There are two types of leader: those that are willing to discover their strengths and weaknesses and openly share them, and those who are only willing to share their strengths.
I believe both types know their weaknesses, but only one is mature enough and secure enough to point them out. As far as I have experienced, all leaders go through a time in their lives when they don’t want anyone to know that they aren’t strong in an area. They try so hard to keep up an image of someone who can do anything.
But those that are more mature understand that discovering your weaknesses can only enhance your strengths. How? It’s simple. Once you understand the areas you struggle in, you can support yourself with people who are considerably strong than you in those same areas. The problem is, people become afraid that if a weakness is apparent, then their leadership must be flawed. Which is a view taken only by other immature leaders.
The truth is, if you can stay more focused in your strengths, you can accomplish greater things. I was talking with one of the coolest members of our team, Charlie Allen, about how he has a job because his leader, Michael Reddish, spoke up about areas that he was weak in. As Michael realized that he was strong in being a big picture and visionary guy, and weaker in extensive research, he discovered the best way for him to continue to grow his area was to bring in someone who was really strong in research area and details.
Charlie mentioned that if it wasn’t for Michael’s revelation, Charlie wouldn’t have a job with us. I partially disagree…Charlie’s a champion, he would’ve found his way in. But it really raises a great question. Do you recognize your areas of strength and weakness? if not, here are a few things you can do discover them:
- Write yourself up – Start by writing a lists of both strengths and weaknesses to the best of your recognition. The important thing here is to be brutally honest with yourself. It’s okay to not be great at everything. Trust me when I say that you will be much happier spending your time doing what you love, instead of what you can.
- Humble yourself – Ask your spouse or best friend to weigh in. I know, this is way harder than it sounds for some people. But who knows you better? Let them know what you’re wanting them to do and give them time to process it. Then, when they are ready, LISTEN! Take what they have to say and process it yourself. You may not agree with it all, but as you continue leading, you may begin to see some of those stand out.
- It’s your turn – Talk with team members that you trust and respect and ask their opinion. These are the people who work with you the closest. They get to see your strengths and weaknesses played out everyday, even if you don’t think so. Again, give them time to process the question before they answer.
You’re ultimate goal should be to grow as a leader. If you don’t support your weaknesses with people who are strong, then you’ll continue spending time in those areas. Get some courage and tackle this process as soon as you can. You’ll be amazed at what you find out.
Question: Have you seen leaders do this, or leaders who need to?
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Ok, Chris, I asked my spouse and she pretty much said I’m unpredictable because she doesn’t understand my process for discarding dish towels. She says it’s totally random and based on zero logic.
HAHAHA…well, she does have a point.
Been working on 1 and 2 the last couple months, and i don’t like not being great at everything:) the two lists are almost the same, but its been an interesting exercise to say the least, based on this, i’m almost sure of what i want to be when i grow up!. The plan being it has to be based on my strengths, and off course something i’m crazily passionate about!. Great post.
I know how you feel! Thanks!
I think for most people we know our weaknesses better than we realize. It’s important that we compensate for our weaknesses by surrounding ourselves with people who can help us. I’ve recently added a new admin assistant and she is amazing. Our team is really functioning at a high level right now because she is passionate about what she is doing.
Howard Dayton once told me that passion on fire is better than trained not!
It took a while, but I discovered what everyone on my team already knew – I was terrible at “operations” and “processing” but great in sales and “rainmaking”. When I finally realized that if I would operate in my area of “brilliance” and they operate in THEIR area of “brilliance” – we would be more productive and HAPPIER!
And are you?