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Using Strengths to Overcome Weaknesses

Much has been written about strengths-based leadership. The theory behind it says that we should be focusing on our strengths to improve our performance.

Traditional performance evaluations help us focus on our weaknesses, or those things we need to improve in order to achieve a bonus, salary increase, or promotion.

I personally believe in the strengths-based approach. Gallup’s study on strengths- based leadership shows the following results:

BUSINESS UNITS SHOWED DECREASES OF UP TO:

-59% IN SAFETY INCIDENTS

-16 POINTS IN TURNOVER (LOW-TURNOVER ORGANIZATIONS)

-72 POINTS IN TURNOVER (HIGH-TURNOVER ORGANIZATIONS)

I suggest we take the strengths-based discussion another step, and apply the strengths-based approach, while still working on weaknesses.

Use your strengths to overcome your weaknesses!

In order for this approach to help, you have to understand your strengths and your key weaknesses.

Here is a simple way to do the analysis. Are you more “task-oriented” or “relationship-oriented”?

Usually more task-oriented people’s strengths and weaknesses are:

Strengths:

-Good at accomplishing things on their task list.

-Get a great deal of satisfaction from checking the box for daily tasks

-Can be relied on to get work done

Weaknesses:

-Can “run over” relationships to get things done

-Lack patience for others that don’t have the same strengths

-Sometimes need support to ensure quality work

Relationship-oriented strengths and weaknesses:

Strengths:

-Are good with People

-Great Listeners

-Great Team players

Weaknesses:

-Sometimes procrastinate getting things done, particularly if it may strain a relationship

-Have a hard time saying no. Don’t want to ruin a relationship

So use your strengths to overcome your weaknesses!

Task-oriented people can put relationship goals on their checklist which will help them get a great sense of accomplishment; this will happen by setting and accomplishing goals to maintain and build a relationship.

For example: Many really good task oriented people honor being on-time as a sign of respect and good self management. When others are late for commitments it can effect their relationships. Therefore, change what you write down on your checklist. Instead of writing down, be on-time for a meeting at work or church, write down: maintain a positive approach to a spouse or a key team member even if they are late. Then check mark that, rather than just focusing on being on-time!

Some relationship-oriented people may procrastinate going to exercise on their own, even though they want to. Instead, their time gets used building and maintaining relationships and pleasing others. So, go work-out with a friend. Build and invest in a relationship while doing a task you want to do.

The other learning using this mindset is in regards to the make-up of a successful team. Make sure you have a mix of strengths on the team to help offset and make up for what you lack. Normally the whole strengths package doesn’t come in an individual, but in the collective team members. On your next work team, make sure you have those who are great with people, those who are great with tasks, those who are great with quality and detail, and those who are great with vision and innovation. A great cross-functional strengths team can help make sure that the collective strengths of a team can overcome any weaknesses.

Another application of this principle is to use your strengths to accomplish an undesirable activity.

At home, who likes weeding the yard? Nobody! For more relationship oriented people, do it with a friend or family member and take time to connect while doing the undesirable task. For more task oriented people, write it down as part of your daily or weekly goals. Watch as your mind takes over to accomplish the previously undesirable task. Better yet, what about a win-win-win for a task oriented person who also has a goal to build more relationships? Turn on the music, invite somebody you want to build a relationship, have lunch ready and of course have it on your daily goal list. Boom! Done!

At work, taking time out of the daily rush to set a strategic plan is sometimes difficult to do. So to help, set it as a goal, set up a meeting time and look at it as a time to build connections, alignment and a cohesive team. Make sure you have all types of strengths on the team to help you build a comprehensive strategic plan.

Having people focus on their weaknesses and short comings is energy draining and can cause low morale and motivation. Instead, focus on using your strengths to “show your best self,” and also use those strengths to improve those weaknesses that may be holding you back from achieving your maximum potential!

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