Maximize your potential: play to your strengths

Mika Aldaba
4 min readMay 2, 2023


Alongside 30 top young professionals in Denmark, I was selected to join the Female Leadership Academy. In this programme, we will attend 6 workshops hosted by 6 companies in Copenhagen. I will write about what we did and everything I learned through our activities.

In our first session, we had a discussion about our FirstMind test results, the importance of utilizing our strengths at work and learned about the advantages of positive feedback.

Why should I focus on my strengths? Shouldn’t I be focused on working on my weak points? There are more advantages into spending time developing on our natural abilities instead of wasting energy into talents where we might just plateau. Focusing on things that come easily to us can also help us stand out in a crowded field. For companies, strengths-based development increases employee engagement by up to 15%, sales by up to 19% and profits by up to 29%.

New Career Paths according to my Strengths Profile

Prior to the session, we were sent a quick 15 minute personality test where we chose which statements aligned more with ourselves.

My results were:

  1. Innovative (96): You generate ideas easily and are driven by finding new solutions or opportunities, making you the focal point of the team.
  2. Disciplined (81): You value predictability and order and are highly reliable, delivering high-quality work within agreed-upon timelines.
  3. Contextual (67): You seek to understand the history and underlying patterns behind situations to make logical decisions and communicate coherence to others.
  4. Strategic (67): You have a strategic perspective and can play out multiple scenarios to find the best plan, making you a good advisor and seeing repercussions more clearly.
  5. Targeted (67): You are driven to achieve goals and have a high level of energy, making you productive and reliable, but you may need to align objectives with your team and celebrate victories.

My lowest skills were in adaptability, empathy, control, positivity and individualizing. It aligns with some of my feedback from my colleagues on what I could potentially work on.

There are top skills that will remain constant throughout our lives. However, we can always work on our other skills and we can always improve depending on what is demanded by our responsibilities and priorities of the moment. What’s important is to keep a growth mindset.

Just for fun, I asked Chat-GPT what my top 5 career choices would be based on this.

  1. Innovation Strategist: Your ability to generate ideas and think outside the box would make you an excellent fit for a role as an innovation strategist, identifying opportunities for growth and developing creative solutions.
  2. Project Manager: Your disciplined nature and focus on deadlines would make you a great fit for a role as a project manager, excelling in organizing and coordinating projects from start to finish.
  3. Historian: Your contextual thinking skills make you an ideal fit for a career in history, researching and analyzing past events to inform the present and future.
  4. Management Consultant: Your strategic thinking skills would make you a valuable asset to a consulting firm, helping businesses develop and implement strategic plans to achieve their goals.
  5. Sales Manager: Your targeted approach would make you a strong candidate for a career in sales management, setting and achieving ambitious sales targets, while providing strategic guidance to the organization.

Funnily enough, I already am working in consulting. Our speaker however explained that our careers can shape which of our skills develop. So it makes sense that I have developed on talents that a management consultant would have. On the other hand, my visual design skills have atrophied. The surprise here is that I am anxious about going on a sales track and yet sales manager is listed as a potential option for me.

Feedback for promoting strengths-based development

For people to thrive in a workplace, a safe environment where we can give and receive feedback is important. The manner in which feedback is delivered is equally important. It’s not ideal to give someone a ‘shit sandwich’ type of feedback. That means telling someone ‘You were really great, but…’. We always end up anticipating the other shoe to drop and we forget all about the positive compliments.

Alternatively, the AID method could be used. This stands for Actions, Impact and Do. It is a constructive way to support colleagues. In my current job, we are utilizing the SBIBI framework which stands for Situation-Behavior-Impact-Benefit-Improve which is quite similar. Both emphasize the impact that our changes could make. I have to admit, we do love our frameworks in consulting.

Prioritizing my strengths over weaknesses

I am the CEO of my own career. With that in mind, I know my only resources are time and energy. Should I invest in further enhancing my strengths or fixing my weaknesses? If I knew that focusing more on my natural talents will have a higher return, then I would give it an 80:20 ratio. As for my disadvantages, I should strategically seek out a partner who can complement my abilities. That would be a smarter use of both of our hours.

Constructive feedback and open communication are tools for a high performing team

As a leader, one should be able to give and receive feedback downwards, upwards and sideways. If I had underperforming teammates, I would also try looking if their current responsibilities actually match their real strengths. Otherwise, I would talk to them and see if they would rather be assigned something else. Usually, people start working less when they don’t feel motivated enough. Then employees end up quitting because they don’t feel listened to. In an ideal world, tasks are assigned to people who are most suitably skilled to do them. Unfortunately, internal politics gets in the way. But that is a problem for another session.

You can try out the FirstMind test for free here. I do suggest also plugging in your results in ChatGPT and see what career paths are relevant to your strengths.