Strengths: Things you excel at due to natural and/or learned ability
Interests: Things you are curious/excited/passionate about learning and knowing more about
Often in the workplace there is a belief that strengths and interests are one and the same. If you excel at something, you probably enjoy doing it. After all, most people do like the feeling they get from doing good work.
However, ask any seasoned parent how proficient they got at changing diapers and they’ll probably tell you they can do it with their eyes closed. Then ask them how happy they were when their kid was finally potty trained.
Our strengths are not always things we enjoy doing. Sometimes it stinks to do them, figuratively and literally.
As leaders it is important to remember this and do your best to recognize both the strengths and interests of the people in your team.
The best combination is always when someone’s strengths and interests are aligned. The person can feel good about doing something well while also enjoying their work.
However, sometimes there may be a disconnect that must be balanced delicately.
You may need to leverage the strength for the benefit of the team, but be aware of its impact on the person. Put them in the position of utilizing this strength too often and they will come to dread their work, no matter how well they do it and they may lose touch with the team’s goals.
Be open to letting your team come to you with their interests as well. See if you can work with them to grow them into strengths. Not only will you have more skills on your team to meet goals, but the members of your team will find new fulfillment in their work.