Maximize your Leadership by Discovering your Talents

To maximize your leadership results and productivity then you must discover and then be intentional about working in our areas of greatest talent. I have learned finding your personal talents is a process. It usually takes time to move from a broad perspective of what your talents might be to clearly identifying them. Finding your personal talents requires, self awareness, deliberate focus and effort, and allowing others to give you feedback on your strengths and weaknesses. When a leader start the process they are on the path toward their maximized results and effectiveness.

Below are 3 practical ways you can discover or clarify your personal talents:

1. Find and follow your purpose or passions-

Your purpose, passions, and talents are closely connected. If a leader focuses on one of those areas the other ones will become clear, over time. This is because when you concentrate on one of those areas you will naturally move toward the other areas. When I first listened to a John C. Maxwell CD it sparked my passion for the topic of leadership and personal growth. Over the next several years my passion for leadership allowed me to identify my purpose and areas of leadership talents. If you want to find or clarify your talents then discover either your purpose or passions, because in time those areas will point you toward your greatest areas of personal talents. An effective leader who sees maximized results is one who is working in their purpose, passions, and talents.

2. The classic method-

A classical and effective way to discovering your talents is to take a strengths or talents survey. This can provide you with clear results on your strengths and weaknesses. The books Strength Finder 2.0, Strength Based Leadership, and Standout each include a strengths test.

3. Ask a trusted friend or colleague-

Those around you and who see you lead on a regular basis already have witnessed your talents and weaknesses. When you have built a strong relationship with those on your team you can ask for their insights and input about your talents, as well as other important areas. It’s often easy to see someones else’s areas of talent while at the same time it may difficult to see or identify our own. This is why having an outside perspective or lens is important when it comes to finding or clarifying your talents.

Question: What are some other ways a leader can discover or clarify their personal talents? 

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Dan, I think sometimes our talents are things that we least expect. For example, I never would have thought that speaking would be one of my talents when I was growing up. I was always the guys who didn’t have much to say. It wasn’t until I was in Bible college and had to take a preaching class that I realized this was something I could do and enjoyed doing, I also realized that other people enjoyed listening.

    After that experience I always tell people to not be afraid to try new things, you never know maybe there’s a talent hidden in there that you just haven’t known about because you haven’t tried something.

    • This is exactly the point I wanted to make, Caleb. Simply trying different things and being willing to venture outside of your comfort zone can reveal new talents and hone ones you might be already aware of. For example, I have done all sorts of writing from journalism to technical writing to grant writing. All of this led to what I do now (blogging & freelance). I am doing a combo in a way of all of those things. Same thing happened with teaching. Just try different things & see where it leads you.

      • I’m always saddened when I see someone is afraid to try new things because I know that most of the areas I excel at are areas that I never would have known about if I didn’t force myself to try something new.

        • Me too. This is why I push my boys to try new things and get outside of their comfort zones. i also realize that I am not always so good at doing that myself, so I surround myself with people willing to push me. I also set things in place (make commitments) from time to time that will force me to stretch a bit. I know myself all too well if I don’t… I will stay safe and comfortable and stagnant otherwise.

    • What a great personal example Caleb, thank you for sharing it. It’s amazing how something so small like attending a class can direct us toward our talents. Thank you for reading and adding to the discussion.

  • Your last point is an especially helpful one. Like you say, it’s hard to see our own strengths, but others can see them just fine. It takes an outside perspective to be truly objective.

    So ask your friends and family what they think your strengths and weaknesses are. And listen with an open mind. Their feedback may surprise you. Often times, what we feel is a weakness others may perceive as a strength. Go figure.

    Cheers!

    • Glad the post helped. It’s why it’s important to have people in our life who can kindly and honestly share with us our talents. Thank you for reading and adding to the discussion.

  • Passion is king… I love the old saying, “Find what it it you love to do and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” While it’s a competitive world, and not purely for that purpose, but I think we can compare ourselves or measure ourselves with others to help define or discover one’s talents. Of course having a talent without passion and more importantly; perseverance, is like having a lock without a key…

    • Great point, Floyd. But can we get stuck by following one passion?

