Playing to Your Strengths



Leadership Institute: A Year of Advancement

Leadership Institute: A Year of Advancement, is an ongoing series that shares the experiences of our 15 cohort members as they focus on developing their leadership and management skills through monthly workshops.

Finding Your Strengths

The key to being successful in any job, is knowing your strengths and weaknesses. During our February Leadership Institute session, we tackled the tricky subject of self-awareness and working with others. Leading up to the session, we all took a Strength Finders to determine our top five strengths—my results were competition, achiever, learner, command, and maximizer. In addition to that, I spent time reflecting on how I work with my colleagues at Chicago Cares, how I am perceived within the office, and how to improve upon my weaknesses. In an effort to be our very best, we all want to be well rounded. Yet, that isn’t what Strength Finders would say makes us our best.

The thing about your strengths is that they are unique to you. They are talents you have taken the time to invest in, to develop, and turn into strengths. By focusing on our strengths, we are actually maximizing ourselves using our talents more efficiently. At face value, this concept seems counter intuitive, it is the very thing we have all been told not to do. It goes against every instinct we have to improve ourselves, but if you truly take the time and make the commitment to your strengths, you’ll be centered on the things that make you your best. At the end our guest speaker session, we were told a mantra to keep in mind moving forward “I use my strengths every day, I use my strengths every day, I use my strengths every day,” and I think this was a great piece of advice. Your strengths are with you every day no matter what, so make sure you are maximizing them.

Applying Strengths

After the session, I spent a lot of time thinking, how do I practically apply what I’ve learned about my strengths to my work environment? How do I take the competitive side of me and turn that into a daily positive? As someone who thinks he’s racing everyone on the lakefront path, it doesn’t always seem practical in a work setting. Recognizing that there are pros and cons of my strengths ultimately seemed the best way to move forward. Understanding there are ways I can frame my strengths to help others on my team to get the best out of me is an empowering exercise. Not only does it allow me to reflect on how I work within a team environment, but it also allows me to set myself and my team up for success.

Going through this process was a great reminder to invest my talents, hone my skills, and build upon my strengths. Remembering that strengths are with you every day is crucial to not only your work life, but your personal life. Balancing work and life is often a struggle for so many of us, and we feel swamped with work more often than most of us would like to admit. Applying my strengths to my personal life, helps me even-out my work life balance; the very same strengths that make me a valuable asset in the office, can be valuable to me outside of the office. Embracing my strengths will be a process, but like we were told, I will continue to use my strengths every day.


Jason Schultz is the Associate Director of Corporate Relations at Chicago Cares. Jason connects corporate employees to volunteer projects that build a stronger Chicago, and is a member of the 2017 Leadership Institute Cohort.


Learn more about the 2017 Leadership Institute Cohort here, and stay tuned for next year’s applications to open fall 2017.