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BW Businessworld

Book Review: Know Your Strength

Corporations the world over are obsessed with performance management or what some of us call as getting the most out of people. A fair expectation especially when in the competitive world people are being compensated well.

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By Sanjiv Kataria
Corporations the world over are obsessed with performance management or what some of us call as getting the most out of people. A fair expectation especially when in the competitive world people are being compensated well.

StandOut 2.0: Assess Your Strengths, Find Your Edge, Win at Work (HBR Press) builds on unconventional insight of author Marcus Buckingham and his colleagues at Gallup presented 15 years ago that although the world’s best managers have different styles, personalities and methods they all worked on ‘managing people weaknesses’ and ‘leveraging people strengths’. Even though most companies buy into strengths-based approach to people management, almost all performance appraisal systems focus on plugging the skill gap.

StandOut assessment is designed to help a reader find her edge and win at work because few care about “What is my genius?”, “What am I drawn to do naturally?” “What makes me what I am?”, “What makes me who I am?” simply because a typical workplace is surrounded by people who happily offer well-meaning advice to “try this”, “you have to do it this way” and “be like that”.

Sustained success comes only when you take what’s unique about you and figure out how to make it useful. If you don’t remember your strengths, if you don’t understand them, they will come out anyway but you won’t be in control of how they do, says the author who along with his team built StandOut strengths assessment to help take on these challenges.

The author’s work based on StrengthFinder assessment taken up by over 9 million people presents nine distinct strength roles ­— Advisor, Connector, Creator, Equaliser, Influencer, Pioneer, Provider, Stimulator and Teacher — validated by a quarter million assessments. Of these, the author suggests picking the top two strength roles.

Nearly two-thirds of the book is devoted to defining each of the nine strength roles in detail, helping describe strengths of role holder with examples of how to make an immediate impact, things to watch out for. Tips on how to win as a leader, as a manager, as well as how to win in sales and in client service situations come with vividly explained examples. The most endearing part of the book, a bulleted section on ‘How to manage me’ for each role holder, empowers an employee to articulate to her boss signals that keep her most charged.

The book has two takeaways for readers: 1) Be aware of your strengths, keep them in focus and don’t lose sight of them. 2) Look for innovations — better techniques, better way of doing things, novel ideas — that can be applied. Be careful to transfer innovation to a person who possesses the same strengths as the person who created it in the first place. What is effective and authentic in the hands of one person looks forced, fake and foolish in the hands of another.

Kataria served as a brand custodian at NIIT, is a strategic communication and PR counsel

(This story was published in BW | Businessworld Issue Dated 14-12-2015)


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