The Good News is 70% of Leaders Survive Their Weaknesses
You have a small bucket of remarkable strengths, a large bucket of average strengths, and a huge bucket of weaknesses.
The good news is 70% of leaders survive their weaknesses.
“30% of all the leaders we’ve studied have at least one fatal flaw.” Zenger and Folkman
The four laws of strength and weakness.
#1. Those who think they’re strong where they’re weak end up failing.
You might imagine you’re a great leader, but if you suck the life out of people, you’re failing.
#2. All strengths have corresponding weaknesses.
- Strong with details – weak with seeing the big picture.
- High empathy – avoid tough issues.
- Great with getting things done – low on patience.
- Strong people skills – weak organizational skills.
- Highly analytical – poor decision-maker.
- High technical ability – low emotional intelligence.
#3. The more remarkable you are in one area, the less remarkable you are in another.
Go ahead and think of yourself as remarkable in several areas. Just remember you suck just as bad.
#4. There are exceptions to the laws of strength and weakness, but you aren’t one.
4 ways to navigate weakness:
#1. Practice humility.
- Acknowledge weaknesses.
- Connect with strong people.
- Realize the people who irritate you may have strengths you need.
- Be curious about others more than you talk about yourself.
#2. Know and maximize your top strengths.
#3. Learn the practices of Emotional Intelligence.
- Notice your impact on others.
- Habitually seek feedback.
- Lean into criticism.
- Participate in a 360 degree assessment.
#4. Know and maximize the strengths of others.
Connie’s sarcasm made me laugh when she responded to something I wrote.
“Now, Dan, this is just cold… ‘But remember, you have two or three remarkable qualities. Everything else you have is average or below.’ Probably true about everyone AND me, but just ‘cold.’ LOL. Thanks for keeping me humble.”
(See comments on, The Biggest Danger in Leadership.)
How might leaders navigate their weaknesses?
Join me today at 1:15 p.m. Eastern Time for a 15 minute Facebook Live conversation with Mark Miller, author of Talent Magnet.
I feel the best way for me is to seek the guidance of others to navigate weakness. Identify who is strong in an area I am weak and learn from them. Feedback is essential if we want to grow!
Brilliant! Thanks Josh. Weaknesses are magnified when we isolate ourselves. Frankly, it’s easy to do. Organizational culture is a factor. In some organizations all the leaders do EVERYTHING well.
It is humbling to admit to myself my own weaknesses. When I do, I often find someone who has a strength in that area. If I can surround myself with a team of diverse strengths, then look out! We are going places!
Thanks Duane. I respect how your comment is personal. The use of “I” is important when it comes to weaknesses. It’s easy to use “you” when thinking of this topic. Other people’s weaknesses are so much easier to think about.
Loved this! I think if the concept were more embraced, there’d be a lot less posturing and positioning of leadership who think they have to have it all in order to be successful. When the strength of another strikes as a threat — that’s a recipe for failure. We hope to be doing another LPI 360 review soon, and I think this concept would help those who are devastated by some of their highlighted weaknesses, to the point that they can’t fully enjoy their strengths. Starting out expecting highs and lows to be a sign of an accurate review — might make these types of reviews much more palatable, and useful.
Thanks Mary. Your comment got me thinking about the need for conversations about strengths AND weakness to be normal, daily occurrences. We should know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and talk about them openly.
Taking a good look in the mirror has done more to strengthen my leadership capabilities than any other tactic.
Thanks Dwan. Exactly! Growth begins with self-awareness. That includes awareness of strengths and weaknesses.
As always, you give us so much to think about!! Love the contrast between strengths and weaknesses… In reviewing your list, it made it easy to consider where I fit on each spectrum which then opens the door of opportunity to watch for pitfalls / work towards being more balanced in my approach… Love this!! Thank you. : )
Thank you Susan. Your personal application is powerful.
Here’s something to think about. Maybe you shouldn’t strive for balance. Maybe we should all strive to maximize strengths and compensate for weaknesses. Don’t get me wrong, someone who is great at analysis will be well served to learn how to make decisions.
Don’t let being balanced cause you to dilute your strength. Best for the journey.
“…maximize strengths and compensate for weaknesses…” I like it..!! Also think that any given situation needs an appropriate response; there is a time to be empathetic and also a time to crack down on those tough issues… In doing this correctly, I think a leader will earn respect…
I once read that weakness was strength turned inside out.
Good post – thank you. Encouraging for those of us who are very aware of our weaknesses yet also in leadership. I guess the ability to manage a weakness and lead despite it is a kind of strength!
Thanks Fields…. Our weaknesses can bog us down and drain our energy. Perhaps if we acknowledge that everyone has them, deal with any that strangle our leadership effectiveness, and compensate with the strengths of others we can move forward.
Personally, an outward focus helps. I can be like a hog on slop when it comes to something bad about myself. It helps to think of how I might serve OTHERS. Sometimes I even get over myself. 🙂
I’m naturally 3. and 6., and I am grateful for my kids who called me “Spock” while I raised them so I could grow my emotional intelligence with them and at work.
I think the message (“you may be very good at a few things, but you suck at lots of other stuff”) is not only true, but really helpful to those of us who need to own our weaknesses, ask for help and feedback more, practice humility, and listen more. Thank you.
And I also work with many people who are so much better at leadership than they think they are – who spend so much time staring at their imperfections – that they forget how awesome they are and therefore don’t put themselves forward as much as they might. Reminding them of their weaknesses may not be as empowering to them.