Finding strength in your weaknesses

Let’s be honest – you’ve probably lost count of how many times you have had a performance review, and your boss goes through all the things you do well, and then there’s a pause. For effect. And then you have to listen to him tell you about your “areas of opportunity” and how you need to improve your performance in those areas.

We hear so much these days about working in your strengths. Author Tom Rath’s book Strengthsfinder 2.0 as well as author Marcus Buckingham’s books Now, Discover Your Strengths, Go Put Your Strengths To Work, and Standout, all encourage us to identify our assets and utilize them more effectively.

Yet as a leader, you probably will have responsibility for areas that are not your strengths. So how do you work around that and still help your team succeed?

One of my “areas of opportunity” is public speaking. As a high C on the DISC profile, I am all about details, planning, and strategies. Give me a big problem and I can break it down into smaller pieces and get those organized into a logical progression to get to the solution.

But tell me I have to present that solution to a group of people (more than maybe 5), and I freeze up and start looking for excuses why someone else should do it.

Over the years, I have discovered some strategies to cope with my areas of weakness, that may help you become more effective in your leadership:

  • Partner– combine efforts with someone who is strong in the area(s) you are not, and share the responsibility.
  • Train – learn how to do it – take classes, do exercises, work with someone – you may never consider it a strength, but at least you can improve.
  • Practice – make time to work on that area so that you are more comfortable with the tools, skills or process.
  • Write it out – write down what you hope to accomplish, whether that’s the outcome of a project or situation, so you can gain confidence. Seeing what “successfully finished” looks like can help you see alternatives to getting there.
  • Discipline – just buckle down and do it. Thinking about it is often worse than just doing it.

While a good leader works within his strength areas to excel with his team, a great leader does not shrink back from finding ways to overcome his weaknesses. The key is to find the strategies to work through  the weakness and still accomplish the goal.

As a leader, what do you do to overcome your weaknesses?