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Work Your Strengths: A Scientific Process to Identify Your Skills and Match Them to the Best Career for You

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Do you panic when your car won’t start or blurt out the first thing that pops in your mind? Can you keep track of your possessions and remember your appointments? How good are you at coming up with long-term plans and then actually sticking to them? The answers are determined by your Executive Skills, a set of cognitive functions hard­wired in the adult brain that define who you are and how you operate. Figure out the strengths and weaknesses of your own skill set and you can ...

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Overview

Do you panic when your car won’t start or blurt out the first thing that pops in your mind? Can you keep track of your possessions and remember your appointments? How good are you at coming up with long-term plans and then actually sticking to them? The answers are determined by your Executive Skills, a set of cognitive functions hard­wired in the adult brain that define who you are and how you operate. Figure out the strengths and weaknesses of your own skill set and you can figure out exactly what job you’ll excel at.

That’s the promise of Work Your Strengths, the most on-target, research-based career advice you’ll ever find. Written by an award-winning author, together with experts in the field of neuroscience and psychology, Work Your Strengths draws on the latest discoveries about the brain and the authors’ original data to help you accurately assess your Executive Skills, pinpoint your ideal job—and avoid potential trouble. You’ll learn about working memory, emotional control, sustained attention, organizational skills, goal-directed persistence, flexibility, stress tolerance, and more—skills that can make or break your chances of success. Take a free online test to gauge your own skill set, then match your profile against the Executive Skills exhibited by more than two thousand high achievers in a multitude of industries and positions.

Packed with the authors’ eye-opening findings, this unique book gives you a wholly new, scientifically sound way to play to your strengths—and locate the job that best fits your own strongest set of Executive Skills.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Martin, chairman and CEO of NFI Research, along with Guare, a neuropsychologist, and Dawson, a psychologist, both at the Center for Learning and Attention Disorders, reunite to aid readers in identifying their core skills to find a perfectly suited job match. Building on the theories put forth in their previous book, Smarts, the authors conducted a two-year study that revealed how the cognitive skills of high performing individuals aligned to what they do and where they work. Their research helps readers gravitate to work roles that play to their innate strengths and to how their brains are wired. The authors overexplain a relatively simple premise, citing extensive scientific evidence, which may turn off readers looking for a good career fit in a tumultuous job market without the heavy-duty explanations. The book offers guidance on how to choose the right career path, determine your best industry and department, and avoid taking the wrong promotion. Only those who are willing to devote considerable time and effort will find much benefit. (June)
Library Journal
The coauthors of Smarts: Are We Hardwired for Success return to identify 12 "Executive Skills" found in high performers from several industries. Skills run from emotional control to metacognition, with examples. The emphasis is on exploring career paths that take advantage of your skill strengths while minimizing the impact of the other "Executive Skills" that may not be your strongest (rather than trying to turn your weaker areas into your strengths). Chapters seem haphazard, and there is no skills inventory the reader can use to set benchmarks. A web site is provided at which readers can use an "Executive Skills Profile" tool (at review time, the link did not contain book-related content). This book is not recommended. Instead, interested readers should turn to Esther Cameron and Mike Green's Making Sense of Leadership for a better analysis of leadership qualities.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814414071
  • Publisher: AMACOM
  • Publication date: 6/2/2010
  • Pages: 235
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

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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Read an Excerpt

INTRODUCTION

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

strength.

 CEOs and CFOs share the same three most commonly found

strengths.

 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.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments

Introduction 1

Finding the Right Job 1

Playing to Strengths Leads to Goodness of Fit 3

Matching Strengths of High-Performing Individuals 3

The Executive Skills 5

Frontal Lobes and Executive Skills 7

The Spread Between Strengths and Weaknesses: The Differentiator 7

Chapter 1 Determining Your Own Strengths and Weaknesses and Finding the Strengths and Weaknesses of Others 9

Skill 1 Response Inhibition 11

Skill 2 Working Memory 12

Skill 3 Emotional Control 13

Skill 4 Sustained Attention 14

Skill 5 Task Initiation 14

Skill 6 Planning/Prioritization 15

Skill 7 Organization 15

Skill 8 Time Management 16

Skill 9 Goal-Directed Persistence 16

Skill 10 Flexibility 17

Skill 11 Metacognition 17

Skill 12 Stress Tolerance 18

Finding Your Own Strengths and Weaknesses 18

Workload and Executive Skills 19

Voices from the Front Lines: Workload 21

Exceeding Your Cognitive Bandwidth 22

Knowing in Advance 24

Chapter 2 Finding Success and Avoiding Failure: Why Your Strengths and Weaknesses Are the Way They Are: The Science Behind Executive Skills 26

