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Your Strengths Are Your Who, Your Results Are Your What

    Unlock greater performance, satisfaction, and success by understanding your strengths. This article offers a roadmap to becoming a more authentic and impactful leader.

    Picture this: You’re leading a project for a major Indian tech firm – let’s say something innovative in the e-commerce space. Everyone on your team delivers results, of course; deadlines get met, code gets written. But there’s that one person, maybe it’s Akash, who has a knack for sparking ideas during brainstorming sessions and motivating those around him. Or perhaps it’s Meera, whose analytical mind spots patterns in the data that steer the entire project’s strategy. It’s those distinct ways of working that create the biggest impact – that’s what makes a project truly hum.

    See, the ‘what‘ (the results) are a given. The real magic is in the ‘who’ and the ‘how.’

    Let me share a lesson one of my clients learned the hard way when he was building a sales team for a startup in Bangalore. He hired this rockstar based on his impressive resume from a major multinational. Fantastic results on paper, but his style was all about cutting deals solo. My client needed someone who could bring his younger team together, foster a sense of camaraderie. He learned quickly that not every successful person is the right fit for every role.

    This is why leading with authenticity is so crucial. It starts with truly knowing your own strengths – what you’re good at, yes, but even more importantly, what sets your soul on fire. Then, it’s about showing up with those strengths front and center.

    Using Strengths for Authentic Leadership

    Picture those years in the corporate world–the buzzing offices in Mumbai or Delhi, the long strategizing sessions, those moments of achievement mixed with the constant push for “more, better, faster.” We all strive, reaching for that vision of the life we want. But within that hustle, some of the most powerful lessons quietly unfold.

    paper boats on solid surface

    One of those lessons hit me during a particularly gruelling project. I was fortunate enough to have a coach who possessed that rare ability to be both incredibly kind and relentlessly insightful. One afternoon, amidst piles of reports and looming deadlines, he asked me, “Vikaas, what truly energizes you in this work? And where, quite frankly, do you feel your energy drain away?”

    At first, I was a bit taken aback. We were in full fire-fighting mode! Yet, he pushed me to really consider his questions. It sparked a series of conversations – with my coach, with colleagues, and, most importantly, with myself. I started journaling, looking for patterns of when I felt in flow and when I simply wished for the work day to end.

    That’s when the concept of strengths really clicked for me. It’s not just about the tasks on your job description; it’s deeper than that. What are you naturally drawn to, the things that make you lose track of time? And on the flip side, where do you possess genuine talent, a skill that comes more easily than to your peers? The overlap of these two things is where the magic starts to happen.

    Now, here’s where the self-deprecating humour comes in: I adore singing. I belt out Bollywood classics in the shower with gusto. Unfortunately, my enthusiasm vastly outweighs my actual vocal talent. It’s a passionate hobby, but not a marketable strength. And that’s okay!

    What this concept illuminated is how vital that intersection of passion and ability is. Sure, we can all buckle down and get tasks done out of duty. But when you find a role, a team, a project that lets you tap into those things you love and excel at, something shifts. Your work becomes more than just a job; it feels like a contribution, a reflection of who you are.

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    The path to uncovering all of this isn’t always straightforward. It took me years of trial and error, both in my corporate work and then later when I ventured into entrepreneurship. The constant was that understanding my core strengths served as a compass. I started asking different questions when job hunting:

    • “Does this company’s culture foster collaboration (where I thrive), or is it more individually focused?”
    • “Beyond the specific tasks, what kind of problem-solving does this role require? Does it align with how my mind works best?”

    This shift in perspective wasn’t just beneficial for me; it helped the organizations I was a part of. When our strengths are allowed to flourish, we do our best work and the entire team reaps the rewards. That’s the power of the simple equation of “Interest + Ability = Strength”. The more we understand it for ourselves, and encourage our teams to do the same, the less likely we’ll end up feeling like square pegs being forced into round holes.

