Book Summary: Go Put Your Strengths To Work

Marcus Buckingham has argued in earlier works that concentrating on strengths rather than flaws is the best approach to obtain the best outcomes from your team.

This book is the culmination of that conclusion. It contains a six-step improvement method that you and your team can follow to produce exceptional results.

I strongly advise you to go through this procedure twice if you are a team leader. To begin, think about how you can apply what you've learned to yourself. Second, think about how you might assist your team in doing the same.

Step #1: Bust the Myths

A boy laying and done the problem solving.

There are misconceptions in the corporate world that prevent us from focusing on our abilities.

Let's take them one by one.

Myth #1: Your personality evolves as you get older.

A good transition story is something that everyone enjoys. But the truth is that as you mature as a person, you become a better version of yourself. What you are like when you are young is an excellent predictor of how you will be later in life.

The sooner you accept "who you are," the sooner you can concentrate on developing your abilities.

Myth #2: It's in your areas of greatest weakness that you'll grow the most.

Consider your own experience bringing a report card home from school (or as an adult seeing your child's report card).

Assume the majority of the letters are A, with one D thrown in for good measure. Everything will be focused on one D and what we can do to correct it.

As a result, as soon as we are old enough to bring home a report card, this attitude of repairing flaws is ingrained in our culture.

The fact is that you will find it most gratifying and enjoyable to improve in your areas of greatest talents. Therefore that is where you will most likely flourish.

Myth #3: An excellent team member goes above and beyond to assist the team.

This is the most difficult misconception to overcome. That's because we are all expected to go above and beyond to succeed.

On the other hand, Buckingham offers us an alternate reality to consider: a good team member intentionally donates her skills to the team the majority of the time.

Those who play to their own strengths and people with diverse skills who complement one another make up a solid team. To put it another way, teams should be well-rounded, but individuals should not.

In the athletics world, this notion is readily grasped and used, but not so much in the workplace.

Step #2: Get Clear on Your Strengths

A very smart boy is knowing what he good at.

Your strengths are the things you perform very effectively regularly. These are generally a unique blend of your abilities (what you naturally enjoy doing), skills (what you have learned to do well), and knowledge.

There are four SIGNs of a person's strength:

  1. Success: wherever you apply this attribute, you will find success.
  2. Instinct: you have an instinct to undertake this activity regularly.
  3. Growth: you quickly learn how to do it better.
  4. Needs: it appears that you are filling a need in your life by doing this.

To summarize, your strengths are the activities that make you feel powerful and pleased when you perform them. When you do things that are weaknesses, on the other hand, you will feel weak.

On the other hand, the majority of individuals are not in the habit of noting whether an activity seems like a strength or a weakness.

Keep track of the things that make you feel strong and the ones that make you feel weak over the next week or two. When noting the things that make you feel powerful, be as specific as possible.

Once you've compiled a list of items that make you feel powerful, search for links between them to see if a pattern emerges.

For example, I feel powerful when I learn something new that I believe will benefit others and then teach it in an easily understandable way.

Try to fit as many of your strong activities as possible into your weekly plan after you've identified your strengths.

Step 3: Find Ways to Free Your Strengths

A girl with hat looking at her map finding a way.

Now that you've recognized your skills, it's time to put them to work in your current position.

Buckingham recommends that we spend a week focusing on things that make us feel strong while avoiding those that make us feel weak.

Remember the four sequential techniques we may utilize to FREE our strengths as we travel through the week.

  • Focus: This phase aims to pinpoint a single strength and how it may benefit us in our current position. Consider how you might put this strength to better use over the week.
  • Release: In this stage, you'll look for ways to put your skills to work in your present position. There are definitely locations and occasions where your strengths might be used that you were unaware of since you weren't searching.
  • Educate: In this stage, you'll acquire new skills and strategies that will help you improve each of your strengths.
  • Expand: In this stage, you will create a job that is based on your abilities. Fortunately, most companies welcome employees who can execute their jobs more efficiently and effectively. You can achieve this by focusing on your talents more frequently.

Take stock after a week and find out how to incorporate your skills into your weekly routine going ahead.

This will very certainly need some time spent organizing your week. Put at least two strengths-based events on your schedule, so they don't get pushed to the bottom of your priority list.

