On the first day of CALLI, we talked broadly about leadership. Our second day was more inwardly focused. We looked at our strengths and thought about how we could tap into those strengths and think positively in terms of our strengths, rather than our weaknesses. All of this was based on the Strengths Finder 2.0 test, which we all took before attending CALLI.
Here are my top 5 strengths, based on the test, along with a brief description of what they mean:
Input™: Someone who always wants to know more. They can be collectors and archivers of all kinds of information. If you know any librarians, you will probably be unsurprised to know that this was a very popular strength in a room full of them.
Strategic™: Strategic people see many alternate ways to proceed. They see patterns and issues in any given scenario and often see the pitfalls in a plan before anyone else does.
Learner®: Someone with a desire to continuously learn and improve. The process of learning can be more exciting for them than the outcome. This was another very popular strength in a room full of librarians.
Intellection®: Someone who likes to think. They are introspective, and enjoy intellectual conversations. Another popular strength for librarians!
Developer®: Someone who sees the potential in others. They get satisfaction from mentoring and helping people improve.
Those were my strengths. While none of them were a surprise, there were some surprises for me after taking the test and reading the book. For instance, when I read about the Achiever® strength, I was surprised that it wasn’t one of my top 5–I’ve always been someone who loves productivity and checking things off the list, and I saw myself a lot in the description in the book. I was also surprised to see Competition® as a strength. As a fairly competitive person, and as a woman, I’ve always felt like that was something I was supposed to play down, rather than something to be thought of as a strength.
One of the things we talked about was that a lot of the strengths from the test were “soft skills”–things like Empathy™. Of course, this is a strength, but if you are a naturally empathetic person, you don’t necessarily see it as a strength. It’s just a part of who you are. I felt like that about my Developer® strength. I’ve always been a cheerleader of other people’s ideas and get excited about people doing well and helping them in any way I can. I just thought of it as an aspect of my personality, rather than a strength to bring to the table.
We talked about the fact that we tend to undervalue our strengths and over-focus on our weaknesses. Strengths Finder 2.0 encourages you to look at your strengths and build on them, rather than focusing on improving things you don’t have such a natural talent for. It made me remember that when I’m faced with something new, something that seems daunting, I should tap into my strengths to try and solve it, rather than dwelling on what I lack. It’s such an empowering way to look at the world, and at yourself. I’m really glad we took the Strengths Finder test as part of CALLI. If you’re at all interested, I definitely encourage you to give it a try. I think it would be a really great institutional thing to do, to see who in your workplace has which strengths, and who you could team up with to be more effective and make things happen.