership. Building awareness of frameworks and your natural leadership style will help you to develop your approach to be a more effective leader.
Leadership styles research suggests that most forms of leadership are more behavioural based at their core. However, they are not directed toward performance as an effective leader.
If you want to ensure authentic leadership, then one must start with the premise that “leadership” is something one can teach. It is best not to assume some are born to lead. However, some personalities are better predisposed to show leadership qualities when exposed to challenging situations requiring them to influence others. The knowledge of consequences of behaviour as it relates to getting others to follow one’s lead under adverse scenarios is essential for a leader to understand. The behavioural competency is different at each level of leadership. Yo need to know what to use and what to let go. We provide leadership development that incorporates these approaches.
Confidence comes from recognizing your strengths. However, real power depends on your self-awareness to know when and how to use your high-performance traits and to manage challenging traits that are needed to be a high-performer.
Every day, every hour, every minute, you choose how you react and engage. Think of the concept of situational strengths — playing your superpowers in the right situations and at the right time and managing the challenges required for top performance.
Challenge — What's Right For You?
Solution = Leverage Your Talent Stack + Build Your Career Capital
Identify your unique performance strengths, build your career capital and leverage your unique talent stack for lifetime success.
- Grow your leadership potential by targeting your critical developmental needs
- Determine your crucial career success factors, allowing for more focused efforts
- Discover your best and most successful career direction
- Find out about your strengths and interests in different career areas
Knowing yourself is the first step to being happy. Moreover, staying happy is an ongoing process of regrounding your long-term goals with your current objectives. When those align, you’re on the path to a job you can adore. Know when to find a better job as your best option may be to fall in love with your job (again) We also offer a personal development plan to help you achieve career success and satisfaction.Let’s Talk!