We all have strengths — defined by Gallup as the ability to consistently provide near perfect performance (ie, the customer service rep who can consistently turn an angry customer into a happy customer). Strengths are not just something you are good at — they need to give you energy. Sometimes we use our strengths effectively and productively, known as using them in the mature form, and sometimes we use them ineffectively and unproductively, known as using them in the raw form. As you focus on developing as a leader, you want to consider where you play on the raw vs mature strengths spectrum. Ideally we want to be using our strengths closer to the mature side of the spectrum but sometimes this doesn’t happen because we may be tired, frustrated, pressed for time or have a complete blind spot and be unaware of how we behave and are seen by others.
Once you’ve identified your strengths (you can take the Gallup StrengthsFinder Assessment) and understand how they help you be successful in your role, you can then start to dive into the raw and mature side of each strength. This is not a good or bad thing, every strength has a raw and mature side depending on how we use it. For those who strive to become leaders and more effective and respected in your role, you want to make sure you are closer to the mature side of the spectrum and using your strengths effectively and moving closer toward your goals.
As a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach this is where I spend the majority of my time working with clients and teams because this is where leaders and managers get derailed. This is also a valuable tool to develop people on your team and help them become better leaders.
Let’s take a look at a few examples for some of the more frequent strengths in their raw and mature form:
|STRENGTH Definition||MATURE FORM||RAW FORM|
|ACHIEVER(enjoys making a list and getting stuff done)||Likes to focus on tasks and goals in a productive way||Tunnel vision, doesn’t focus on key priorities and is busy on non-essential tasks, loses sight of goal|
|RESPONSIBILITY(your word is gold)||Takes ownership, you follow-through on what you say||Hesitant to delegate and can be a micro-manager|
|STRATEGIC(ability to see the bigger picture)||Can see patterns and different paths forward||Too quick to come to a conclusion, can run others over and not listen|
|ANALYTICAL(thoroughly researches an issue from all angles)||Asks insightful questions and can prioritize key details||Endless need for details and has difficulty coming to a decision|
Our work becomes to understand where we play on the strengths spectrum by increasing our self-awareness and getting feedback. The reality is that work and life can be stressful. We often work with difficult people on challenging projects that push us outside our comfort zones. Sometimes we let our ego get involved and we can lose sight of the goal and what we each contribute to the team and project via a strengths based approach. As we increase our understanding of our strengths and how we can use them more or less productively, we can develop into more effective and respected leaders in the workplace and other areas.
Alissa Finerman is an Executive Coach and Gallup Certified Strengths Coach, speaker and author of Living in YOUR Top 1%. She works with managers, C-suite executives and teams to leverage strengths, shift beliefs and achieve meaningful goals. Alissa has an MBA from the Wharton School and a BA from the University of California, Berkeley. She has worked with Ross Stores, Petco, BNP Paribas, Neutrogena, Bristol-Myers Squibb, the Milken Institute, LA Business Journal, Prostate Cancer Foundation, and NBC Universal. To learn more about coaching with Alissa, please visit her website and follow her on Facebook