It seems to be human nature to look at our areas of weakness and then focus attention on trying to eliminate these as far as possible, rather than focusing on our strengths. But is this really an effective use of our time and energy?
Marcus Buckingham, best-selling business author and speaker, says that focusing on your weaknesses is wrong, as they only drain you. You should focus on your strengths and build on them. It is a myth that your greatest potential for growth is your areas of weakness. Focusing on them will demotivate you while focusing on your strengths will help you feel more positive and so give you energy.
But don’t confuse strengths with what you’re good at. Just because you’re good at something, it doesn’t mean you enjoy it. As Buckingham says, strengths “make you feel strong.” If something you do, no matter how well, drains you, rather consider it a weakness and focus on things you are good at, and you enjoy.
However, you can also have too much of a good thing. Robert Kaplan & Robert Kaiser, in their book, “Fear Your Strengths,” make the point that most leaders overplay their strengths and so undermine their effectiveness. They cite numerous examples, such as CEOs that are great public speakers, but don’t know when to stop, as well as real-world examples such as the executives that caused the collapse of Enron.
All agree that the key to success is listening to feedback. Find ways – often involving third parties, like coaches – to get feedback from your team on what they see as your strengths, and where you are prone to over-use any of these. Although it might be unsettling to learn that you need to restrict the use of what you see as a significant skill, as one executive in “Fear Your Strengths” said, “I don’t have to give up my fastball. I just don’t have to throw it all the time.”
Seek out ways to focus on the things you not only are good at, but enjoy, and enhance your business in this way. Or, as Ryan Kahn says, “Master your strengths. Outsource your weaknesses.”
I work with successful owner-led businesses to enhance their growth, profitability and business value.
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