Recent leadership literature hawks the notion that leaders should be more focused on their strengths than personal weaknesses. The notion is that we should perform in our strengths and rarely call upon what we don't do well.
On the surface, this may seem like good advice, but I question whether effective leaders can afford the luxury to simply assume away a weakness. Certainly, some weaknesses really don't matter much. But leaders of organizations must have well-rounded abilities in every functional area. Leadership requires competency and character at a broad level.
Can leaders have weaknesses and still be competent? It seems to me the key is to become good enough to understand and recognize key performance in all critical areas. Leaders must understand the composition and drivers of every key performance indicator (KPI). Leaders who do not understand KPIs will not be around long.
Great strengths in a few key areas may qualify a leader for some positions. But, in order to lead an organization and develop a legacy, general knowledge and experience is required.
Growing leaders simply need to focus on "good enough."
3 quick tips for improving weaknesses:
1. Identify the weakness and seek a mentor. The first step is to simply recognize where help is needed. When the student is willing the teacher appears. A good mentor can help a leader develop workable skills in a relatively short time frame.
2. Hire into a weakness. Again, I want to stress that a leader needs broad competency, but I also encourage leaders to recruit new team members in specific areas of weakness. We don't need to hire people who have the same skill sets as we do. I want to hire stronger, faster and better employees with specific dominant skills.
3. Seek first to understand. A leader may not be able to perform in a key area but must have the competency to understand. A good goal to consider is to have the ability to ask questions at three levels:
Level 1: "Google it." – Superficial understanding. Know "about" the concept. One layer deep.
Level 2: "Tell me more" – Asking a second question in the area indicates a desire to learn more about the topic. Some level of knowledge is demonstrated by the nature of the question.
Level 3: "I understand" – Employees gain respect for leaders who demonstrate an understanding of the complexity of the work. Employees quickly lose respect for leaders who simply do not understand the nature and essence of the work.
A leader who celebrates a weakness and makes no effort to improve is probably not leading anyone including himself.
"For though He was crucified through weakness, yet He lives by the power of God. So also we are weak in Him, but we shall live with Him by the power of God serving you" (2 Cor. 13:4).
Dr. Steve Greene is the publisher and executive vice president of the media group at Charisma Media and executive producer of the Charisma Podcast Network. His book, Love Leads: The Spiritual Connection Between Your Relationships and Productivity, is now available.
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