Quote Of The Week #19

I've never met an effective leader who wasn't aware of his talents and working to sharpen them. Wesley Clark

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Tom Rath

author

Tom Rath is a human behavior researcher. Tom Rath is also the Author of StrengthsFinder 2.0 and of How Full is Your Bucket?.

Marcus Buckingham

authorMarcus Buckingham is a researcher, motivational speaker and business consultant. Marcus Buckingham is also the Author of StandOut 2.0 assess your strengths, find your edge, win at work.

StandOut 2.0: assess your strengths, find your edge, win at work by Marcus Buckingham

In StandOut 2.0: assess your strengths, find your edge, win at work, Marcus Buckingham stresses the fact that everybody has a “genius” — a particular combination of strengths — that is innate but that is difficult to find out, to control and to employ. Our genius comes so naturally to us that it becomes the norm, the standard of behavior for everyone.

Furthermore, it is difficult to acknowledge our abilities and how unique we are. Society will not tell you your strengths but will deter you from being confident or different and will encourage you to fit the mould.

In that event, Gallup Inc’s StrengthsFinder has defined 34 “themes of talents” to help an individual evaluate their strengths and styles. Though there is an infinite amount of strengths and personality traits, Marcus Buckingham noticed recurring patterns within Gallup Inc’s 34 themes of talents. He then combined those 34 themes of talents and hundreds of other measurable themes into 9 powerful “Strength Roles” that will help you distinguish your strengths and take advantage of your edge. Each Strength Role can be assimilated to a “certain “personality,” a way of engaging with the world.”.

Below, are the 9 StandOut Strength Roles identified by Marcus Buckingham:

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Advisor. You are a practical, concrete thinker who is at your most powerful when reacting to and solving other people’s problems.


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Connector. You are a catalyst. Your power lies in your craving to bring two people together to make something bigger and better than it is now.


StandOutCreator

Creator. You make sense of the world, pulling it apart, seeing a better configuration, and creating it.


StandOut2.0 Equalizer

Equalizer. You are a level-headed person whose power comes from keeping the world in balance, ethically and practically.


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Influencer. You engage people directly and convince them to act. Your power is your persuasion.


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Pioneer. You see the world as a friendly place where, around every corner, good things will happen. Your power comes from your optimism in the face of uncertainty.


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Provider. You sense other people’s feelings, and you feel compelled to recognize these feelings, give them a voice, and act on them.


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Stimulator. You are the host of other people’s emotions. You feel responsible for them, for turning them around, for elevating them.


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Teacher. You are thrilled by the potential you see in each person. Your power comes from learning how to unleash it.


The StandOut assessment test, taken online and associated to this book, is designed to measure your propensity to a Strength Role, by posing a series of questions and analyzing your impulsive or instinctive responses. The test poses thirty-four questions that are mostly built around hypothetical stressful situations in the workplace, that are clocked and that require top of the mind responses among a set of possible good and defendable responses. Additionally, the questions are embedded with trigger words that will unknowingly stimulate you, captivate you and incite you towards a specific answer.

The analysis of your responses, ranking your 9 strengths roles in order of importance, is delivered in a report. Through the StandOut assessment test, you can discover and study which two top Strength Roles that you are naturally leaning towards.

Knowing your strengths, how to use them, where to use them, how to describe yourself, the impacts of your strengths on your career, your team and your leadership styles, how to look out for your pitfalls, will definitely give you an edge over everyone else in the workplace.

After identifying and understanding your strengths, it is necessary to improve them, to best translate them in order to properly employ them. It is necessary to build them. Marcus Buckingham lays down three lessons to do so:

  1. “Your genius is precise”. Stay in your strength zone and take advantage of it.
  2. “Remember who you are”. Remember your Strength Roles, apply them daily and hold on tight to them when people tell you otherwise or things don’t go your way.
  3. “Always sharpen your edge”. Better yourself within your strength zone.

Review

StandOut 2.0: assess your strengths, find your edge, win at work is a very instructive book. I vehemently suggest it to people who are looking to identify or fortify their strengths, to people who feel like they have taken the wrong career path and to people who are not yet blossoming in the career path they appreciate.

While reading StandOut 2.0, on account of me possessing a career advice blog, I believed that I related the most to the Strength Roles of Advisor and Creator. However, according to the Standout assessment test, I fit the two top Strength Roles of Pioneer and Equalizer. In disbelief, I committed myself to read the entire report, including the piece about the ideal career advice that I should follow.

