We all have things that we are good at and enjoy doing. These are our natural capacities and strengths. They make us and make us feel energised and engaged, ready and able to do our best.
Positive psychology — and common sense — tells us that using our strengths every day leads to higher performance and greater productivity in the workplace, as well as greater individual wellbeing and satisfaction.
Focusing on strengths does not mean we ignore weaknesses. We all have weaknesses and it is important to be aware of them. However, concentrating our attention on weaknesses tends to lead to demotivation, dissatisfaction and lower productivity.
Strengths are described as things we are good at, things we enjoy doing and things that energise us. We can have “realised” strengths, capabilities we are already aware of and use well. We can also have “unrealised” strengths, capabilities we are perhaps not currently using effectively and can do more to capitalise on.
People often mistake learned behaviours for strengths. Learned behaviours are often things that you are good at, can do well, yet de-energise you. Learned behaviours are not something we should stop doing because we do them well. Moderating how frequently we use them can be useful to avoid burnout or stress.
Strengths in organisations and teams
Identifying and using strengths can be a great way to improve performance in teams. Each person can work on maximising their individual strengths. As a group the team can balance tasks and roles according to what each person does well and support individuals when they feel their learned behaviours may be being overused.
Strengths can be used as part of team development, as well as talent and leadership development. They can be built into recruitment and role development. The key is to use this knowledge to help individuals, teams and organisations to be more effective.
So how does this work as a team?
At Langley Group we identify our strengths using the Strengths Profile tool. We are aware of our own strengths as well as the strengths of our team members. This helps us work together more effectively and leverage our strengths across projects.
Here are some examples of how we use our strengths as a team.
Sue Langley, CEO and Founder
Work ethic, action and time optimiser are my top strengths. This allows me to get a lot done and still feel energised by work, even with long days and weeks. Top learned behaviours are scribe (writing) and detail. Balancing realised strengths with learned behaviour means I only write short articles and can get them done in 15 minutes when put on the spot. Ask me ahead of time to write an article and I will procrastinate. My team knows that and work with me accordingly! Usually they catch me on the fly and ask me for some talking points instead.
Sophie Archibald, Marketing Manager
Mission, gratitude, growth, catalyst and curiosity are my top realised and unrealised strengths, which keep me energised, inspired and motivated to support our mission of positive change and empowerment. Growth and curiosity push me to take on new projects, step outside of my comfort zone, and motivate me to balance out my top learned behaviour of persistence. I use my strength of gratitude with the team to keep us buoyed up during long or difficult days.
Explore your strengths
Why not explore your own strengths? Take a Strengths Profile assessment. Or ask us to help you identify, develop and leverage strengths in your team or organisation.
Download your free eBook on ‘Harnessing Strengths at Work’ to learn some of the most practical and research-backed ways to realise strengths in yourself and others to achieve better performance, satisfaction and fulfilment at work.