My greatest success as a leader has come from embracing my weaknesses and learning to develop them, speak to them and leverage them. Because of this focus and approach, I was able to grow myself, my team, and the great results we produced. Often, leaders are told to play to their strengths, and that this will help to overcome or bypass any weaknesses. This “secret” to my success – and many others whom I’ve worked with – is to embrace and leverage my weaknesses.
I first discovered this secret when my HR Leader explained that a portion of my team felt it was very important that I know I was not their favorite person. That was not my greatest moment. I was sad and they were frustrated, which made me curious to know what they felt and needed. I sat with them each individually and gained their insights, suggestions, and directions on what was needed become better managers and leaders. Each person told me where I added the most value to them, what I could do differently, and how it could help them be even better.
I learned to understand and embrace where I was weak and seek out input and direction from others to get stronger. By doing this, I engaged others in the process, had them participate in my growth, and had them feel positive success because of their input. It was a win for me because I learned new skills. It also was a win for the team members because they saw that they could help make positive changes happen, as well as a win for the greater company because I turned my learnings into training materials and practices to support other managers and leaders.
It became very clear to me that the path of leadership is not about being right, perfect, pushing, or all-knowing… it is about being open to the input of others, learning new skills, adapting and changing, engaging others in the process, creating open discussions where others can ask for what they need, and showing others’ appreciation for the small steps along the way. These are the core areas of focus in coaching and group facilitation. The weaknesses I had, became the gateway to developing and coaching high-performing teams and leaders. Because they are not my innate strengths, I had to learn, practice, and hone these skills, which has made me a natural teacher of how to develop weaknesses into strengths.
I have a firm belief that anyone can grow and develop new skills, as well as develop their weaknesses. The only requirements are to be open to receiving feedback and a willingness to be humble while learning. After coaching and developing leaders around the world for over 20 years, I can tell you this method works. Out of the hundreds of leaders I have worked with, 98% have turned their weaknesses into new strengths, which ultimately provides better results for the individual and everyone they impact.
My hope is that you are inspired to begin or continue to seek feedback from those around you:
- Where do they need more from you?
- Where do they need less from you?
After team members have given you the information, thank them. Do not try and justify your practice or way. Develop a set of new practices and measure your effectiveness based on the feedback from others. It is this simple.
Continue to get insightful feedback in order to develop and grow in the changing dynamics of the world!