Nov
17
 

If you can’t own your strengths, then who will?

If you can’t own your strengths, then who will?
“You alone are enough…you have nothing to prove to anybody.”
~Maya Angelou

I was with a client the other day, observing her during an internal meeting with her boss. It’s called “shadow coaching.” My assignment was to observe my client – what she said, how she said it, what she did, how she interacted with her boss – so that I could provide her with feedback. It was a chance to see her in action and let her know, from my viewpoint, the impact she was having (and how she could possibly increase it).

What she said and did was great…except for one thing. My client is a senior leader in the creative side of a creative business. Creativity is her passion and her gift. Her talent is beyond compare at times. And yet my client couldn’t own this strength. She mentioned her vision and insight and the value it brought the company, and then she quickly pooh-poohed it. Treated it as if it was really nothing, or as if maybe she wasn’t that powerful in her creative leadership.

I listened to my client and wondered why she, like so many of us, was having such a hard time owning what she is good at. We may be great at focusing on our development areas, or calling out what we need to improve, but ask us to list what makes us great – what we uniquely and excellently bring to the party – and we stumble or hesitate.

“You have to toot your own horn,” I told my client. “In the appropriate situations and in the appropriate way,” I clarified. “And talking with your boss about your leadership and how your team is doing is the place to own your strengths.” We have to know what we’re good at and how we add value, and we need to be willing to own that and tell others.

Someone once asked me what my strengths were as a consultant and a coach. “I’m really good in front of the room,” I answered, almost without hesitating. It felt a bit too full of myself to say that out loud, but I had been asked and it was true. Sure, I could do some things (possibly many things) better, but I am pretty good in front of a room. And that is something my clients appreciate – and hire me for. I want my client to speak (and think) with the same level of confidence. To acknowledge what talents she has and contributions she makes.

We need to know what we do that’s great. We need to be able to tell others that – loud, clear, and without hesitation. We need to not look outside for answers and not play down the impact we have and the gifts we bring.

Where are you doubting or downplaying yourself?
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If you enjoyed this post, you can read more like it in our book, The Power of Thoughtful Leadership: 101 Minutes To Being the Leader You Want To Be, available on Amazon.

For support in owning your strengths, contact Lisa at lkohn@chatsworthconsulting.com.

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