In leadership workshops across the country, when I pair participants to share their top three areas of expertise in mock job interviews, a strange thing often happens. The interviewers get frustrated. They find their job “candidates” unwilling or unable to clearly articulate their strengths and provide specific examples that demonstrate their unique value and excellence.
Watching this happen again and again has helped me understand why so many of us are dissatisfied with our careers. If we don’t understand our own greatness, how can we share it with others and offer our very best to the world?
Check your thinking
As women, we often feel pressured to get things ‘right.’ It’s understandable that we might fear making mistakes because we worked so hard just to get a seat at the table. And then we’re often held to different standards once we get there. But putting our primary focus on weaknesses and being reluctant to emphasize and build on our strengths is counterproductive.
First off, what we tend to identify as a weakness is often simply a skill we haven’t learned yet. If you switch your focus to stepping up your personal and professional development (take a class, find a coach or work online to improve) and capitalizing on your strengths, you will quickly expand your value.
Through their work with thousands of women leaders worldwide, Linkage, Inc., has identified seven hurdles that block female advancement. Three are directly related to internal mindsets that hold us back from manifesting our greatness. They are:
Women are more likely than men to doubt their worthiness. That’s painful to hear because the fundamental purpose of Loving On Me is to help you understand how valuable you are simply because you’re you!
In KPMG’s 2015 Women’s Leadership Study of more than 3,000 professional and college women, more than half reported, “As a woman, I am more cautious about taking steps toward leadership roles.” Many also said they struggled to envision leadership in their near future. Six in 10 said they found it hard to see themselves as leaders at all.
That’s a crisis of confidence and one that KPMG says is often rooted in our early experiences and whether we received encouragement to lead. As one woman shared, “I was told I was smart but not encouraged to lead.”
The more you build your strengths, the more you’ll build your confidence. Your specific skill set, experience and strengths create your unique expertise and no one else can deliver that exactly the way you can. I encourage you to put this message somewhere you can read it every day:
Worrying over my weaknesses will never lead to greatness. It is only when I maximize my strengths that I can achieve unimaginable success.
Many of us were taught that “bragging” is not nice and so we shy away from talking about ourselves. We wait for others to talk us up rather than take charge of our personal brand. But who knows better what truly makes you great (as well as motivated and satisfied) than you?
Start by accepting responsibility for truly understanding and identifying your expertise. Next, commit to developing the skills to share that expertise in clear, compelling ways that enable others to understand your value, and experience your excellence. That’s not bragging; that’s increasing your contribution to your organization and your colleagues.
Ambivalence About Desired Role
Linkage, Inc. also discovered that women too often allow others to define their goals. If we are uncertain about our true expertise or unwilling to own our excellence, we are more easily swept along with someone else’s image of our future. Or, we might accidentally follow the path of least resistance.
Living someone else’s plan might work for a while, but a disconnect will soon emerge between your real strengths and desires and how you invest your time and energy.
In my book, Be Bold. Be Brilliant. Be You., I provide a step-by-step guide to help you determine if the role you’re currently in, or one you may be considering, is in your space for greatness. In it, we explore four key questions:
- Is this role rooted in my personal strengths?
- Am I utilizing my most developed skills?
- Have I identified my honest desires?
- Am I clear about what I’m willing to do?
As I guide you through these questions, you will learn how to identify and embrace the unique expertise that increases your value. Then, you’ll learn how to share it with others so they can tap into the unique skillset, expertise and experience that makes you, you!
EMBRACE YOUR SPACE FOR GREATNESS!
You already hold the key to your success — it’s the unique blend of gifs, skills, talents and abilities that only you possess and that only you can deliver with excellence at the right time in the right place. Order Be Bold. Be Brilliant. Be You. and learn how to claim your greatness within.