Below are my strengths roles by order of importance:

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It turns out that:

  • the StandOut assessment test is surprisingly accurate. The test report perfectly described my major personality traits. Throughout my education, training and career, I’ve been the one to jump on novelty and innovative projects.
  • the StandOut assessment test has provided me with a positive twist on what I thought where personality flaws.
  • the StandOut assessment test suggested career paths that I have already taken and am currently positioned at. It has equally confirmed to me that I am in the right career path but I stayed in the wrong workplace for the longest, which I figured out a few months before taking this test.

In conclusion, the StandOut assessment test will surprise you not only by challenging the ideas you have of your strengths but also by the accuracy of the results.

Favorite quote(s)

the StandOut assessment calculates your two leading strength roles, pinpoints what you can do to channel them, and describes your particular power when these top-two roles combine.

We each have specific areas where we consistently stand out, where we can do things, see things, understand things, and learn things better and faster than ten thousand other people can. When we find ourselves in these areas—our strengths “zone,” if you will—we are magnificent. Self-assured and flushed with success, we imagine we can do just about anything that we turn our minds to.

When you take a job that you never should have taken, when your boss doesn’t understand you, when your company downsizes you, or when you start to question whether you have anything of value to offer, the memory of your strengths will hold you in place, reorient you, and show you the way forward.

Ratings 3,5/5

Author

Marcus Buckingham

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.

StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath

StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath aims to help people, in a various number of roles and of environments, identify their talent to build their strength, improve their confidence, their sense of purpose, their health and their relationships.

Furthermore, Tom Rath claims, according to scientific research, that personality traits, skill sets, passions and interests inherited  at a young age are still present in adulthood and need to be jump started and regularly exercised and be improved with knowledge and skills. Without exercise your natural talents, the muscle stays under developed.

In the workplace, for example, when strengths are not identified and not used, workers tend to lose their engagement and the devotion to their work, to suffer from anxiety or depression.

This is why, in StrengthsFinder 2.0, Tom Rath has identified 34 “themes of talents” to categorize the different set of skills discovered in the workforce. Knowing your strengths allows you to distinguish blind spots, to be more conscious of them and to understand the impacts of such strength, to “be aware of your potential and your limitations”.

What about weaknesses?

StrenghtsFinder 2.0 helps identify weaknesses or “areas of lesser talents” in certain occupations. Surely, knowing your weaknesses will enable you to work around them or totally avoid them, to know who yo work with that can complement your skills set.

StrengthsFinder 2.0 is associated to an online tests from Gallup Inc. Using its database of interviewees, the test assesses and analyzes the top 5 themes of talent among the 34 themes of talents.

34 themes of talent?

Below, a brief summary of each theme of talent and in which job to apply the given talent.

  1. Achiever

Constant need for achieving something tangible every day in order to define success.

Tips for improvement:

  • Apply for jobs that allow you to work as hard as you want and gives you autonomy to measure your productivity.
  • Set challenging goals, create deadlines, measure progress.
  • Acknowledge success, personal and professional achievements before moving on to the next challenge.
  • Pursue your education by obtaining certificates, attending classes, conferences, etc…
  • Do not compromise on the quality of your work.
  1. Activator

An impatience to take action and a decisiveness over the steps taken. Ability to learn from every stages crossed, every steps taken and every results obtained.

Tips for improvement:

  • Apply for a job that allows you to make and implement your own decisions.
  • Ask not to be judged on your process but on the outcomes of the process.
  • Help others transform innovative ideas and concepts into concrete action.
  • Create plans of actions to move blocked situations forward.
  • Expose yourself to challenging situations.
  • Earn your bosses, managers and team members trust first and give the reasons for your desire to take action.
  • Energize plans and people. Motivate them to take action as well.
  1. Adaptability

A high responsiveness and reactivity to current situations as well as a flexibility in challenging situations.

Tips for improvement:

  • Apply for a job where situations are constantly moving, unpredictable and unstructured.
  • Because you enjoy unpredictability, rolling with the punches, you remain calm, reassuring and collected in stressful circumstances.
  • Foster a reputation of being calm and reassuring during upsetting events.
  • Adjust your responsiveness to unanticipated events. However, on the job, because you are flexible to events, don’t compromise too much and don’t let people take advantage of you.
  1. Analytical

A need to test other people’s theory and to make sure that it is flawless, an enjoyment for analysing data, connecting data and searching for patterns in them.

Tips for improvement:

  • Apply for a job that lets you theorize, analyze data and find patterns.
  • Rely on trustworthy sources of information
  • Find the proper settings to beneficially communicate your thoughts.
  • Explore ways to apply and implement your theory.
  1. Arranger

A search for the most productive configuration possible and for the best way to do things. An impersonation of effective flexibility, an ease in dynamic situations and an excitement for complex multi-faceted projects.

