How do you know your gifts, talents, strengths & weaknesses?

Continuing from yesterday’s post about leading as you and not trying to be someone else or someone you’re not, it’s important to know your gifts, talents, strengths and weaknesses when – or preferably before – you’re called to lead.

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Everyone has natural, God-given talents, and everyone is different in their talents and how they use them. I played soccer for many years, but I was not naturally athletically gifted, so I had to work harder to stay at (or near) the top. I remember seeing my peers who were so gifted and naturally talented, but they (a) didn’t recognize their gifts or (b) didn’t care to use those gifts. This scenario is all to common.

How do we figure out what our strengths and weaknesses, gifts and talents are? Here are a few ways that can help you determine what you’re good at and not so good at doing.

  • Professional Peers – who have you worked along side in the past? Identify those people with whom you’ve worked and whom you respect and ask them to give you honest feedback.
  • Current & Former Bosses – Ask your supervisors, employers, and executives in previous jobs if they would be willing to give you honest feedback, one on one, face to face.
  • Personality Tests – Tools like Tony Robbins’ DISC profile and other professional personality tests can give you some solid, building block kind of information on what you may or may not be good at.
  • Past Experience – Looking at your past experience – honestly, giving others credit for where you succeeded and taking responsibility where you’ve failed – might be the best place to start. Future results are largely based on past performance. A good practice is to do a simple postmortem on every project, good or bad, success or fail.

Now, it is imperative that the individual people you seek out for guidance have permission to speak to you in both positive and negative terms, meaning you’re ok with someone being brutally honest with you. If you’re not ok hearing the brutal truth, then you should chalk that up under your “weaknesses” column, and find a way to work on changing it.
Looking forward, if you are called into any sort of leadership, it would be wise to identify someone (maybe even more than one) and ask them to give you real time feedback, and give them permission to tell you when you have made a mistake or are about to make a mistake.

What do you think about that?

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