Over a decade ago I was first introduced to the idea of doing work from strengths. My initial introduction was through a special course of what is now The Strengths Finder movement.
It revolutionized how I viewed myself, and how the team I was fortunate to be a part of (and lead) carried out our work. It was profound.
On the surface the notion of working from strengths makes so much sense. With that said, it is helpful to acknowledge that there are many who work from a totally different perspective.
Much of skills development and continuing education work from the perspective of improving one’s weaknesses. Essentially they are geared toward helping employees to identify their knowledge or skills gaps and then work proactively to turn those weaknesses in to strengths.
And all of those training endeavors fail gloriously. Here’s why.
When we say that we need to work from strengths rather than weaknesses, most of us understand the analogy. It is the picture of developing our physical abilities, of making our muscles stronger.
Now, developing our muscles is something that all of us can do. Of course, many of us don’t develop them, but we all have the same muscles and can strengthen them by working them regularly.
We can lift weights or we can use resistance training, but we can indeed make weak muscles strong.
A few years ago I was injured while playing basketball. I tore my ACL and the meniscus in my left knee. Surgery was required. So was physical therapy.
I was fascinated by my therapy. The regimen included strengthening not only my injured knee (and leg), but my uninjured leg as well. Therapy was about strengthening both legs so that the good one didn’t sustain an injury during my recovery from the injury and surgery (apparently it is very common for people who are limping along to injure other joints due to favoring the injury).
Skills development doesn’t work that way.
In developing your skills for work or school, if you focus on developing your weaknesses and attempt to make them into strengths, you will only hurt those things that you are genuinely strong at.
In other words, when it comes to skills development for whatever your work role is, if you focus on weaknesses, you are only hurting yourself.
That is the major flaw of most training programs. You assess your strengths and weaknesses, and then you work on improving those things you don’t do well, all the while neglecting the very things your assessment says you are good at.
Leaders who lead from their strengths engender much higher employee engagement.
Working from strengths takes on a very different approach. The main focus, once you discover your strengths, is to do the things you are good at in increasing measure.
Doing the things you are good at will bring you the most bang for your buck.
Doing the things you are strong at doing will be self-motivating.
You won’t have to get energized to do your work; your work will energize you.
What about you and your strengths? Do you know what you are good at doing? Have you discovered your strengths?