Spotting Hidden Talents in the Workplace

People love superhero stories in part because we all wish we had special powers beyond the ordinary. Yet every day we overlook or undervalue special talents in ourselves and others that are as useful in our lives as X-ray vision or super strength. 

In an article in the Harvard Business Review, “Why Talented People Don’t Use Their Strengths,” author and executive coach Whitney Johnson writes that, based on her observations, the problem is less that we don’t know what we’re good at, but that “we often undervalue what we inherently do well.” That makes us less likely to appreciate those abilities as special, and may also make it less likely that our employers know about them.

Johnson identifies our “superpowers” as things we do “effortlessly, almost reflexively, like breathing.” We could all do well to pay more attention, and truly value, the things that we do effortlessly. People in charge of teams can also use this advice to identify the special strengths of team members, especially those skills that are not being used to full capacity in a person’s current role.   

Here are three questions Johnson suggests for leaders trying to identify those superpowers: 

What exasperates you?” 

When you get frustrated with others for being slow at something, it may be that this is an area of particular strength for you. 

“What compliments do you dismiss?”

If a talent seems like “nothing” to you, but is special to someone else, perhaps you are undervaluing that ability. 

“What do you think about when you have nothing to think about?” The things that your brain focuses on might indicate a particular talent. 

To read the article, and learn more about Johnson’s work, click HERE

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