Find Your Strengths Among Your Team


imageYour willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing. Use the pain as fuel, as a reminder of your strength.” — August Wilson

As a parting gift at the end of one of my projects, I wanted everybody to walk away with their list of personal strengths.

Not just a list that I made up, or their own list, but a list of strengths through the eyes of the team.

I wanted everybody to know exactly how the other team members valued them.

Know Your Strengths for Future Adventures

I wanted each person to have a new lens on their strengths that they could carry forward for their future adventures.

I’m a fan of focusing on strengths, but part of that means knowing what your strengths are, as you see them, and as others see them.  I know too many people with hidden talents, simply because they just don’t know how valuable their skills and strengths are to the situation or to other people.

A Simple Process for Finding Strengths on the Team

I kept the process simple.  I sent an email to my distributed team around the world, and then compiled the results, and shared with the team.   It was nothing fancy, but it meant a lot to each person on the team because it was real.

How I Asked for Everyone to Identify Strengths

Here is the simple mail I sent to my team:

For today … Take 15 or so minutes to …
… send me 3 unique strengths for each person, you’ve seen demonstrated during the project.

The Results Are In …

Here are the results …

(I’m included in the results, but for privacy I used “teammate” as a place holder for each team member)


  • Driving project forward
  • Providing vision for the end result
  • Making decisions quickly and efficiently
  • Effective leadership
  • Drive to execute
  • People management
  • Vision for customer impact and results
  • PM ability to manage multiple threads and bring them together at the right time
  • Framing out new areas, new chapters, guide structure, etc. So that the team can follow behind.
  • Management
  • Vision
  • Architecture
  • Keeping things on track
  • leadership/ mentoring
  • Political interference for team
  • Visionary
  • Great networking skills
  • Good mentor
  • Always knows what he wants. Driven by a vision.
  • Has a positive vibe that infuses confidence in the team
  • Very vocal

Teammate 1

  • Reliable
  • Consistent
  • Pragmatic
  • Seems to be knowledgeable about architecture
  • Consistently working on updating docs
  • Work ethic and speed
  • Persistence
  • Discipline
  • Technical
  • Feedback
  • Writing
  • Good at reviewing and asking questions
  • Good at filling out documents to get something to start with
  • Eye for details
  • Committed
  • Strive for Project Goals
  • All round performer.
  • Does a good job with the tasks assigned to him.

Teammate 2

  • Fast
  • Reliable
  • Consistent
  • Writing skills
  • Accuracy of details
  • Team player
  • Video creation
  • Ability to learn new tech areas
  • Familiarity with MS and p&p
  • Editing
  • Writing
  • New Technologies
  • Rewording and editing
  • Starting documents.  Getting something going.
  • Video creation
  • Fast in execution
  • Resourceful
  • Focused on task at hand
  • Very articulate.
  • Knows how to express practice in words.

Teammate 3

  • Fast
  • Results focused
  • Solution-oriented
  • Managing project when required
  • Steering others and confirming tasks and requirements
  • Technical skills
  • Perfectionist
  • Technical
  • Writing
  • Architecture
  • Pruning down text
  • Security experience
  • Team leadership
  • Knows to reduce the flab (compressor)
  • Quick at task in hand
  • Great sounding board
  • Frames crispier sentences from long-running paragraphs.
  • Driven by vision.
  • More or less knows/expects a given outcome from a task.

Teammate 4

  • Knowledge and experience of architecture
  • Fluent writer
  • Willing to provide assistance when required
  • Robust thinking
  • Great experience
  • Open to new ideas
  • Technical skills
  • Influential
  • Problem-solving ability
  • Architecture knowledge
  • Patterns knowledge
  • Technical ability and information in head
  • Application development experience and wisdom
  • Standing up for useful over “marketing speak”
  • Good at technical knowledge
  • good reviewer
  • can talk in architecture lingo
  • Highly knowledgeable.
  • High motivation.

Teammate 5

  • Managing day to day activities
  • Planning and executing the plan
  • Producing and refining content
  • Hard working
  • Results focused
  • Solution-oriented
  • Motivation
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Big picture thinking
  • Understanding of the quality bar
  • Driving releases
  • Retains knowledge of old areas and can synthesize new knowledge into his existing framework
  • Collaboration
  • Writing
  • Technical
  • Only doing what needs to be done
  • finishing and shipping
  • positive attitude on how to deal with pressure
  • Gets stuff done one way or another.
  • Prioritizes tasks well.
  • Precise. Doesn’t like beating around the bush.

