How Leaders Handle Personal Weaknesses

Every leader has a different set of personal strengths. We are most productive and effective when we are working in our strength zones. This means we are not as good or productive when working outside of our strengths. It’s a fact every leader has areas of weakness. Donald Clifton in Now, Discover Your Strength said, “Our definition of a weakness is anything that gets in the way of excellent performance.” So what can a leader do about their weaknesses? Below are three suggestions:

1. Delegate– Be intentional about having people around you who are strong in the areas of your weakness. Remember a leader should not be well rounded but their team should. When you have a well rounded team you are able to assign roles or tasks to the people who have strengths in the areas you weak in. It doesn’t make sense to be wasting time and working in an area when someone else can do it better and faster than you. Be deliberate about delegating your areas of weakness to the people around you.

2. Manage- Very few leaders are able to completely concentrate on areas of strength 100 percent of the time. The key is to manage your time and energy so you are spending the majority of your time working in areas of strengths. A leader’s role can have many responsibilities and sometimes a leader is not able to delegate a weakness. Certain times avoiding a weak area is not a option and the best solution it to accomplish what needs to be done so you can move back into your strength zones.

3. Focus on strengths- Do whatever you can to position yourself so you’re working in areas of strengths. When you concentrate and work in your strength zones you will see the best results and productivity. Everyone benefits from a leader who is working in areas of strengths. Begin the process by implementing the first two steps into your leadership.

Questions: How do you stay focused on your strengths? What are some other ways a leader can handle personal weaknesses? 

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

  • And let’s not forget . . . we can always turn areas of weakness into strengths. It takes time and effort, but sometimes that’s the right choice. A good leader should always be learning.

    Improve your strengths, shore up your weaknesses, build the best team, and then get out of their way. That’s some good leadership there.

    Cheers!

    • Exactly, Trevor! I was just about to mention that I approach weaknesses in a different way. I’d even say one of my biggest strengths is to turn my weaknesses into something powerful and strong.

      I take advantage of what I’m good at, I study up and practice what I’m not good at, and I come out stronger than ever before. Weaknesses of yourself can be exploited if you’re conscious of the issue and it is something you can change.

      • What do you think about Joe’s response to Trever and you? I’m personal more productive when working in areas of my strengths and when I work in weak areas it seems to drain me.

        • I don’t know, perhaps it’s dependent on both the person and the weakness we’re talking about. This may seem lame, but fashion and girls were without a doubt my two biggest weaknesses when I was younger. Without wanting to sound too arrogant, I’d vaguely describe myself as being very well versed in fashion and am very good with women now. That’s just a couple examples of completely flipping my biggest flaws and turning them into a “weapon” that I can use to portray myself as a leader.

          • I think those are most young mens weakens:)

            I see those areas more as skills or learned experience rather than a natural strength. It’s important to grow our skills or competence especially if it will allow us to move toward our potential. However, we are naturally gifted in some areas over others. In areas of strength their might be certain areas we can and should work on so our strengths are sharper. I think we could write a entire book discussion this topic:) It has so many variables.

    • Excellent point Trevor but we often find ourselves in trouble when we begin working too hard on weaknesses. We spend too much time doing things we’d be much better off handing to others who not only do it well but enjoy the tasks given to them.

      • I totally agree with you Joe. We can never really become great in areas of weakness and waist a lot of time and energy when we try to become better in the areas we are weak in.

  • Love the post and picture too Dan! One of my weaknesses is still indecisiveness. That seems to be one of my works in progress…

    • Thanks for reading and sharing Chris. It’s great your aware of it and are working through it.

  • In my life I have to constantly be weeding out those activities that I don’t really need to be doing, if I don’t I’ll be quickly overwhelmed. Sometimes I get involved in things that I think I’m good at only to find that it’s really not a strength like I thought it was. I find that it can be helpful to ask my wife to help me evaluate the the things I’m involved in from time to time. Sometimes another person can see better where I fit and where I don’t.

    • Hello Caleb,

      Asking our spouse or close friend is a great way to get perspective on either our strengths or weaknesses. They have an outside view point. Thank you for reading and adding that point.

  • I have two primary weaknesses: getting sidetracked with silly stuff, and a tad bit of a temper when things go wrong. However, I’ve found that the more focused I’ve become, the more those weaknesses diminish.

    • I relate with you about those two weaknesses. I deal with those two same things as well. Great point about being focused! Focusing on our strengths and most productive areas is so important. Thank you for reading and being open.

  • I like the points. And I like the advice about getting through a weakness to get back to a strength. I find often that weaknesses can also be a lack of discipline. I don’t mean it’s always the best use of time and energy, but in general I think leaders are great at many things, they just get more gratification out of the things that they feel they were born for. It doesn’t hurt to practice the things that we don’t like to do sometimes. I’m probably mostly giving myself a lesson within the yours today, Dan! It’s good to keep pondering the points. Thanks.

