Should You Ignore your Weaknesses and Leverage Your Strengths?

Our local newspaper here in Toronto carried an article recently by Harvey Schachter entitled “Ten Flawed Leadership Gems”.   He was  quoting  from a blog by Dan McCarthy out of the University of New Hampshire where Dan lists his take on ten common leadership flaws.

One of them was Ignore your Weaknesses and Leverage Your Strengths.  Remember, these are ten FLAWED leadership traits.

“We’re told we’re paid for our strengths and need to develop them.” But although research claims to show this is true, he notes that other research counters that advice – as does the logic of what we see around us in the workplace. “The reality is that weaknesses matter. If the skill is important and you are weak, then you need to improve as it will hold you back,” he said. If your boss or a 360-degree evaluation identifies a weakness in an important area, be alert.

In my book “The Keys to Our Success” I contributed a chapter called Never Go In Alone where I suggest that we all need to find our weaknesses and fill the void.   Take a course, hire a coach, consult with a mentor. There are many ways to fill the gap between your strengths and your weaknesses.

The hardest part, of course, is identifying the weakness and admitting to it.  In my experience, it’s not usually ourselves that identify the weakness but a boss, a peer, or worse yet… a family member!  And when we are first told that we are not a very good presenter, or we are a little hot on temper once too often or we need to work on our attention to detail… we do not take it well.

My wife is my sounding board and my mirror.  She is the one that will often tell me I need to fix some part of my professional life: an approach I take, a style of communication I use or a way I work with someone.

My current project?  I get way too engaged, passionate and over ‘exuberant’ for my own good.   People don’t like it. Or so I am told!  Truthfully, I don’t agree but this only goes to point out that this part of the exercise is the hardest.

I have often said in front of an audience, “the best of us, the strongest of us, will be able to look into a mirror, find the gaps and act on them”.  So should I.  So should you.

Should we focus on our strengths? Of course.  This is what makes us succeed.  We leverage our strengths to be the best we can be in our field of endeavour.   But do we ignore our weaknesses?  Certainly not.  This would be a huge mistake.  Find them.  Strategize a plan to fix them.  Get some help and act.

Yes, I am working on my over exuberance.  I am trying to tone it down!

Next, I am told that I have work on my listening skills.   Ugh!!!

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