How To Leverage Your Hidden Strengths



“Success is achieved by developing our strengths, not by eliminating our weaknesses.” — Marilyn vos Savant

What if you had potential leadership skills already within you, waiting to be developed?

You already do.

The key is to find those hidden leadership strengths and develop them.

Rather than focus on just your top 20% of strengths, you can develop your Hidden Strengths to become more well-rounded with an edge.

Developing your Hidden Strengths is also a way to realize your potential, operate at a higher level, and create an unfair advantage with your unique skills and abilities.

In the book, Hidden Strengths: Unleashing the Crucial Leadership Skills You Already Have, Thuy Sindell and Milo Sindell share an approach for developing your hidden strengths into learned strengths.

Why Focus on Your Hidden Strengths?

If you only focus on your Natural Strengths (your top 20% of skills), then you leave a lot of potential on the table.  You miss out on taking advantage of  a wider range of skills that you have to offer.

Thuy and Milo write:

“Unlike Natural Strengths, identifying and transforming your Hidden Strengths into Learned Strengths are actions you control and drive. 

You decide how to evolve, grow, and change to meet the demands of the world around you. 

We look at this as not only empowering but exciting!  Even if the stars don’t align and endow you with all the right Natural Strengths, you can still become a leader and top performer in your chosen field. 

The first critical step is an awareness of your Hidden Strengths.”

Natural Strengths Defined

Your Natural Strengths are where your talents, knowledge, and skills come together naturally.

Thuy and Milo write:

“The subject of strengths in both popular and business culture has been a positive force helping raise the bar on personal and professional development. 

In Now, Discover Your Strengths (the book that ostensibly created the strengths movement, Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton define a strengths as a combination of the following:

  1. Your talents (natural traits or propensities)
  2. The knowledge required (both content/classroom-related and experiential)
  3. The skills (or steps) you need to actually do it.”

Natural Strengths are Your Top 20% of Skills

Your Natural Strengths make up about 20% of your overall skill set.

Thuy and Milo write:

“When these three components–talents, knowledge, and skills–come together naturally, we call it a Natural Strength. 

What is the likelihood of this occurring?

The answer is about 20 percent–as in your top 20 percent of skills.”

Focus on Natural Strengths Over Weaknesses

While you should eliminate or reduce weaknesses that are liabilities, you’ll be more successful and effective in work and life by focusing on your Natural Strengths.

Or, to put it another way, don’t spend all of your time in your weaknesses.

That’s not where you’ll shine.

Thuy and Milo write:

“Understanding what you are naturally good at is very valuable in finding the right job or career path. 

The more overlap there is between what you are required to do and what you are inherently good at, the easier your life will be

Conversely, finding yourself in situations where you are forced to rely on your Weaknesses–meaning areas where you have no talents, knowledge, or skills–will make it much more difficult to be successful in your chosen profession. 

From a job security and personal well-being standpoint, you should not be in a role that requires you to rely heavily on your Weaknesses.”

Develop Your Middle 70% Strengths into the Top of Your Skill Set

If you identify your middle set of leadership skills, those that are not quite in the top 20%, but that you show potential in, you can develop them into strengths.

The cumulative effect will amplify your impact and give you more options in more scenarios to apply your strengths.

Thuy and Milo write:

“Developing Hidden Strengths is fairly straightforward.  Anybody can do it!

First, it requires identifying which of your skills fall in the middle 70 percent range.  You can find the Hidden Strengths Self-Assessment to help you with this first step at 

Second, you must identify which of your Hidden Strengths you want to focus on (there will be many to choose from!), depending on your professional goals. 

Third, with practice and focus, you can begin to develop those Hidden Strengths and move them from the middle 70 percent to the top of your skill set.”

Example of Hidden Leadership Skills

Jenny didn’t realize that she could potentially be a great leader, and she could take on more leadership roles.  She never knew her potential was already there, just waiting to be realized and put to good use.

Thuy and Milo write:

“Take this example: Jenny is an individual contributor in the Finance Department.  She has a natural talent for Influencing Others, but she has never had the opportunity to use it. 

To unleash this Hidden Strength, she needs the knowledge and skills to reveal it

But what if her boss never gives her the opportunity to lead? 

Because she is not familiar with the existence of this Hidden Strength, she may never ask for leadership responsibility, resulting in a lost opportunity to grow into a leadership role.”

Example of Hidden Leadership Skills Developed into Learned Strengths

Reese knew he had leadership skills, but he also knew he would have to work at it.  By working on his latent leadership skills his boss knows Reese will be ready when the time comes or leadership opportunities present themselves.

Thuy and Milo write:

“Here’s another case to consider: Reese, a middle manager in a paper factory, is intent on moving up the career ladder. 

At the moment, his Natural Strengths seem to be well aligned with his job, but he is ambitiously focused on what comes next.  He takes the Hidden Strengths assessment and discovers that Influencing Others is one of his Hidden Strengths. 

He sees how this skill would be helpful if he were to be promoted to regional manager, so he takes the time to learn about it and practice developing it. 

Unfortunately, influencing others doesn’t come naturally to him–it’s not a talent–but with time and experience, he develops the knowledge and skills to be quite influential. 

Influencing Others becomes a Learned Strength for him, and by practicing on the job, he has proven to his boss that he’s ready for more leadership responsibility.”

The 28 Hidden Strengths at a Glance

You can think of the Hidden Strengths as a set of leadership skills.  The leadership skills are grouped into four themes: Leading Self, Leading Others, Leading the Organization, and Leading Implementation.

You can develop these leadership skills through practice and feedback to round-out your ability to lead yourself, lead others, lead an organization, or drive execution and make things happen.

Here are the 28 skills or Hidden Strengths according to Thuy  Sindell and Milo Sindell:

Leading Self Emotional Control
Executive Presence
Work / Life Balance
Leading Others Assertiveness
Conflict Resolution
Influencing Others
Partnering and Relationship Building
Teamwork and Collaboration
Verbal Communication
Leading the Organization Creativity and Innovation
External Awareness
Inspirational Vision
Organizational Awareness
Service Motivation
Strategic Thinking
Leading Implementation Coaching and Mentoring
Customer Focus
Monitoring Performance
Planning and Organizing

The middle 70% of your strengths is fertile ground to realize your potential and become all that you’re capable of.

Enjoy your new playground of possibility.

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