4 Ways to Get Real with Weaknesses so You can Hire the Best People and Maximize Strengths

Everyone who’s remarkable at something is really lousy at many things. Don’t let this stop you from attempting great things, but keep it in mind the next time you’re frustrated with teammates.

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Highly technical people may be socially awkward. Leaders who deliver great results may be impatient and rude. A person who sees the big picture often struggles with day-to-day operations. So what?

Drucker tells the story of Lincoln and Grant:

“President Lincoln, when told that General Grant, his new commander-in-chief, was fond of the bottle, is reported to have said: ‘If I knew his brand, I’d send a barrel or so to some other generals.’

After a childhood on the Kentucky and Illinois frontier, Lincoln assuredly knew all about the bottle and its dangers. But of all the union generals, Grant alone had proved consistently capable of winning campaigns.

Grant’s appointment was the turning point of the Civil War. It was an effective appointment because Lincoln chose his general for his ability to win battles, not for the absence of a weakness.

Lincoln learned this the hard way, however. Before he chose Grant, he had appointed in succession three or four generals whose main qualifications were their lack of major weaknesses.” (The Effective Executive, by Peter Drucker)

4 ways to get real with strengths and weaknesses:

#1. A person who doesn’t have glaring weaknesses probably doesn’t have outstanding strengths.

#2. Protect remarkable talent from frustrated team members. Lincoln protected Grant. The better someone is at one thing, the more likely they’re a source of frustration and disappointment in other areas. Deal with this or surround yourself with mediocrity.

#3. Train teams to tolerate and compensate for each other’s weaknesses so they can maximize each other’s strengths. Practice courageous transparency and kind candor.

#4. Evaluate on strengths and results, not weakness.

How might teams get real with strengths and weaknesses?

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