I’m learning that Leaders have weaknesses with their strengths.
Specifically, I’ve recently observed that . . .
1. Leaders have difficulty naming their unique strengths. Leaders tend to be good at a lot of things. But in talks with Leaders I work with, they are often fuzzy on the one-of-a-kind abilities they bring to their companies . . . the abilities they have that no one else does. Without clarity on these strengths, a Leader can miss opportunities for their most powerful contributions. The book StrengthsFinder 2.0, along with it’s online Strengths assessment, is a simple but useful tool for identifying personal strengths.
2. Leaders get distracted by their weaknesses and don’t use their strengths. We have been trained to find what is going wrong and fix it. Leaders do this with their direct reports. I do this with my kids. We do this with ourselves, getting obsessed with fixing what is broken rather than growing what is already good . . . and making it great. Marcus Buckingham’s last two books (Now, Discover Your Strengths and Go Put Your Strengths to Work) have served as a catalyst for redirecting the focus from faults to fortes.
3. Leaders fail to see anything special about their strengths. One of my clients is a CEO gifted with creativity and vision. We had lunch one day when he was at a low point – discouraged by months of unrelenting storms that had rocked his company. When reminded of his creative strengths, he initially shrugged them off. He did not see them as exceptional, because creativity came easily to him. I pointed out that his brand of creativity is unique and pushed him to focus on maximizing this strength. A week later, after focusing his time around the strengths he possessed and could control, he was “back,” leading his company in new directions that he couldn’t envision the week before.
4. Leaders neglect to operate from their strengths. Many “worthy” opportunities come along that distract a Leader from doing what they do best. A successful Leader will always be sifting through many requests to do things that others think only that Leader can do. An entrepreneur friend recently announced to me that two words define the domain of his strengths – “Ideas” and “Place.” He has been using these words as filters for the many projects that come his way because he has gained clarity on where he should focus his unique abilities.
So . . . my takeaways from learning about strengths . . .
- I need to be clear on what my strengths are;
- I must give much greater emphasis to growing my strengths than compensating for my weaknesses;
- I need to recognize that my combination of strengths is unique and powerful;
- I need to be intentional about continuously operating from my strengths.