Often times when talking about Strengths someone will look at the full list of 34 Strengths and think that those bottom Strengths on their report are their weaknesses. And that’s just not the case. The bottom five or six Strengths on your report are simply who you are not.
One of my bottom Strengths is Harmony. Harmony tends to be the Strength that says, “Do we really need to fight about this?” It can be a great Strength for working in groups and helps to keep things running smoothly.
But for me, the answer often is, “Yes, actually, we do. Some things are worth the conflict.”
Trying to force someone low in Harmony like myself to adopt a go-with-the-flow conflict-avoidant approach like Harmony will fail miserably.
That is simply not who I am.
When I try to be that person it causes me intense distress because it’s asking me to not acknowledge what I know. If I see something that needs to be addressed and feel like I can’t speak up and then things go poorly that is extremely dissatisfying for me. It’s the type of thing that makes me realize a position is not for me and leave.
Now, for someone high in Harmony they may perceive that need to speak up, especially if it’s not “my place” to do so, as a weakness of my character. Fair enough. That makes sense from their perspective. But trying to “fix” that need I have to speak up will get us nowhere.
Instead it’s better to examine my top Strengths, figure out where that need to speak up is coming from, and then learn strategies that will let me speak up in a more effective manner.
So, for example…
Gallup did a study of 250,000 individuals and found that 0% of them had both Harmony and Strategic in their top 5. So maybe when I feel that driving need to speak up and fix things it comes from Strategic.
If so, the answer is not to deny what I see as a high Strategic. That ability to quickly see the branching paths and the outcomes of decisions is a trait unique to Strategic. Those who don’t have Strategic cannot see what a Strategic is seeing in the moment. (An Analytical might get there eventually if they have all of the data and time enough to analyze it but that gut-based, “No, this won’t work” reaction is unique to Strategic.)
A high Strategic, if listened to, can save a team an incredible amount of wasted time and energy.
But often a high Strategic will struggle with either (a) explaining to the rest of their team enough of what they already know to convince the team of what they’re seeing or (b) coming off as dismissive of their team members for not giving their ideas sufficient consideration.
The answer though is not “sit back and shut up”. The answer is work on your ability to break down what you know instinctively so you can bring others along with you or to work on your relationships within the team so that others will trust you when you say something isn’t going to work.
It’s a life-long struggle. And every time someone new is introduced into your environment you have to do the work again.
This is true whatever your top Strengths are.
But the key is to not deny your Strengths. You need to instead find a way to control them and use them effectively. Your Strengths are your superpower. You need to own them to be your best.
But they are also your kryptonite. You need to understand how others perceive them in order to be most effective in using them.
The Strength that gives you a good comment on the first page of your performance review is probably the exact same Strength that gives you a needs improvement comment on the last page.
Don’t “improve” yourself in such a way that you lose what you do well, but do work to find a better way to be the best you you can be.