Solution Saturday: Distracted by Urgencies

Dear Dan,

The post I read today resonated with me and raised a question.

Your comment: “Some are blind to their strengths; others to their weaknesses.

I have been so immersed in the day to day of school life I lose sight of what my strengths/weaknesses are. I want to develop myself as a leader. Where do I start? How do I determine what needs improving? What strategies would you suggest.  

Immersed in the day to day


Dear Immersed,

It’s gratifying to see your interest in developing yourself. You used important language when you wrote, “I want to develop myself…” It might be easier and less personal to simply write, “I want to develop my leadership.”

Your use of “myself” hints at ownership and humility. You aren’t simply looking for techniques or strategies.

Where do you start your development journey? You already started. You have enough self-awareness to see that urgencies might be a distraction. You read leadership blogs. You wrote an email to me. In short, you’re on your personal development journey right now.

Regarding your strengths and weaknesses. Turn your interest toward others at work, home, or with friends. What strengths and weaknesses do you see in them. Watch for high energy moments, behaviors that come naturally, and ways they add the most value. Discuss what you see with them. Invite their feedback regarding your strengths and weaknesses.

Others help us see ourselves. Early in my career, people would say, “You make me think.” I didn’t understand it because I wasn’t trying to make them think. Today, as a leadership coach, I give people opportunity to think in new ways.

Learn to see yourself through the eyes of others.

Read, Strength Finder 2.0. The book includes a strengths assessment.

How do you determine what needs improving. I encourage you to shift your thinking from improving. Think maximizing. You go further maximizing your strengths than improving weaknesses.

Some weaknesses might hold you back. Analytical people might be poor decision-makers, for example. In those cases, improvement is in order. Just realize that you may never be very capable in those areas.

Blindspots are the worst form of weakness. What do others say about your weaknesses. For example. when people say, “You’re just like your mother,” (Insert any person)  and it irritates you, believe them. 

Most of us are mostly average. You have a thin band of exceptional talent and strength. Focus on the thin band.

12 strategies to develop your leadership:

  1. Read.
  2. Write a personal definition of leadership.
  3. Clarify your top five values. Use action words, not nouns.
  4. Practice self-awareness. Be your own observer through the day. What impact are you having on others? What gives you energy?
  5. Reflect on leaders you admire. List their qualities and behaviors. What might you put into practice? (Don’t try to be like someone else.)
  6. Journal.
  7. Incorporate personal development into day to day activities. Choose a leadership quality and behavior that you can put into practice while doing your current job.
  8. Connect with people who share your passion. Respect the impact of the people in your inner circle.
  9. Stretch yourself. Take on new assignments. Volunteer.
  10. Include others when you stretch yourself. Leadership is about others. All leaders gradually shift from making individual contributions to getting things done through and with others.
  11. Learn how to stay curious and ask forward-facing questions. Be sure to include, “What’s next?” Curiosity about the past seems natural and easy. Leaderly curiosity is about the future.
  12. Get a coach and connect with mentors.

What suggestions might you offer Immersed?

What has helped you develop as a leader?

*I suspend my 300 word limit on Solution Saturday.

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