Identifying Your Strengths to be More Successful at Work

Thinking about career goals for 2018? Focused on making your professional situation more profitable and satisfying in the New Year? You probably started assessing your career on a macro level; looking at things like career satisfaction, job satisfaction and possibly looking at your value in the marketplace. Evaluating your work situation is always helpful because it allows you to get an accurate idea of where you are and where you would like to be. When you begin evaluating your current work situation, the first fork in the road in this:

  • I want to stay in my current company/job but improve a few things, or
  • I want to leave my current company/job and get a fresh start elsewhere

Most people know which choice is best for them (to stay or to go) but often don’t take much action or get derailed after they’ve made their decision. I understand – making a change can be a daunting task; I have been there myself. But I can teach you a few skills and show you a few tools so you can get momentum in your career this year.

I’ve created this two-part blog series to help you move ahead with confidence and make the next steps toward career success. In this post, I’ll go over how to stay in your current job and improve your performance. In my next post (Identifying Your Strengths for a Successful Career Change) I’ll cover how to leave your job gracefully and find more success in your next endeavor.

Part One: Creating Success at Your Current Job

In this season of resolutions and goal setting, you have probably considered how happy you are in your position and what you can do to make it better. Even if you are mostly happy with your job, there are always areas that need tweaking. Maybe you’ve already made some work-related resolutions.

Some common resolutions I hear from clients are:

  • Be more organized at work
  • Network more
  • Get a promotion/raise
  • Be more productive at work

Resolutions are motivating, although research shows they are not a slam-dunk; only about 8% of Americans keep their resolutions. Instead, I suggest having a plan of action, a strategy, or a step-by-step guide for your career goals.

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Most career goals aren’t clear-cut. Landing a promotion, being more productive, or even becoming more organized at work can be achieved many different ways with many different results.

You need a plan.

And sometimes creating the plan is the hardest part because you lack a skill or some expertise to see how to get to the end result. Think about it: if you knew how to get that raise, wouldn’t you have it already? If you knew how to organize your day, you’d be doing it. We are not able to achieve it, or even think our way through it, because we are missing a piece of information, a skill set, or the correct perspective. You need to plan on acquiring the skill, information or perspective that will get you the end result you desire. Getting help from a professional executive coach can quickly zero-in on the right course of action. Once you acquire the right information, skill or perspective, success is inevitable. Here’s a great example:

A client, whom I’ll call Linda, was in this exact situation. She loved her company and did well in her position. However she still had her eye on a promotion and felt her chances were good because she was always praised for her work. When she interviewed for the higher position, she got some constructive feedback. Linda was told that while her own personal work was exemplary, she was not managing her work with her team well. While she was the company’s go-to person for many projects, she was not effectively delegating to her staff. This resulted in low team morale and a disconnect between her and her staff. In the new role, she would have a bigger staff, and her current leadership style would be detrimental to the efficiency of the team.

Linda was shown her blind spot and didn’t know what to do.

She knew she was not a “warm and fuzzy” manager. She admitted that she didn’t like small talk or knowing intimate details about people’s lives. She felt like work was a competition and showing others “I’m better than you” was always on her mind. It’s not that she wasn’t a great friend or genuine person; she just didn’t know how to relax and allow appropriate relationships to develop at work.

The promotion was really important to Linda, and she was willing to change her leadership style to land this new opportunity. The problem is she didn’t know how and realized she needed help, so on the advice of a peer, began looking for an executive coach.

We met, and got to work fast.

It was important for Linda to find her areas of growth and opportunity. Our goal was to find a way to improve her interactions with her team. A tool I use in my practice is the StrengthsFinder 2.0 assessment; with it we identified her natural talents that we could build on. We found that one of her strengths was Learner; she likes to study new things and loves the process of learning. That was going to be the key to her success.  We worked out a plan for her to “learn” about her staff. Changing her perspective from “getting too personal” (which made her uncomfortable) to “learning” about her staff really turned things around.

Over the next three months Linda met with each team member. She would ask questions, which we prepared ahead of time, to get to know her staff. Questions about what makes them tick, what inspired them, what they like to do outside of work. The questions helped Linda get to know each person better. These meetings made her colleagues feel more comfortable and showed that Linda cared about them and wanted to know more about who they were as people. It also made her feel more comfortable delegating to them.

After 3 short months of coaching, and diligently learning about her staff, Linda’s relationships dramatically improved, and management noted. She was promoted and is very happy in her new position.

Whatever goals you want to accomplish in 2018, I am sure you can do it. Have your fresh game plan ready so you can move things forward quickly, even when things seem overwhelming or uncertain.  Identify your strengths, use them constructively and your career goals will be accomplished sooner than you think.


Julia is a Career Strategist 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, (@JuliaHolian) and

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