Knowing Your Strengths and Weaknesses in the Army

Today, I want to share some advice for Army leaders about knowing your strengths and weaknesses.  Let’s keep it real for a moment. We are all wired differently and have different personalities, strengths and weaknesses.  Some people are naturally a fit for certain jobs in the Army, while others would do horrible in the same job.

One of the smartest things you can do as an Army leader is to figure out what work you like to do and what you are naturally good at!  I’ve met some folks in the Army who LOVED staff work.  They could do the Power Point slides and spreadsheets.  They loved the meetings and they liked being in the behind-the-scenes roles.  They were VERY happy as Staff NCOs or Staff Officers and they were VERY good at their jobs.

I’ve also met many people who were naturally LEADERS.  They liked being in charge.  They loved the responsibility and the challenge of leading Soldiers.  And you couldn’t pay them a million dollars to be in a staff job.  These men and women wanted to lead Soldiers and they were damn good at it.

FYI, only a very select few people are good at both.

Personally, I am a leader and I hate staff work.  I still did pretty well in staff jobs, but I did MUCH better in my leadership positions.  One of the reasons I resigned my commission is because I knew I would spend the last five or six years of my career in staff jobs and I had no desire to do so.  Anyone is leadership oriented can understand where I am coming from.

To be quite frank with you, we need BOTH types of people in the Army.  We need people who love leadership roles and people who like support roles.  Both are vitally important.  We also need all of the different personalities, strengths, weaknesses, and skill-sets.  This is what makes the Army so effective: it is one big melting pot.

My challenge for you today is to spend some time and figure out your own strengths and weaknesses are.  Write down a list of things you naturally enjoy and excel at.  Think about what jobs in the Army brought you the most fulfillment and happiness.  Ask your boss, your peers, and even subordinates what areas are your greatest strength.  You might be surprised at what you find.

My next piece of advice is to determine what jobs you WANT to have (and what career field), based upon your skills, personality, strengths and weaknesses.  Don’t worry about the conventional Army advice that you need certain jobs to get promoted.  You really don’t.  There are many different career paths in the Army and I highly suggest you find one that matches your strengths and skills.

Another good thing to do is to read the book “Now, Discover Your Strengths” by Marcus Buckingham.  This book will help you identify your NATURAL strengths and abilities.  It also comes with a strengths test you can take that is extremely eye opening.  I took the test seven or eight years ago and it had a big impact on my career and life.

You could also take the Myers-Briggs® test and find out what your natural abilities are. Although this is more of a “personality test” based upon your strengths, the information is still very useful.

Whether you’re going to make a career out of the Army, or just do a few short years, why not figure out what jobs would give you the best fulfillment, and what jobs you would naturally excel at, and then seek out those jobs?  Doesn’t that make sense? Why not position yourself for success in your military career?

The bottom line is that no one knows YOU better than YOU.  Take some time and identify what you are naturally good at and then figure out what jobs will let you really showcase your talents and be successful. This is one of the best and quickest ways to have a satisfying and successful military career.

What are your thoughts about this concept of knowing your strengths and weaknesses?  Leave a comment below to let me know what you think.  I look forward to hearing from you.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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5 thoughts on “Knowing Your Strengths and Weaknesses in the Army”

  1. It’s always crucial to take a step back, and evaluate (and reevaluate) yourself and your strengths and weaknesses as time goes on. One needs to have a through understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses to base their jobs and skills off of, and sometimes, it’s good just to look inward and understand how you are.

  2. This is a very important topic to be honest with yourself about. If someone asked you to write down 5 strengths you have, doubtless you would have no problem doing it. Now, if I asked you for your five biggest weaknesses, would they come as easily and would you be as honest?

    You should always try to have a job, or at least approach a job, using your strengths. However, that may not always be possible, but if you know your weaknesses you know to try harder in those areas and maybe get help from your fellow troops for things you're not as proficient with.

    1. We all have strengths that we can use to our advantage. I like to call it self awareness. Everyone should know what they bring to the table, what they are good at and what types of jobs they will naturally excel at. This is a big part of the personal development process.

  3. This is great advice for anyone. So many people go through life wondering what they want to be when they grow up. I tell my children that popular saying: Figure out what you love to do early on, and your life’s work will never be work.

    The Myers-Briggs test is wonderful. I was required to take it in my first MBA class, and while I cannot say that it determined what I will do for the rest of my life, it did really confirm for me what appealed to my basic personality traits.

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