Tips for improvement:

  • Apply for a job where assignments are complex and events are concurrent.
  • Use your Arranger talents in team building and group organizing.
  • On your job, track your deadlines to reassure your boss or clients.
  • Avoid routines and static organizations.
  1. Belief

A possession of core values that can be family oriented, altruistic or spiritual, ethics and a value for responsibility in yourself and others.

Tips for improvement:

  • Apply for a job that aligns with your values and that has both meaning and purpose.
  • Balance work demands and personal life.
  • Motivate others by sharing your values with them and learn to understand different systems of belief.
  1. Command

A willingness to take charge, a comfort in imposing your view to others, in confrontation and directing.

Tips for improvement:

  • Apply for a job where you can take the lead, persuade others, face intense and challenging situations and find a cause to defend in the face of resistance.
  • “Practise the words, the tone, and the techniques that will turn your ability to confront into real persuasiveness”.
  • Be candid to your colleagues on sensitive subjects.
  • As you are intimidating, ask for your colleagues’ opinion once in a while.
  1. Communication

An incitement “to explain, to describe, to host, to speak in public, and to write”.

Tips for improvement:

  • Apply for a job where you have to capture people attention, speak publicly and present a subject.
  • Practise your speeches, study your audience, refine the words you use and improve the message you convey.
  1. Competition

A perpetual desire for competing and for winning.

Tips for improvement:

  • Apply for a job where you can “measure your achievements”.
  • Select high achieving people in your organization to compete with.
  • Transform elementary tasks into competitive games.
  • Learn the reasons of your wins as much as the reasons of your loss.
  1. Connectedness

A belief that you belong to something larger and an understanding that everyone is connected.

Tips for improvement:

  • Apply for a job where you can “listen and counsel” and benefit from multicultural and multinational experiences.
  • Explain to your colleagues, their respective strengths and contribution to the team.
  1. Consistency

A need for balance and impartially. A belief that everyone should be treated the same and should be held to the same rules, policies, procedures.

Tips for improvement:

  • Apply for a job where you can uniformly be fair to all your colleagues, implement conscientious meritocracy and “enforce compliance to a set of standards”.
  • Define and apply the rules that you abide by.
  • Defend your beliefs even in the face of resistance.
  1. Context

A need to look at the past to understand the present and the future, to make better decisions.

Tips for improvement

  • Apply for a job where you have to remember and remind people of what has happened before, where you can study cases from the past and map the future with them.
  • Help your coworkers to study and learn from past projects.
  • As you learn from the past, avoid living in it but seek out mentors to relate their history to you.
  1. Deliberative

A need to assess risks and to weigh all implications before vigilantly going into the world that is a minefield.

Tips for improvement:

  • Apply for a job where you can “advise and counsel” and take time to process a decision.
  • Observe your coworkers, help them consider the pros and the cons of their choices and temper their impulsive behavior.
  • Take heed of people pushing you to reveal too much of yourself. Conceal confidential information about yourself and detain your opinion until you get all the facts straight.
  1. Developer

A need to jump-start a growth and learning process in promising individuals in order for them to experience success. An inner drive for mentorship.

Tips for improvement:

  • Apply for a job that allows you to further one’s advancement and to push one to success.
  • Avoid loosing causes and extreme cases where the individual “is consistently struggling in his or her role”.
  • Remind yourself of your own development. “Find a mentor or coach who can invest in you”.
  1. Discipline

An urge for order, exactitude, perfectionism and predictability. A need for plans, timelines and deadlines.

Tips for improvement:

  • Apply for a job that demands structure and routine, with situations that need to be perfected, more effective and more time-saving.
  • “Accept that mistakes might depress you” and that “others may not be as disciplined as you are”.
  • Create well-organized spaces and deadlines in order to conveniently accomplish your task at hand.
  1. Empathy

An ability to understand people’s emotions and acknowledge their point of view and perspectives.

Tips for improvement:

  • Apply for a job where you serve others.
  • Help your colleagues understand their emotions, their reactions towards themselves and others, and help them prevent misconduct.
  • Recognize and support great achievements in the workplace.

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  1. Focus

A need for setting goals, priorities daily and an ability to filter out unwanted and unfitted information that doesn’t efficiently lead you toward your destination.

Tips for improvement:

  • Apply for a job where you are autonomous, able to select projects that align with your mission.
  • Measure your progress toward your goal, set deadlines and follow through on schedule.
  • Help your team members set and recall goals.
  1. Futuristic

A fascination for the future. A detailed, hopeful and inspiring vision of the future.

