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Focus on your strengths

After graduating college in 2012 I took my first “big girl” job with Target. I accepted a 18490191255_637cb33559_oposition as Senior Team Leader over hard lines (electronics, seasonal, toys and sporting goods.) I had never really managed people before, but leadership comes somewhat naturally to me.

I started extremely excited getting to lead team of about 12-15 employees and a couple times a week run the store as LOD (leader on duty). Over time I found myself navigating through difficult situations with staff and store issues, including two major power outages and a tornado briefly touching down on the store.

While I was being promised promotions soon and a successful career path with Target, there was something that just did not mesh with my values. I was often required to “coach” people on my team about things that were not real issues in an effort, by my superiors, to force them out. One example, was when I was asked to coach one of my employees about how she carried herself. I literally had to tell her to smile more.

This was so absurd to me. Why was I spending time and energy on how this girl’s face looked rather than what she was doing well and enhancing those strengths? Upon hiring and training my supervisor and I discovered my strengths and weaknesses. We then focused on my weaknesses, exclusively.

Their goal is to have every manager embody every strength rather than enhancing and utilizing what you are naturally good at. One strength I did not have and had no idea how to obtain was innovation. I had no authority to make changes that would be considered “innovative”, so how could I possibly attain this strength.

After 9 months I decided that this path was not for me. While I did not mind management, I felt I was not able to maximize my strengths. I did not want to lead a life focusing on my weaknesses.

Today, I am very aware of my strengths and weaknesses. However, I look at them so differently. I see my weaknesses as opportunities to partner with others who embody those weaknesses as their strengths. I see that while you can improve on your weaknesses you do not have to be good at everything.

I choose to lead my life confident in my abilities and focusing on what I am good at rather than beating myself up for what I am not good at. Life is so much more than your strengths and weaknesses, because as you get older and gain experiences your strengths will change. So, what will you choose to focus on? How will you view your strengths and weaknesses?

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