    The “Happy in Your Work” Formula

    Okay, we have the definition of strengths down: it’s that magical blend of interests and abilities. But so what? Why does this actually matter in our day-to-day lives?

    cheerful young woman screaming into megaphone

    Imagine your career or your current project as a winding road. Understanding your strengths is like having a powerful headlight cutting through the fog. It helps you see the path more clearly. Instead of stumbling along based on what you think you should be doing, you gain clarity about the direction best suited for your unique talents and passions.

    Knowing what makes you tick empowers you to make intentional choices. Maybe it’s seeking out that new project that plays to your analytical side. Or it could mean saying “no” to opportunities that sound prestigious but deep down, you realize will sap your energy. When your choices align with your strengths, you start to feel a different kind of energy. It’s a sense of momentum, a feeling of working with the current rather than constantly battling against it.

    That’s the higher level of performance and satisfaction I’m talking about! It’s more sustainable, more authentic, and ultimately produces better results – both for you personally and whomever you’re working with.

    Let’s be clear – I’m not saying discovering your strengths will instantly make work feel like a constant Bollywood musical number. There will always be challenges, even in roles that perfectly suit you. But there’s a resilience that comes from knowing you’re utilizing your full potential.

    This realization was a game-changer for me. I spent years climbing that corporate ladder – hitting targets, chasing titles – yet feeling a nagging sense that something was missing. Once I understood my deep passion for helping people grow and my knack for seeing untapped potential, the path shifted. It became clear that while I excelled in the corporate space, my strengths would be even more impactful in a coaching role.

    That’s where I feel lit up! Every time I witness a client have that ‘aha’ moment about their strengths, or I see them take a courageous step in alignment with their values…well, there’s no paycheck that can compare to that feeling.

    So, here’s your challenge! This isn’t something to rush through as a checklist exercise. Set aside some quiet time and ask yourself:

    • What sets your soul on fire? Forget about “shoulds” and societal expectations. What activities, topics, or interactions leave you energized?
    • What comes easily to you? Where do your colleagues, friends, maybe even competitors, compliment you or seek your help? These are often indicators of natural abilities.
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    Where those two overlap, that’s where you’ll find a treasure trove of insights. It’s the starting point for truly designing the work and life that feels authentically yours.

    Strengths in Action

    Okay, let’s say the idea of strengths resonates with you, but you’re feeling a bit lost on where to even begin. Don’t worry, there are a ton of ways to start peeling back those layers of self-discovery. Here’s a breakdown of some of the most effective approaches:

    basketball team stacking hands together
    • Self-Reflection: Your History Holds Clues

    Think of yourself as a bit of a strengths detective!

    1. Success Stories: Grab a notebook and think back on your proudest achievements – projects, presentations, even those tricky interpersonal situations you navigated well. Analyse the details: What specific actions did you take? What skills did you use? What parts of it did you actually enjoy the most?
    2. Feedback from Others: We all have blind spots. Sometimes, the things we’re best at are so second nature to us, we don’t even recognize them as unique talents. Ask a few people you trust–colleagues, mentors, even good friends –”What am I particularly good at?,” or “What strengths do you see in me?” Be prepared for some surprises!
    • Seek Outside Perspectives
    1. Feedback – Professional Edition: If possible, consider a formal 360-degree review process where you get feedback on your performance from superiors, peers, and direct reports. This can give you a well-rounded snapshot of how others perceive your strengths in action.
    2. Assessments: Tools for Sparking Insights Don’t underestimate the power of well-crafted assessments. Yes, there are the classics like Myers-Briggs for personality insights. But nowadays there are tons of tools focused specifically on highlighting strengths – the CliftonStrengths (Gallup) assessment is a popular choice. Treat these less as the final word and more like thought-starters. Which results resonate? Do they surprise you? This is prime journaling material!

