The importance of identifying your strengths and weaknesses to succeed at work

For the last few years, emphasis has no longer been put unto developing leadership knowledge, leadership skills and leadership competencies in the workplace but unto developing your talents, your strengths and purpose in order to pursue leadership positions.

What is the main difference between knowledge, skills, competencies, talents and strengths?

On one hand, knowledge (the fact of knowing something), skills (the ability to perform tasks well at your job or in a given situation) and competencies (the ability to master the skills that you perform well at your job or in a situation) are learnt and developed at school or at work, through training and practise.

On the other hand, your talents are inherent, last a lifetime and make you unique. They cannot be acquired or forgotten throughout life. By means of your talents, you are innately hardwired to think, feel and speak a certain way, to react in a particular manner to a given situation or event.

Finally, strengths are the combination of skills, knowledge and talent. As sure as recognizing the different types of coworkers possible in the workplace remains a knowledge, getting along with coworkers and navigating office politics become skills, communicating effectively and influencing coworkers and clients are talents. Subsequently, possessing the ability to take command, impose your views and take charge on a project emerge as a strength.

Defining your strengths early in life is critical for personal development, self fulfillment and career success. Indeed, assessing your strengths will enable you to:

  • appreciate your self-worth, reinforce your values and your motivations.
  • understand your strength, its nuances, its impact at work and consequences on coworkers. For instance, visionary leaders don’t always know how to properly explain their vision which leaves their team members confused and uncertain of the leadership capabilities of the visionary leader.
  • evaluate your role and contributions at work. This way, you will not be taken advantage of and you will find out early whether or not you are fulfilled by a career path, if you are performant or if you are made for leadership.
  • be more effective, positively influence career decisions and improve your career by actually mastering these strengths. Strenghts assessment becomes suddenly critical when accepting or refusing a promotion.
  • assist, be assisted by coworkers or team members with a complementing set of skills. If you are a team leader, acknowledging your strengths will make you more aware of your team member’s.
  • invest in an environment that fits your thinking pattern and use less energy while sustainably performing a task.
  • gauge your weaknesses and possible blindspots. determining your weaknesses enables a better self-assessment, a way to work around them or simply avoid them. Accept the weaknesses as much as you do the strengths but don’t overwork your weaknesses either: correcting your weaknesses will never be as effective as improving your pre-existent strengths. A common mistake, that I have mostly noticed during performance reviews, lies in the fact that managers stress, more than often, the flaws of an employee and urge them to fix their weaknesses instead of pointing out their strengths and placing them where they would be more productive.
  • Extend the vision of yourself, the limit of who you are and what you can do. Be adventurous and step outside of your comfort zone.
  • express personal truths, steer away from social pressure and conforming to social norms.

Many times, and we have all seen it, people who do not discover their strength or do not use them, tend to be depressed, anxious, bored and unmotivated. They also interact negatively with their coworkers, complain about their job, underperform and are ultimately labeled “difficult”.

Wasting a lifetime in a dead-end job, they feel forced to counter their instincts and to comply to conventional thoughts and rules which is unnatural and counterproductive to them.

It is easier to describe or identify an acquired professional competency than to identify a natural strength.

How to quickly find your strengths?

Due to their innate nature, strengths are easily noticeable to everyone but you. But if you pay close attention to your everyday, you will be able to discover or rediscover them:

  • by renewing your thought pattern. Don’t give up on yourself and your self growth. Make up your mind not to live your life on the side walk. Most people spend time improving their flaws and not their strengths. It is clear that they would have been further if they did otherwise.
  • by reverting back to the memories of your childhood and recalling what you did well and with pleasure. On account of, at that period, the “system” had not affected nor perverted you yet: the main personality traits and what you were gifted with at a younger age remained unchanged.
  • by looking for a common thread in the things that immediately and sustainably attract your attention throughout your life experiences. I usually spend my time reading entrepreneur, management and leadership books and blogs at any hour of the day.
  • by reading books, gaining knowledge, relating to the people in the books and by practicing what you have just learnt on different occasions.
  • by engaging a professional to help identify your strengths and how to employ them.
  • by taking well-known online tests, such as StrenghtsFinder2.0 and StandOut, and cross referencing them.
  • by directly asking the people closest to you, going through your notes and emails or by taking into account your annual performance review. Because of the dark side of human nature, your review as much as people’s advice can be totally biased.  There will certainly be a discrepancy between what people think of me, what I think of myself and who I really am.
  • by surrounding yourself with supporting people. Stay away from yes men, undermining people or groups who hide your strengths, highlights your weaknesses and constantly criticize your work.
  • by simply seeking the truth about yourself and being unafraid of failure or the said truth. Work gradually on yourself and you will be able to build a career more successfully on a strength.

Last words of advice!

First of all, improving strengths is nothing without character.

