Are You Seeing Clearly? The Case for Not Overusing Strengths with Hiring Managers

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Posted by Wendy Liberko

March 18, 2014

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The scene:  A Friday night Happy Hour crowd, seated around the outdoor patio of a restaurant along the Pacific.  Golden rays of sunshine are reaching out horizontally as time ebbs closer to sunset.

I’m seated looking North up the coast line with the sun on my left, when I see my friend walk onto the patio.  The sun’s golden rays catch in her blonde (newly highlighted) hair…  Both of her hands are raised as if in some type of salute practiced in another country.  Though, I quickly realize she is completely blinded by the sun.  For a brief period of time, those of us seated outside appear only as indistinct shapes as she tries to adjust her eyes.  I wave and call her name; it takes several attempts at sound and motion to catch her attention so riveted was she on the visual aspect of the scene.

My friend is very successful in her career, has an enviable world-class education…and yet she over-relied on her sight, not engaging other senses for a period of time due to the disorientation she felt at being unexpectedly blinded.  While this scene only played out maybe half a minute, (and let’s be honest, was rather comical), upon reflection it has reminded me of several instances in sporting events over the years where (I bet you can join me in reminiscing over) a favorite team’s over-reliance on a star player or play, a sports figure’s over-reliance on a club, throw or backhand…to the detriment of a game.

With so much written about identifying and capitalizing upon strengths as managers, employees, students, athletes, etc., I wanted to take this opportunity to provide a reminder of the “dark side” of strengths, namely, their overuse. From a big picture perspective, I saw this topic discussed in a Harvard Business Review article by Kaplan and Kaiser. From more of a prescriptive approach for a performance conversation or your own growth, I recommend investing in Korn Ferry’s Career Architect Portfolio Sort Cards. The cards provide information on over 60 competencies, providing a definition, as well as examples of not being skilled with, or to my point, overusing each skill in question.

Are there areas where you are over relying on a skill, to a fault?  A manager, peer, mentor, employees, team members or a partner at home can likely provide you with this insight if nothing is coming easily on your own.  Once you master a tendency to over rely on a strength, I know your future will be so bright, you will need to wear shades!

This blog was written by Wendy Liberko, Yoh’s Senior Director of Training and Quality.  Wendy brings wide and deep related experience to her role, along with formal education.  Writing from Southern California, Wendy invites you to get involved and to share your employee engagement ideas!

Topics: HR Strategies, Hiring Tips

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