• Beware of Your Strengths

    There are several best selling books out that focus on developing and using your strengths. These include Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton.

    I’ve always been a believer that we should put more time into developing our strengths than working on our weakness. Leaders are people who have distinguished themselves through their strengths. Of course, we all have weaknesses. But, if we are preoccupied with eliminating our weaknesses, we have a long road ahead of us. Now, that doesn’t mean we should ignore our weaknesses. Rather, we should work to have our weaknesses not get in the way of our ambition and our ability to create results.

    We need to be acutely aware of both our strengths and weaknesses. I am going to state something that may be counter-intuitive:

    Leaders are more likely to get into trouble by “misemploying” their strengths than by stumbling upon a weakness.

    When faced with a difficult situation leaders are likely to revert to the strengths that have served them well in the past. Like and overused muscle these strengths often get employed like a knee jerk reaction. In many cases this works for the leader. But, occasionally, the leader “misemploys” the strength. That is, the strength has no relevance to the difficult situation but the leader employs it anyway out of instinct. Before the leader is aware of it the situation has gotten worse. The response might be to apply more strength or a dig deeper hole. Look behind the story of a failed leader and I suspect you will find a misused strength.

    When the going gets tough be aware of your instinctive response. Examine whether you might be applying a strength inappropriately.

    Pushing the Edge of Your Thinking

    • Do you know what strengths distinguish you as a leader?
    • How has that strength served your success in the past?
    • Can you remember a situation when you employed the strength out of instinct and found yourself in trouble?

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