Do you know your strengths?

May 31, 2019

When you work with your business colleagues you will be most effective if you play to your strengths, and to the strengths of others in your finance team. 

But people are very quick to point out your weaknesses. Your annual appraisal most likely uses these to inform your development plan. You might do something similar with your own finance team. 

Take a minute to think that through. If you are weak at something then at best you might become mediocre. 

I’d counsel you to try something different and focus on understanding your strengths. Knowing what your strengths are, how to use them to best effect, and how to develop them further is very powerful.

Do you spend every day doing what you do best?

If I’m mentoring you the first thing I’d ask you to do is get a copy of Strengthsfinder 2.0 and complete the on-line tool that comes with the book. The tool will identify your top 5 strengths. The book then gives advice for best use of each of those strengths. Knowing those strengths will start to inform us both about how to make you more effective. 

How does Strengthsfinder 2.0 work?

Let me explain Strengthsfinder 2.0 a little further. Gallop have developed Strengthsfinder 2.0 from solid research. They have identified 34 strengths that can be present in anyone to a greater or lesser degree. The passcode that comes with the book gives you access to an online survey. This uses a series of questions to determine your personal top 5 strengths. The book then covers all of the strengths, explains them in detail and offers strategies for utilising each strength to best effect. You also get a personalised pdf e-mailed with he survey results. 

The online test asks 177 separate questions, and gives a maximum 20 seconds to answer each, meaning you go with your gut answer and don’t have the opportunity to over analyse your response. These questions allow a remarkably accurate assessment of where your talents lie. 

 Find out more at the Gallup website

How do you take the test?

The book is available from Amazon both in hardback and kindle. Avoid buying the book second hand, chances are the online access code to take the test will already have been used, rendering the book useless.

What about my own strengths? 

I was given a copy of Strengthsfinder 2.0 a few years ago along with the rest of the team that were delivering a major business change programme. I’m naturally cynical of such things so I was sceptical of taking the test. However my view was changed. I was very impressed by the results it produced. I can relate to the descriptions they give for each strength and the ideas for action that are included are very insightful. I’ve used the feedback on countless occasions since, and that little book has certainly provided value for money. 

 My top 5 strengths are:

  • Relator
  • Learner
  • Arranger
  • Achiever
  • Analytical

What has knowing my strengths taught me?

 A clear knowledge of these 5 strengths has been so useful in setting out my direction and finding out my motivation. I’ve consciously put myself in situations where I can best use these skills. My relator skills mean I’m best working in small teams or with groups of people I can get to know well and help toward their aspirations. I know I’m a learner and go out of my way to find information, and I know I have to be careful here, because I’ll often go off and learn just for learnings sake, whether the information is useful or not. Being an achiever, and the worlds greatest procrastinator rolled into one can be extremely frustrating, as I really do need to finish each day with a strong sense of having done something worthwhile. And I guess if an accountant isn’t analytical there really is something wrong!

We discussed Strengthsfinder 2.0 on The Next 100 Days Podcast

 Graham Arrowsmith & I discussed Strengthsfinder 2.0 on The Next 100 Days podcast. If you want to know more take a listen.


 Want to take Strengthsfinder, then go to amazon & buy the book. Here’s a link. (If you are outside the UK it will automatically redirect to your local Amazon store)