Maximizing Your Strengths and Developing Your Weaknesses
What gets you going? What fuels your fire? What are you good at? What are you not-so-good at? Pause, ask yourself these questions, and seek feedback from others to better know and understand your strengths and weaknesses. Top performing leaders know and understand themselves. They are self-aware and this is part of their ongoing journey of “continually growing as a leader.”
Simply defined, strengths are the skills and abilities that are easy for you. They are the ones that when you are leveraging them, you do quite well, thrive and shine. You experience job satisfaction and likely higher performance. Weaknesses, on the other hand are those skills and abilities that don’t come easy and when you are using them; you might struggle, experience some frustration, job dissatisfaction and may even underperform.
As a personal example, I thrive on networking. I really enjoy meeting new people and finding how it is “we connect.” For a long time, I thought everyone just knew how to do this. After speaking with others, I realized that these traits did not come to them as easily as they do to me. It can be easy to dismiss certain skills and abilities as normal or something that everyone can do. This is not reality. We all have our own unique talent or character strengths which make us who we are.
How can you identify or confirm your unique strengths? There are various tools; I utilize and recommend StrengthsFinder 2.0 from Gallup and Tom Rath. It is about $20 and well worth it in my opinion. You’ll take a short survey, after which you’ll receive your top five strengths along with resources explaining each, how to use them, and what to focus on. This self-awareness provides you the ability to better know yourself.
It’s important to realize that one’s strengths are the value that they bring to the world, an organization, a team or a relationship. Always lead with your strengths as it allows you to demonstrate your value. This doesn’t mean to avoid any weaknesses, but rather find ways to manage or mitigate the impact of your weaknesses.
What is even more exciting and beneficial is to have the awareness of others, say your teammates. Having facilitated this team-building activity with leaders, managers and their teams, the doors open for everyone to gain the awareness, how to apply and achieve higher job satisfaction and performance overall. Interested? Feel free to reach out to me to learn more about StrengthsFinder 2.0.
While I am a fan of focusing on building upon one’s strengths, self-aware leaders know their weaknesses and find ways to manage or mitigate their impact. The process of identifying and sharing with others is an act of identifying strength. Not addressing your weaknesses is detrimental to your success. People respect a leader who recognizes that he or she is not perfect. They respect the honesty and courage it takes to admit weakness, particularly because so many leaders do not have the strength of character required for honest self-assessment – and even rarer is the leader who articulates these weaknesses.
When you know your weaknesses and where the gaps exist, you can develop a plan to be able to perform at an acceptable level. Notice I did not say the way to fix the weakness was to simply avoid it, hire someone, or even remove it. Let me explain. If you are the dairy manager, it is likely that it is your responsibility to understand the numbers on herd and feed software reports, overall costs, and how this impacts the farm’s profit and loss statement. If you do not know what the numbers mean and how they impact the profit and loss statement, then you likely have some challenges. You need to understand the reports and how it impacts the profit and loss statement to participate in discussions and to make effective decisions. This is an example where I’d encourage you to develop your weakness. It doesn’t mean you have to become an expert. It means you should develop your weakness to strengthen your ability to make effective financial decisions.
Top performing leaders know and understand themselves. They are self-aware and this is part of their ongoing journey of “continually growing as a leader.” Do not get too busy focusing on the multiple tasks of any given day and on things considered far more urgent. Pause. Developing and practicing self-awareness may not get the attention that it warrants, yet it is one of the most important things leaders can do to raise their own and their organization’s performance.