Do you know how to use your strengths to power-up your work? When you know what you’re great at, and that lights you up (as well as what doesn’t), you can create simple strategies that will bring more energy, fun, and achievement to your life and work.
The origin of this article
This article started life as a conversation on my friend Karl’s podcast. It’s always fun talking to Karl (and, as always, my apologies if you’re an accountant – we tend to use you as an example a bit too often!)
Let's start with some definitions
When I talk about a strength, what I mean is something you are not only great at, but also really love doing. In fact, I define your Zone of Genius as being where you are doing things you are great at and that light you up when you use them.
Most people cringe when they hear the word weakness, because there’s so much negativity attached to the word. I prefer to talk about your Zone of Indifference – this is where you’ll find the things you aren’t great at, and don’t enjoy. Because you don’t like using them, and aren’t good at them, you feel indifferent about anything to do with them.
There are three other Zones in The Strengths Deck Matrix – I’ll write more about them another time. If you’d like to learn more, sign up for my newsletter so you can be the first in the know when I publish more articles.
A wee note on other definitions: where you see a word that’s formatted like: “Storyteller(1)”, that’s a strength from The Strengths Deck – refer to the ‘Strengths definitions‘ section at the end of the article.
The three strengths strategies to power-up your work
The secret to getting better results isn’t working harder, it’s knowing how to use your strengths to power-up your work. Below are three simple strategies that will have you applying your strengths in new ways, to drive greater energy, fun, and success.
1. Know your own strengths fingerprint
Everyone has a unique strengths “fingerprint”, that is, their own personal combination of strengths, which is different to every other person on earth. Knowing your strengths fingerprint, and how to work with it, will show you how to power-up your work.
Use your Genius strengths wisely and well
Firstly, learn to use your Genius strengths wisely and well. What new things could you do using your existing strengths? And think about where you might overuse a strength – either using it too much, or in the wrong context. For example, humour at a job interview or funeral can be risky.
Get clear on your Zone of Indifference
Next, instead of shying away from what’s in your Zone of Indifference, take a good look at what’s there. And work out how these things can trip you up. If you aren’t great with detail, and you have to proofread a report, how will you get it done to a good standard? This is where your Genius strengths can come in handy! Be careful not to spend so much time focusing in this Zone that you forget to concentrate on what’s in your Zone of Genius.
2. Know other people's strengths
Once you’ve learned how to spot your own strengths, you’ll be well-equipped to start spotting what is in the Zones of Genius and Indifference for the people around you. Then you can start coming up with ideas for combining strengths to power-up everyone’s contributions.
Complementary Genius strengths
Look for ways to combine complementary Genius strengths. For example, if you’re a great Storyteller(1), but hate being Centre-Stage(2), find someone who loves the limelight and who can tell your stories for you. They get to shine on-stage, and your stories get the attention they deserve.
Genius + Indifference
Look for someone who has a strength (Genius) where you struggle (Indifference). This is often where self-employed people outsource tasks like administration, book-keeping, or marketing. If you’re not great at something, and don’t enjoy it, it’ll take you much too long to complete simple tasks. You’ll probably procrastinate, and then do a rush job when you finally get around to it.
Contrast that with handing it off to someone who is great at it and loves doing it – they’ll have it done to a higher standard in a fraction of the time. Meanwhile, you can use your freed-up time to play to your Genius strengths. And you don’t necessarily have to pay someone – look for opportunities for a value exchange, where you can use your Genius strengths to help them.
Help other people combine their strengths
And you don’t have to keep the strengths-pairing strategy a secret.
Use your new-found insights into strengths to encourage those around you to combine their unique strengths too. Everyone wins!
3. Know what your customers want and how your unique strengths help you deliver it
If you’re running a business, you’re probably sick to death of hearing people talk about niches (I know I am!). But strengths give you a totally different, and far more enjoyable, approach for your sales and marketing.
There are some obvious strengths that align with most jobs. For example, if you’re an accountant, I’m going to expect that Analytical(3) and Meticulous(4) will show up in your Zone of Genius… just like every other accountant. That’s not enough to make you stand out in the marketplace.
Using your strengths to stand out
What will make you stand out, and will power-up your results, is being able to show potential clients how your unique Genius strengths will make their lives and work better.
Back to the accountant example – if you have Interpreter(5) in your Zone of Genius, now you’ve got something that sets you apart from all the other accountants.
You can go to market with the message, “I’m not your average accountant; you’ll actually understand your financials when you work with me”. Now THAT’S a point of difference non-accountants will notice!
How many business consultants have you come across? You’d expect them to have Analytical(3), Problem-Solver(6) and Strategic(7) strengths. But what if someone with the Connoisseur(8) strength showed you how their ability to spot excellence would help you understand what’s working well in your business, and how to spread that excellence to other areas of the business?
Are you ready to power-up your work?
If you’re ready to power-up your work, the place to start is understanding your own strengths fingerprint.
Keep an eye on what you’re doing this week. Which tasks do you feel like you could do forever? They’re probably calling on your Genius strengths. Which ones do you procrastinate on or avoid entirely? They’re probably requiring something from your Zone of Indifference.
Use the strategies described in this article to make the most of your Genius strengths, and to neutralise the risks from your Zone of Indifference.
Any discussion of personal strengths would be incomplete without me letting you know about The Strengths Deck.
I created it to put the power of strengths in your hands. If you want to learn about your unique strengths fingerprint and how to make the most of your amazing strengths, click the logo to find out more, or make a booking for your free, 30-minute call to talk about how we can get your strengths working for you.
The Strengths Deck is a set of 75 of the most common human strengths. Where I’ve referred in the article to a strengths from the Strengths Deck, it is Capitalised and bolded, and you’ll find a paraphrase of the definition below:
- Storyteller: you spin yarns to share lessons and insights
- Centre-Stage: you do well in the spotlight
- Analytical: you dig into data looking for patterns
- Meticulous: you focus on details, seeing what others miss
- Interpreter: you simplify complex things
- Problem-Solver: you fix root causes to stop problems coming back
- Strategic: you grasp the big picture and how actions might play out
- Connoisseur: you notice beauty and excellence