fostering a community of people interested in exploring strengths
How can I play up my strengths at work without looking like I’m showing off?
Your instinct to let people know your strengths is a good one. The more we can all get comfortable talking about our strengths, the more we’ll know where we can rely on each other the most, and we’ll know who has a strength that will compensate for somebody else’s weakness on the team.
Fortunately, the secret to letting people know about your strengths without showing off is relatively simple: tie your strengths to the contribution you want to make. This doesn’t mean bragging: “I have a natural gift for establishing trust with people. That’s why I’ve been the #1 sales person for three straight months.” Don’t boast about what you have done. Offer up what you want to do to help the team meet its goals. “Actually, I love playing around with software and seeing how I can make it do what I want. I’d be happy to tackle those Excel spreadsheets.”
When you think about it, bragging about your strengths would kind of miss the mark, anyway. After all, your strengths are those behaviors and talents that are ingrained in you, those things that come naturally. You didn’t really do anything to make them your strengths — they just are. So it’s not about the strengths you have; it’s what you do with them that counts. And when you continually offer up your strengths to your manager, your team, your company, you won’t have to brag. People will notice the results.
Well, it sounds like a good idea, doesn't it? Who doesn't want to learn and grow? If that's all that "stretch" means — taking on a new challenge to learn new skills or techniques in areas where an employee can make a real contribution and has a real interest, by all means, stretch. But if "stretch" is just a euphemism for "tackle your weakness," then it won't surprise you that we aren't fans. The fastest way to poor performance is to get into a zone of weakness. Getting out of your comfort zone only makes sense if you're getting into another area of strength.