Almost 20 years ago now, we learned that to be successful in our careers, we needed to cultivate our individual strengths. When first introduced in the early 2000s, this idea was revolutionary because it ran counter to the accepted practice of shoring up weaknesses as the key to achieving in business. Assessments like CliftonStrengths (formerly StrengthsFinder) became the go to resource used by millions of us world-wide to identify our strengths. And it was wonderful! Finally, we could focus on bringing our authentic gifts and talents to the workplace.
Strengths based assessments were particularly enticing to professional women, who traditionally had fewer female role models to demonstrate a road to corporate leadership. “Leading with our strengths” became the blueprint many high achieving women adopted to map out their pathway to the C-Suite. For us high achieving women, our strengths became our super powers. These super powers have given us the ability to lead high profile projects, ace that client presentation and navigate a schedule others would have found impossible to maintain.
“Our competency on the job creates a continually increasing stream of work, responsibilities and obligations. Eventually, we become exhausted leading to increased physical stress, strain in our personal relationships and a lack of enthusiasm and joy for life.”
But what happens when high achieving women rely too heavily on their super powers? Using our modern super hero lexicon as a metaphor, let’s just say we’ve developed wrist bruises from the flow of the bullets ricocheting from our gold bracelets. Get it? Too much of a good thing can have negative consequences—especially for high achieving women. Our competency on the job creates a continually increasing stream of work, responsibilities and obligations. Eventually, we become exhausted leading to increased physical stress, strain in our personal relationships and a lack of enthusiasm and joy for life.
Like all talents, super powers must be cared for and protected. We’ve identified four work archetypes along with insights to help high-achieving women identify their superpowers.
The Intuitive’s super power is her ability to empathize and connection with people. The Intuitive is caring, considerate and steadfast. She believes in doing her best to support and empower others. She is the one everyone turns to in a professional or personal crisis. She is adept at seeing what a person or project needs and intrinsically motivated to lend a hand to ensure success. She has strong emotional intelligence and uses it to create stronger relationships with her friends, family and colleagues.
The Gold Standard
The Gold Standard’s super power her importance to detail and emphasis on quality. Gold Standards are conscientious, thorough and organized. She dots the “I’s” and crosses the “T’s.” She has high standards and an uncanny attention to detail that she brings to every project. She is praised in her office for the impeccability of her work. She strives for and achieves excellence in both her personal and professional life.
The Deliver’s super power is her indescribable ability to get things done…well. She is effective, driven and hard working. Delivers run circles around their colleagues and seems to do so with ease. Her calendar is always full and people wonder how she is able to do it all. She is often juggling multiple projects, including going back to school, entrepreneurial interests or philanthropic activities. She is simply the most efficient, competent person we know.
The Rain Maker
The Rain Maker’s superpower is her commitment to those who mean the most to her. She thrives in challenging careers and career sectors others might shy away from because of the demands. She excels professionally and is paid well for her knowledge and breadth of expertise. She enjoys the power, prestige and lifestyle that come with her income. Underneath this drive, however, is her desire to ease financial burdens for friends and family. She works hard so her love ones can benefit from her success.
For every high achieving woman, the most important goal is to become aware of her work archetype and take the necessary steps, which allow her to experience a greater sense of well-being, connection and sustainable success.