Harnessing Your Strengths

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BetterUp Studios

6 min

Person in climbing gear on top of a mountain overlooking the mountain range in clouds.

What exactly does it mean to have a strength? A strength is not just something you are good at because you perform well at a particular activity. To truly have a strength means you have a way of behaving or thinking that is authentic and energizing, that enables optimal functioning and performance. A clear sign that something is a strength for you is when you have that feeling of “being in the zone” and enjoy being fully immersed in your work. Strengths can be based on a person’s expertise or knowledge (e.g., technologically savvy) or on broader values such as perseverance or teamwork. 

Research has shown that when people identify and intentionally use  their strengths they are far more likely to achieve their goals and to experience greater wellbeing. In fact, recent findings indicate that employees who focus on using their strengths instead of trying to improve weaknesses at work frequently are:

  • More engaged at work
  • Demonstrate better job performance and goal achievement
  • Less likely to feel burned out and to leave their job
  • Report higher levels of individual well-being

To best utilize your strengths at work it means that you are actively setting goals that are based on using the skills and talents that you do best. It also means engaging in discussions with colleagues and supervisors about what you see as your strengths so that they can be aware of how to help you apply your strengths to your collective work.


Step 1

Ask three friends, colleagues, or family members to identify your top 5–10 strengths. What characteristics make you YOU and make you special?

Step 2

Based on the feedback you received, reflect on which of these strengths you want to harness and build on for this stretch role. Reflect, and spend 10 minutes responding to the following questions: 

  • What strengths helped you to succeed most in your past role?
  • What strengths do you think you will need to lean on most in your new role?
  • How can you use these strengths to make the most out of this new opportunity?
  • How might you be able to use these strengths in new ways? 
  • What specific actions can you take?
  • Are there any gaps or strengths you need that you currently may not be fully prepared for? If so, we will discuss solutions for this next week when exploring how to leverage your support network. 
  • How might you be able to use your strengths to overcome any challenges you encounter along the way?

Step 3

Complete Section 4, “Strengths,” of your Professional Development Plan.

If you are not clear on some of these questions, consider connecting with your manager to clarify what is expected of you in this stretch role and to ask them to help you identify strengths you may need to cultivate. 

It’s not always easy to know what our own strengths are; we tend to focus so much on our weaknesses that we often neglect to notice when we do things well. Asking for positive feedback from people who see you in different contexts can help you balance your self-perception and give you a direction to go in when you feel out of our comfort zone. 

BetterUp Studios
BetterUp Studios creates and curates research-backed content, activities, and tools to help people everywhere pursue their lives with greater clarity, purpose, and passion.

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