It's All About Your Strengths

It's All About Your Strengths

Jul 21
Jennifer Shike, Director for Communications and Marketing

It’s a myth that we can be anything we want to be if we just work hard. I’m sorry, but with my 5’ 2” frame and two left feet, there’s no way I’m going to be a great basketball player. No matter how hard I try. I find it interesting that we spend so much time as a society encouraging everyone that they can do whatever they want in life if they work hard enough. It’s just not true.

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t hope. We just need to turn our attention away from our weaknesses and focus on our strengths.

Last month, I attended “Strengths Based Leadership” at the 2014 National Agricultural Alumni and Development Association (NAADA)’s national conference and gained many great insights from speaker Richard J. Rateau from Penn State.

We took a new leadership version of Gallup’s StrengthsFinder program online and walked away with our top five strengths to help us move forward and improve our effectiveness as a leader.

Our speaker said we grow most in the areas we are already strong. He defined “strength” as knowledge + skills + talents. Knowledge is learned. Skills are teachable. Talents are naturally occurring traits. Essentially we can be anything our strengths allow us to be, he said.

In the book, “Strengths Based Leadership,” by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie, the authors say, “…Sure, many leaders can get by or are above average in several domains. But paradoxically, those who strive to be competent in all areas become the least effective leaders overall.”

Call me a leadership-junkie, but I enjoy books and speakers on this topic because let’s face it, we all lead at some point during our lifetime.  And leadership isn’t for the faint of heart.

One of the things I enjoy most about working in the College of ACES is the support we receive to keep learning and develop as professionals in our field. I always look forward to summer and heading out to professional development conferences like NAADA where I can be challenged to grow and improve.

Enjoy the rest of your summer!


(Pictured above, from left) Jennifer Shike, ACES director for communications and marketing and NAADA Communications Track Chairman; Tara Anderson, ACES alum and NAADA Volunteer Track Chairman; and Tina Veal, ACES director of alumni relations.