Executive Skills in Psychology 28

Executive Skills and the Brain 28

Executive Skills and Brain Development 30

Chapter 3 What is a High Performer and How do you Become One? Selecting The Right Path to Increase the Chance of Success 35

Performance-Based: Consistency Is Key 36

Quantitative: Expectations and Results 38

Qualitative: Some Subjectivity 39

Position in the Organization 40

Company First 42

Multidimensional 45

How Many Are High Performers? 47

Voices from the Front Lines: Number of High Performers 48

What Sets High Performers Apart 49

Voices from the Front Lines: What Sets Them Apart 50

Chapter 4 Navigating Your Road to High Performance: Finding Your Skills Combination to Determine What Industry You Should be in 52

Most Prevalent Executive Skills Strengths and Weaknesses 53

Some Skills Go Hand in Hand 55

Strengths vs. Commonly Found Weaknesses 57

High-Performing Males vs. High-Performing Females 59

Executive Skills of High Performers by Age 61

Task Initiation: The Common Weakness 61

The High-Performing Pair 63

Executive Skills of High Performers by Industry 65

Financial Services 67

Healthcare 68

Manufacturing 70

Technology 71

Education 72

Nonprofits 74

Finding the Match 75

Chapter 5 What's the Right Department for You? The Strengths of High Performers by Department 77

Marketing/Advertising/Promotion: Always Getting Better 78

Sales: Not Falling Through the Cracks 80

Systems/IT: All About Road Maps 82

General Management: Goal-Oriented 83

Operations: Good on the Fly 84

Customer Service: Strategically Important 85

Administrative: Organized and Can Adapt 87

Finance: Modify on the Fly 89

Accounting: Methodical Approach 90

Clinical: Organized and Starting Right Away 91

Executive Skills in a Department: Clinical High Performers 93

Right-Seating People the First Time 96

Chapter 6 Do You Have What it Takes to be in the Corner Suite? Skills Broken Down by Title 98

Are You in the Right Job? 98

The Brains in the Corner Office 100

The Brains Down the Hall 102

The Self-Correcting Directors 104

The Managers with a Plan 105

The Organized Employees 106

Chapter 7 How Your Strengths Match Those of Others at Work: Ways to Match Behaviors to Executive Skills in Your Business 108

Shared Strengths in One Organization 111

Shared Strengths in Two Nonprofits 113

Mapping Characteristics to Executive Skills 115

Avoiding Potential Conflicts 117

Focus on Executive Skills Strengths 118

Voices from the Front Lines: Strengths and Weaknesses 119

Healthcare: Clinical vs. Nonclinical 120

High Performers in Sales-Buyer Interactions 122

Observable Behaviors 123

Strong Flexibility: Typical Behaviors 123

Weak Flexibility: Typical Behaviors 124

Strong Response Inhibition: Typical Behaviors 126

Weak Response Inhibition: Typical Behaviors 127

Chapter 8 Avoiding the Wrong Promotion: Sorting the Strengths of Employees Vs. Managers Vs. Executives 129

Voices from the Front Lines: High and Low Performers 131

The Failed Sales Promotion 132

Voices from the Front Lines: Promoting Salespeople to Management 134

Sales Employees vs. Sales Management 135

Working in a Comfort Zone 139

Voices from the Front Lines: Job Satisfaction 140

IT Executives Can Shield the Heat 141

Operations: Order and Organization 143

Administrative: Organization Is Key 145

Customer Service: Recalling Past Solutions 146

Can Performance Be Predicted? 148

Chapter 9 Determine Your Fit---The High-Performance Executive Skills Map: Where Do High Performers With Your Strengths Work? 150

Response Inhibition 152

Working Memory 152

Emotional Control 153

Sustained Attention 154

Task Initiation 154

Planning/Prioritization 155

Organization 155

Time Management 156

Goal-Directed Persistence 157

Flexibility 157

Metacognition 158

Stress Tolerance 159

The High-Performance Executive Skills Map 160

Industries by Executive Skills Strengths 160

Departments by Executive Skills Strengths 164

Job Functions/Titles by Executive Skills Strengths 168

Conclusion 173

Appendix A How the Two-Year Study Was Conducted: High Performers and the Executive Skills Profile 179

