The very best leaders are strength-based. Being strength based is about focusing on your greatest areas of strength most of the time. Often, this can be easier said than done for many leaders. The challenge is to avoid the traps that cause you to move away from your greatest areas of strength, often leading you into working in your areas of weakness or the actions which produce a low return on your time.
If you want to remain strength based, avoid falling into the traps of: being well-rounded, improving in areas of weakness or attempting to turn a weakness into a strength, and spending most of your time in areas of weakness. Let’s talk about each of these 3 common traps.
1. The trap of being well-rounded
Author and Strengths expert Tom Rath insightfully said, “If you spend your life trying to be good at everything, you will never be great at anything.” There is simply not enough time for you to master a large variety of different topics or skills.
The danger of being well-rounded is your knowledge in the different areas will be limited and you will never really be able to master a certain topic or skill base. Being well-rounded prevents you from becoming competent and effective in your core areas of personal strength. In Now, Discover Your Strengths authors Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton said,
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 strengths most of the time.
Leaders can avoid the trap of being well-rounded by focusing on their core areas of strengths and developing the areas of greatest strengths.
2. The trap of improving areas of weakness or attempting to turn them into strengths
Your areas of weakness are precisely that, weaknesses. Trying to turn an area of weakness into an area of strength is counterproductive; because, you will be working hard to improve the area of weakness and only slightly improve in it. Attempting to improve an area of weakness into a strong strength can be compared to cutting down General Sherman tree, which is one of the largest trees in the world with a diameter of 27 feet and 2 inches, with a rusted ax. You will work long and hard to dent the tree without a lot of progress.
When you invest a lot of time and energy into an area of weakness your time will be away from sharpening the area you can improve in the most, your strengths. You will reap a large return in your personal growth in your areas of strengths while only receiving a low return in areas of weakness
Leaders can avoid this trap by spending their personal growth time sharpening and improving in areas of personal strength.
3. The trap of spending most of your time working in areas of weakness
If you are not careful you can drift away from using your strengths and start spending a lot of time in areas of weakness. Weakness tends to call out to you and take away your attention. It can cause you to focus your valuable time and energy in areas of weakness, instead of areas of strengths.
There is a truth we must understand. I’m not saying you should or have to be working in your areas of strengths 100 percent of the time. That is simply unrealistic and at times you will be required to work or be in areas of weakness. Leaders will have to work in or use areas of weakness to fulfill their leadership responsibilities. The rule you should live by is spending at least 80 percent of your time in your areas of strengths while spending no more than 20 percent of your time in areas of weakness. Manage your weakness so you can spend most of your time in areas of strengths.
Leaders can avoid this trap by deliberately spending most of their time in areas of strengths while doing everything they can to avoid being in or using areas of weakness.
Question: What other traps have you had to avoid to remain strength-based?
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