I regularly run workshops and seminars and as part of them, I lead delegates through an exercise to elicit their key strengths.
Understanding your strengths, research has shown, will help you to be happier, more confident and thrive at work. It’s also an interesting exercise to consider what strengths you don’t have – and how they may be affecting your chances of rising into your next leadership role.
One delegate on a recent seminar chose these strengths as ones she considered she lacked:
Leadership (“putting myself out there more”)
Hope (“feeling optimistic”)
Persistence (“keeping going and not giving up”)
Unless people know who you are and what you can do, you’ll never get those doors of opportunity opening for you. This means leading from where you are, before you get the next role you’re looking for. Understand what skills, qualities and attributes the next level up from you needs to have by looking at what the people in those roles are like now.
Don’t wait to be asked ‘to the table’ – demonstrate those qualities daily and in front of the people who make the promoting decisions.
Optimism is a compelling trait – it will draw others to you as well as helping you to be resilient in the job market. This doesn’t mean looking at things through rose-coloured glasses but it does mean being hopeful and expecting a good outcome – and remember, a good outcome can mean getting feedback on what you need to do to be considered for a role, or coaching on how to improve your interview performance.
This goes hand in hand with persistence – feeling hopeful will make it easier to persist in your career goals and not give up at the first hurdle. Don’t allow yourself to get discouraged – keep going.
If you are currently seeking a new role, consider how a lack of these three strengths would affect you? I think they are vital when it comes to landing yourself a new role – and apply equally to you, whether you’re an aspiring leader or an exec looking to take the next step towards a board post.
So how could you begin to develop them in yourself and use them to help you drive your career forwards?
A simple action plan could be to commit to applying for one new position every week, without making assumptions about what may or may not happen, and not allowing yourself to be knocked off course by rejection.
Of course, underpinning that approach is the need to be ok with taking a few risks – and that’s often hampered by the beliefs we hold about ourselves, and where we fall down at the first hurdle.
Our beliefs about ourselves matter – the stories we tell ourselves impact hugely on our behaviour, our feelings and how other people view us, and at work this can have quite an impact. Holding onto outdated beliefs means we can be stuck in the past and as a result, we may underestimate what we are capable of. Those beliefs will be on show for others to see – which means that if we underestimate ourselves, then the chances are that others will do this too.
The truth is, you’re highly unlikely to be noticed from your comfort zone, so step out of it a little – and a little more often. Consider what it is you’ll never know about yourself if you don’t.
About the author:
Susan Ritchie is a leadership coach who teaches ambitious professionals how to develop their Leadership Presence – the credibility, visibility and impact they need to land their next promoted post and establish themselves in it.