Determining High Performance 181

Using the Executive Skills Profile 181

Selecting Subjects 183

Selecting Industry Types and Departments 184

Job Functions and Titles 185

High Performers by Age and Gender 186

High Performers by Company Size 187

The Questionnaire 187

Organizations in the Study 189

The Study Continues 196

Appendix B The High-Performance Executive Skills Tables 197

Top Six Industries 198

Executive Skills by Department: Top 10 Departments 200

Job Function/Title 203

Employees vs. Managers vs. Executives 206

Males vs. Females 212

Profit vs. Nonprofit 212

Profit vs. Nonprofit (Excluding CEOs) 213

Healthcare: Clinical vs. Nonclinical 214

Appendix C About NFI Research 217

Notes 219

Index 225

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First Chapter

Work Your Strengths

A Scientific Process to Identify Your Skills and Match Them to the Best Career for You
By CHUCK MARTIN RICHARD GUARE PEG DAWSON

AMACOM

Copyright © 2010 Chuck Martin, Richard Guare, Peg Dawson
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-8144-1407-1


Chapter One

Determining Your Own Strengths and Weaknesses ... and Finding the Strengths and Weaknesses of Others

A FREQUENT QUESTION regarding the 12 Executive Skills is, Which skills matter most and which matter least? There's really no set answer because, as they say in psychology, it depends. If you're a high performer, different Executive Skills strengths and weaknesses are found in different situations or categories. While all 12 Executive Skills are found in all people, including high performers, only your strongest and few weakest matter most to you and are likely to impact your performance in any given situation.

Among high-performing individuals in various business departments and functions, there are common strengths and weaknesses, as well as typical combinations of Executive Skills strengths and weaknesses. Even without knowing about Executive Skills strengths and weaknesses, many successful businesspeople have intuitively figured out some of their own Executive Skills issues over a period of time. For example, if you're a high performer weak in Time Management, you may have concluded long ago that you needed someone to keep you on schedule and hired an executive assistant who does just that.

You may not recognize some of the other Executive Skills as easily, so understanding the characteristics and behaviors associated with all 12 can prove helpful. While each high performer will likely be strong in two or three skills and weak in two or three, knowing about all 12 can be helpful in interacting with other people, who may have a different Executive Skills profile.

Certain strengths and weaknesses are found in more high performers overall. However, each Executive Skills strength can be found in a particular job type, title, department, or industry, so if you're strong in one skill that's not found in high performers in, say, sales, it could be a strength of high performers in customer service, which we detail later. The point is that just because your strengths don't match those of high performers overall, there's still hope because they likely match a specific area, such as by a certain department or title. In some cases, there are a few high performers in positions where their strengths are not the same as the commonly found strengths in high performers in those roles. It's likely that these people are having a more difficult time because some of the tasks could feel unnatural to them.

Everyone has strengths and weaknesses in their skills. It would be extremely unusual for a person to be strong in all 12 skills because some are effectively opposites. For example, high performers weak in Time Management are also typically weak in Task Initiation, but they are strong in Metacognition, Flexibility, or Goal-Directed Persistence. And those strong in Time Management are low in Emotional Control or Stress Tolerance.

There are some common combinations of strengths and weaknesses, so people strong in specific skills often are weak in certain others. Determining your strongest and weakest skill requires that you understand each of the skills and the characteristics associated with them. Several of the Executive Skills in which you excel or fail will be obvious to you right away. For example, you probably already know whether you're good at starting projects easily without procrastinating. Or you might feel that you're generally flexible or not. Just knowing that tells you that you are either strong or weak in that particular Executive Skill.

However, the key is to understand all 12 Executive Skills in relation to each other and learn the strength and weakness characteristics of each.

People typically have two or three strengths and two or three weaknesses, with the remaining Executive Skills falling somewhere in between. Those that are in between are not generally likely to get you in trouble, but those at the extremes can help you position yourself for greater successes and fewer failures. Those that are strongest will allow you to determine what tasks, projects, relationships, and even careers you'd find yourself comfortably matched to. Those that are weakest can show you personal situations and even jobs and careers that you should probably avoid. By matching your strengths to those of high performers with the same strengths, you may identify a job, a function, or even an industry where you might be a perfect fit. You also may find that you are a match for the job you already have, with Executive Skills that match those who are high performers in a similar job.

