“My attitude is that if you push me towards something that you think is a weakness, then I will turn that perceived weakness into a strength.”—Michael Jordan
Most of us think in order to be successful we have to be absolutely good at everything. However, this is an imperfect world, and we are imperfect people. We all have things we are great at, things we can do relatively well, and then we have things that we suck at on different levels.That’s okay.
As leaders, we might have been told to “play to our strengths,” more than once in our lives. There’s value in playing to your strengths—it is effortless on our part to achieve something by doing things that we are already good at, and it builds confidence, which is a very helpful tool for leaders. However, simply focusing on our strengths might not always be enough, especially if you are an entrepreneur.
You probably experienced that at some point. I’ve been playing to my strengths, but it is not good enough to reach my goal. Is this the limit of my effectiveness as a leader?
One great way to overcome our weaknesses, in the context of our careers, is to hire people who are great at what we lack. It builds the skill of hiring the right people to do the job, and it is a great exercise in trusting and empowering others. But there are some skills that we can’t simply delegate, especially if they play a major role in our businesses.
This can be scary: There is always the possibility that we will fail. And it is always uncomfortable to get an honest good look at the things we don’t excel at.
Identifying our weaknesses is a practice that involves a lot of vulnerability and discomfort. However, if we want to break free from those constraints that stop us from achieving our goals and reaching new heights, we need to identify the things that are holding us back in order to address them.
While capitalizing on our strengths can get us part of the way, we need to invest in working on our weaknesses to get there. That’s how we realize our full potential.
Moreover, we might think that our weaknesses are personal, but as leaders, these constraints also affect the people we lead and the people we love. Our weaknesses are not just about us. We don’t live in a vacuum. That’s why it is important to work on improving them.
The good news is this: Once we’ve found a way to break through these personal constraints, we will see a leap in our overall performance. It is not just a gradual improvement but a huge jump to the next level.
So, how can we break through our weaknesses?
The first step, as I’ve mentioned, is identifying them. It takes a lot of courage and vulnerability to do, but it pays off really well. The next step is diving deeper into how you can grow from those constraints. Do you need to take a training course? Maybe, look for a coach?
Sometimes, all we need to overcome a perceived weakness is to get a different yet honest perspective from someone we trust. It could be your partner, your spouse, a mentor, or a coach. It could even be a member of your team or your kids (if you have any).
These inputs are valuable coming from the point of view of others who observe you, care about you, and from the people who are following your lead. And these people can also act as your accountability partners in the process of overcoming your constraints.
Another way to overcome your weakness is by being very prepared. If it is public speaking skills that you lack, practicing your presentation in front of a trusted handful of people can help you gain some confidence. Or if you are the type to easily get lost, having a GPS and offline (or paper) maps on hand will help you be more confident that you won’t get lost. The same is true with whatever skills you think you need to work on to be more successful.
Aside from hiring the skills you lack, you also need to learn just enough to know whether a project you want to achieve is actually doable (in the timeframe you’ve given), or not. Trusting your team is a good exercise in being a better leader, but you still need at least the bare minimum knowledge and skill in order to keep you and your team aligned without being unreasonable and unrealistic.
The good thing about being a leader in the position of overcoming your weakness, you can use your experience to help others with similar problems. We are responsible for helping others grow, and what better way to do that than by showing them how you helped yourself grow?
Leadership is more than just being in a position of authority. It is a holistic exercise that affects you and the ones that you lead. Even though we are in a leadership position, we need guidance at times. And that’s okay. That’s how we grow and become better leaders and people.
Thank you for reading A Brilliant Tribe.