This is one of a short series of self-reflective posts I wrote in January 2014.
I’m a fan of the Strengths model. On both of the times I have done the self-assessment, two of my top five strengths are:
This is very true of me.
The ‘so what’ of the combination might not be immediately obvious unless you have those same two compulsions, or have a significant other with them, and have read about strengths psychology.
Basically I’m driven to achieve towards goals.
I need to achieve things. It gives me a single-mindedness which my wife says can be impersonal, and can appear selfish. So at home, I have to moderate myself
For example, right now I’m writing about my leadership style. I know I need to be clear in my own mind about how I operate as a leader, and as a manager, and be able to outline it in an interview next week.
I was just making my wife and I a cup of tea before coming back to the computer to keep thinking about my leadership style. Laura knew I was going to be thinking and writing all day. As I was making tea, she wanted to tell me about an interesting conversation she’d had with a lady about her religion and about her self-directed conversion to Islam at about age 17, whilst living in the Australian outback. Sounds interesting eh. I listened for a while before saying, “sorry hon, it’s distracting me from what’s on my mind right now”. That’s when she smiled and said “that’s one of your strengths”.
So here I am writing about it now, and will talk to her more later about her day with the kids.
The Focus strength is about goal-setting. Once I emotionally set a firm goal in my mind, it’s very hard for me to unwrench from it. In fact, I’ve learned to manage myself in this regard and only set goals when I’m sure I really want to achieve them. This means I tend not to idly discuss possible goals around my work or home life. I will either do them, or not. I think of Yoda: there is no try.
This is because somehow, the way my mind works, is that goals are deeply motivating. I like to-do lists too, to track more atomic goals, and I’m a completer-finisher in that I don’t like things dangling half-done.
The Achiever strength is about needing to get things done. A good example is that I find holidays a bit stressful if they go on for too long. I like to read a book or two, or spend time thinking about a goal I have for myself, or learning something new.
Also I am frustrated by fruitless or pointless tasks because they conflict with my need for achievement. Generally this is a good thing, and it might even trigger another one of my core behaviours around wanting to properly fix systems.
As a leader these strengths translate to wanting the organisation to be productive. For example:
- I notice waste or inefficient processes and want them fixed.
- I set sub-goals which are achievable, but not easily, and which are consistent with a greater goal.
- I want people to be productive, to know what their job is, to have the tools to do it, and I will get things out of their way so they can achieve.
- I want projects or changes completed properly so as to avoid creating re-work and to make a sustained difference.