If you're an executive or a manager, once you know what behaviors typically go with each skill, then you can identify those behaviors in those who work for you and likely determine their strengths and weaknesses. Knowing your subordinates' strengths and weaknesses can help you interact with them more effectively and determine which roles or functions at work would better suit each person.

Following are the Executive Skills with the associated traits and behaviors that typically go along with them, as both strengths and weaknesses. Each skill was found as either a strength or weakness in between 40 to slightly over 60 percent of high performers overall. However, as you'll see later in the book, the significance of specific Executive Skills in high performers comes into play when viewed by job function, department, or industry.

Skill 1: Response Inhibition

This Executive Skill is about having the capacity to think before speaking or acting. Often it is what someone says that causes you to want to respond. It might be a discussion where your spouse casually mentions a person who's not in the room, and you quickly blurt out that she's a real jerk, within earshot of others who are her friends. Or it may be your boss, who takes his golf seriously, mentioning how well he did in his game over the weekend, and you immediately say you think golf is such a waste of time.

If you lean to informed decision making, generally take a methodical and deliberate approach to things, and are not often impulsive, you're probably strong in Response Inhibition. You also could easily suppress a response until you've thought about it.

On the other hand, if you often act on impulse, tend to say the first thing that pops into your mind, and generally act before you consider the consequences, you're probably weak in this skill. If you can easily remember a few things you said that you later regretted, that is a clue that Response Inhibition is not one of your strongest Executive Skills. Another clue is if you often feel like you want to kick yourself for what you just said. If you often want to kick others for what they just said, they're probably weak in Response Inhibition.

Another way to determine whether this skill is high or low for you is to recall how you've acted in past situations to determine whether you actually use this skill. For example, you'd be using this skill if you've worked around the clock finishing a project for a demanding client who then says he's not happy with your work and you answer him without losing your temper. Or when your boss suggests a bold, new initiative that looks good on the surface, you suggest assembling a meeting to discuss the pros and cons of doing it.

Skill 2: Working Memory

It's as if your memory is always on, no matter how busy you are or what you're doing. Working Memory involves the ability to hold information in memory while performing complex tasks. This is more than just recalling something from the past. It involves drawing on past learning or experience to apply to the situation at hand or to project into the future. If you never use a list to go shopping and always get what you need, you're probably high in Working Memory.

When you remember that you promised to get to your son's baseball game at 3 P.M. in the midst of an emergency that pops up at the office at 1 P.M., you're using the skill of Working Memory. If you're usually able to do one task and not lose sight of other commitments, you're probably strong in Working Memory. You'd also be considered to be reliable, counted on to follow through, and able to keep your eye on the ball.

You'd be using this skill when you remember to return an expense report your assistant asked for when you're working on a tight budget deadline. Or you remember you have a dentist appointment when you call the service station to fix your unexpected flat tire.

Conversely, if you're sometimes absentminded and need frequent reminders to complete tasks, you're probably weak in Working Memory. You'd likely miss an appointment because you didn't write it down, or you might leave your cell phone on your airplane seat because you were worried about making a tight connection. You might also have forgotten that a week ago you promised to meet your spouse for lunch today because something pressing came up at work late this morning. You really meant to, but you just totally forgot.

Skill 3: Emotional Control

This is the ability to manage emotions in order to achieve goals, complete tasks, or control and direct behavior. If you can keep your emotions in check to the point that they don't get in the way of what you're trying to do, you're probably high in Emotional Control. This skill involves making positive statements to yourself, suppressing negative self-statements, and even delaying immediate gratification while you pursue more important long-term goals.

If you're high in Emotional Control, you would not be easily sidetracked, would tend to get the job done, would be unemotional and cool under pressure, would be able to resist temptations that might lead you astray, would not easily be discouraged, and would be resilient in the face of setbacks. If you're strong in Emotional Control, you'd tend to find something positive in a negative performance review, be able to bounce back after an emotional upset, and be able to psych yourself up to make a phone call you dread.

If you're low in Emotional Control, you can be overly emotional and sensitive to criticism. You might go into a situation expecting to fail, tell yourself this is the worst presentation you've ever done, or find yourself dwelling all day on criticism you received in the morning. A common sign of low Emotional Control is having difficulty controlling anger, irritability, and frustration.

Skill 4: Sustained Attention

Sustained Attention is about having the ability to stick with something. It's the capacity to maintain attention to a situation or task. If you're high in Sustained Attention, you find it easy to stay on the task at hand, become immersed in that task, and screen out distractions. Even though you're tired at the end of the day, you'd rather complete the report you're writing because you know it will be easier to finish it now instead of beginning again the next day. You have a reputation for making deadlines because you can stick with things. Sustained Attention is having the capacity to maintain attention to a situation or task in spite of distractions, fatigue, or boredom. It's all about the ability to stay focused.