    • Hello Floyd,

      Great point about “weaknesses can also be a lack of discipline.” I totally agree. It takes discipline and intense focus to stay within our areas of strengths. Thank you for adding so many additional insights:) I appreciate it.

  • DS

    When I’m working in my strength zones, it helps me get fired up, which allows me to navigate through some of my weaknesses with more confidence. I think that if we don’t know what our strengths are we should take some time out for self-reflection. It’s such a huge helper to know what they are, and leverage them.

    • I totally agree about when a person works within their strengths zones, it brings so many good benefits. I recommend anyone who does not know their strengths to take a Strengths or Talents test. Thank you for reading and adding to the topic.

  • I just recently discovered my strength areas, but I am still evaluating my direction. I know Leadership is build upon these principles. You know the most important for me is Delegate because your weak areas as you mention are not the areas you should be working in. I stay focused on my strengths by evaluating what I am best at and reading, and learning in those specific areas. Great information.

    • That’s great Lincoln! Have you seen any benefits from knowing and working within your strength zones? It’s important to keep growing within our strength areas. Thank you for reading and commenting.

      • I have, its become easier to push out content and also connect with people in my strength zone. I was hitting my head against the wall trying to improve my weaknesses.

        • That’s great to hear Lincoln! Keep concentrating on your strengths zones.

  • Delegating is one that I definitely struggle with but I know I can’t do everything. Leaders train others to where they can trust them with delegated tasks.

    • I think a lot of people struggle with delegating. However, it’s such an important aspect to really creating or doing something great. Thanks for adding to the discussion.

  • Having a well rounded team…I’m currently praying about this for an area in my church. It’s hard when some aren’t willing to delegate or see area’s of personal weakness. Any ideas on how to kindly suggest they share their responsibility?

    • I feel ya. I have seen in churches a lack of discipline and delegation. They seem to think they’re above the classes offered or something, kinda strange. I would suggest sitting down with the leaders you know personally and see if you can kindly point out an area of weakness. If you find some research to back up your points, they can’t argue with you on it. It would help to frame it from and outsiders point of view.

      Just some thoughts, never actually done it myself though. Hope that helps a little. These things can be touchy 😀

      • I totally agree with your recommendation Jared. Great advice.

      • Thanks, Jared, that does help. It’s encouraging. Wish things weren’t so touchy in churches, seems silly but it’s a reality.
        Much appreciated.

        • Yes they certainly are. Sometimes churches are far too political and not near enough passion behind them. I wish you the best. Let us know what the outcome is if you chat with them.

  • Great reminder for me today Dan. I’ve been working on developing messages and topics around my areas of passion and strength which are early marriage, courtship and purpose. But just this week I noticed that I was really stretching it, spilling into other areas that i know little about and have no much desire to teach/coach on (weak areas, so to speak).

    So am really tightening my focus now, getting back to building from where am strongest. who knows eventually I may learn more and grow but in the meanwhile, i need to excel and develop my areas of passion and strength. otherwise it’s a very speedy road to burnout and discouragement! Great post!

    • I also have a couple speeches and also will focus my coaching around my key strength areas. Mainly using leadership to better grow or expand our online platform. It’s great your being specific in your topics and aligning them around your strengths. Thank you for sharing your personal experience here, I appreciate it.

  • As Caleb mentioned below, identifying our strengths and weaknesses is key. If we don’t have people in our lives who can tell it to us how it is! :) (with complete honesty) we have to try to figure out our strengths first. Only once we realize where we shine can we focus more of our time on those activities. I think leaders waste their time when focusing on activities which don’t focus on their strengths. Actually, not just leaders, all of us need to focus on our strengths. I’d be interested in a post Dan on how we identify our strengths. Weaknesses are simple – many people let us know. haha

    • You’re on target Vishnu. Community helps us identify our strengths and weaknesses. We just have to be willing to ask.

      A great resource to identify our strengths is a book called StrengthsFinder 2.0 or StandOut. Both provide a test that breaks down the areas of strengths, how they work, and what you can do to improve them.

    • Vishnu,

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post:) I also highly recommend The StrengthsFinder 2.0 or Standout book and survey. Both are great resources for a person or leader. I’ll have to put your suggestion of the future post down in my Evernote future post profile. Thank you for reading and the suggestion.

  • That first point reminded me of something Napolean Hill talks about; The Mastermind Group. It’s similar to what you said, but instead of people working for you, they’re people who you work with, and you create a ‘mastermind’, so there’s almost no area with a weakness, you can conquer the world as a team. Slightly off topic but hey ho!

