Strengths vs Skills – What is the difference?

Posted on November 24, 2020
By Catherine Heilemann

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between strengths and skills?

How do you answer the question “what are your strengths?”

Do you launch in with I’m great at interpreting data?  But is that really your strength or your skill.  Perhaps your strength is that you know how to get the most out of people? Or, that you can build something from scratch?

Forbes writes about four essential strengths as your ability to get more done. Those strengths are; envision, design, build and operate. Do these resonate with you?

How about other strengths that build on the essentials?  When working with Coaching clients I often use the Via Strengths


survey to help them to connect with their strengths. There are 24 and they sit in six categories of wisdom, courage, humanity, justice, temperance and transcendence. There is no right or wrong to your strengths, and I would encourage you to do the survey yourself. It’s free and takes about 20 minutes. Let me know how you go and whether it matches your expectations.

On the other hand, skills are your ability to do something well. It’s where your expertise lies. Perhaps its accounting, marketing, sales, procurement, management, scientific research, producing etc.. They tend to be more technically focussed.

Being able to differentiate between the two is important. Why – you may be asking? In order to communicate your value you must be able to articulate the bottom line result for the organisation as achieved through the combination of your strengths (which are transferrable if you are looking to change your career) and your skills and knowledge in specific areas. Getting a grasp on how they complement one another and to highlight them in ways that draw attention to your value is key for your personal brand, career growth and job hunting.

A client recently said to me “It’s hard to self-promote – even if you’re in sales yourself”. That’s where the value of having a Coach comes in. One of my key strengths is my ability to see through what is being presented, find the essence, and then help clients see themselves differently. This insight helps them learn how to deal with whatever is happening at that time in a different way.

The client I just mentioned came to me with a list of tasks they did in their work. That’s a great starting point. Through further discussion I found they had enabled some quite remarkable business outcomes with low tech solutions that have reaped many hundreds of times the return on investment for clients. It took some coaching and coaxing and when it came out that opened up the discussion to what else could be uncovered. Their strengths are curiosity, envisioning and customer outcomes. What are yours?

Strengths vs Skills – What is the difference?

Strengths vs Skills

Wha’ts the difference?

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