Your strengths are your superpowers

Liz Wigmore
By Liz Wigmore | 19 June 2023
Liz Wigmore.

Liz Wigmore, Managing Director, Foundation Australia

Strengths are a passion project of mine. 

I recently spoke on a IWD panel, and was asked “what advice do you wish to give your younger self?” My answer: to understand my strengths earlier in my career.

It dawned on me how important it is for everyone to know their strengths, or as I like to call them, superpowers.

I had the privilege to experience CliftonStrengths Assessment 5 years ago. The Clifton Strengths Assessment measures your talents - your natural patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving and categorizes them into the 34 CliftonStrengths themes.

Don Clifton says, “strengths science answers questions about what's right with people rather than what's wrong with them”.

Throughout many of our careers, we’ve spent so much time focussed on weaknesses. But the reality is, it’s far more potent to focus on your strengths and what energises you as an individual. This notion has changed the way I work and how I lead.

Forbes says, “motivating others is one of the most significant issues we face in leadership. Strength-based approaches can be a powerful tool for increasing motivation and performance.”

Not only have I personally experienced the benefit of harnessing and leading with strengths – it’s become a mission of mine to help people uncover theirs. Not only for the working world but its help in areas of my personal life.

For example, it has helped me build my type of leadership style, which is leading with empathy. Not default to the one “I think I should have”. I have been exposed to many leadership styles; some inspiring & some not so much. Over my career I thought I had to be a certain type of leader to gain respect and authority. That’s not the case at all, and as I discovered, can result in you becoming a version of yourself that is not your true self. Which is energy taxing and not a very nice experience in general.

A leadership style that is real and authentic to you is powerful. It grows with you, & it energises you.

For anyone who is a Succession fan, this point is played out poetically & brutally at times. The Roy kids at times tried to copy their dad’s leadership style, as that was what they knew. But it wasn’t their leadership style, and it showed. (Subjective claim: It was when they made some of their worst moves!)

With empathy as one of my superpowers, this leadership style not only comes naturally to me, but it also energises me. People feel it, they value it, and they respond to it in return.

People ‘feel’ it through active listening, taking a genuine interest in them and their points of view. It shows as I listen to everyone in the room. I genuinely look for outcomes that are in consensus, by helping people see another’s point of view. This approach fosters trust & openness.

Knowing my strengths has helped my personal life. With harmony being my No. 1 superpower, I do not like conflict! So that’s been a game changer in my relationships and running a household with 2 x teenage stepsons. It shows up in all parts of life.

Clifton research suggest that by focusing on your strengths, an individual is 6x as likely to be engaged in their job. They are 6x as likely to strongly agree that they have a change to what they do best every day. 3x as likely to report having excellent quality of life.

Last week, I hosted an “Activating Your Strengths Day” with the entire agency. The day comprised of a two-hour guided training which unpacked the nuanced layers of strengths, how to activate them and how to lean on the strengths of others.
It was important for me to give the agency what I wish I had early in my career – an understanding of your superpowers.
The day was incredible and benefited people at all levels and disciplines. We are all different and everyone has their own set of superpowers, but that day we learned how strengths could be harnessed for good in how we work together.

This is only just the beginning for my passion project agenda. To know your strengths is one thing, but to activate them within your role is where the true magic happens.

Next, we will use strengths as part of Foundation’s Career Development Planning process, associating strengths with goal setting, and helping our people achieve their career ambitions.

Our philosophy at the agency is all about liberation. What better way to liberate our amazing people than by unlocking their unique superpowers?

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