      • I think the passion evolves naturally with time. Kinda like your song writing did into books and into communication. It’s still the same passion I think.

    • I agree with you Floyd! Thank you for adding to the topic.

  • I believe you can also follow what you’re curious about or very good at. For instance, I have always grasped new technology really well and have a knack for making complicated things simple. So I’ve honed over the years that I need to help others with these things in simple ways. At first I didn’t care a flip about marketing or want to be involved with it..but now I find I’m quite passionate about marketing.

    • Jared i really like and identify with your thought on following curiosity. Mine is on the flip side though, there are some things that piqued my interest many years ago but i never really followed through or got serious. Years down the line, i find myself doing them and feeling bad that i never stepped out earlier (that it took desperate times to get serious). certainly curiosity is big!

    • Curiosity is huge when it comes to finding our talents or really enjoying life! Your a great example of someone who has found and works in areas of purpose, passions, and talents. Your great work shows it! Thank you for sharing a little about your process.

  • Trying different things that you are interested in and you will find the thing or things that ‘rocks your boat’. It also would greatly help to seek God’s direction and He will align your purpose with the talents He gave you at birth.

    • Seeking God’s direction and letting Him align your purpose with the talents He gave you is the only way I have found that directs me to the right path in life. All others have been futile.

      • I totally agree Kari! He know us best:)

    • Bernard, some of my greatest areas of success came through ‘trial and error” kind of thing. I’ve found it important to try out some things (not everything) and feel out what connects to purpose and passion. Instead of being timid or sitting back waiting for a big revelation.

      • That’s a great mindset to have Nginal.

    • Great point about seeking God and allowing Him to guide us toward our talents. Thank you for sharing that point.

  • Really liked this post, so I keep coming up with more comments :-) Anyway, another really helpful way to discover your gifts and talents is to hang around with younger people. I am in mid-life and like to hang around with the younger generations in my church to get a better grip on what’s in style, new technology, etc. Younger people make me more creative for sure, and that expands my talents. And that’s not to leave out older people either. The wisdom cleaned from them is crucial for growth. They have so much to tell us to keep us from making the same mistakes they did. Listen to them!

    • Kari, it is important to glean thoughts and wisdom from the younger and older generation. The younger generation can help us to see new paths and the older generation can help us avoid crucial mistakes on those paths. We need to be like sponges and soak up all that we can learn from both generations so our talents will have a powerful impact.

    • Spending time with younger people can defiantly bring a lot of benefits. I know I have learned a lot of new stuff by being around youth. Thank you for adding such great insights! I appreciate it.

  • Outside perspective has been essential for me. My emotions can sometimes cloud what I think my talents are. But I have been fortunate enough to have mentors that point out my writing and community building abilities. I went a long time without mentors and lost direction a lot as a result.

    On a similar note, serving others and volunteering can help you discover your talents. When I started volunteering to organize events for my young professionals group, I learned a lot about my talents that I may not have found elsewhere.

    • Outside perspective an help on so many levels, not just in finding or refining our talents. It’s essential that we have people around us who encourage and at times give us a kick in the rear.

      That’s a great way to gain experience, find our talents, and work within our talents. I served as a youth leader at a church for several years and learned some valuable lessons. Thank you for reading and adding to the topic.

      • I agree on outside perspective, but learning to be good self-evauators is another important factor.

  • Great and timely post and discussion. In addition to knowing our strengths, it’s useful to know our natural, predisposed behaviors and inner motivations for behavior. When working with others, knowing the strengths, talents and predisposed behavioral tendencies gives everyone great insight.

    • Good point about knowing predisposed behavior, Alan.

    • Wonderful points Alan. I totally agree.

  • DaveArnold16

    Great post. I think we can discover our talents by trying something new or something we fear doing. This can be public speaking, starting a business. Then you really know.
    Good stuff!

    • I like your idea of starting something new, Dave. This is how I started writing books.

    • Great point Dave! It’s how I started moving into public speaking.