These 15 minutes each week spent preparing to put your skills into action will be time well spent.

Step 4: Stop Your Weaknesses

A girl sitting alone and feeing so sad.

You must be deliberate in incorporating more strength-based activities into your day, just as you must eliminate weakness-based ones.

You may utilize one of four techniques to STOP your shortcomings from standing in the way of your success.

  1. Stop: First and foremost, you should consider putting a stop to the behavior. You're off the hook if no one seems to know or care.
  2. Team Up: Second, team up with someone who enjoys performing the activity you despise. This is the typical win-win situation. One person's garbage is another's gold.
  3. Offer: Third, rather than being recognized for your deficiencies, use your talents so frequently that you are viewed as someone who can give those abilities to the team.
  4. Perceive: Fourth, if there are any residual weakness-based activities, concentrate on shifting your viewpoint on them. Is it possible to link the job to a strength? Is it possible to attempt it at a different time of day?

Step 5: Speak Up

A buddies having their own right.

This section focuses on discussing your strengths and flaws with others.

The basic concept behind this phase is that you should script your discussions ahead of time to achieve the desired result - in this example, allowing you to focus more on your strengths rather than your flaws.

There are four types of conversions to think about.

The Strengths Chat

This is a casual chat meant to help you come to a better understanding of your own talents. It might be a conversation with your boss or a coworker.

You can use the following script:

  • Describe a strength;
  • Provide instances of how you've used the strength;
  • Explain how the strength has aided your success.

Then repeat for a couple more strengths.

The "How I Can Help You" Discussion

This is a topic that you will discuss with your boss.

Choose one of your skills and explain to your boss how you may apply it to a specific project to help your team achieve greater outcomes.

Then, to enhance your performance, seek approval to increase the amount of time you spend working on that strength.

The Weakness Chat

This is a discussion you have with someone who genuinely wants you to succeed. Your boss should be included in most situations, but not always.

  • Describe a weakness;
  • Provide a few examples of the weakness in action;
  • Tell them how the weakness affects your performance.

Then repeat the process for a couple more flaws.

The "How You Can Help Me" Discussion

This is a conversation you'll have with your boss to reduce the amount of work you perform around your shortcomings.

Explain that you'd like to find a method to spend less time on activities based on your weaknesses. Doing so lets you devote more time to the activities based on your strengths, as stated in your earlier conversation.

Make your recommendations and then seek input from your management. Then, as a group, devise a feasible strategy to put your suggestions into action.

Step 6: Build Strong Habits

A woman with strong and heathy habits.

You'll be in a lot better position than when you started if you've used your talents and minimized your deficiencies.

Now it's up to you to figure out how to maintain moving forward in that direction rather than reverting to your old habits. To get there, you'll need to cultivate five habits.

Habit #1: Daily

Make it a practice to read over your strengths and weaknesses statements daily. Keeping them fresh in your memory will help you avoid reverting to weakness-based activities and encourage you to seek out even more opportunities to use your strengths.

Habit #2: Weekly

Make creating a "strong week" plan a weekly habit. Choose two methods to enhance your talents and two ways to reduce your shortcomings in the coming week.

Habit #3: Quarterly

Make it a practice to meet with your employer every quarter to discuss how you've used your strengths in the previous quarter.

Identify three concrete accomplishments in which you either tapped into a strength or mitigated a flaw.

You'll be closing the books on your strengths journey in the same way a corporation does on its financial success.

Habit #4: Twice Yearly

Make it a habit to review your strengths in-depth twice a year. Your strengths and shortcomings statements should be updated. Look for new assignments that will allow you to put your skills to use.

Habit #5: Yearly

Finally, create an annual habit of systematically evaluating your strengths. Throw aside your past strengths and weaknesses and start the process over, so you can start fresh each year.

You may start with your old ones, but as your awareness of your strengths and limitations grows, you'll probably need to make some adjustments.


A team solving a puzzle.

As we described at the beginning of the overview, this is a procedure that you should undertake yourself.

Encourage your coworkers to do the same if you are in charge of a group.

The only way to reach peak performance? Have a team that uses abilities in the name of achieving the results.

This is how you'll get there.

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