How To Discover Your Leadership Gifts


Working with many different leaders in all types of industries, I have learned so much about what drives an individual’s choices and actions. Some people lead with their ability to visualize a big picture while others make decisions based on how it might impact their teams and organizations. Some leaders are very deliberate and others thrive on spontaneity.



 Different situations may call for different styles, yet we each tend to replay our unique approach no matter the challenge. But is that really a bad thing to lead with what feels natural to us and what makes the most sense to our brains and hearts? I would say, no, because what we are really doing is using our individual talents and gifts in our leadership journey.

 During a leadership and team building training for a small manufacturing company, I worked with the president of the organization, on how to create a more open and accountable culture. She was very direct in how she communicated and did not seem to have a soft side to her words. I wondered how her colleagues and diverse team members perceived her. She explained to me: “We have lots of backgrounds represented here, three different languages communicating with one another, all striving towards the same technical requirements.”  

 I was nervous on just how I was going to present and train to the program participants who spoke different languages. As we began our first session, my anxiety melted as I watched the president interact with her team. She was extraordinary! Although she didn’t speak all the languages in that room fluently, she conversed with everyone in a meaningful way. As she spoke, team members who understood her words, jumped in to share her thoughts, almost as interpreters. Her communication flowed seamlessly as I saw her gift in her ability to connect and engage with people with different languages and backgrounds. That gift empowered her to be a strong leader and fierce competitor in her industry. She put me at ease as she did everyone else in that room.  I loved working with these employees and this talented leader.  And I did so for many years.


Here are a few strategies that can begin your talent search:

 Ask yourself what am I good at? We don’t take the time to look at ourselves earnestly, and reflect on what we excel in. Are we big picture thinkers? When we prefer to visualize the larger scope of a problem as opposed to the details, we should lead with that perspective. Then we should partner with other leaders who might be more talented in filling in with the specifics. That’s what their strength may be.

 Ask others what they think you are good at: Feedback can be so helpful in finding out what other people value most about our leadership style. Pose this question in a positive and truthful way so that those around us feel they are contributing to helping us find our gifts. Ask them: “When we work together, what do you like most about how we interact? What do you perceive to be my strongest contributions?” Then sit back and listen.

 Explore what excites you: It really makes good leadership sense to pursue what interests us and what we are passionate about. Dig deeper by reading more about a topic that thrills you. Talk to people in that field who seem to have incorporated that gift into their everyday life. How did they do it? How do they use this interest in both their personal and professional lives?

Now it’s your turn.  How have you discovered your talents and gifts? How have you leveraged them?


(photo credit)



15 thoughts on “How To Discover Your Leadership Gifts

  1. You have so many genuine gifts, Lolly that so many of us are grateful for. You are extraordinary at helping people understand their uniqueness and value. You care. You empower me to be a better person and leader.

    I thank you for generosity.

    And I appreciate you taking the time to get to know me and connecting.


  2. Terri, I like your ideas. When I ask myself what my strengths are, it doesn’t flow as freely as when I ask others. It’s a good experience to get the feedback of others about your own strengths. Just be sure you ask them to be very honest and sincere.

  3. Wonderful post, Terri! For me, it was just to start. I may not be 100% sure what the gift or talent may be but, after over three years of blogging, my mind has opened up more; I have explored more; and I have discovered more. It keeps pulling me along so my point may be this: Whatever you think your gift is, just start using it, honing your craft. Where it takes you may be a whole new world of possibility! Thanks. Jon

  4. You make a great point, Dan that if we aren’t receiving feedback that is genuine, it is of no help to us.

    I think when we ask others what they think we are particularly strong at, we need to preface it with clarity and truth.

    I do think we can look inwards and take a look at what we excel at. It may be harder, but well worth the effort.

    Thanks Dan for your great additions!

  5. What a wonderful idea, Jon, to just start doing what we are passionate about! It does seem to work out that our enthusiasm about an interest can actually bring us to a place we should be going all along.

    When we play to our gifts, we realize it is not such work, but rather re-newel and fun learning. And if we can package this excitement into our leadership we will be soar.

    Thanks for all your amazing support and insights that I so value!


  6. Great post, Terri. Very thought provoking…

    When I use my gifts, I am energized. By paying attention to what activities generated that energy I was able to discern gifts and strengths. I’m still in a process of discovery as I continue to discover new experiences that bring out different aspects of who I am. I’ve taken Myers Briggs tests and worked extensively with the Enneagram, and each one highlights some important aspect but I think my passion holds the key to my true gifts. I will be guided by how passionately I feel about something rather than whether or not I am good at math.

  7. Terri – Thank you for the great post! I remember working with a group of people to help them discover their giftss. When the results were in, some of them sighed with releif that their gifts were things they liked to do! So your what excites you quetion is HUGE!

    Jon – I love that you referenced blogging as a way of learning more about your gifts. Ditto! 🙂

  8. Ask what excites you. Funny, tonight at dinner I asked my kids what they want to be when they grow up. Their answers told me less about their gifts and more about their passions. They may never be professional actors or train engineers but they can look at what draws them to it, what makes it seem wonderful, and they’ll discover something incredibly important.

    Love how you tell us a story that takes us somewhere inside of ourselves. Thanks, Terri!

  9. You bring up two very important points, LaRae- playing to our passions versus playing to our strengths. I too have thought about this quite a bit and think that we need to always follow choices that energize us and bring us happiness first.

    I do think as we continue to explore more options in our careers, we might try new things that we may not be as strong.
    That’s fine as long as we are challenged in a good way by those.

    I love and stand by Myers Briggs as it think it is a wonderful way to understand our strengths and blindspots. When leaders are more self-aware, they can be more effective communicators and connect with others in a more meaningful way.


  10. Thanks Chery for your great additions! How did the people react who discovered their gifts were different from what they liked to do? What an interesting coaching session that must have been. Would love to hear more.

    I do think it is so critical to ask ourselves if we are following what energizes us! If not, we may want to re-evaluate or figure out how to incorporate it into our personal or professional lives.

  11. It is so fascinating to watch how our children find out about themselves. They weigh what stimulates them against what society tells them to do. It can be very difficult for them to find their niche. They are lucky to have you to ask the important questions!

    As adults, we should continue asking those questions all throughout our careers so that we do have meaningful professional lives. And readjusting is perfectly acceptable.

    Thanks Alli!

  12. Beautiful reminder Terri. Asking ourselves on what are our strengths, talents and gifts builds self awareness. It allows us to step back and utilize them to impact others lives positively.

    During my coaching sessions with clients, the conversation becomes so engaging when I ask them about their strengths. It is empowering and a great confidence booster.

    It is good to focus on building our strengths. We should not harp on our weakness but may be just work on marginalizing them.

    Thank you for reminding us on the importance of this great asset in each of us.

  13. I can imagine you have thought-provoking coaching sessions, Lalita!

    Our strengths are the perfect tools to pull out when we connect with others and build relationships.

    I agree that taking stock in our gifts and talents is a great confidence booster and one that should be done periodically. Being self-aware of what we bring to the table and the world is essential.

    Thanks for all your great comments!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *