Strengths Myths

In Strengths Based Leadership the authors said, “A leader needs to know his strengths as a carpenter knows his tools, as a physician knows the instruments at her disposal. What great leaders have in common is that each truly knows his or her strengths.” If you want to maximize your strengths then it requires avoiding the common myths that prevent you from being efficient in your strengths and leadership. I have found at least 2 strength myths leaders need to avoid:

Myth 1-Strengthen weaknesses- In the past decade, researchers and experts have discovered that trying to develop a weakness into a strength is counterproductive. If you put energy, effort, and time at trying to develop a weakness then it will prevent you from becoming stronger in areas of your strengths.  It’s important to remember you will never become great in your weak areas. Donald Clifton said, “Each person’s greatest room for growth is in the areas of his or her greatest strength.” Leaders are effective when they focus and develop areas of strengths.

Myth 2- Be well rounded- In Now, Discover Your Strengths the authors say,

“Our research into human strengths does not support the extreme, and extremely misleading, assertion that ‘you can play any role you set your mind to,’ but it does lead us to this truth: Whatever you set your mind to, you will be most successful when you craft your role to play to your signature talents most of the time.”

If you try to be good in all areas then you will not be able to become the best in your strength zones. Leaders need to remember a master of all is actually a master of none. When it comes to your strengths the key is to be narrow and not broad. To focus on your specific strengths and become strong in those areas while avoiding the myth of being well rounded.

Question: Can you think of any other strength myths?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • I really like this part, “master of all is actually a master of none”.
    I could spend the rest of my life trying to master my weak area of math. In the end, I could get better at it, but I don’t have a passion for it and I would only get bored. So why bother? I’ll leave math for those who like it and I will stick to writing! That is something I can improve and enjoy doing it at the same time!

    • TC Avey,

      You bring up a great point. Our strengths and passions are connected with each other. When we focus on weakness we might never really have a passion for it.

      I’m also weak in math:)

      Thank you for reading and sharing.

  • Bernard Haynes

    Excellent post. A few years ago I worked extremely hard on a couple of weaknesses to only get modest improvement. I realized the time I spent working on weaknesses that brought minimum results, I could spend that time working on my strengths to better results. Since I made that change I have seen my strengths take off.

    • Bernard,

      Your story is a perfect example of why it’s essential to stay away from our weaknesses. It’s great to hear you made the switch. Thank you for sharing it.

  • floyd

    For the sake of discussion, I’d say there are areas that strengths become our weaknesses. To play to our strengths to an extreme, specifically for our own purposes and not the Father’s, becomes the very thing that destroys our lives; too much of a good thing so to speak.

    We touched on it yesterday, which was a great time. It was a pleasure to meet face to face Dan. Thanks for another thought provoking post.

    • Such a true point Floyd. When we are not guided by God then our strengths become weak.

      It was great meeting you. Thank you for taking the time to meet.

  • Two great myths that need to be broken. Both I have fallen into due to various circumstances and upbringings.

    Another on I would add is You’re stronger by yourself. We trick and deceive ourselves into this mindset and when our world comes crashing down we wonder why.

    • Joe,

      What a great addition. It takes a group of people who are strong in our weak ares and more talented then us to really have a well rounded team. It allows a team to achieve and be successful.

      Thank you for your insight.

  • Dan great myths here. I believe since we are taught incorrectly it leads to us leading incorrectly with these myths. One I would add would be that because of a title you have you are automatically a Leader. Huge Myth in my book.

    • Great myth Lincoln Parks. It’s all about how we have been taught. I know we both could share a dozen examples about that one. Because a person has a title does not mean they hold the influence. I appreciate your thoughts. Thank you for sharing.

    • Bernard Haynes

      So true Mr. Parks. I see this played out in so many organizations I have been and am involved in.

  • I am one of those who once believed these two myths. Have since discovered that focusing on my weaknesses is really debilitating and i cannot be all things to all people.

    • Glad you have been able to break away from them. Thank you for reading and sharing.

  • It just makes sense Dan, focus on what you’re strong at, you’ll get better results. I think I’ve fallen to these myths in the past. Another strength myth: the stong don’t fall.

    • It’s so simple but sometimes a challenge. But knowing is the first step in remembering to avoid them. Great addition, even the strong and most talented people fail. Thank you for reading and commenting.

  • Great points, Dan! One myth that I have fallen prey to is to “let disputes between coworkers iron themselves out.”. Never happens. It just causes more tension the longer it remains unresolved. And not only do the two parties not work well together, but everyone else is uncomfortable either hearing about it constantly or working between them!

    Counterproductive, epic fail.

    • Scott,

      I totally agree, disputes need to be dealt with and not left unsettled. Thank you for sharing this myth.

  • Fake it to make it, ha. You nailed it with these and thanks for the book suggestions.

    • Glad you enjoyed the post and books. I recommend both of them. Thanks for stopping by.

  • I think we are all susceptible to putting too much focus into “strengthening our weaknesses”. It’s natural in a Go-getter’s mind! Lol but yes i totally agree, we get much more out of embellishing upon our strengths. Excellent post.

    Ryan Paul Ridgway – | Founder and Key

    • Ryan,

      It’s true “Go-getter’s” and achievers are often so focused on moving forward that we forget to focus on our strengths and avoid our weak areas. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • Dan,I agree. I thought I used to need to work on my weaknesses. Granted, I don’t want my weaknesses to bring me down, but I like to hire people who will make the team better and bring other things to the team than me.
    I also tend to focus on two or three things rather than everything our team does. I think that helps me stay out of everyone’s way and allows me to do what I’m best at.

    • Hiring people who are strong in weak areas is so important. Thank you for mentioning that aspect. A person should not be well rounded but a team should be. Thank you for reading and sharing.

      • Brilliantly said. Perfect reason for having a team.

  • DS

    I believe we can go to both extremes – completely neglecting our weakness or pouring everything we have into overcoming weakness. While I have accepted areas of weakness, I cannot simply ignore them – either. Becoming aware of a weakness, and understanding how you can manage that weakness is a key part of the process.

    • Agreed. I think the 80/20 rule can be applied to our strengths and weaknesses. Spend 80 percent in areas of strengths while 20 percent sharpening and using areas of weakness. What do you think?

  • Love these, and so true. God granted us all gifts, we should utilize those gifts instead of trying to force others. Great write up Dan.

    • Cole,

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Focusing on and using our strengths is being a steward with what God has given us. Thank you for stopping by to read and share.

  • Brian

    Agree completely! As it applies to the business world, focus on what you are good at, and hire (outsource) for the things you are not good at.

    • Great point about hiring(outsourcing) on things your not good at or should not be doing. Thank you for reading and sharing Brian.