Talent doesn’t have to be impressive and loud but you must find a way to translate it into something. Sometimes, through life, you are using your strength unknowingly until you are prepared to use it: your passions have probably made you invest enough time into a career path to develop the necessary skills and knowledge. However, if your strength does not fit any career, create one for yourself!

Remember not to feel limited to having one talent and make up your mind not to live your life on the side-walk. And leave your dreams and connect with them.

Don’t hesitate to become an expert of you!

Hope that I’ve helped you get it together on your way to leadership!

Don’t forget to like, share and leave a comment below.


About journeytoleadershipblog

I started this blog to improve my leadership skills, to retain and share the tips that I use on a daily basis in the workplace. I also review books that are essential to leadership development.
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101 Responses to The importance of identifying your strengths and weaknesses to succeed at work

  1. Emma Shearer says:

    Very interesting post. I will try this myself.

  2. So important to identify our strengths and weaknesses! Still trying ti figure out this career stuff, myself….

  3. Flying Food Ninja says:

    I think for some people its difficult to admit to their weaknesses. They should read this! I feel like in order to be stronger we need to realise our weaknesses and fix them or at least work on them. This was very well written. Thanks

  4. I enjoy taking aptitude tests, that is usually a good example of identifying strengths.

  5. Angel Young says:

    Excellent post! I need to really apply some of this to myself, more.

  6. You are right in telling that we should identify our strengths. We should definitely work on them and focus on our strengths than constant comparison with others.

  7. Kirti Arora says:

    Great post ! Indeed very helpful.

  8. Musings of a tired mummy...zzz... says:

    Being honest with yourself is important for accepting critical feedback and responding positively

  9. thenafranssen says:

    Great post. Everyone needs to know their strengths and their weaknesses. So important to know how to improve.

  10. Jessica Hugo says:

    This is a really insightful post. It’s true our passions and strengths lead us to our life purpose and fulfillment.

  11. neha says:

    Such an interesting insight, totally agree with it. Also, experience is something that you only gain as you get into situations. While knowledge might be acquired theoretically.

  12. Mary Anne says:

    Very interesting article! I know excalty my weaknesess and I am trying to work on them!

  13. John says:

    All very good points. Improving on your strengths is absolutely essential to growth, but I am going to politely disagree with you on how we should handle our identified weaknesses. Working around them and avoiding them may work short term, but in my opinion it is necessary to work towards improving our weaknesses along with developing our strengths. If we focus only on working around our weaknesses and improving our strengths, we will not grow. In short, yes work on your strengths, but also get uncomfortable and spend some time on your weaknesses too 🙂

    • You are indeed very polite and I appreciate a polite debater. I believe that reinforcing your strengths will open your road to success. I also believe that acknowledging your weaknesses, knowing how to work with them and around them is enough. If you decide to work on your weaknesses, you will waste a lifetime trying to improve. Thank You John for commenting!

  14. henajose says:

    I am in the path of being self employed. There are many days where I sulk and feel upset about my flaws. I really liked your words, especially the need to focus on our strengths and not weakness. Good one.

  15. Fatema says:

    Very insightful post and love that you mention that we need to change our thought patterns. Often times, we focus on our flows but don’t spend time on our strenghts. Love that you have mentioned it otherwise.

  16. MishMallow says:

    This is so well written, very motivational and i’m sure will help so many people.

  17. JoanneDewberry says:

    Excellent list. I love how you have broken down the thought process. I know where my weaknesses lie I’m just not great at accepting them!

  18. couplertw says:

    interesting and motivational post. thank you and good job

  19. Ritu says:

    This was a fascinating read. We need to learn how to identify our strengths… then use them!

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  21. angelanoelauthor says:

    Your comment on returning to your childhood memories to understand your strengths resonated with me. I went through a similar process. I evaluated the joy I felt at certain moments and why, and put that down on the “more of that, please.” list. I also looked at patterns from my past that made me unhappy. Things that I’d learned as coping tools from my upbringing but maybe weren’t so effective anymore. I like that you’ve called out the importance of awareness, and observing yourself with an unattached, unjudgmental eye. Thanks for the post.

  22. momknowsbest15 says:

    We sure do need to appreciate our self worth. I need to boldly know I am worth something.

  23. rebeccaelvy says:

    A great post! – it’s really important to figure out what your strengths are! Potential employers expect you to know, and once in the job, there are usually ways to tackle most projects from the perspective of your strengths – so if you don’t know what they are, you make it a lot harder for yourself!
    Nice work!

  24. Nicole Wi says:

    Career stuff can sometimes be so tricky.. so many ways to get it right and wrong. This is a good post!

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  30. cassiect says:

    I love this! Especially the reminder to not live your life in the sidewalk. It may take some time but finding even just a few of your strengths is important. Thanks.

  31. Thank You for the inspiring advice.

  32. Lifeby Cyndi says:

    Great article! I especially like when you talk about identifying and working on your strengths, as a means of self-growth.

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