We all have strengths — defined by Gallup as the ability to consistently provide near perfect performance. For example, the customer service rep who can consistently turn an angry customer into a happy customer. Strengths are not just something you are good at, they need to give you energy. Sometimes we use our strengths effectively and productively, known as using them in the mature form, and sometimes we use them ineffectively and unproductively, known as using them in the raw form. As you focus on developing as a leader, you want to consider where you land on the raw vs mature spectrum. Ideally we want to be using our strengths closer to the mature side of the spectrum but sometimes this doesn’t happen because we may be tired, frustrated, pressed for time or have a complete blind spot and be unaware of how we are behaving and coming across to others.
Once you’ve identified your strengths (you can take the Gallup StrengthsFinder Assessment) and understand how they help you be successful in your role, you can then start to dive into the raw and mature side of each strength. This is not a good or bad thing, every strength has a raw and mature side depending on how we use it. For those who strive to become leaders and more effective and respected in your role, you want to make sure you are closer to the mature side of the spectrum, using your strengths effectively and moving closer toward your goals.
As a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach this is where I spend the majority of my time working with clients and teams because this is where leaders and managers get derailed. This is also a valuable tool to develop people on your team and help them become better leaders.
Let’s take a look at a few examples for some of the more common strengths in their raw and mature form:
|STRENGTH Definition||MATURE FORM||RAW FORM|
enjoys making a list and getting stuff done
|Likes to focus on tasks and goals in a productive way||Tunnel vision, doesn’t focus on key priorities and is busy on non-essential tasks, loses sight of goal
your word is gold
|Takes ownership, their word is gold||Hesitant to delegate and can be a micro-manager
ability to see the bigger picture
|Can see patterns and different paths forward||Too quick to come to a conclusion; can run others over and not listen
thoroughly researches an issue from all angles
|Asks insightful questions and can prioritize key details||Endless need for details and has difficulty coming to a decision
Our work becomes understanding where we are on this spectrum by increasing our self-awareness and getting feedback. The reality is that work and life can be stressful. We often work with difficult people on challenging projects that push us outside our comfort zones. Sometimes we let our ego get involved and we can lose sight of the goal and what we each contribute to the team and project via a strengths based approach. As we increase our understanding of our strengths and how we can use them for us (mature) or against us (raw), we start to become more effective leaders and better respected in the workplace and at home.