A decade ago, headlines were made around the world when Gallup Research reported only 2 out of every 10 people had the opportunity to do what they do best each day at work. This number sent shock waves through organizations around the globe as they were confronted with the sheer scale of untapped human potential sitting in most of their offices.
Fast-forward to today and the 2015 Strengths At Work Survey by best selling author and leading workplace wellbeing teacher Michelle McQuaid, suggests that there is a revolution underway with 5 out of every 10 people - an increase of 30% - now reporting they have the opportunity to do what they do best each day at work.
Who’s driving this change? It appears to be female employees.
While there is no doubt that leaders and their organizations have a newfound appreciation for strengths-focused management approaches, the survey suggests 49% of workplaces are still stuck obsessing over people’s weaknesses.
Instead the data indicates this is a revolution being driven by employees from the bottom-up and leading the charge are women. For example:
Having helped both women and men to discover and develop their strengths across many leading organizations in recent years, I have to agree with these numbers.
While I’ve seen both sexes reveling in the chance to understand and use their strengths more at work, there is something about this approach that gives women the permission to satisfy their deep craving for authenticity at the office. It allows them to value the often dismissed “softer” strengths they bring to organizations - like kindness, social intelligence and god forbid love – and gives them the opportunity to explore how to do more of this in their work.
Once their strengths have been unleashed, these women never look back.
Not surprisingly, the survey reports that women who have the opportunity to do what they best each day at work are more likely to enjoy going to work (68%) and to feel that they are making a difference and being appreciated (76%). Most importantly, 69% of these women describe themselves as flourishing at work over the last six months.
So how can you join this revolution?
If you can't name your top five strengths right now, discovering what they are is the best place to start. Take the free, ten minute survey at www.viacharacter.org and start to tune into the moments when you’re feeling engaged, energized and enjoying your work and notice which of these strengths you’re drawing on.
As you become clearer on your strengths, make some space to dream of what a strengths-fuelled future might comprise. Spend 15 minutes journaling a stream of consciousness to explore what the next year would look like if you could consistently use your strengths each day at work. Try to paint a vivid image that starts to pull you forward into action.
Then to turn this dream into a reality try to spend at least 10 minutes each day just doing what you do best. Pick a strength you want to develop, apply it to something work related and then reward yourself for your effort. For example, use your strength of curiosity to learn one new thing, your strength of gratitude to genuinely thank a client or a colleague or your strength of persistence to power through on a task you’ve been putting off. Check out this free e-book with more than 70 strength-development habit ideas.
The truth is it doesn’t matter if you’re a woman or a man, when it comes to using your strengths more at work, all you have to do is be willing to start.