Build Up Your Strengths To Move Up In Your Career

A drive for self-improvement is crucial for career success, but too often we tend to focus on our weaknesses at the expense of building up our strengths.

While it’s great to shore up skills that are lacking, it’s equally important to celebrate and improve on your natural talents. Why? Because it’s your strengths that will ultimately help you stand out in the crowd – and move up in your career.

Everybody has weaknesses. Maybe you’re a poor presenter, or you’re not so great with delegating. If you focus your efforts entirely on improving in those areas, in the end you’ll have a strengths profile that’s nice and level.

Or, in other words: completely, boringly flat.

But by dedicating time to building your natural talents, you’ll develop a set of skills and strengths that stand out majestically in the crowd.

Building on your strengths:

  • Lets you partner more effectively. If you know that you’re particularly good at promoting events, building relationships, or managing projects, you’ll be able to bring those skills to the table confidently, and step up for projects that require those strengths.
  • Can help you define your career path. Understanding that you excel at – and enjoy – managing people can lead you to seek out top-level leadership roles instead of following the more low-key career path you always thought you’d take.
  • Lets you become the “go to” person for that strength. When you polish your natural strength for creative problem solving to a glossy shine, your boss will automatically turn to you when she needs a tricky problem solved. Becoming known for your strengths will cement you as the person to call.

How do you know what your strengths are?

It can be tough to self-assess your strengths, especially if you’re newer to your career and don’t have a ton of work history to reflect back on.

To start uncovering strengths, think back on tasks you’ve enjoyed and which weren’t a struggle for you. Ask people who know you well, talk to your boss, and look at your last review. Think about what people normally praise you for. Most likely they’re praising you because that action or talent stands out.

Those are some of your strengths.

For a more scientific approach, you could take a professional test, like Myers-Briggs test, an Enneagram test, or the one in the Gallup Strengths Finder 2.0 book

Building up your strengths

Like any muscle, your natural career talents will only take you so far without regular exercise. You need to use and challenge your strengths in order to keep them sharp.

  • Ask for projects and assignments that use – and stretch – your strengths
  • Take courses and attend workshops to hone your skills
  • Seek out mentors with the same strengths who can give you new insights
  • Teach someone who’s weaker in this area than you are (it’s one of the best ways to learn!)

Should you ignore your weaknesses entirely? Of course not! Becoming well-rounded in your talents will make you a strong asset to your organization, and to yourself. But understanding – and developing – your inherent talents is what will truly help you soar.


Want to learn more? Check out Deep Dive: Build Your Strengths, a session at the NextGen Summit, a two-day conference for Generation X and Y leaders in government. It’s happening July 20-21, 2015.

Here’s the session description:

One of the keys of career growth is to develop your strengths, and not just focusing exclusively on improving your weaknesses. Your strengths can improve faster, especially once you have identified what they are. This session is built on Gallup’s Strength Finder assessment, and will help you identify what your strengths are and how to harness that knowledge to advance your career.

Leave a Comment

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply