In today’s day, our purpose is such that our accomplishments and inner learnings are often judged by external factors. These factors include our qualifications and the praise/feedback we receive. Moreover, the valuation of these factors differs by generation and who gives it to you, with each generation valuing different things.
This can result in us finding it hard to understand what key skills and attributes we can bring to the table; this is especially true at the earlier stages of our career. especially true at the earlier stages of our career. A skills/competency matrix can also be a helicopter view of our role in comparison to the next role up and not focus on helping us understand the day-to-day tangibles we bring to the table and what we personally value.
This can lead to questions such as
What is my edge/strength?
How do I find my edge?
When do I get an edge?
I don’t feel like I have enough experience yet so how can I have anything to offer?
I’m good at a few things but not an expert in anything?
If you have found yourself questioning the above or know someone who has been questioning the above there is a documented approach that can help.
Simply contemplating what your edge can lead to a myriad of soul searching with no end in sight so instead, let’s start by playing a small game that will hopefully help you find your edge in under 5 minutes.
Think back to when you were a young adult - What were your interests? If you were a fly in the wall between your friends and family what do you think they would look to you for - however small or big? Below are a few suggestions
The edge in your family and friends could have been your ability to play a specific sport or a musical instrument - in both those examples perhaps you were great at a specific sport or more musically inclined which meant that you outshined your peers in that specific context.
It could also be a specific subject you excelled in, often finding friends asking you for help in that specific subject.
Edge’s don’t have to be hard skills, it could simply be your ability to communicate, your strive to work through adversity in comparison to others.
The point you can hopefully see is our edge is dependent on the context we are in. We all have edge’s its simply identifying them. In a work context, we have edges that we can’t see and often gaps which we can see and often see repeatedly.
To help identify our edge in a work context comes from better understanding our role in the organisation and documenting what we think success looks like (with the help of a peer or manager if needed). At a minimum, a job specification can help guide one through the key characteristics.
To help you in this process I have put together a template that captures the key attributes taken from a broad selection of roles - some may not apply but could be things you aspire to in the distant future. The idea is you can take what is provided in the template and make it your own using attributes you believe ring true for your role taking advise from peers and managers alike.
Your edge can be areas where your calibrated rating is higher than other areas. I use the words higher deliberately because its not about solely being the best in one area but being better in a few areas than others. To take a sporting example, David Beckham was known for many things but his freekick taking abilities was perhaps the picture most people have in their mind when they think of his sporting successes. In reality, he had an edge in multiple areas and they were folks who can take equality good freekick but it was the context he was in where he found the edge.
Same goes for most C-Suite, they are not the best at everything. They tend to be great at 1-2 things, good at a few things and hedge against the rest (e.g. hire to cover the gap in their skill set). That’s not to say you should just ignore certain attributes of your role with a view to outsourcing them that would be mere complacency, but its knowing how far you need to go in an area.
Let’s take a relatively realistic example, you are tasked with bringing a new technology product to market -> as a minimum you will still need to understand the technology and product offering etc. that would be part of your ‘job’. If you worked out for example you were great at communicating with the team on the product requirements and liaising with the sales team on how to sell this new offering but your colleague Joan was better at project managing than you then not only are you doubling down on your edge but you are helping enable Joan’s edge. Now if you did this prior to the project starting consciously or subconsciously I would hazard a guess that the outcome would be more favorable.
Hope this helps you find your edge. If you find this template useful, please feel free to share this with friends and colleagues. More than anything else I would love to hear about some other techniques which have helped you find your edge or if you have a problem to chat through I would love to hear it -> please get in touch.