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April 2013
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Develop Your Strengths through Social Learning

Posted by: Dr. Jonathan Hill & Alex Linley


I am delighted to post a guest blog from Dr. Jonathan Hill, who knows more about strengths than almost every person alive today. We at Capp are humbled to have Jonathan as part of our team, guiding and supporting us on a continual basis. In his first guest blog post for us, Jonathan discusses what you can do yourself to develop your own strengths…


What if you had £600 to spend on your own development?


Consider some options. You might wish to improve your IT skills, invest in some developmental coaching or take part in an outdoor leadership programme? Whatever you chose, enter the costs in your tax return. Spending on your own job-related or professional training is tax deductible and therefore inexpensive for most taxpayers.


But suppose you had no spare funds to pay for development? Which learning activity would give you the best return for the smallest investment? How could you go about cultivating your own strengths without even spending a bean? This is where I will focus today’s blog…


There are many options when it comes to working on strengths development. One of the most effective ways to learn is by imitation or modelling. Much of what we know has been learned in this way for better or worse from childhood onwards.


As such, it makes good sense in adulthood to emulate those whom we admire.  There is one important proviso – ideally their strengths should be similar in some ways to our own. Emulation works best through inspiration, rather than envy. A further driver is the aim to surpass your role model in due course.


Having discovered your own strengths, the next step is to find a friend or colleague whose strengths you have already spotted with reasonable accuracy. In other words, a realistic role model. Start by observing their successes and then set about discovering how their strengths connect to that success.


If possible, get them to talk about their approach. Encourage them to share their thought processes.  The links between strengths and performance are not always highly visible, but tracing the connections is a worthwhile, though life long, developmental task.


Ask questions to uncover the links. For example, if you admire the way someone comes up with innovative solutions, ask them what sort of steps they take…how they get started, how they incubate ideas, how they choose options and what they do to implement solutions. Copy their approach and reflect on your own results.


People never get bored of talking about their strengths and how they lead them to success. As such, don’t ever be afraid to ask.


After all, your strengths role model will most likely be delighted to have a willing audience with whom to share their passions and their performance.


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