    As a one man army it gets hard to delegate, I look forward to the day where I have the resources to focus my time on the highest value activities possible. ‘Do what you have to first, so you can do what you want to for as long as you wish’, it’s all part of the process, but then I think that in itself is an excellent learning curve. You don’t want to be a the top of the ladder with no appreciation for what the people who take of your weaknesses do!

    – Nick

    • Very true Nick. I like the reference to the mastermind group and thinks it’s right on topic! Thanks for sharing your insights!

    • Great points Nick!

      I really like the idea of having a “Mastermind group”! I think anyone can begin to connect and build relationships with like minded people even if they are a one man band right now. I know a lot of people online who can help me if needed in the areas of my weakness, like those technical wizards. I also can’t wait to have the resources to be able to add to my team so I can focus fully on writing, connecting, and speaking.

      Thank you for taking the time to read and add to the discussion.

  • Delegating is big for me. I know my strengths and passions and those of my team, so I will delegate accordingly.

    • That’s great Juan! Thank you for sharing.

  • Theodore Nwangene

    Interesting post as always Dan,
    Those are really what every leader needs in other to cary out his duties very effectively. Just like Trevor said, a good leader should form the habit of learning in order to develop his leadership skills the more.

    Thanks for sharing Dan.

    • Hello Theodore,

      Thanks man. I hope you enjoyed it. I agree we should become lifelong learners. I think it’s one secret to moving forward and becoming successful(Or maintaining success). Thank you for reading and adding to the conversation.

  • Dave Arnold

    I’ve been learning a lot about focusing on strengths lately. For years I tried to focus on my weaknesses. (Of course this isn’t a bad thing.) But God wired us a certain way; and when we operate out of that, we feel alive!

    • That’s great your starting to focus on strengths Dave! I’m sure your seeing the positive results from it.

  • Dan,

    If the area of weakness is character based it must be fixed. However, if the area is related to matters of choice then we have some room to maneuver and it becomes a matter of discipline then prioritization. For example, I could be a weak public speaker and my career path may only require me to speak publicly very infrequently. I can still devote time to improving, however, I may only allow 30 minuets every other day for this task.

    In those instances when we cannot delegate an area of weakness leaders still must do their best. You may be unable to delegate, however, that does not mean you cannot network and find sound advice from someone strong in this particular area of concern.

    Thoughts?

    • Hello TJ Trent,

      I totally agree with you about weakness of character. Weak character or integrity must be fixed. I’m so glad you brought that up, since I did not mention it. It’s such an important point.

      I think even it we are not strong in a certain area, like public speaking, we should build our confidence and competence within that area because it the long run it will serve us better. Or even allow us to better use our strength areas. Great additional points, thank you for sharing them:)

  • Hi Dan,

    I’m behind with catching up and pocketed posts earlier to read when I’m back online :) That’s why I’m here.

    There’s always a starting point. Sometimes I see people have issues on identifying weaknesses :) Me too.

    I have experiences coming from my friends who put tremendous effort on learning themselves and applying Dan :) Eventually they had to hire someone who is very good at it. It doesn’t work for everyone always but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t learn something useful while someone else doing that for you right now. It’s about right choice at right time, no? :) I’ve heard “If you can’t do it, outsource it”.

    We taught that focusing on strengths is always better, no? :) I agree. If you are working in a company and do what you love the most, you will enjoy what you are doing always. But leaders have to come across different challenges :)

    I think sometimes focusing on weaknesses can lower the risk Dan. I mean not working on it, but to make sure you are not touching a weak point of yours. What do you think? :)

    Cheers…

    • Hello Mayura,

      Glad you pocketed the post and took the time to read it. It’s never to later to join in on the discussion:)

      I agree with you about learning the tasks that need to be done right now or at least until your able to hire someone to assist you. Right now I have to do a lot of things I’m not necessarily strong in when it comes to building my online platform. I know in the future I’ll be able to hire out my weak areas but still will want to learn how to do it as well.

      Thank you for taking the time to read and add to the discussion.

  • I think there’s also the idea that you can schedule your strengths for those times when you have low energy. For instance, Learner is one of my strengths, and I love reading. So I block out time for that at the end of the day. It’s a reward after a hard day of work.

    • Wonderful point Loren. Even with low energy we still can do things with high efficiency when we are working in strengths and passion areas. It’s a great way to manager our time. Thank you for adding that point!

  • I do #1 a lot to cover for my weaknesses. Especially when interviewing new people for our team. While I think I’m a good interviewer, I can get emotionally invested in one candidate over another and lose the forest for the trees. I make sure to include an expanded interview team to help me see my blind spots.

    • That’s great Tom. Great point about doing multiple interviews with other team members to see their perspective. It can really help if the candidate is the right person for the position. Thank you for adding to the topic:)