How to Help Others Discover Their Strengths

by | Jan 26, 2014 | Resilience When Life is Challenging | 0 comments

What do you say when someone asks you, “what should I do?” Or, “how should

Helping him find his own strengths will teach him something that lasts a lifetime.

Helping him find his own strengths will teach him something that lasts a lifetime.

I do it?”

As a leader, you probably get asked these questions all the time. Your employees, students or children look to you for leadership — and sometimes it’s easiest to tell them what YOU think they should do, or how YOU think they should do it.

I can relate. As parent, former manager and someone who now works with students, I know it’s easy and quick to offer my “expert” opinion. But that’s being a boss, not a leader.

Good leaders help people discover and play to their own strengths. While it may take a little longer, the time you spend is a great investment.

  • Helping kids discover their strengths will help them learn to navigate better through school, careers and the rest of their lives.
  • When you and your employees know their strengths, you’re better able to delegate based on what people enjoy and are good at. That leads to greater productivity and happier teams.

Helping others discover their strengths

Here are three ways you can help others discover their strengths.

  1. Ask them what energizes them. When we do what we love, we enjoy it, work hard at it and yet it feels like fun! A good question to ask is, “What makes you lose track of time?”
  2. Have them track their successes plus how they helped those successes happen. The really important part of this activity is what they did; this points directly to strengths.For instance, two students might call getting an ‘A’ on a paper a success, but one will have drawn on persistence and another curiosity, teamwork or love of learning. The What Went Well journal I’m giving away this month is designed to help anyone track their successes and how they made them happen.
  3. Have them take the VIA strengths assessment.VIA is the gold standard for measuring character strengths and there are versions for kids and adults. Sometimes it’s nice to get scientific evidence of your positive qualities!

Reinforcing strengths

The greatest feedback you can give someone is to acknowledge the inner strengths that led to positive behavior. It’s true that we get more of what we recognize, and as a leader who is encouraging others to play to their strengths, you can help by praising the strengths behind the success.

Rather than praising a perfect-looking report, commend your employee for the diligence and attention to detail that led to it.

Rather than praising an A, compliment the persistence, curiosity, teamwork or love of learning that helped make it happen.

What do you think?

Do you have any other ideas to share? Examples of how this has worked (or not worked) for you? How can I help?



Do you need kind, compassionate support to bounce back from a negative experience? If so, then get in touch with me now, and let’s make the most of your precious time, energy and love. 


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Kristen Carter

Kristen Carter, Certified coach, author, and breast cancer survivor. More

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