Know your fit - Strengths fitness
Those of us who are used to team sports will know that some people are more suited to certain roles. In football, goalkeepers need people who are tall and athletic. Central defenders need strength and height is an advantage to header away balls coming towards the goal. In rugby, the forwards tend to have increased physicality and bulk over the wingers who need to be speedy. Each person in the scrum in a rugby team has a specific role and strengths to match. In netball, ‘Goal attack’ are often taller with a great shot at the net and centres have a tenacious streak. Taking a role that suits your strengths is important in sports and the same can be said of in leadership.
Operating in our strengths is like driving a self-charging hybrid car. As the self-charging hybrid car drives it gives out energy but as it does so, it can also charge through its movement and braking. When we operate in our strengths it energises us. For example, one of my strengths is ‘maximiser’. This means I love helping people and projects move from great to excellent. When I am working with people and helping them grow and become excellent, it fuels me. I feel proud, energised and feel a sense of achievement. Helping a project come to fruition is another area that I feel energised by and my ‘achiever’ and ‘maximiser’ strengths come to fruition.
Fit with your Strengths
People who come to me in coaching feeling deflated at work, are often because a) they don’t know their strengths and things that strengthen them and b) are not doing enough of them. So, the first step is to get to know your strengths. Assessments like Strengthsfinder by Gallup are brilliant at this. The next stage is to work with a coach to understand where you are using these strengths and where they are in tension, friction or absence. Looking at your daily and weekly routines, identify the jobs that help you to work to your strengths and those jobs that don’t draw upon them. What proportion of your week are you engaged in strength-related jobs? If you are only spending 20% of your time on your strengths that energise you, you are likely to be frustrated in your job. If you spend more than 60% of your time on the things you are good at and love doing, you are likely to be more satisfied. If your role is low in strengths opportunity, then you may want to explore swapping a few job roles with people. You may even want to look at a new role completely that is more in line with your strengths.
Overplaying leads to frustration;
There is a phrase, ‘You can have too much of a good thing’. The initial thought is surely not, but apply this to things like ice cream, and as appealing as unlimited eating of ice cream might sound great, it is not good for the waistline and for feeling well. Our strengths, as brilliant as they are and as empowering to us as they can be, they too when overplayed can make us unwell. Take the strength of ‘harmony’ or ‘empathy’. These are superb strengths that can enable us to really draw people with us. However, when overplayed, harmony can lead to us struggling with confrontation and wanting to keep the peace when issues need a clear and firm line. Empathy when overplayed, can lead to us feeling deeply upset as we feel for a situation and are hyper-sensitive to emotions and how people feel about us.
How do you ensure that you are fit with your strengths? How do you ensure that you are balanced and that they are not overplaying? The first stage is getting to know your strengths. To understand where they may be overplaying and what the tendency/temptation is for them to overplay. The next stage is to note the early signals of when they are overplaying. You may then enlist the help of ‘guardians’ who can help you spot the sign of when it is overplaying and let you know you have reached it. Sometimes working in partnership with those who have other strengths, helps us keep the balance as we both keep each other in check. Knowing what things help you keep the overplaying down at that point can help you keep the strengths in the green and amber on your metaphorical rev counter rather than going into the red.
Knowing what a ‘fit you’ looks like is a good way of ensuring that you keep you are strengths fit. For example, a fit ‘empathy’ is understanding other people’s feelings, taking account of them, but not letting those feelings stop the direction of travel but adjusting pace and support to help people with their feelings. A fit ‘empathy’ also enables you to relate to the feelings without consuming you. Visualise using the strengths well and work towards it.
If you would like help discovering your strengths and understanding where you are ‘strengths fit’, contact us at Everyday Leader. We can empower you to feel more fit for purpose. Give us a call on 01449 710438 or email email@example.com if you would like us to help you explore this and empower you.