If you're weak in Sustained Attention, you have difficulty seeing things through to the end and can be easily distracted. People weak in Sustained Attention might have a performance review due in less than an hour but decide to check e-mail first. Or they might take work home to do over the weekend but save it for Sunday night, when they get sidetracked by a baseball game on television.

Skill 5: Task Initiation

If you tend to do something today rather than put it off until tomorrow, you're probably strong in Task Initiation, which is the ability to begin tasks or projects without procrastinating. Getting started on something would come easy for you, with an action orientation and propensity to get the job going without undue delay, in an efficient or timely fashion. You would tend to pay your bills as soon as you receive them and immediately tackle that project that is due in four weeks. You begin a task when you promised you would and generally hit the ground running as soon as you get to work.

If you're low in the skill of Task Initiation, you probably tend to procrastinate and are slow getting started on projects. You might seek that extra cup of coffee before getting down to work. You would also frequently (and with good intentions) prefer to start something tomorrow rather than today. There would always be something more interesting to do rather than start that project. Many high performers are weak in Task Initiation, especially at higher ranks in an organization.

Skill 6: Planning/Prioritization

This is the ability to create a road map to reach a goal. If you're strong in this Executive Skill, you can sequence priorities well and are efficient and clear-thinking. You probably make a list of steps required to complete a project and easily say no to a colleague's request for help if it means you can't finish your own project that's on a tight deadline. You're also able to decide between two courses of action based on the potential benefits of each. Planning/Prioritization involves being able to make decisions about what's important to focus on and what's not. It is the ability to identify and organize the steps needed to carry out your intentions or achieve a goal.

If you're low in this skill, you might not be sure where to start and be unsure of what's important, and can't seem to make plans. You tend to drop a well-thought-out project because a great new idea just presented itself or you have so much to do you can't decide what you should do next. Everything seems important, so it's not clear where you should start. At the end of the day, you have no clear idea of how you will spend the next day. This is a key strength found in high performers in information technology.

Skill 7: Organization

An easy clue to whether you are strong in Organization is how well you keep track of your belongings. If you're inclined to be neat and pay attention to detail, you most likely are strong in Organization, which is the ability to arrange according to a system. If your desk is generally tidy (and you naturally like it that way) and there are no piles of paper waiting to be filed, you're probably strong in Organization. If Organization is one of your strengths, everything has a place and you easily know where that place is.

If you're low in Organization, you're somewhat messy and routinely misplace or lose things. You don't maintain systems for organizing information, such as files, e-mail, or your in-box. You rely on others to find things you've misplaced. Everything does not have a normal place where it should be for you, and someone strong in Organization is likely to tell you where something goes.

Skill 8: Time Management

Time Management is the capacity to estimate how much time one has, to allocate it, and to stay within time limits and deadlines. It involves a sense that time is important. If you're strong in this skill, you tend to be efficient, able to meet deadlines, and methodical. When someone asks you how long it will take to complete a project, you can estimate the correct time within 90 percent accuracy. In the course of a day, you can juggle the tasks you need to accomplish so that most get completed and those that don't are the least important.

If you're weak in Time Management, you have difficulty meeting deadlines. The meetings you run don't start on time, run late, or often both. At the end of the day, you realize you didn't get done half of what you had planned because you consistently underestimated the amount of time it took to do something. You just know you can get somewhere at a certain time but never make it at that time. There's always a reason, be it traffic or weather, and frequently something took longer than expected.

Skill 9: Goal-Directed Persistence

If you succeed in most of the goals you set for yourself, you're probably strong in Goal-Directed Persistence, which is the capacity to have a goal and follow through with actions to achieve it. You can be expected to complete tasks you take on, and are able to define and achieve long-term goals. You don't let obstacles get in your way and always keep your eye on the ball, despite the efforts of those around you to draw you into activities unrelated to what you're trying to accomplish. You have the capacity to have a goal, follow through to the completion of the goal, and not be put off or distracted by competing interests.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Work Your Strengths by CHUCK MARTIN RICHARD GUARE PEG DAWSON Copyright © 2010 by Chuck Martin, Richard Guare, Peg Dawson. Excerpted by permission of AMACOM. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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