Tips for improvement:

  • Apply for a job where you can share your futuristic ideas, your vision for an organization, for your career or someone else’s.
  • Spend time thinking about the future, find ways to concretely implement your ideas, to articulate them to a specific audience and to support them.
  • “Gain knowledge that will fuel your imagination”.
  1. Harmony

A will to minimize conflicts, confrontations. A continual search for consensus, common ground. An ability to keep your peace in conflict, your opinion to yourself and to adjust your goals to a situation.

Tips for improvement:

  • Apply for a job that requires networking skills, dealing with different perspectives and coming up with an agreement in a non competitive and non confrontational workplace.
  1. Ideation

A fascination for ideas and a constant search for the connections between them.

Tips for improvement:

  • Apply for a job that accredits your ideas.
  • Stimulate yourself constantly to avoid boredom by making small changes in the routine.
  • “Finish your thoughts and ideas before communicating them”. In addition, “learn to edit your own ideas”.
  • Identify the places, the people, the context that produce the most ideas.
  1. Includer

A resolve to include, accept, involve everyone in a group, and make them feel included and equally important.

Tips for improvement:

  • Apply for a job “in which you can take responsibility for representing voices that are not usually heard”, in which you can interact with people and “bring together people of divers cultures and backgrounds”.
  • Excluders and elitists are distasteful and irking to you but learn to include them as well.
  1. Individualization

An acute ability to observe, consider and appreciate the unique qualities, styles, motivation, thinking pattern of an individual.

Tips for improvement:

  • Apply for a job that requires noticing people unique qualities, understand and working with diversity, and that helps people realize and capitalize on their strengths.
  1. Input

A desire to collect and store interesting information and objects in the hopes that some day they will serve a purpose.

Tips for improvement:

  • Apply for a job “in which you are charged with acquiring new information each day” and are able to become an expert.
  • Implement a database to efficiently store the acquired information.
  • Identify occasions to share you knowledge. Find ways to articulate and output the acquired information.
  1. Intellection

An enthusiasm for introspection, for the thinking process, mostly done in solitude.

Tips for improvement:

  • Apply for a job in which you can pursue studies, engage in intellectual debates, challenge and evaluate people’s thinking, in which “you get involved in the front end of projects and initiatives, rather than jumping in at the execution stage”.
  • Take time to think and “follow an intellectual trail”.
  1. Learner

An enticement for the learning process without seeking to become an expert or acquiring academic schedules.

Tips for improvement:

  • Apply for a job as a consultant, that requires “some form of technical competence” in a “field with constantly changing technologies or regulations”.
  • Understand and improve your learning process, and celebrate every milestone.
  • Regularly schedule and subscribe to learning programs at work or in your community.
  1. Maximizer

A thrill for cultivating an existing strength into excellence.

Tips for improvement:

  • Apply for a job to help people succeed by focusing on their strengths.
  • Identify your own talents, cultivate them and find out how theory can lead to success by rubbing shoulders with successful people.
  • Come up with ways to measure your performances and those of other people.
  • Find ways to make your weaknesses irrelevant.
  1. Positivity

An ability to see the best in every situation and inject drama in every situation. A contagious enthusiasm, optimism, energy and an excitement for life.

Tips for improvement:

  • Apply for a job where you are able to “highlight the positive” and encourage people.
  • Steer clear from cynics, negative people. “Spend time in highly positive environment that will invigorate and feed your optimism”.
  • Acknowledge challenges and use your positivity to get through them.
  1. Relator

A comfort in intimacy, in building relationships. A willingness to trust and share feelings, goals, dreams, fears in order to deepen an existing relationship.

Tips for improvement:

  • Apply for a job in an informal organization.
  • Schedule social events with your colleagues to forge genuine bonds with them.
  1. Responsibility

A duty to take “psychological ownership” for performing or completing a task, to be accountable for the success or failure of projects.

Tips for improvement:

  • Apply for a job in which determination and autonomy are needed, where .
  • Volunteer for more responsibility at work, asess your talents before handling a particular project and review your performance at the end of the project.
  • Learn to refuse opportunities before committing to them, by selecting the areas of opportunities that come your way.
  1. Restorative

An enticement for solving complex problems, finding solutions, analyzing challenges and restoring a situation back to normal.

Tips for improvement:

  • Apply for a job in which you “solve problems or in which your success depends on your ability to restore and resolve” and your ability to turn failing situations around.
  • Communicate to your team members that you enjoy solving problems but learn how to let them solve their own problems.
  • Learn how to “anticipate and prevent problems before they occur”, how to identify and prevent existing patterns and reoccurring causes of a problem.

Continue reading “StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath”