Imagine you're in a job interview. The hiring manager sitting across from you looks up from her notepad, smiles, and says: “So, what are your top three strengths?”
For some reason, you find yourself caught off guard, even though you knew this question was coming. Maybe you even rehearsed it a few times in the mirror. But now it's show time and instead of that crisp, concise answer rolling off the tongue, you've got butterflies welling up in your stomach.
After the initial hesitation, you collect yourself and quickly rattle off a few buzz words that you know are going to look good on the hiring manager's notepad. “Analytical mindset, leadership, and creativity,” you might suggest. You then follow this up with a semi-scripted explanation of each.
Not bad, perhaps.
The only problem: they aren’t really your top three strengths.
That exact scenario has played out for me more often than I'd like to admit. At times, I've felt like a phony. Other times I was left feeling like I didn't even know myself. At best, I got the sense that I missed a great opportunity to showcase the real Steve Caruso.
Then I discovered Strengths Finder and all that changed for me.
So how does Strengths help me? Well, three ways primarily.
First, Strengths offers a common language to talk about my strengths in unambiguous terms.
Second, Strengths Finder helps me confidently describe my real self and my unique value, instead of constantly apologizing for my weaknesses.
Third, it helps me understand where I may need help. In other words, how to leverage the strengths of others to complement my own strengths.
So what are my Top Five?
This is my ability to look at the big picture, see a problem, build a team, set goals and chart a path toward a solution. According to Gallup, "the Strategic theme enables you to sort through the clutter and find the best route."
Strategic thinking can be doubly effective when it turns theory into execution. According to the experts at Leadership Vision Consulting, "people with the strength of Activator are the ones who... turn thoughts, ideas and concepts into action." My Activator thrives in group settings where I can build and motivate a team to achieve big objectives. On the other hand, in independent work I'm not as much of a self starter as others might be.
Gallup explains significance as follows: "You want to be very significant in the eyes of other people. In the truest sense of the word you want to be recognized. You want to be known and appreciated for the unique strengths you bring." In my case, that pretty much says it all.
This is the "people person" in me, my sanguine side. I am comfortable striking up a conversation with complete strangers and trying to get them to like me. I find social settings energizing and I enjoy interviews since they provide an opportunity to make a friend.
This strength means I am motivated by a set of "core values." In my case, I look for organizations and teams whose values are consistent with my personal values and the Christian virtues I espouse. For example, I am highly motivated by the Air Force core values of Integrity, Excellence, and Service.
Key to the TRD Approach
I think we're at our very best when we focus on our strengths, while not wasting too much time trying to overcome our weaknesses. So now that you know my top five strengths, you'll probably begin to recognize these as a recurring themes on The Renaissance Dad blog.
Knowing your top five makes describing your top three a breeze.
Now, the question is: "What are your top five?" Leave comments in the space below.
If you don't know them yet, you should grab your copy of the book which includes your Strengths Finder access code for the online assessment. It's about $20 and takes all of 45 minutes. Trust me, it's an investment worth making. Then feel free to come back and list your top five below with comments about your Strengths Finder experience.