How to Protect and Enhance Your Strengths
Your strengths have dark sides that limit potential, destroy achievement, and hamstring opportunities.
Powerful strengths become anchors without softeners. The difference between mediocre and extraordinary success is tempering qualities.
Task oriented leaders come off as people-users more interested in finishing projects than the people completing them. Temper your strength with:
- Palpable expressions of kind heartedness. Your rush to completion makes you seem unkind.
- Making others feel liked and appreciated.
- Environments where honoring achievement is frequently given and received.
Quick minded decisive leaders seem harsh and become untrustworthy without powerful moorings. Temper your strength with:
- Strong unquestioned alignment with organizational values that guide decisions.
- Obvious orientations to selflessly choose the best for others and their organization.
- Unquestioned commitment to noble ethical standards, to always do the right thing.
Mentoring leaders seem like complaining meddlers. Temper your strength by:
- Infusing hope – expectations for success – into others.
- Giving time and space to develop. Patiently step back.
- Maintain cheerfulness in the face of behavioral problems to solve and leadership qualities to develop.
Successful leaders develop all the qualities, behaviors, and attitudes I listed. However, if your needle tips toward one of the leadership styles I mentioned the corresponding tempering qualities are essentials not options.
Apart from tempering qualities, you’ll crash on the rocks with peers, employees, and organizations. Enhance don’t undermine your highest potential.
Have you seen leadership strength become hindrances?
What tempering qualities can you add?
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Dan, amazingly powerful insight today – tempering qualities as a pre-requisite for extraordinary success. It’s a message that is a bit counter-cultural; many have twisted John Maxwells idea that you work on strengths and not worry about weaknesses as permission to just be who their strengths make them, and let the chips fall where they may. The outcomes on relationships are disastrous.
We are a compound of our good and bad traits, and always have a choice in how we behave toward other people. Our strengths don’t excuse us any more than our weaknesses do.
Another great thought-provoker. Thanks,
Good distinctions, Greg.
Great reminder about the other side of strength. Leaders achieved their success by relying on those strengths and very often forget about the negative sides of those same qualities. Once again you have reminded us that great leaders are self-aware and compensate for these behaviors.
Leaders who are confident (and most are or should be) can come across as being arrogant and therefore unapproachable.
Leaders who laugh and joke too much can come across as being flippant and possibly lacking in credibility.
Leaders who have a finger on the pulse and are keen to keep control can come across as a controlling micromanaging maniac who don’t trust their staff.
As you say all strengths have downsides and we need to work on both our strengths and our weaknesses to become effective and efficient leaders.
Great comments, thanks.
As a task-oriented person, I especially struggle with the first one.
It is so important to remember that people want to be treated like…people!
Good information, Dan. When I read this I think of “not either or, both.” Some situations will require a greater task focus; some a greater people interest; some greater decisiveness; some greater calm and listening. Leadership is about building breadth of response, which includes tempering some strengths.
I agree that leadership strength becomes hindrance when strenght is associated with arrogance. I believe that tempering trust is very important. When we trust someone, we are more likely to overlook or forgive others weaknesses or shortcomings. When you question others from time to time, it creates reliable trust. It means, trust is essential for relationship and performance but blind trust is dangerous. You need to create environment to check trust.
When leaders lack humility, they create hindrance for success. Arrogant leaders are opportunist of self. They need success at any cost. Humble leaders see success for others on sacrifice. The classic example of leadership impact is servant leadership. They possess most of the good qualities of leaders. I think, leadership quotient determines success. Again this quotient can be virtue or vices.
WOw! This is a biggie for me. I am decisive and although it’s been great for my business, you’re right! People think of me as “unpredictable” and their intimidated. No one knows why I make the decisions I make and most often I don’t have time to explain. I can deal with situations quickly but dealing with people doesn’t need to be efficient.
Ask more open ended questions that contain positive regard. This might apply to all three, particularly though to mentors.
“Ask more open ended questions that contain positive regard.” Doc Disc
this whole post is a big one for me
I am very task oriented – and working in an area where there is very little room for error
I am always aware that task orientation must be tempered with relational priority – but it can be hard to maintain this under pressure,
lots to think about,
Great post. I see leaders get boxed in with their strengths. What you hit on in your post is the keen importance of leveraging your strengths.
How do you balance this idea with the notion of also playing to your strengths? Yes they all have dark sides, but there are also things as a leader that you uniquely do that distinguishes you from others. You can’t be all of these things,but should yourself with people who can help balance you out.
I agree we should play to our strengths. In some cases our strengths have weaknesses. I don’t like the term balance. It feels middle of the road.
Our strengths are stronger when we eliminate the weaknesses in them.
You have my best,
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