    From Insight to Action – Strengths as Leadership Tools

    Knowing your strengths is fantastic. Applying them as a leader – that’s where the true power lies. Let’s explore those examples a bit more for inspiration:

    • The Strategist: If you’re all about the big picture and spot trends others miss, perhaps you’re the one meant to steer the ship through a changing industry landscape. You’ll find fulfilment not in the day-to-day weeds, but when crafting that long-range strategy document.
    • The Empathetic Connector: Those with natural warmth and the ability to rally people around a shared goal – you’re the heart of the team. Projects that are heavy on collaboration, fostering team morale, or that require conflict mediation, that’s where you’ll shine your brightest.
    • The Data-Driven Decision-Maker: If research is your jam and you make spreadsheets sing, you’re perfectly positioned to cut through the noise and guide the team based on facts, not hunches. You might not be the most emotional cheerleader, but your ability to bring clarity is invaluable.
    • The Creative Innovator: If you see possibilities others miss and get restless with the status quo, you won’t be happy punching a clock. Seek out those projects that need out-of-the-box thinking or where calculated risks are encouraged.

    The beauty is, leadership isn’t one-size-fits all. The most effective teams have a blend of these styles operating together in harmony!

    Important Note: This list is meant to give you a flavour, not limit you. Your unique combination of strengths might fall neatly into these categories, or you might be a fantastic hybrid – a strategic innovator perhaps? The purpose of all this discovery is to help you claim your own leadership superpowers.

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    The Evolution of Leadership

    The rise of remote and hybrid work environments has drastically altered the traditional leadership model. Leaders can no longer rely on their physical presence in the office to forge relationships and monitor progress. Building genuine connections virtually requires a heightened level of self-awareness.

    • Self-Aware Leaders: Recognize how their communication style might come across via email or video chat. They adjust accordingly – maybe adding more warmth to emails if they naturally have a direct style, or consciously scheduling more one-on-one video calls to build rapport.
    • Adaptable Leaders: Understand different team members might require different management styles to stay engaged. Some might need frequent check-ins, while others thrive with independence. They also focus on creating a virtual “watercooler” atmosphere to foster team camaraderie despite the distance.

    Emphasis on Work-Life Balance: From “Always On” to Authentic Balance

    Employees increasingly expect flexibility to juggle work responsibilities alongside their personal lives. The “always on” hustle mentality is unsustainable for most. This shift calls for leaders who can create a healthy work culture:

    • Self-Aware Leaders: Lead by example and set boundaries around their own availability. They don’t expect instant responses outside of working hours, and openly discuss the importance of recharging to avoid burnout.
    • Adaptable Leaders: Recognize that one-size-fits-all policies won’t work. They collaborate with their team members to find schedules and systems that maximize productivity while respecting personal needs. It’s about trusting adults to get results in a way that works for them.

    Why Does Self-Awareness Matter So Much Now?

    In these constantly changing environments (and let’s face it, changes will only keep accelerating!), rigid top-down leadership styles become obsolete. Self-aware leaders are better equipped to:

    The evolution of the workplace isn’t just about technology or fancy perks; it’s about evolving our concept of leadership. The most successful leaders going forward will be the ones who know themselves inside out and aren’t afraid to adapt their strengths to meet the moment.

    Conclusion

    Understanding these core strengths is the first step to leading with authenticity. When you operate in a way that’s aligned with who you are at your best, you naturally achieve more satisfying results. You’ll feel more energized and build stronger bonds with your team, leading to increased productivity and morale.

    I encourage you to embark on this journey of self-discovery. Identify what lights your fire and where your true talents lie. Then, seek out those situations – those companies, those projects, those roles – that offer you the chance to let those strengths shine.

    …The most successful leaders going forward will be the ones who know themselves inside out and aren’t afraid to adapt their strengths to meet the moment. If you’re a leader looking to deepen your self-awareness and develop the adaptability essential for today’s workplace, I offer personalized coaching programs designed to do exactly that.

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