Teammate 6

  • Consistent work on improving content
  • Pragmatic
  • Ability to be wrong / no ego
  • Solution-oriented
  • Detail oriented and thorough
  • Customer focus, understands the right quality tradeoffs for customer impact
  • A good writer, his suggestions and changes are almost always very high quality
  • Feedback
  • Technical
  • Architecture

Teammate 7

  • Finding and maintaining contacts with reviewers and advisors
  • Maintaining consistency and eye for detail
  • Willing to help when required
  • Due diligence
  • Teamwork
  • Eager to learn
  • Networking
  • Team player
  • Willingness to do whatever is necessary or needed of him
  • Growing SEO knowledge
  • Interaction with and management of reviewers/contributors outside the team
  • SEO
  • Collaboration
  • Writing
  • Great passion and energy
  • Good marketing skills
  • Striving to improve himself
  • Great team player
  • Wants to be involved in everything.
  • Process based.
  • Loves Visio and drawing figures.:)

Some people were surprised by the strengths that others saw in them.   Some were deeply touched.  Everyone felt stronger with a clear picture of what they brought to the table and how they were valued for their contribution.


  1. Would you take your strengths listed there and compare that to another list somewhere of strengths found through other means? I’m just wondering if you’d aggregate the data rather than leave things in separate piles. I could see it being useful to have that feel good moment of thinking of how members of the team see each other and can know what kinds of things to either keep those traits that resonate with them or work on areas that weren’t as noticed.

    For example, I’ve often been called a smart person, someone that is almost always thinking. For me, this is just as natural as breathing to have my mind be fed whatever is around and process away. I enjoy being that knowledgeable person but my next challenge is working on how to influence people which is a bit more challenging for me but does seem to be a logical step.

  2. We sometimes fail to see our own strength. Others can pick them up more easily and it makes our day brighter when someone inform us about our own strengths.


  3. That’s a wonderful gift to give to your team. We all need to know how we are viewed in other people’s eyes. It helps us get a better understanding of our selves. I like how someone called you visionary. I can see that very much in how you run this blog.

  4. Good exercise!!
    it’s amazing how sometimes teammates unaware of each other and this simple trick helps to better know and value your peers
    Good one!

  5. @ JB — The short answer is, I leave things in separate piles, but I look for patterns and trends. Personally, I treat it as another source of input and I look for surprises or reminders or blind spots. For example, the fact that somebody valued me for “Making decisions quickly and efficiently” tells me that might be an important distinction compared to other project leaders they’ve worked with.

    @ Vincent — You’re right. In fact, it took one of my close friends to point out a strength that I completely over-looked and undervalued, that turned out to be one of my most important assets.

    @ Karl — It’s the gift that keeps on giving. It’s priceless and yet, it costs nothing more than a brief exercise. Thank you for your kind words.

    @ Alik — People on the team really saw each other in a new light, when they looked through the “strengths” lens. I should have thought of it long ago. Better late than never 🙂

  6. Powerful exercise, I can imagine how empowered everyone felt after getting their results.
    “Always knows what he wants. Driven by a vision.” I can so see that in you too, JD.

  7. Hello J.D. –

    Good insight to find the strengths amongst the team members. A Project manager should know this to make the project successful. As each individual is different and is perfect in it’s own way. Sometimes team members are not aware about their hidden talents and such exercise helps to find hidden talents.

    Bye for now,

  8. I love the quote…that by itself is outstanding. The exercise reminds me of an exercise I did years ago at a church workshop. One person sat in the middle of a circle, the others in the circle expressed out loud the strenghts of that individual, the leader wrote the strengths down on a big sheet of paper and gave it to the person. Each person in the circle took a turn being in the middle. I’ll never forget that day.

    Being one of 10 kids I didn’t get a lot of attention. I believe I was affirmed more in that one day than I had been in my 30 years.
    Thanks for the memories.
    This is very powerful when done with a family as well.

  9. @ Lana — Powerful indeed. Thank you!

    @ Cheryl — It’s a great way to both unleash the latent talents and get the lead out 😉

    @ Tess — Yeah, this quote really struck a chord, with all the right notes. It sounds like the exercise you did in Church was powerful and way more positive than the Farmer in the Dell, where the cheese stands alone 😉

  10. Hi JD .. we hear what others say, but receive a different message .. the message we think we hear .. and that must be true for our strengths and weaknesses .. because weaknesses can be strong sometimes.

    I love your ‘very vocal’ strength .. I can hear you leading the conversation and discussion along – as you have a very clear vision of the areas of your life as seen via this blog.

    Tess’ experience must have truly impressed .. and working together -we do so much better as a team and helping each other.

    Thanks & have a good weekend .. Hilary

  11. @ Hilary — It’s a beautiful reminder that value is in the eye of the beholder. It’s also a reality check that the context or situation can really change what’s a strength vs. weakness. Have a great weekend, too!

  12. So true. For many people it’s a revelation to hear that they have strenghths. And we all have them. It is sad though that frequently we don’t know, or what’s more usual, we don’t believe in our own strenghths. I wonder whether this is due to some conditioning in early childhood. We seem to be so critical of ourselves that we lose sight of what’s good about us. Let’s celebrate what we are.

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