A great reputation in business is everything. Become the best at what you do, focus on your strengths and your reputation will precede you. People will seek your help or advice. Job offers will begin to pile up, even when you are not looking. You’ll be able to write your own ticket.
“A good reputation is more valuable than money.” – Publilius Syrus
But building a sterling reputation doesn’t happen by chance. It’s a process that takes deliberate, consistent effort. You’ll need to have a plan – an idea of what you’ll be known for a few years down the road. When you really think about it (and I hope you do take a few minutes to really think about it), the time and effort it takes to build esteem can seem a bit daunting. But I’ve got an inside view on how to build your work reputation that I want to share with you. It’s the most methodical and efficient way to create a name for yourself, and all my clients know this secret because I’ve shared it with them too. It works every time and it’s really simple: Play to your strengths.
“Emphasize strengths, don’t fix weaknesses. Most people are good at a handful of things and utterly miserable at most. […] It is far more lucrative and fun to leverage your strengths instead of attempting to fix all the chinks in your armor.” – Tim Ferriss, The 4 Hour Workweek
“Tell me a little about your strengths,” is the quintessential interview starting point. Almost no one escapes this rite of passage. You were probably ready with an answer and moved on to the next step of the interview.
Yet once you have the job, you rarely think of your strengths. Most professionals don’t go to work pondering how to be their “best selves” every day. Job requirements, quarterly goals, and project details get in the way. The ideal scenario of using your natural talents goes on the back burner. Unfortunately, we live in a culture of ready, fire, aim – not ready, aim, fire. You’ll need to go against the grain to develop the habit of using your natural talents every day. Assessing situations with the perspective of “playing to your strengths” will take a little more time. But know that you’ll be setting yourself and your team up for success, with everyone’s best foot forward, rather than jumping in headfirst. And the reputation you earn will be well worth it.
People have many talents and it takes some time to uncover them all. The most comprehensive way I help my client’s discover their strengths is by using the Gallup StrengthFinder 2.0. Almost all Fortune 500 companies use StrenghtFinder 2.0 and with good reason; it’s a precise tool that opens doors for better performance. Its breadth of information is what won me over. The assessment uncovers talents that help you build relationships, think strategically, execute plans and influence others to accomplish goals. There are 34 areas identified in this online test and it takes about an hour to complete.
Whether you take a few minutes to jot down some of your best qualities, or if you opt to take the in-depth StrengthFinder 2.0 assessment, you will quickly realize the life-changing potential of the information. I have seen clients have more than a few “ah-ha!” moments when we review the results of the test. They realize why some jobs were just never a good fit, understand how to approach projects for optimal results, and realize how they can make a greater contribution to their team. These insights help my clients move on to the next level of performance.
The effort it takes to plan for optimal outcome on an individual level is not something Corporate America usually invests in, but it does pay off. The synergy created when an individual, or even an entire team, plans on being at their best is unstoppable. People who use their strengths at work are 6 times more likely to be engaged and 3 times more likely to have an excellent quality of life (Gallup.com).
On the flip-side, underutilizing your or a team member’s potential can suck the energy from a project, making it difficult to manage, resulting in overdue and over budget outcomes. People become disgruntled and feel uninterested in work; 40% of US workers feel that they are not able to do what they do best every day and 67% of workers are categorized as not engaged or actively disengaged (Gallup, Inc. State of the American Workplace, December 2016). That is a great deal of untapped potential in human capital.
Making a habit of working on your strengths and playing to your natural abilities is guaranteed to pay off in the long run on both a personal and professional level. I encourage you to take a few minutes to begin documenting your natural abilities (keeping a list on your phone is great) or commit to deeper knowledge by identifying your strengths with a Strengthsfinder 2.0 assessment.
As you move through your career, your strengths will be more in demand in one position and less so in another. You’ll need to blend your natural talents in different ways with each project, each job, and each career move. Periodically check in with your list and add to it, hone and polish your strengths – this is a practice of a skilled and progressive professional. You will be ready for any circumstance and consistently rise to your highest potential. Isn’t that the kind of professional you desire to be?
Julia is a Career Strategist, Leadership Coach, and Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach based in the Bay Area. She helps career-focused professionals showcase their unique abilities and talents in order to amplify their presence in their chosen fields and when re-entering the job market. Julia uses her extensive leadership experience in executive management, business development, team building and recruiting to help her clients have the career they always wanted. Learn more about Julia at www.JuliaHolian.com, www.LinkedIn.com/in/JuliaHolian, https://Twitter.com/JuliaHolian(@JuliaHolian), and www.Facebook.com/JuliaHolian