I’ve talked about StrengthsFinder and branding a couple of times before and how they interact and how they can help your career. Recently, I’ve had a couple of my clients who demonstrated what can happen if you ignore them.
Person "A" is a tech writer whose number one strength is “Connectedness” and number two is “Communication.” His last few gigs have been contracts with increasing levels of isolation, eventually working for a virtual company. (You know the deal, a “virtual” company is one that has no office.) In his personal life, this person is completely plugged into his community. He volunteers with troubled kids, he’s a Veteran and volunteers at VA, etc, etc. His personal life also works great. His professional life has slowly been spiraling down with increasing problems and decreasing effectiveness and no explanations; just random non-directed anger. When he took Strengths Finder, he looked at his strengths and for the first time started to understand what his real needs were. He recognized that as much as he loves writing (and he does love writing), he needed more in order to be effective.
Person “B” is an engineer. He worked for the same company for 10 years coming out of college. The first two were doing new projects and he was terrific. Great reviews, bonuses, etc. His whole team got re-orged into a test role and his performance slowly spiraled down (along with his morale) until he eventually went on a “performance improvement plan”, then finally he quit; with absolutely no plan and no idea how to get one. When he took the Strengthsfinder test, his number one strength turned out to be “Harmony”. So in this case we have someone who is all about peacemaking/peace keeping being required to tell people how badly they did.
I find myself talking more and more about “brand” in my practice and these are a couple of examples of why. For humans, our brand is that set of work behaviors we do just because we got up. Not the stuff we try to do, not the stuff we learned. It is the stuff we always do. In the two examples above, Person A will be fabulous if he has the kind of contact he needs with the rest of the team. His last boss got pretty abusive, but even that could well have worked if they had been in the same office. Person B demonstrated his value doing new projects, and is terrific if he is in a place to build others up. Both need to understand their brands and make sure that they put themselves in situations that allow them to exercise that “Brand.”