Your Success and Tiger Woods – Focus on Your Strengths

How can you increase your success at work?   Focus on your strengths.  While many have heard of the concept, most people still find it to be revolutionary when they take the time to learn more about it and how to apply it to themselves.

Most people spend a lot of time focused on their areas for improvement, under the misguided assumption that will significantly improve performance. Of course, they are often getting the feedback that’s what they need to do.  However, developing people’s strengths has a much greater impact on a company’s bottom line than focusing on improving their weaknesses.   The obvious exception is when a weakness is so glaring that it can’t be ignored. (For example, a complete inability to get along with others.)

The best way I’ve found to explain this concept is through Tiger Woods.  (Note: I am only focusing on Tiger Wood’s golf; not his personal life!)  Apparently, while he excels in other areas of golf, his weakness is his ability to chip out of a sand trap. Instead of spending long hours trying to improve that, he spent a minimal amount of time working on it so that it would not ruin his overall game. Then, he spent much more time perfecting his greatest strength, his swing.  Applying this to the work place would revolutionize most managers’ ideas of developing their people and themselves.

Why do it?
Besides improving your performance, it also strengthens your confidence.  And circling right back to success, confidence is correlated as closely to success as competence is.  Research shows women have a lot less confidence than men, frequently underestimating their abilities (read “The Confidence Code” by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman) This is why we teach women how to apply their strengths in the women’s leadership program I run, Platinum Exchange.  (more info on the program here).

Discovering everyone’s’ strengths are also a great way to develop a team—besides increasing everyone’s performance, it helps define roles, it increases appreciation for others and increases trust as people get to know their teammates better.  I have conducted many team development programs based on strengths.

How to start:
I recommend “Now, Discover your Strengths” by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton. Based on the Gallup study of over two million people, they came up with definitions for areas of strengths.  You can take an on-line assessment to find your top 5 strengths.

Then what?
The strengths from the assessment are fairly broad and applicable to many settings.  Examples are:  Relator defined as someone who enjoys close relationships with others and someone who finds deep satisfaction in working hard with friends to achieve a goal.  Learner—someone with great desire to learn who wants to continuously improve. In particular, the process of learning, rather than the outcome, excites them.

Figuring out how to apply them and communicating it to others is the key to increasing your performance and confidence through your strengths.

I’ll give you some specific examples from clients I’ve worked with.  I coached a very talented engineer who wanted to be promoted.  Before that could happen, he needed to learn how to work cross-functionally with others in a closer way.  He was very shy, so just telling him to get to know people better wouldn’t do any good.  However, we took his “Learner” strength and set up lunch brown-bags to discuss technical topics, invited people from other functions and made connections in this way.

In another situation, we were doing a team development process with a Sales group.   In addition to achieving the goals of building a stronger team, they had some very specific goals they needed to accomplish.  One woman took her “Relator” strength and used it to implement specific sales processes and procedures across the company.  She was very effective at this because she had forged strong relationships with those people and enjoyed working with them.

Finally, I was coaching a woman on how to best utilize her team members.  We did the Strength Finder with all of her direct reports.  Two of them had historically not found a lot in common.  The assessment results confirmed that they had very opposite dominant strengths.  One was Restorative, defined as being adept at dealing with problems. They are good at figuring out what is wrong and resolving it.  The other was Futuristic– inspired by the future and what could be. They inspire others with their visions of the future.  Having this language both helped them to appreciate the others’ strengths and consciously work together on projects to balance each other out.

If you want to learn more about applying your and/or your team’s strengths to increase success, contact me at or go to

Do you know women leaders in Corporate America who would like to increase their leadership skills?

We are taking registration for the Fall 2015 Platinum Exchange Women’s Leadership Program

Only $5,000 if you sign up before May 31, 2015

From one of the managers of Platinum Exchange graduates:

“Here in the SuccessFactors Engineering team we have been delighted that the Platinum Exchange Women in Leadership Program provides an excellent environment for our female software engineering managers to learn from experienced business leaders, gain objective mentoring, establish contacts with other women leaders in similar circumstances across a variety of industries, and improve their grounding and overall effectiveness in leading their engineering teams. Because the participants are our leaders, our whole organization benefits, not just the individual program participants.”

Platinum Exchange is a leadership development program designed for high-potential women in corporations.  It provides an opportunity to increase specific leadership skills, while networking with and learning from other successful corporate women from such companies as Autodesk, Cadence,  eBay, SAP, McKesson, Bank of America and Kaiser Permanente.  The program consists of four monthly facilitated workshops, combined with one-on-one executive coaching sessions.   We have a program starting in October 2015 in the Silicon Valley and in the San Francisco area.

In terms of results, 95% of participants from past workshops achieved the career goals they set for themselves at the beginning of the program, and 100% of those who wanted to get promotions did so.

The total investment is: only $5,000 if you sign up before May 31; $5,500 or  $5,000 if 3 or more women from your organization attend. To learn more about the program, go to

Contact Kerrie Halmi at or 510-336-0654 for more information.

Thank you to our hosting sponsors: Cadence and Autodesk.

Check out

Listen to my Podcast on Women in Business
From my host, Amiel Handelsman There’s something special about women’s leadership–and it’s not what you think.
If you’re a woman, women’s leadership can feel like my world–or, perhaps, our world. It’s the planet you inhabit 24/7.
If you’re a man, women’s leadership can feel like their world. It’s a distant planet you occasionally visit.
So, which is it?
Both. Women’s leadership is all of our world. When women lead skillfully, our organizations prosper, and all of us within them experience greater engagement. When women lead poorly–or aren’t matched well to opportunities–we all lose.

In Episode 8 of The Amiel Show, Kerrie Halmi and I discuss:

  • 8:15 Why it’s useful for women to build their leadership skills together with other women
  • 13:30 How to advocate for yourself and get sponsors to do the same
  • 23:00 How everyone benefits from women in positions of leadership
  • 26:00 Men supporting women’s success in corporate America
  • 30:30 Why and how to strategically network
  • 42:00 The power of “superconnectors”
  • 49:30 What Kerrie is deliberately practicing in her life

“You have to let senior leaders know what you’ve done for them.”
—Kerrie Halmi  Tweet this quote

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