Are You Playing to Your Strengths?

The good life is using your signature strengths every day to produce authentic happiness and abundant gratification.” Martin Seligman.


Your strengths are like an engine that propel you to success. Your innate talent can take you far, but you need to focus on it and develop it. However, in an effort to improve us, we are given loads of negative feedback externally. Although these are padded with some praise, what each of us are intently listening for the big “BUT” that follows.  “You are good, BUT you need to improve on …”


We are frequently reminded that our strengths can’t take us to the top. Everyday adages do the job!


  • The strength of a chain is the strength of its weakest link;
  • Mind the chink in your armour;
  • The vulnerable Achilles heel;
  • One weakness multiplying all your talents by zero.


We are primed to focus on our shortcomings. Most people spend their lives obsessing over minor imperfections and ignoring the immense talent that they possess. A tiny miniscule of them can turn their very weakness into a strength like Demosthenes who overcame stammering to become a great orator or Anthony Hopkins who overcame it to become an Oscar winning actor. For the vast majority, the truth is that focusing on our Achilles heel keeps us chained to it.


For the amount of time invested, strengths would yield greater results than weaknesses. This makes intuitive sense but research in neuro science proves it too. When we are given negative feedback, besides feeling defensive, our brain perceives it as a threat. It activates the limbic system which creates stress and overload. Thus our brains cannot function optimally under conditions of threat.


It is far easier to focus on our innate talents and strengths to achieve spectacular results. The brain connects the dots in the area that you focus on and hence it expands. Why would we want to expand our weaknesses? Yet, surprisingly we do it all the time. In an effort to become an all- rounder, we end up becoming a jack of all trades, master of none. Bruce Lee has captured this powerfully: “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”


So what are the strengths that we can develop? To get the most out of life, any strength would do, be it physical stamina, flexibility, artistic talent, emotional maturity, compassion, dexterity, intuition, courage, passion, just to name a few. In the organisational context, Gallup’s survey of thousands of executive teams reveals four broad domains of leadership strength. They are:


  1. Executing which includes: achievement, discipline, responsibility,


  1. Influencing which includes: communication, significance, command, competition, self-assurance, woo;
  2. Relationship Building which includes: connectedness, empathy, adaptability, positivity, relator;
  3. Strategic Thinking which includes: analytical, learner, strategic, ideation (creating new ideas), intellection.


While no leader can possess all these strengths, however s/he can and must ensure that all the domains of strength are present among the team members. Hence the need for diversity in a team. As a leader, we have a tendency to recruit people with similar strengths to our own. However, that would create a dysfunctional team/organisation that is unable to deliver results. Imagine a team of creative geniuses with no executor? Or all executors without a strategic thinker?


An executive coach enables you to align your strengths to your purpose and helps you draw up an action plan to develop on your strengths which lets you become the best version of yourself. Awareness and encouragement are the tools of the coach and not carrots and sticks which are inadequate for empowering leaders.


How can we sum this up?


  • Your unique composition of strengths makes you who you are, so invest in your strengths for the winning edge.
  • There is room in a team or organisation for different strengths, so we do not need to fit a square peg in a round hole by sawing off the corners.
  • Leaders need to be aware of the 4 broad domains of leadership strength namely, execution, influence, relationship building and strategic thinking that create an effective team.
  • Leaders leveraging on the strengths of their team members achieve better results than those who are focusing on creating miniature replicas of themselves.


Take a free strengths assessment at:


You can send the results to [email protected] for a free coaching session around your strengths.



Gitanjali specializes in creating harmony and equilibrium. She is a life-coach par excellence and has extensive experience in coaching and corporate training. An alumnus of St Xaviers, College and IIM Calcutta, she continues to be a student of life!


Book a custom-created coaching package – ‘Are you playing to your strengths?’ to align your innate talent and aptitude with your purpose and values in order to leverage an exponential boost to your career and life.





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