Your strengths aren’t always your superpower

SuperPowers

There’s a difference!

As participants arrived at our final ever Powrsession last week, we asked them to do the usual: jot their name and top strength on a sticky label. Also, as per usual, those damn labels immediately re-stuck themselves into everyone’s hair – if those sticky squares frustrate you as much as us, you’re probably doing it wrong. 🙄

But we digress. 

There are twenty individual strengths in the free High5 test. However, the same strength appears repeatedly on those (annoyingly) sticky labels: Delivery. This phenomenon has got us thinking: why are women leaders so good at doing?

Doing: the default mode of high-achieving women?

Our top strengths aren’t fixed. They combine natural inclination and situational requirements, evolving and changing as our lives do. 

Most women leaders are task-rich and time-poor. A relentless combination of career, caregiving, relationships, life events, and household load can quickly lead to burnout. What’s the smart solution? Focus on getting sh*t done as efficiently as possible. 

We hone our delivery skills every day – we have to keep our to-do lists (and sanity) under control. All that honing leads to Delivery sneaking its way up our strengths lists – until it makes a regular appearance in the top 5. 

We see you, deliverers… and so does everyone else

When we ask Powrsuiters to share a short, three-minute story about themselves, more often than not, a group of perfect strangers can accurately identify their top strengths after that one story. 

Our point? You are not, as one Powrsuiter puts it, ‘an enigma wrapped in a mystery’. In fact, your strengths can be incredibly obvious. Your ability to deliver is apparent to everyone around you, meaning you’ll be called upon to use it. All. The. Time.

See what’s happening here? You are the product of network effects: as you hone your delivery skills, they become more valuable to others, which leads to you using them more, which results in further honing.

This positive spiral is powerful until we ask one simple question: do you actually enjoy delivery?

Superpower = strength + joy

For years, we’ve been the go-tos for, well, almost anything related to delivery. Upcoming social event? Sorted. Complex project? Easy. Impossible deadline? Consider it in hand. Our ability to deliver was a source of pride – and the source of a lot of extra work

But, once we started to really think about it… we realised that while we were very good at it, we didn’t actually enjoy delivery – at least not all the time. 

Just because you have a strength doesn’t mean you always love using it.

Finding your superpowers

Take a minute and pretend you’re Marie Condo. Think about work that sparks joy – the things that leave you feeling fulfilled, stretched and excited. For Kristen, it’s standing on a stage and engaging with an audience (#Storyteller); for Nat, it’s figuring out what the future looks like and how to get there (#Strategist). Your joy could be sparked by coaching others, focused deep work, learning or getting new initiatives off the ground. The strengths you flex during this work are your superpowers. They don’t just uniquely position you to add value to the world; they bring meaning and enjoyment to your life.

Time for a rebrand?

We’ve spoken before about unconscious bias – the human need to categorise everything quickly to make sense of the world. Your stories, when filtered through bias, mean people are always putting you in a box. As Kristen would say, if you’re not telling people who you are, they will fill in the blanks.

If you want to use your superpowers more, it’s up to you to make sure people know about them.

Remember how we said strangers can identify someone’s top strengths from one simple story? There’s an important lesson here: every time we deliver an elevator pitch or share stories about our lives, our strengths shine through. The simplest way to ensure people see your superpowers is to showcase them. And, as people around you become more aware of your superpowers, you’ll get more opportunities to use them.

So, the next time you introduce yourself or answer questions in a job interview, think before you speak: what superpowers do I want to shine through?

Ps. Wondering why it was our last Powrsession? We’ve taken everything we’ve learned and are applying it to our new Membership Network!

Take action

Review your top five strengths from the free High 5 test. Identify 1-3 that spark the most joy.

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