Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Work Your Strengths

I read an awesome, well researched book called Work your Strengths - A Scientific Process to Identify Your Skills and Match them to the best Career for You by Chuck Martin, Richard Guare and Peg Dawson. The author team has an impressive track record in research and psychology.

Through a questionnaire, they get the prospect to identify their strengths on 12 different scales that they have identified as being crucial for success.

The 12 key executive skills include:

1 - Response Inhibition - the ability to think before you act (I am weaker on that one than the rest)

2 - Working Memory. The ability to remember things while doing complex tasks. I often call this innate intelligence.

3 - Emotional Control.

4 - Sustained Attention. (I have often thought I was a bit ADD but I actually score high on this scale. I am thinking despite handling multiple things at once, I do tend to keep my focus)

5 - Task Initiation. I am great on this. I like to start things and I do. This is the one area I often coach people on - Just Do It.

6 - Planning/Prioritization.

7 - Organization

8 - Time Management - I hate to say I told you so but Time Management is one of the critical skills for success. To summarize the key point of the book - you should buy my Time Management Book (or at least that is what I took away from it)

9 - Goal Directed Persistence. This is one of my big strengths. I believe in and practise goal setting.

10 - Flexibility. I have often seen executives struggle with things when circumstances change without warning.

11 - Metacognition. This is the ability to take a birds eye view of of yourself in a situation and understanding what you need to do.

12 - Stress tolerance.

My initial inclination was to figure out how I could be stronger in each of these key areas.

What I notice is many of these overlap. EG - Being able to have Goal Focused Persistence ties to Sustained Attention. Strength in one area is often used to handle a challenge when it could also use strength in another area to handle the same issue.

Strengths are shades of grey. Not Black and White (at least not in most cases)

The one part that I had a knee jerk negative reaction to was "you cannot change your strengths". But as I read the book, I actually came to agree with what this book calls a "truth". I know innate intelligence cannot change.

My technique for dealing with challenge is to study and learn. Learning does not change inherent strengths but can give us systems and processes to deal with an area. One reason I wrote my book on time management is that I am not naturally good at it. So the book is mostly about tricks, systems and processes on how to cope so you can appear "good" at it.

Work Your Strengths then goes on to review dozens of jobs and areas/industries and point out what areas need key strengths can tolerate certain weaknesses. They list 3 key must have Executive Skills, 3 that are ok with be weak in and then one area that is called a "determining trait" where the theory is having that strength differentiates the true achievers in the field/position.

The research the book is based on is impressive. There are pages of companies that participated in the study. They do 2000 surveys every 2 weeks.

What I learned is I would be a good CEO/Leader especially in a marketing role.


At 1:26 PM, Blogger Tom Carswell said...

"What I learned is I would be a good CEO/Leader especially in a marketing role."

Yeah - I knew that about you already.

At 9:51 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

As someone with a learning disability I recently discovered that I have impaired working memory (or "innate intelligence"). I only have three "chunks" opposed to the standard 7+/- 2. In spite of my insufficient RAM, I have been able to rewire my brain over consistent effort over time. Today, this deficit is not one that people could readily identify.

At 11:40 AM, Anonymous Dr. Leslie Roberts said...

Thanks for the great post, Jim! We've blogged about it to share this great resource with other entrepreneurs.

At 10:25 AM, Blogger Patti said...

And don’t forget a great mentor …

At 12:57 PM, Blogger Eusebiu Blindu said...

Hi Jim,
Nice list. I think this skills are general valuable for a lot of crafts. For example I am a tester and every item in that list applicable. Maybe for different professions differs the percentage or priority.



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