By Urs Koenig, PhD, MBA, Leadership Keynote Speaker
I think I am a quite successful person. My professional, academic, athletic, and personal achievements make me proud.
In the 40+ years of working to obtain my achievements, I have exhibited particular strengths:
- Task-centered orientation
Occasionally, I am at fault of overdoing my strengths by appearing too:
- One-track minded
It is likely you are told that you should not focus too much of your time on building your weaknesses, and instead be passable in your weak areas and perfect your strengths. This is all based on the thinking that you will never become amazing at a skill in which you were originally weak. You can build your weaknesses to an adequate level, then surround yourself with people who excel at your weaknesses. Apply your time and energy to improve your strength to be world-class level. Be an expert in one subject vs. proficient in many.
Now, I agree that focusing on building excellence in a few select areas is useful but there is an important factor that is missing from the above mindset:
By continuously focusing on increasing our strengths, we tend to not realize that we are overdoingthem! Recall my example in the beginning. Too easily, I can jump from being determined, focused, and goal oriented to one-track minded and inflexible!
So, one of the outright truths I swear by and often refer to during leadership training is:
Each weakness is a strength overdone!
My strengths include focusand discipline. When I overdo them, I can become rigidand unadaptable.
Your team member might have strengths such as empathyand sensitivity. When he overdoes them, he might forget about the business agenda and even possibly become a pushover.
Your peer might be confident and a good presenter. She might overemphasize her strength and be seen as arrogant.
Think about these questions:
- Ask a close friend: “What are my top three strengths? What are my top three weaknesses?” Ask your friend to be 100 % honest with you!
- In your personal and professional life, what is your most outstanding strength? How might you be overdoing this strength, so it becomes a weakness?
- What is something you can do today as a first step to address your overemphasized strength?