Most people in authority positions have been high achievers throughout their lives, and they continue in the quest to be better. What we hear most often from clients from all sorts of organizations are requests to improve on the things they aren’t good at—to build up what is currently lacking. While it is certainly important to improve on weaknesses, it is the opposite practice that might better improve one’s ability to be a great leader.
Are we saying that you should take what you are already good at, and get better at it? The answer is yes. The data from extensive global research in leadership-development clearly suggests that it’s people’s strengths that distinguishes them in an organization—essentially, being so good at certain things that people will forgive, or not even think about your weakness.
Why does this work?
1) It makes you a more dynamic and dimensional leader– The most important leadership skills are interrelated. For example, effective communication includes listening, resolving conflict, compassion, focused attention, and interpersonal relations. If you are already a good communicator, you can work on being compassionate or improve your ability to resolve conflict—thereby improving two other leadership skills and making you an even better communicator.
Think of it this way, if Stacy is a good distance runner, she could further improve her ability to run by lifting weights, running short sprints, or doing yoga for flexibility—related, complimentary skills that will improve her overall athletic ability and make her an even better runner. Stacy is still focusing on her strength, but improving it by improving other aspects of herself.
2) It is more fun to focus on what you are good at—People get overwhelmed and often shutdown when working on negative aspects of themselves. Improving what you already do well is much more fun, making it more likely that you will stick to the efforts and actually improve your leadership ability. Follow-through and accountability is the number one culprit in leadership development plans. A strengths-based program increases the likelihood of the program’s success.
So, own your strengths, and begin to make them stronger.