Attaining Workplace Effectiveness through Strengths
(This article was written by David, our trainer at Kingmaker & StrengthsTransform! His CliftonStrengths talent themes of Intellection, Belief, Restorative, Connectedness, Input makes him a person who enjoys having deep conversations with people and one who is capable of coming up with solutions to complex problems. This article documents his journey on applying CliftonStrengths in his life.)
“Who Am I?”
When thinking of “Who Am I” in my workplace, I typically swing between two contrasting poles:
Confident but Prideful and
Humble but Inferior
When my colleagues praise me for doing well, I feel over the moon and confident in my abilities. But I would be complacent and put too much pride in my success. I would think I am superior to the person beside me.
When my colleagues step in to help me when I have done horribly for my task, I feel humbled. Especially when my workmates correct me, I would have feelings of inferiority. While this makes me realize that I can’t do everything alone, I would feel terrible and useless. And since I can’t do everything, I can’t do anything (fixed mindset, you would say).
I know I am not the only one. I have friends who also experience this “swinging between high and low self-esteem” depending on their circumstance at work. They feel the effects of both “poles” but never at the same time. Both poles have their pros and cons and typically, we experience both sides of one pole at one time.
My turning point comes when I discovered my unique strengths through the CliftonStrengths profiling. It helped me be confident yet humble. I was able to experience the positive effects of each pole while at the same time avoiding the negative effects. It is during this realisation that I learned to be “confidently vulnerable”.
Knowing My Strengths!
CliftonStrengths has helped me see what I am good at. It showed me what my unique contributions and my talents are. It also gave me greater clarity in how I can identify and grow my talents to become strengths. Then, as I became better at them, I felt my confidence grow (this time, stably and almost permanently).
For example, my #Intellection talent theme makes me a person who likes to consider different perspectives, think multiple viewpoints thoroughly, and develop a deep and wise view. Secondly, my #Restorative talent theme helps me understand and dissect problem(s) and drives me to find solutions to bring the problem back to health.
With these two talents, I am able to coach people by asking good and efficient questions. I could hear different perspectives from different people, identify the similarities, differences, and root issues underlying the things that they may say. I will then be able to come up with good probing statements that will help them explore the issues further.
At StrengthsTransform, I had various opportunities to coach people. When I was affirmed and saw that deep reflection and great conversations were happening between participants, my confidence grew.
The reason I could utilize my talents in such a precise and unique manner that it reaches a point of strength was that gained awareness and appreciation of what they are, which allowed me to invest time and effort to constantly develop and grow them.
Knowing My Blind Spots & Overuse Patterns
While knowing my talents & strengths have helped me increase my confidence, they also helped me grow in humility. This is done in two ways: gaining awareness of my blind spots and how I potentially overuse my talents at times.
a) Blind Spots: Knowing my Full 34 talent theme sequence, I understand what are some areas that I am not strong in, or find trouble doing. Once I know what I can’t do, I can articulate that clearly to others and allow them to help me in these areas.
b) Overused Talents: Strengths helped me see that my strengths can also be my greatest weaknesses. At times. I might overuse it or simply use it at the wrong time. This may begin to trigger some of those around me, especially those who have very different strengths profile as me. For example, work from my boss needs to be done, and sometimes a tight deadline might be set. Overusing my #Intellection talent theme may cause me to often times stress over the deadline and spent too much time thinking through different options and perspectives when I simply need to execute the tasks efficiently.
Such examples help me realize some of my limitations, which ironically comes from my overusing my strengths.
Once I understood all of these, it helped me to be humble, but at the same time, not feel inferior. (stable, unchanging internal locus of control achieved!)
Why? You may ask.
I realised that while I can do some things very well, I simply can’t do everything. So, I can now better accept help from my colleagues, and allow them to contribute what they are good at.
Interdependence is key at a strengths-based workplace!
The Unique blend of Confidence and Humility
Overall, knowing and appreciating my strengths gave me “confident vulnerability” in both personal and professional ways.
Personal: On one hand, I can say, “I am sure I can do this. I am confident in my strengths.”, thus exhibiting self-assurance and certainty. On the other hand, I can say, “I can’t do everything. I will need your help.”. This nuanced mix is what helps me thrive as a person.
Professional: The work I do doesn’t just affect me, but also my team as a whole. When I am confident in what I can contribute, they can be rest assured that I can do my work well. However, there are also opportunities for my colleagues to contribute and help me in areas that are my blind spots. Either way, it is a win-win situation. And this in short, is what working in a strengths-based company sounds like!
Overall, CliftonStrengths is indeed a great tool to me personally and professionally. Suppose you struggle with wavering self-esteem in your workplace contribution, productivity & engagement, discovering & appreciating your unique strengths will give you a robust foundation, anchor and clarity in having confidence and humility at the same time.
I wish you well as you hop on and discover this strengths journey with us!