Monday, 2 August 2010

Work your Strengths

 

As what I hope will be part of a regular series of guest posts, my wife and colleague, Sandra, reviews a new book, ‘Work Your Strengths’, by Chuck Martin:

 

This book is promoted as a ‘must-read’ for those who are keen to identify their executive skills and match them to the most natural, best-fit career solution.

Martin explains that, particularly when under pressure from stress or fatigue, research shows that the weakest executive skills fail first. Once you know your executive skills strengths and weaknesses it is much easier to predict where issues may arise and which positions are likely to be unnatural or difficult for you and which positions best match your strengths. You are in a good situation if one or more of your top three executive skills is required for the job.

Knowledge of executive skills enables you to assess those around you. It becomes easier to understand and anticipate the behaviours of others in work situations, gives you the knowledge to suggest to others what you are good at and the ability to make the right move by selecting those openings that play to your core strengths.

Call it a mid-life crisis if you must but I was suddenly curious to find out if I am following the correct career path, particularly as an online assessment is included with the book. I decided not to read the book cover to cover but instead chose to steer my way around Chuck Martin’s map of 12 executive skills which, he says, are hardwired into our brains from birth. In order to creative this effective executive skills map Chuck Martin analysed each of the executive skills and matched them against industry, department and job titles.

I will say that it is important to do the online assessment before reading the book. I think if it had been the other way around I would have got it in my head that I should be answering questions in a certain way to be a high achieving director! As it turned out Chuck Martin’s careful analysis of all 12 executive skills was such that through the online assessment tool he was able to order my top three strengths and, oh God, my top three weaknesses and I have to say that all of them rang a familiar bell in my head!

As it turned out I am naturally suited to marketing, sales and communication which is my area of work. Now that I am nicely reassured what else can I do with his findings? Well, Chuck Martin uses research to show that under pressure from stress or fatigue the weakest executive skills fail first. Ah! Yes. That does means I have a tendency to put things off to the last moment and then go all out to meet an oncoming deadline – I just knew you would want to know my weakness! Although, I would like to point out to potential clients and employers that now I know my natural strengths and weaknesses I will be able to predict where issues may arise and which situations are likely to be unnatural or difficult for me and plan things accordingly (once I’ve had that cup of coffee, that is!). And the important thing about me is that, as Chuck points out, it's as if my memory is always on, no matter how busy I am or what I am doing. I am able to hold information in memory while performing complex tasks and I can draw on past learning or experience to apply to the situation at hand or project into the future. I am usually able to do one task and not lose sight of other commitments. I am considered by others to be reliable, can be counted on to follow through, and able to keep my eye on the ball. Now, you’re reassured!

Also, curious person that I am, this newly acquired knowledge of executive skills helps me to assess those around me so making it easier to understand and anticipate the behaviours of others in work situations.

Above all, I now have the knowledge to suggest to others what I am good at and the ability to make the right move by selecting those openings that play to my core strengths (the above was just a modest flirtation!).

Duly tried and tested, I am inclined to agree with Chuck Martin that this book is good for personal career planning and for managers and executives to discover more precisely who might be best suited to a particular job/industry or department.

 

Sandra is an experienced internal & external communication professional who consults alongside me through Strategic Dynamics.  Please contact her with any communication requirements at sandra dot ingham at social-advantage.com.