You have your own unique way of accomplishing your work. You have your own set of strengths or innate talents that enable you to do your engineering job in your individual way.
Let’s talk about your strengths today. And how you can best use them to power your career.
You might think of your strengths as defining what you can and can’t do well. But they’re actually more about the why and how. They reflect your underlying tendencies. Your innate characteristics. Your predispositions.
No two people have the exact same strengths profile. No two engineers have the same strengths profile. Not even 2 women engineers have the same strengths profile.
You have your own individual combination of strengths that drive the why and how you do things.
And here’s the best part:
Your strengths can inform how to go about your work in the best way. And you can use that information as a powerful career tool.
To guide you to excellence in your career.
What It Means to Work To Your Strengths
People have probably advised you to “work to your strengths.” I know I’ve said it many times. But what exactly does that mean? Basically it means to apply them in all the work you do.
It means learn how your strengths show up in your work. It means use them to your advantage. Use them to optimize and maximize your work quality and outcomes.
It also means to put more effort into honing your strengths and less effort into improving your weaknesses.
There may be some benefit to tending to your weaknesses. But research shows that the benefits of working to your strengths is more fruitful than trying to improve all your weaknesses.
Have you ever watched how someone else makes decisions? How they manage projects or approach problems? Noticed how good they are at their job? And then concluded that you need to do things the same way they do to get great results?
Unless you have the same strengths – which isn’t likely – the way you do things will be different. And that’s not only okay, it’s the way it should be. You should be applying your strengths to do the job in your own best way.
In other words,
just because you don’t have the same strengths as another person doesn’t mean you can’t do well at the same kind of work they do.
It means you will accomplish that work in a different way.
This was a big aha for me. I wish I had realized it much earlier in my career. It was easy for me to talk myself out of a new opportunity, thinking that my strengths weren’t the “right” strengths.
If I had known back then how to use my strengths to power my career, I would have been more confident in taking risks. I would have challenged myself more and broadened my engineering and leadership experiences.
Using Your Strengths to Propel Your Engineering Career
Here are 4 steps you can take to use your strengths as your own unique career tool:
- Learn what your strengths are. By observation and experience. By internal assessment. And by external assessment.
- Notice how your strengths show up in your work. Become more familiar with how they are advantageous. Learn the ways they help you in your career.
- Accept your strengths as part of you. Appreciate them as an expression of you. Your strengths represent your innate talent. Celebrate them and build on them.
- Apply your strengths in your engineering job. Apply them to your tasks. Incorporate them into your goals. Let your work be defined by your strengths. Approach your work in a way that makes greatest use of them.
You’ll find that you’re most comfortable accomplishing your job within the realm of your strengths.
They don’t necessarily stay exactly the same your whole life. But the underlying tendencies are something you came into this world with. Your strengths are part of your identity.
I invite you to embrace that. See how you can leverage your strengths as you stretch into leadership roles. See how your strengths bring out your best authentic you.
BTW, I particularly like the CliftonStrengths assessment tool for identifying your strengths. This assessment is well researched and a practical and effective approach to career enhancement. I think it’s especially effective for engineers.
If you’re interested in taking this assessment, I’d be glad to walk you through the process and help you understand and apply the results.
I recently retook the CliftonStrengths assessment. It tells me – in their particular assessment language – that my top five strengths are:
And now I’m finding new ways to leverage my strengths in my work and life.
Maybe you’ve already taken this assessment. And if so, consider filling out an application to work with me. Because it’s not enough to know what your strengths are. Understanding and applying them is where the benefit is.
Together we can discover how to optimize your strengths in your engineering career.
Next time on Her Engineering Career Podcast, we’ll explore some ways to showcase your leadership competency. Be sure to join me for Episode 70.