The strength of a leader is what propels them to great success in leading their team, achieving the team’s mission and vision while providing superior leadership, motivation, and support to the individual members within the team. Many people can tell you their strengths, but few are able (or willing) to tell you their weaknesses. As a leader, it is important to know the strengths and weakness of your team – and yourself – so you can properly manage your team.
A strength is the attribute one has that surpasses other attributes within themselves, and may also exceed that of others. Basically, this is the one thing (or several things) that you are the best at – motivating people through positive means, managing complex projects while remaining calm, inspiring others to achieve great results, and so on.
A weakness is the opposite of a strength. This is the attribute one has that needs the greatest improvement. This is the thing (or things) that you struggle with the most; you likely cringe at the thought of doing it. This may be public speaking, organizing a project meeting, or developing standard operating procedures.
Everyone has strengths and weaknesses
Yes, you and I both have strengths as well as weaknesses. Everyone does. Weaknesses are also relative to strengths. For example, an Olympic boxer may have a knock-out right hook but may need to improve his left jab. His weakness is his left jab. Similarly, a published author and international speaker may be better at public speaking than writing. Her weakness is writing. To the average person, they are great at both – there is no appearance of a weakness. Keep in mind that having a weakness does not make one weak. A weakness is just the area where one needs improvement.
Managing strengths and weaknesses to success
Once your team’s strengths and weaknesses are known, you can then properly assign best person for the job. This will increase the probability of success as you are placing the right person in a job based on their strengths. For example, you would place an individual with excellent communication skills in a marketing position; however, you would not place someone with little computer skills in a help desk position.
However, it is the leader’s responsibility to improve the individual’s and team’s weaknesses so they become better in these areas – they become more effective overall. Weaknesses should be improved upon regularly, to bring them closer to a strength, and if not a strength then to a level of confidence and competence. Placing individuals and teams in positions that require the use of a weakness should be done to improve them, resulting in professional development and growth.
A strength becomes a weakness
As you manage your team and improve identified weakness, it is equally important to continually maintain or improve its strengths. A strength ignored becomes a weakness over time. This applies greatly to perishable skills such as IT work. It is easier to stay current than to start over from the beginning.
Great strengths handled incorrectly
Your greatest strength may be your greatest weakness if leveraged too heavily and mismanaged.
I will use myself as an example. One of my strengths is I see the positive in situations and people. I tend to be an optimist, desire to help others succeed, and am often considered a “nice guy.” How could this be a bad thing? Enter my weakness. By giving people the benefit of the doubt too often, I lose sight of some people’s intent to “pull a fast one” on me. This quickly becomes a “give an inch and they will take a mile” moment. What do you do in this situation? Follow a, “don’t take my kindness for weakness” attitude and remain caring but firm.
A summary… in bullets.
Jared W. Snow