Are You Overplaying Your Strengths?

If you’re now the proud owner of an inventory of your strengths, well done. If you’re not, check out the blog post on why and how to do this, then come back when you’re done. So surely it’s now all about playing full out to your top strength, right? Nope. Doing this, according to the experts, can actually inhibit our progress. Worse, it might actually cause us to head right off the rails.

For example, if someone’s top strength is their creativity, and this is the only one they play to, they may lose themselves in day-dreaming and imagining new ideas, yet never bring their wonderful thoughts to reality. So if that person yearns to express themselves, they may never actually do it, or not quite complete a creative project; if they are paid to be creative, they may fail in their role for lack of tangible output and results; they may become disillusioned in their strength and in themselves. Eventually, that strength may wither without its owner quite knowing why.

Far better to use the right strength, to the right extent, at the right time. And even better to harness other strengths to complement the core one(s). There may be strengths that can provide the motivation to bring those ideas to life, such as being true to one’s values, or connecting with others. Or there may be more practical strengths that will make the difference, such as persistence, project management or organisational skills. So our creative strength may flourish when it’s aligned with others, and in turn those other strengths will enhance our performance when they are harnessed with our creativity.

How to tell if you’re overplaying a strength? Once you know what your top strengths are, take a look at a recent appraisal or some 360-degree feedback, or simply ask a few people who know you well what they observe when you’re a bit over the top. Chances are it’s one of your strengths being overplayed.

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