Work Your Strengths: A Scientific Process to Identify Your Skills and Match Them to the Best Career for Youby Chuck Martin, Richard Guare, Peg Dawson
Ever feel like you’re in the wrong job, maybe even the wrong career? You may be right. But before you make another move, consider this: Your brain is hardwired with a unique combination of 12 different Executive Skills—the cognitive strengths that determine how well you will perform in a particular role. Your strongest and weakest Executive Skills
Ever feel like you’re in the wrong job, maybe even the wrong career? You may be right. But before you make another move, consider this: Your brain is hardwired with a unique combination of 12 different Executive Skills—the cognitive strengths that determine how well you will perform in a particular role. Your strongest and weakest Executive Skills can make the difference between big-time career success and years of disappointment and failure.
Work Your Strengths helps you avoid “trial-and-error” career moves by matching your strengths to the jobs that call on those skills specifically. Based on the authors’ two-year study of more than 2000 top-performers at hundreds of organizations of all types, from Fortune 500 companies to nonprofits, the book reveals which strengths correlate with success in different jobs.
Take a one-time, free online profile to determine your unique strengths and weaknesses and then use that information to identify your ideal career path. Not ready for a move yet? Work Your Strengths can also make a world of difference in the job you’re in now. It can help you not only focus on the projects best suited for you but also recognize skills in others and assign tasks accordingly.
So whether you’re planning a jump to the career of your dreams or just wondering how to make your current job easier and more rewarding, Work Your Strengths gives you the science and the system to find your success.
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Read an Excerpt
Finding the Right Job
YOU MAY BE a smart person but still feel you’re in the wrong position
at work or even the wrong career.And youmay be right.Your brain is hardwired
to function a specific way. If you’re not in a position where your
strongest skills are vital, you’re not likely to excel.Worse, if you’re in a position
where your weakest skills are vital, you’re going to feel it and are likely
to fail.You won’t look forward to going to work because what you do doesn’t
fit how your brain is wired. Your job will be unnatural and highly challenging.
While the idea of finding the job most suited to you seems simple
enough, there are many instances when it doesn’t happen. Someone may
convince you that you’re the right person for a particular job or promotion,
you accept it, and over time it doesn’t work out as planned. Or you may get
promoted because you’ve performed well in your current position, only to
find out you’re not suited for the new role.When this happens, nobody wins.
Over the course of a career, you may move from job to job until you
finally fall into a position that seems perfect. It could be that over a long
period of time you and many others end up in the right position, but it’s
often by chance.
But what if you could predetermine which position or career is the right
one for you to increase your probability of success? Imagine if, as an individual,
you could take years away from trial and error in jobs along your
career path by scientifically determining in advance how well a particular
position would suit you.
The purpose of this book is to provide you with that insight. It’s the
result of a two-year study we conducted to answer these and other questions.
We sought to map certain cognitive skills of high-performing individuals
to what they do and where they work. These skills are called
Executive Skills because they help you execute tasks. The idea is to navigate
yourself into positions that play to your innate strengths. It’s about matching
how your brain is wired to the job or task based on how the brains of
those already successful in those jobs are wired. Though this isn’t always
possible from a practical standpoint in business, you’d still know when a
certain task or function you’re required to perform would be a good or a
bad fit for your strengths and weaknesses and plan accordingly.You’d know
in advance what kind of help you need to enlist.
Similarly, if you have people reporting to you or people you mentor,
you could help them determine what role or job would be best for them.
The best way tomotivate is to get themost appropriate people in the positions
most suitable to them. This is like the concept, familiar to many in
business, of getting the right people in the right seat on the right bus.1We
call this placing of a person in the correct job or position by matching
Executive Skills with those required for the job first-time right-seating.
As an executive or a manager, imagine being able to promote and move
subordinates along their career path knowing their inherent Executive
Skills strengths and weaknesses. This knowledge could be helpful to determine
where an employee is most likely to succeed. And if a certain position
requires a person’s weaknesses in one job along a career path, at least
you’ll know in advance so that appropriate support can be provided while
the person is in that role.
Playing to Strengths Leads to Goodness of Fit
If you’ve held several positions in your career, you may recall that one was
either a lot easier or a lot harder than others. This could have been an
Executive Skills match or mismatch, where your strengths were those that
were required for the job—or not.
When your strengths match those required for a task, it’s called a goodness-
of-fit situation. The main objective in understanding and utilizing
Executive Skills profiling is to strive for positions that cause goodness-offit
situations. This can help explain why a person isn’t successful in one
position and then changes positions or companies and becomes successful.
While it may appear to observers that the person changed and
improved, the reality is that the situation changed and better suited the person’s
Executive Skills strengths.
And when your strengths match what you do, you’re more likely to be
successful and even look forward to work because what you’re doing there
feels natural. This can lead to rewards, including compensation, bonuses,
and promotions. As a successful person—a high performer—you will
likely stand out among your peers and generally be acknowledged bymanagement.
And consistently using this knowledge can help you throughout
your entire career.
If you’re a manager, this knowledge can also make you a star, because
you’ll consistently place the right people in the right positions and can bask
in the halo effects of their success.
More than 100 researchers worked on various parts of this study to help
identify the cognitive characteristics of high-performing people in business.
2 We questioned more than 2,500 people at hundreds of organizations
of all types, from Fortune 500 companies to nonprofits at every level, from
employee to CEO. The goal was to provide you with a solid scientific
method for finding your ideal field, job, and position.
Matching Strengths of High-Performing Individuals
The basis of determining a person’s strengths and weaknesses in Executive
Skills is well grounded in neuropsychology and revolves around those
fixed functions associated with the frontal lobes. For many years, psychologists
have used knowledge of the development of these functions
from childhood through adolescence to provide guidelines for assessment
and to help children and teenagers. However, it’s only recently that this
knowledge has been taken to the next level (notably in our last book,
SMARTS: AreWe Hardwired for Success?), which is helping adults like you
use knowledge about these fixed skills for work and life.
This book attempts to advance this even further, by highlighting which
specific Executive Skills are mostly found in the stars at work, those successful
in business across a range of categories. There are specific similarities
and differences by a range of categories of high-performing individuals:
Employees, managers, and executives have different strengths, but
they all share a common weakness.
Themost commonly found strength in high-performingmales and
females is different.
Almost all high performers in information technology (IT) are not
weak in one particular Executive Skill.
IT executives are better at handling stress than IT employees.
High performers who work in clinical departments are strong in
one Executive Skill that is a dominant weakness of those in IT.
High performers in finance, administrative, and sales share a common
CEOs and CFOs share the same three most commonly found
High performers inmarketing/advertising/promotion departments
are not weak in a certain skill.
There is one particular strength in high performers in customer
service departments, and the overwhelming majority of high performers
in customer service are not weak in it.
There is one strength found in sales managers and executives that
is not frequently found in sales employees.
Of all high performers strong in one Executive Skill, 35 percent are
either a CEO or CFO.
Meet the Author
CHUCK MARTIN (Madbury, NH) is the Chairman and CEO of NFI Research, a top management research firm, and a highly sought-after speaker.
RICHARD GUARE, PH.D., (Rye, NH) is a neuropsychologist and the Director of the Center for Learning and Attention Disorders.
PEG DAWSON, ED.D., (Brentwood, NH) is a psychologist at the Center for Learning and Attention Disorders. Together they are the authors of Smarts (978-0-8144-0906-0).
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