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Learn to be successful in your career by playing to your strengths.
This is a guest post by Chuck Martin. If you’d also like to guest post here on JobMob, follow these guest post guidelines.
Chuck's latest book is Work Your Strengths, based on a 2-year global study he conducted with the help of more than 100 researchers to determine the cognitive characteristics of high performing people in business.
Tomorrow (June 23, 2010 at 9pm Israel time, 2pm EST) on JobMob, I will announce a quick, easy-to-win contest where I will be giving away free copies of the book. Don't miss it!
Everyone is born with a set of cognitive functions called “Executive Skills”, because they help people execute tasks.
There are 12 of these skills and certain ones are found more frequently than others in certain jobs or functions.
Each person typically has 2 or 3 of these brain functions that they are strong in and 2 or 3 that are their inherent weaknesses.
These skills are:
1) Response Inhibition
The ability to think before you act.
2) Working Memory
The ability to hold information in memory while performing complex tasks.
3) Emotional Control
Ability to manage emotions to achieve a goal or complete tasks.
4) Sustained Attention
Capacity to maintain attention to a task in spite of distractibility.
5) Task Initiation
Ability to start projects with undue procrastination.
Capacity to develop a roadmap to arrive at a destination or goal.
Ability to arrange or place according to a system.
8) Time Management
Capacity to estimate how much time one has and allocate it well.
9) Goal-Directed Persistence
Capacity to have a goal and follow through to completion.
Ability to revise plans in face of setbacks.
Capacity to stand back and take a bird’s-eye view of yourself to make changes in how you solve problems.
12) Stress Tolerance
Ability to thrive in stressful situations.
It is likely that you can read the descriptions and determine most of your own strengths and weaknesses. Always on time? Strong in Time Management. Speak too soon? Low in Response Inhibition. And so on.
If a certain job matches a person’s strengths, it is what we call a goodness of fit situation. And when this happens, the job is much more natural for the person since the tasks align with how the person’s brain is hardwired from birth.
When certain jobs require what are a person’s inherent weaknesses, those are called effortful tasks since they are unnatural for that person.
Sooner or later in a career, a person will generally come across both situations, those that fit their Executive Skills and those that don’t.
The key for career success is knowing which situation is which and acting accordingly.
For example, when certain jobs require a person’s weaknesses, there are several options:
The ultimate solution is to maneuver into positions that play to strengths. This works for interacting with and managing others as well.
Along a career, a person will meet people with some of the same strengths as well as some with the same weaknesses as them. Career success can depend on who gets which tasks and who faces the best ‘goodness of fit’ situations.
Those with a match of Executive Skills strengths and job can end up as the perfect fit.
Chuck Martin is a New York Times business best-selling author, noted researcher, speaker and business strategist. He is the Director of the Center for Media Research, MediaPost Communications in New York and CEO of NFI Research, where he surveys senior executives and managers around the world on a regular basis. He has written eight business books including Work Your Strengths. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, his Web site is www.nfiresearch.com and you can follow him on Twitter at @chuckmartin1.
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