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Tim Forrester
Bullet point
Process Improvement Specialists

Who’s tired of living in a world that revolves around fixing out weaknesses? Society’s relentless focus on people’s shortcomings has turned into a global obsession. What’s more, we have discovered that people have several times more potential for growth when they invest energy in developing their strengths instead of correcting their deficiencies.

Over the past decade, Gallup has surveyed more than 10 million people worldwide on the topic of employee engagement (or how positive and productive people are at work), and only one-third” strongly agree” with the statement: “At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.”

And for those who do not get to focus on what they do best – their strengths – the costs are staggering. In a recent poll of more than 1,000 people, among those who “strongly disagree” or “disagree” with this “what I do best” statement, not one single person was emotionally engaged on the job.

In stark contrast, studies indicate that people who do have the opportunity to focus on their strengths every day are six times as likely to be engaged in their jobs and more than three times as likely to report having an excellent quality of life in general.

Fortunately, the research also suggests that having someone at work who regularly focuses on your strengths can make a dramatic difference. In 2005, researchers explored what happens when managers primarily focus on employees’ strengths, primarily focus on employees’ focus on employees’ weaknesses, or ignore employees. The results completely redefined the perspective about how easy it may be to decrease the active disengagement, or extreme negativity, that runs rampant in organizations.

If your manager primarily: Ignores you. The chances of your being actively disengaged are: 40%. If your manager primarily: Focuses on your weaknesses. The chances of your being actively disengaged are: 22%. If your manager primarily: Focuses on your strengths. The chances of your being actively disengaged are: 1%.

As you can see from the results, having a manager who ignores you is even more detrimental than having a manager who primarily focuses on your weaknesses. Perhaps most surprising is the degree to which having a manager who focuses on your strengths decreases the odds of your being miserable on the job. It appears that the epidemic of active disengagement we see in workplaces every day could be a curable disease.... if we can help people around us develop their strengths.

While this story may seem simplistic, in many cases, aligning yourself with the right tasks can be this easy. When we’re able to put most of our energy into developing our natural talents, extraordinary room for growth exists. So, a revision to the…

“You – can – be – anything – you – want – to – be” maxim might be more accurate:

“You cannot be anything you want to be – but you can be a lot more of who you already are.”

From the book: STRENGTHS FINDER 2.0 by, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author, TOM RATH

over 6 years ago
Bullet point

This is an amazing piece of analysis and advice that I think can be helpful to all! Leaning into your strengths, rather than trying to focus on weaknesses, can have more of a positive impact overall and can lead to a happier, more fulfilling career. Thanks for sharing! This is a great read.