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Know Your Own Strength

May 3, 2011
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When it comes to strength in management, contributing columnist Jeff Dearduff urges us to test our personal limits to find out what we’re truly capable of.




A person can sometimes overpower a situation with shear physical strength. Other times, mental strength wins the battle. And, if you really have your game together, you can conquer troubles with your emotional strength.

When it comes to strengths in management, how can you truly know you are the Charles Atlas of the group, otherwise known as “the world’s most perfectly developed man?”

Many of you have taken some kind of personal survey, gave it a half-hearted effort and received some blubberish report that proved you were right about yourself all along. In other words, you were probably not right by any stretch of the imagination.

A couple years ago, I was introduced to the Clifton StrengthsFinder program, which measures the presence of 34 talent themes of naturally recurring patterns of thought, feeling or behavior. The more dominant a theme is in a person, the greater the theme’s impact on that person’s behavior and performance. At first, I thought this would be another kinda-sorta helpful survey that I could choose to use or lose. But the key was that each book has a code embedded in it somewhere. That code was used to enter into the survey via their website.

The survey asked a series of questions, then divulged answers and delivered a report that outlines what your top five strengths are as they relate to management and interaction with others. The top five not only tell you a little bit about yourself, but also guide others in how to deal with you, provided you share the results with them.

The results of my survey are as follows: Of the 34 possible strength themes, my top five were strategic, maximizer, analytical, arranger and responsibility.

Having the strategic label tells me that I tend to see patterns rather than complexity in situations. This gives me the ability to always ask the simple but important questions, such as “what if this happened or that happened,” usually followed up with “okay, when that happens, here is what we need to do next.” They say that having this strength, you can usually “see around the next corner,” and strategize your next move before issues arise. In order to work side by side with a strong strategic person, expect to be ready to move quickly but orderly.

The maximizer is a person who looks to take something that is already strong and turn it into something superb. Average is never good enough. When you find something or someone that is already satisfactory, you feel compelled to nurture, refine and stretch it into excellence. The maximizer tends to spend time with people who appreciate your particular strengths and likewise, the maximizer wants to spend time with people who have found and cultivated their own strengths. When working with a maximizer, be ready to be pushed to perfection.

Analytical is a theme that can usually be found in the person to whom you must prove your findings. It’s not that there is a desire to dispel the other person’s idea; the analytical person just needs to know why they think a certain way and how they came to the conclusion they did. The analytical person doesn’t work well with folks who are poor with detail and documentation. This strength also drives a person to “peel the onion” on a troublesome issue until the root cause is revealed. Working with someone who is analytical could cause you to be dragged down roads you may not be used to traveling.

My next theme is arranger. Just like a conductor of an orchestra, this strength provides the know-how and confidence that brings a lot of complicated individual components together in harmony. The arranger is very organized but flexible, working from a plan but knowing that the plan might have to be adjusted along the way. Others may be in awe of your ability to have so many things going on in your head while appearing totally controlled and comfortable. No matter what, the goal is to come up with and execute the most productive configuration for the task. If you run into a situation in the workplace that’s confusing and seemingly out of order, this is the person you want to have “accidently” enter the room.

Responsibility is the last of my top five strength themes. Having this theme causes me to take psychological ownership of a problem, project or situation. There is also a commitment factor here, meaning no matter how challenges present themselves, you will stick with them until they’re resolved, simply because you own them. This strength supports conscientiousness, an obsession to do things right. One of the negatives to this strength however, is that because you always get things done, people will dump on you when they need something done right and fast. You will have to watch how much you take on as you could get buried alive. When working with a person that has this strength, leave your excuses at the door.

So there you have it. I have revealed myself. Now it’s your turn. Find one of these strength-finder surveys, take it whole-heartedly and see how you fare. Maybe you can find out something about yourself that can help you lift some heavy weights off of your shoulders.

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