We are often so focused on trying to fix our weaknesses that we neglect to nurture our strengths. It’s time to take the opposite approach and choose to see yourself as a leader—now, without changing who you are. Identifying, embracing, employing, and amplifying your leadership strengths can form the foundation of an incredible career.
As a first-time director with HP, Sandy Lieske found herself working on a program that was highly technically complex. Despite always having always relied on her strong technical skills, she felt thwarted. “I didn’t understand why things were so hard and why I felt so badly all the time,” Sandy says.
What happened next had a profound impact on her career. A manager on Sandy’s team took her aside and pointed out that the challenge she was experiencing was not with the technology. Her difficulties stemmed from managing change and aligning the group behind a clear vision of where it needed to go.
“This required a focus on influencing, which was not one of my top strengths,” admitted Sandy. Instead of continuing to try to fix that skills deficit, she enlisted a consultant to help her articulate a comprehensive vision for the program and then partnered with a change-management expert to help garner executives’ support. That vision became a rallying cry for the entire organization and the basis for a multi-year strategic roadmap. “The results were amazing,” says Sandy. Sandy went on to become a research and development executive with HP, and she now lectures in engineering management at a public university.
Trying to be someone you’re not, can be exhausting. Being a leader doesn’t require changing who you are when you craft a career that capitalizes on your strengths and allows you to bring your authentic self to work.
Read my article for McGraw Hill.
Adapted from my book Woman of Influence: 9 Steps to Build Your Brand, Establish Your Legacy, and Thrive.