by Sarah Van Wagnen
After completing StrengthsFinder 2.0 I realized how much my internal qualities affect each aspect of my life, as well as the people around me. Understanding these strengths within my personality will help me use them to the best of my ability. Having knowledge of these qualities will allow me to find environments I will thrive in. By knowing more about myself, I can achieve positive and influential outcomes while leading others. Once I find a cause that inspires me, my leadership qualities shine through. My top 5 strengths shape my actions, and can be used to help others succeed as well as myself. The passion I have for what I believe in gives me an incredible edge when trying to share ideas with others.
My greatest strength is individualization. This helps me see unique qualities in each individual, and how each person is different. I become frustrated with generalizations, and believe each person has something different they can offer to a team or situation. Observing others and how they relate to different people helps me figure out groups that would work well together.
Each time I’m in class and group projects come up where everyone is randomly assigned, I already start thinking about how I can get everyone to work together. I also notice what groups will have a hard time meshing their personalities, and this can lead to a bad outcome. If the leader is unaware of a person’s qualities, they will not know how to use their full potential. Anytime I am in a group, I understand how we can all work together best, but I can get upset when I see other people not using their full potential to help everyone succeed. My goal is to always see how different perspectives can be used together to create the best result.
A second strength I possess is thinking strategically. I can see many different ways to achieve a solution or outcome, while other people may only see one option. This cannot be taught, and requires a different way of thinking about the world. I always look for the best way to continue by thinking of new ideas or scenarios. When strategic thinkers find a cause they are passionate about, they can be great leaders.
Within my sorority I am the Recruitment & Marketing VP and I use strategic thinking almost on a daily basis. With each event I plan I have to think of what could go wrong, in order to make a back-up plan. The only problem with this is people can get annoyed with too many questions. I also have to consider the best way we can market ourselves around campus and the community. For years we have used the same strategies to recruit girls, until this year when my team and I implemented best practices. We developed this new plan to better relate to girls through deeper and more meaningful conversations. People join people, not numbers or statistics, and the best way to have our sisterhood grow is to connect with girls before even mentioning specifics about our organization. My strategic way of thinking helped me see the best option to achieve our chapter’s goals, through straying away from the norm.
The third strength I have is ideation. Those with this quality think differently than most people. Originality is held much higher in my eyes than thoughts that are already accepted. Pushing limits to come up with new ideas excites me and helps spark some of my best thinking. However sometimes people are put off by ideas they are not used to, so this must be approached carefully. Hearing thoughts that are creative and spur discussion inspires me.
I specifically chose my major and minor surrounding this part of my personality. I learn best in environments where a discussion is occurring. In my public relations and political science classes our professors do not simply speak at us. I can bounce ideas off of my political science professors without them telling me they are wrong. We read primary texts from all the famous ancient and current political thinkers. When I read these I am inspired by the new ideas I get from each different author, so that I can look at humanity from different angles. Anything I read or hear about that really complexes me only makes me want to learn more about it. Concepts out of the ordinary grab my attention.
Ever since I can remember I’ve been able to sense what other people around me are thinking or feeling. Empathy is my fourth most influential part of my personality. This allows me to feel pain or joy from those near me, which can either affect me positively or negatively depending on the situation. Empathy helps people know what to say or how to act when interacting with others, such as someone seeking advice. Many people without much empathy will not pick up on how to motivate and inspire others to do their best work. Knowing when to extend a helping hand or push harder takes a sense of understanding emotions.
My friends have always come to me for advice, because I know when they need someone to talk to or just to listen. Sensing other people’s feelings has helped me connect to a lot of people and create many relationships. Being able to relate to others well and see things from their eyes has helped me in any group situation I’ve been in. I’m very good at forming close connections to people and that has given me a strong support system throughout my life, along with giving strong support to others. People feel like they can trust me; this helps me provide them with reassurance when something goes wrong and encouragement when things go right.
My final strength is the very close relationships I have with people. Being a relator means I enjoy finding friends and colleagues who I trust. Relator’s care a lot about those or what they love, and this motivates them to succeed. Working in environments where friendships and mentors are encouraged is where I thrive best. Connecting with people is a huge strength when forming relationships that benefit not only the happiness in your life but for future careers. Not many people enjoy working with or having partnerships with those whom they cannot trust.
I work best with those I am close to, because caring for them motivates me to complete tasks. Whenever I am working on philanthropy or volunteer project I am extremely inspired by my sisters in Alpha Delta Pi. Last year we raised over 16,000 dollars at our silent auction for Ronald McDonald House Charities. Going up to RMH once a semester in Cleveland to play with the kids there gives me so much hope when it comes to raising money for them. My sisters only encourage me more because we have the same love for each other, and our philanthropy.
My Leadership Style
What makes me an effective leader is that I can achieve results, but I can also inspire people to work to their full potential. I understand that every person is different and unique. This allows me to use their strengths to benefit the entire group or project. I do not categorize people into groups, so I do not overlook what an individual has to offer. When I do need to see who will work together well it is very easy for me to match up personality types.
During times when decisions need to be made, I consider all options. After looking at every possible angle this leads me to the best option. I always plan for what could go wrong through asking questions to make sure everything will run smoothly. If anyone is ever stressing out, I can sense that they need someone to talk to, so I have no problem taking a moment to make sure people looking up to me are motivated and focused.
Creativity and new ideas inspire me. Listening to other’s opinions leads to the implementation of fresh ideas. I believe no progress is ever made by a leader with a closed mind. Not only do people feel free to have conversations with me, but they also trust me. A leader is strongest when they have close relationships to rely on. People would rather work for someone who motivates them in a positive way than a negative way.
Informal organizations where new ideas are appreciated and relationships are encouraged would highly benefit from my leadership style. Non-profit organizations and those with a strong moral compass would also gain from my leadership qualities. When my passion is sparked towards a cause or campaign I put every ounce of energy I have into that organization. My mind is always searching for what will inspire me next. Nothing motivates me more than constantly being challenged and always learning how to see life through different angles. I am a passionate innovate thinker, and my leadership abilities would add fuel to the fire of any inspiring campaign.