When it comes to leadership, there are a lot of folks out there relying solely on their strengths to lead people. How much of a good thing becomes a bad thing? Furthermore, when were weaknesses such a bad thing?
I remember several years ago, a good friend and former boss of mine said, “Knowing my weaknesses is more important than knowing my strengths.” That single statement made a difference in the way I help leaders fix relationship problems as a result over accentuating their strengths and under developing their weaknesses.
Take for example, one person with a great attention to detail. This type of person, when under pressure, can become a micro manager who wastes time, budget, and puts a strain on team relations. Leaders believe that they should hold firmly to their strengths and over accentuate them during times of stress as these strengths are what make them special.
During times of stress, a leader should monitor their strenghts and how over doing them can affect their team and collaboration. This requires communication and self awareness. For example, a leader could say to her direct reports, “I know that I am very detail-oriented person, sometimes to the point of micro-managing. Please let me know when I am overstepping my boundaries.”
It’s not easy to admit to direct reports that our strengths can sometimes get the best of us, but it’s refreshingly honest and aware.
Which leads me to the next point of under developing weaknesses. Ignoring and under developing weaknesses can be fatal for a department. I’ve seen many a department manager turn a blind eye when their employees complain about their manager’s weaknesses. When employees see leaders ignore their weaknesses, they become bitter towards their leader’s lack of self awareness and denial of change.
Additionally, in order to move to the next level, we need to acknowledge and strengthen our weaknesses. The major body of my work relies on developing weaknesses. Clients don’t like hearing about their weaknesses, but they acknowledge their need to conquer them in order to move on. Small, systematic action with improved communication can turn weaknesses into strengths.
Overrating strengths and ignoring weaknesses can wreak havoc amongst a team. It can cause even the most talented leaders to hit bottom.
Have you seen a leader self destruct or hurt team performance? What do you think?