Skills are activities you are good at doing, but do not necessarily enjoy. Strengths energize you, but you may not be extremely good at doing them. Big difference. Your success depends on you developing your strengths far more than your skills.
Do you happen to work for a boss who has been promoted based on the skills they have to complete specific tasks, but is still a pain to work with? Success is based on building upon your strengths, but often promotions are based on skills. The problem with that… is that there is passion associated with strengths but often not with skills.
Natalie is very good at organizing meetings. She solicits input from everyone, sends out an agenda prior to the meeting, starts on time, keeps things on track, gets everyone to commit to their action items and ends on time. The problem is that she is not energized by this process, and no matter how organized she is, and how well she communicates minutes and progress to her superiors, there is no passion for what she is doing. Becky is the passionate leader who is slightly less organized, may not have complete minutes, and may not catch the attention of corporate with her sometimes “off-the-wall” ideas, but her meetings are full of passion, bring out the best in her team, discover potential and move forward in unique ways.
Do you work for a company that would value Natalie or Becky more? For which boss do you most enjoy working? Realizing who your boss most resembles, and pinpointing your preference, is your first step. Then realize that you also have strengths and skills and that working on things that energize you as often as possible will yield the greatest success, even if that is not a promotion with your current employer.
If you are the boss, move forward from consistency and task completion to passionate pursuit and development of your strengths, and encourage your team to do the same.
By the way, as the employee and a fellow professional, nothing says that you can’t have conversations with your boss about their strengths – things they are passionate about. Offer to work with them on a project, ask questions about how one of their strengths-related initiatives are going, and work a little harder on those things they are passionate about. It benefits you in the end if your boss discovers not only success in the form of raise or promotion, but also in discovering their potential as a leader.