Strengths, Struggles and Stressors! What’s Yours?

stressed lady with hands in head working

by Karen J Goold

Do you know your strengths, struggles and stressors, and how these are affecting those around you?

Much of our behaviour is unconscious and only becomes apparent as the “reputation” we have in the office. And our reputation can be very different to our internal dialogue or intention. But reputation is what we will be hired or fired on, and what determines the roles we’re offered.

Although most of us think we know how others see us, we’re often wrong.


If you’ve ever received feedback that you’ve thought just isn’t you, or wasn’t how your actions were intended to be seen/felt – that’s a key that your reputation might not be the same as the person you internally identify as.

The reason is because everything you say and do comes from your own inner thoughts and feelings, but others see the outward actions. You need to be able to find a way to see your words and actions through others’ eyes.

The best leaders know themselves and understand their natural responses, the actions others see, especially in response to stress. Rather than be carried away with their emotions, they have worked out strategies to stop these behaviours from causing conflict and communication issues, or even derailing their career prospects.

They have also identified what behaviours are frustrating or confusing for others.

When they know what their natural tendencies are, they can make a choice. This is the key to self-awareness – once you’re aware, you can learn what the triggers are, and then choose how you want to react. Saves on the hindsight and apologies needed for inappropriate responses in the moment!

These responses usually come from a threat: The paranoid executive learns he gets like that when people are whispering in corners. The cautious manager gets nervous when an employee suggests a change and says, “no,” before really considering it.

Most people over-estimate their own charms and abilities, so we need techniques which can provide a truer understanding. Additionally, it’s usually an aspect of behaviour (driven by personality) that creates problems in organisations. And these kinds of problems often show up with a conflict on appraisal ratings between what is offered and what the person thinks they’re worth or have achieved.

Do you know how people really see you when you’re at your best, or when you’re stressed, uncertain or in a novel environment? What strengths may be helpful in one context but can be a hindrance in another, with the potential to end up becoming weaknesses?

We have our unique set of personality traits, but through self-awareness and understanding, we can learn to nudge them along a sliding scale so they can work in our favour. Not only our favour, but also for all those we are working with, reducing frustration and confusion.

The advantages of self-awareness include:

  • Understanding motivations – what drives you to do the things you do
  • Understanding your reactions to situations including stress, uncertainty and novel environments
  • Choices in your management of yourself and others
  • Adapting behaviour to situations and to those you work with
  • Capitalising on strengths
  • Confidence as a leader and in work contributions
  • Better decision making, communication skills and conflict management ability

Coaching is great way to enhance self-awareness and emotional intelligence. Understand your emotions, stress triggers, confidence changers, negative and positive beliefs and habits affecting your leadership ability.

Assiem coaching always starts with the human behaviours of the individual, and then uses that knowledge for specific leadership and team needs.

There are many benefits to finding out about your specific strengths, struggles and stressors. We can help you find yours.

About the author

Karen has worked in leadership and coaching roles for over 20 years, within the Financial Services industry and with blue chip/FMCG companies, and now uses that extensive customer-focused knowledge, combined with being a practitioner in Applied Neuroscience, NLP and the MBTI, to provide client-specific coaching through Assiem Ltd. Go to for more information on executive coaching available.