  • Good post, Dan. I’m a fair self-evaluator. Knowing yourself is a good start.

    • Thank you for reading and adding to the conversation. Self-evaluating is so important.

  • A testing method I’ve found helpful is the DISC personality profile…has shown me somethings about myself and where my strengths are that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise.

    • The DISC personality profile is a great resource in finding the talents we have. Thank you for sharing that!

  • I’ve struggled because I have talents in different areas and I’m not sure which to pursue. Everyone has a different opinion on it, too. :-) I’ve had to ask the Lord which talents He wants to me utilize during each season of my life.

    • When God reveals our talents to us He will also direct our paths, it just might take time. Great points about utilizing your different talents more than others depending on your season of life. I think that’s something we have to remember. Some talents will be more relevant than other talents depending on what we are doing. Thank you for reading and adding to the conversation.

  • I believe a leader can identify their Leadership talents by asking themselves where do you see you get the most results in something you love, but would do it for free. Remember just because you love something does not mean its your passion. It has to be something you can monetize, and I like the fact that you mention asking a friend. Also thank you for recommending the strengths finder 2.0. That book has helped me in identifying myself.

    • Seeing results and enjoying what we are doing are great talent indicators. Good point about it being something we can “monetize.” Thank you for reading and adding to the topic.

  • I’m interested to hear about what you have to say about talents versus passions… Although talents are great (I consider myself a talented mathematician), it’s not something I’d pursue, that’s for my passions which lie elsewhere. Forgive me if I’m wrong, but although talents may be a great thing to pursue and you may not get bored/tired easily, I don’t think you’d grow as much compared to following your talents. An extreme example may be a very, very talented dancer, but (s)he is extremely passionate about tennis. Any thoughts?

    Sorry I didn’t add to the list of finding your own talents, you did a pretty fine job of that yourself, Dan!

    • Hello Nick,

      I think our talents and passions can be closely connected with each other. Though that’s not the case every time I have found it true for the most part. I think the key is to find something that allows you to be working in areas of purpose, passions, and talents.

      I also think doing something you enjoy is important for living a significant and fulfilled life. If we have one talent in a specific area but are not passionate about that area it will only lead to frustration. Sorry that talent can be used to earn a pay check but won’t do much more, if a person is doing that I think it’s important to find a recreational activity or hobby of passion to do during our free time.

      You bring up some great questions, I hope I answered them clearly. I think a entire book could be written on the topic of our talents, passions, and purpose. Thank you for adding to the discussion.

  • Hi Dan – an interesting topic. It’s really helpful, as you say, to get feedback from other people – the challenge can be to get honest, objective feedback, because our friends and colleagues may be reluctant to talk to us about our weaknesses. If we are sufficiently self-aware, I think our talents become apparent when we see the fruits of our labours – if we succeed in something that we also really enjoy, then that’s usually a sign that we have a real talent for that particular niche. Having said that, I also think we need to be open to the possibility that we may have dormant, untapped talents that we can develop with training and practice.

    • Hello Sue,

      I agree, hearing the honest truth might be difficult. Both to hear and for the other person to say.

      Great additional thoughts. Thank you for sharing your insights on this topic.

  • I’m all about asking people you know and that know you well. And also, simply just trying things out is the best way! Do as much as you can at an early age to try out different things so that you can find out what works for you!

    • Great ways Loren. Getting out their and doing is a great way to find areas of talent. Thank you for reading and sharing.

  • Passion has been an important guide for me. When I really get excited about something and really hook my teeth into it, I seem to get good at it..quick. I don’t know if it’s me, but I just get really dedicated about something and I spend a lot of my time doing it. That ramps up my skills for it in a hurry.

    One thing I think helps is to be more self-aware. See yourself from an outside point of view. Sometimes our greatest skills are hidden from ourselves simply because we don’t recognize them. You might say we take them for granted. I’ve had that happen to me before.

    • Hi Steve,

      Passion really does bring energy and quicker learning. Being self-aware is so important. Not only to find our talents but in are daily life. Thank you for reading and adding to the discussion.