I think we spend far too much time talking about our weaknesses and not enough time devoted to our strengths. I would like to talk about celebrating, nurturing and developing those aspects of character that make us more definitively who we are. Precious time and energy is poured into taking hard long looks at ourselves, and coming back with what? The knowledge of what we cannot do? While I think it is important to know your weaknesses, if you redirect this (negative) energy into positively investing in your strengths, you would accelerate your natural skills at a pace beyond that of the norm.

Being you is your greatest asset

When I attended the Alfi conference last month, the fairly long day of talk mostly about regulation, was fantastically broken up by a motivational speech given by a Chairman of Morgan Stanley in New York who had worked their way up the corporate ladder. Myself and the other 500 delegates listened attentively to the talk about how one of the breakthrough realisations of her career was that she could achieve the most at work simply through being herself. There is no better way to close deals, build relationships, and build business other than showing people who you really are. Why, because people buy from people, and no matter what role you do nowadays, you need to know how to sell yourself. We heard how the speaker had tried to hide the various aspects of her character, (gospel singer, from the South, and so on), until she realised that they were the things that her clients and contacts connected with the most.

Being professional does not require you to become a corporate suit

What struck me about her story is the obvious irony that the hardest thing about life is just to have the confidence to be exactly who you are. In the corporate world, many people enter wanting to be accepted, to blend in seamlessly, when actually character is what people remember, if you could just find a way of translating ‘brand you’ to others. I think many people confuse being professional with just blending in. The former is mandatory the latter is monotony and while it is the safer option, it will take you longer to get to where you want to go.

Find a role that suits your personality

By focussing on your strengths, people will see you for who you really are. The key is to find a role that allows you to work using your strengths; this will allow people to get your added value, so that whilst you work on being you – perhaps not communicating brilliantly at times or ruffling a few feathers, nobody is perfect, people will soon understand your added value and that is what is important.

Being a fairly positive person I tend towards recognising and focussing on using people’s strengths. It just seems to be logical to use an individual’s best skills as much of the time as possible than to put people though endless pain trying to become something which they simply are not. When I interview candidates for our clients I try to imagine how they would suit the firm, whether their best attributes match our client’s needs, especially because they may not necessarily match all the given attributes.

Building strong teams

What many people do not realise is that good hiring and good team building is not about finding everything in each person, (somewhat like the quest for the holy grail) it is about matching core strengths, ensuring key bases are covered, then developing the rest. This is about recognising what natural strengths people have and building on them. Employees who are engaged in their work are usually the ones who have found a career that allows them to work on their strengths every day. This does not guarantee happiness every day, but at least you will learn.


Posted by Rana Hein-Hartmann

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