Know Your Strengths But Be Aware of Their Shadows

How often do you hear the expression ‘play to your strengths’? It is good advice and there is nothing more certain that your success will depend on your ability to not only know your strengths and develop them, but to work on and improve your weaknesses as well.Strengths

But did you know that the very strengths you possess have a ‘shadow’ side which are in fact weaknesses, or in some cases, faults to which you may be blind. We never see ourselves as others see us – as people tend to focus on our positives in a career sense, and self reflection, or getting feedback from others can often be a shock when we realise that the very character attribute we are proud of is seen as a flaw or weakness by others.

Sometimes we know what our strengths are and sometimes not. Your performance review will provide some insight into your professional development but not necessarily the character traits that are your strengths and weaknesses. A great way to find out by independent assessment is through the Gallup Strengths Center*. This is a relatively cheap online tool and will give you a good guide to your strengths and how to best use them. But what are the shadows? The dark side of our strengths?

The table below will give you some insight into some common strengths and the ‘shadow’ that comes with them. If you identify with any of the strengths statements in the left hand column, honestly assess whether others may see the shadow side of those strengths, listed in the right hand column and commit to minimising those, while at the same time adding value with your strengths.

Strength Shadow
I make decisions quickly Perhaps don’t listen to the suggestions of others; bossy
I am an excellent drafter of documents Perhaps nitpicky with others if they don’t write exactly the same way
I am extraverted and get on well with clients Perhaps seen as loud and obnoxious; intolerant of introverts
I set high standards for myself and others Perhaps unforgiving of others
I am very assertive Perhaps aggressive
I am very spontaneous Perhaps disorganised
I am very ambitious Perhaps self centred and impatient
I am very intelligent Perhaps arrogant and dismissive of others
I am strategic Perhaps one eyed
I am a perfectionist Perhaps overly criticial, uncompromising
I am very detail oriented Perhaps may miss nuances in situations
I am very driven Perhaps hard on others, and may become exhausted and won’t admit it


“In the shadow of your strength lies your weakness”

 *empire careers has no interest, financial or otherwise, in Gallup Strengths Center, and this tool is for personal use only by clients.