Untapped potential in view of resistance and reluctance
(This is the “R” installment of the series, “Alphabet for Leaders.)
Long-term success is a result of leveraging your strengths. Marilyn Savant correctly observes, “Success is achieved by developing our strengths, not by eliminating our weaknesses.”
However, there comes a point when weaknesses establish what John Maxwell refers to as the leadership lid. Weaknesses restrict and eventually cap potential. Bumping against the leadership lid means you are maximizing your current strengths.
In positive terms, points of restriction may highlight points of untapped potential.
For example, if you resist dealing with conflict, dealing with conflict is both the lid and also the point of untapped potential for your leadership. If you reject personal interactions while clinging to the safety of your office, personal interactions reflect untapped opportunity.
Ray Lee Hunt suggests, “It’s more important to know your weaknesses than your strengths.” Untapped potential is unleashed by overcoming personal reluctance to acknowledge weaknesses and resistance to developing new strengths.
I’m bumping against the leadership lid right now. The organization I lead needs an organizer. I’m not it. Additionally, reaching the next level requires more than delegating organizational duties. I don’t have to do it all. However, it’s obvious that my weaknesses in this arena create a lid that caps our potential.
I’m learning to face my reluctance to focus on organization, processes, and procedures. Admittedly, I’ll never turn this weakness into my greatest strength. The thought of spending a day creating organizational charts and establishing policies and procedures makes my head hurt. However, continued success demands that I overcome my reluctance to deal with this weakness.
You can succeed to a point by following the path of least resistance. However, untapped potential requires facing personal points of reluctance. “You cannot run away from a weakness; you must some time fight it out or perish; and if that be so, why not now, and where you stand?” Robert Lewis Stevenson
How can individuals prevent personal weaknesses from capping their potential?
What other “R’s” for leaders can you suggest?
The essence of this post — “points of restriction may establish points of untapped potential” — would do well to be in every college career office and also every professional graduate program. What the heck, let’s throw it into every vo-tech program since those high school students come out and go directly into the demanding working world.
Your question: How to prevent personal weakness from capping their potential?
#1 Pledge to find an “change partner that knows you well and one who knows you less well”.
#2 Find them.
#3 Write a simple list of the things you “hate” to do professionally (sorry for the negative angle on this one).
#4 Ask them what they would find valuable in a leader or colleague who loved to do those things and actually did those things. This gives you insight & possible inspiration for working through the discomfort you would feel.
#5 Write yourself a very short list of how to make the journey through those changes enjoyable.
#6 And as Nike says … Do it!
Example: There are technical professionals who value the promotion to leadership/mgmt yet resist embracing the people skills to do the new job. When they resist, they fall short in the new role. A post to help those who want to take simple key steps to move ahead:
This post is universally true Dan. It goes far beyond leadership. I am trying to contain my excitement over this topic yet I fear I won’t be able to and I will end up writing a companion blog post referencing what you have said here.
Double bravo on this one!
Great post Pastor. I also faced the same problem. I hired an administrator by faith and his gift took us to another level and the church began to grow. It freed me to concentrate on what I do best…vision, leadership and preaching. Great post!
A Really remarkable post. I think, there are two type of resistance, they are internal and external. External will remain because you have less control over them and even if you overcome them, it may not gurantee your success, however internal resistance blocks your potential to explore and there is always a struggle between head and heart. When you overcome your head, you overcome your weakness. And overcoming internal weakness gurantee real success, not overcoming external weakness. I absolutely agree to your point that acceptance and acknowledgement weaken weakness and opposite strengthen it. I would like to share my experience at AIM, Manila during my master in management program. Initially, I was shy and hesitant to share my views since I had never exposed to such environment and when I overcame my resistance, I ascended to top category and this is the observation of my collegues and faculties at AIM. And I enjoyed the feeling of untapping my potential. And I strongly believe that success is not measured by how high you jump, but how high you bounce back after you have hit the bottom.
So, person can untap potential by ackowledging weaknesses. The other R of leadership are rigor, rationale, right, reward, recognition, reputation, references etc.
Your and Kate’s observations require reflection and retrospection and creates romage and our own need for resipiscence! (That autolink to thesaurus.com is paying off.)
But seriously, another perspective might be that untapping the potential and dealing with the resistance and reluctance (leaning in) may lead to an expansion of existing strengths to levels never imagined while converting a past perceived weakness into a new strength…and those weaknesses (opportunities works here too) do not need to be your greatest strengths, they can be just one more tool in your rucksack of skills.
How powerful is it for a leader to say those s/he leads or works with…
“I am working on xxxx skill/ability and I know I need to get better at it. I want to learn to get better at it. I am working with a mentor (change partner) on it too. Can you help me with it too?”
(Even ‘owning’ that it is something you do not like (‘hate’) about yourself.) Wow! There are a number of meta messages in that, that are so positive for the person and an organizational culture. I want to work there!!
We are so fortunate that the Leadership Freak reinforces reciprocity!
“Our strength grows out of our weaknesses”–Ralph Waldo Emerson
Excellent post. Much to think on.
Another leadership R that comes to mind is Risk. As you stated in an earlier post, making decisions necessarily eliminates options. This is a risk – hopefully a well-calculated risk, but a risk nonetheless. Yet little is accomplished by exclusively playing it safe.
R is for Respect. A work team with a thorough and genuine respect for each other will go far. Respect facilitates mutually beneficial success.
I’ve learned a lot about strengths from Marcus Buckinghams’ classic ‘the truth about you’ where he talks about strengths as not necessarily being something you’re good at but something that fills you with strength. That was revolutionary for me. As a corporate trainer, as a human being, it’s key that I know my strengths, in terms of what fills me with strengths.
R is also for resilience. A fantastic resource about building your resilience and a great training resource is “The Resilience Factor: 7 Keys to Finding Your Inner Strength and Overcoming Life’s Hurdles” – I wrote a review of it here if you’d care to read it – http://app.e2ma.net/campaign/dd212ae0612e6f58d97888824cf2c41f
Based on your brilliant blog, I wrote a brief answer (“Strenghts Only ?”)with a nice story in it and a link to your blog : http://www.kessels-smit.be/info.pl/nl/learning_company/cafe
Dan – well here’s serendipity! I just posted a blog titled Embracing Resistance this week. Resistance is terrific – a signal that there is potential for real change.