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Should You Focus on Enhancing Your Strengths or Eliminating Your Weaknesses?
 by: Dave Osh





Many people assume that the path to extraordinary performance is to eliminate their weaknesses. The basic assumption is that our strengths will take care of themselves so we should focus on fixing our weaknesses.

In their new book “The Inspiring Leader”, John H. Zenger, Joseph R. Folkman and Scott K. Edinger claim that leaders who focus on their weakness zones do not improve so much. The authors reveal in their new four-year study involving 200,000 people that the reason is that when you focus on an area for improvement which you are not interested in, you are probably not so passionate about it, so to say. Don’t we naturally tend to be more passionate about our strengths rather than our weaknesses? Passion is crucial for achieving significant improvement. Therefore, working on behavior which you are not interested in or passionate about will not lead to any significant changes.

I have been encouraged many times to develop my weakness zones. Thirteen years ago, I was applying for a CFO position for an AMEX listed company. The recruiter did a personality test in which he asked me to draw a tree. While analyzing the sketch, the recruiter said that my tree, which had more branches than leaves, represented my tendency towards the “big picture” rather than detail orientation. Luckily, the company wanted a “big picture” CFO to take care of their future strategic plan and I got the offer. Bearing in my mind my “big picture” orientation, I surrounded myself with strong detail-oriented professionals who compensated my weaknesses while I continued to develop my strength zones.

The best leaders develop their strength zones to excel in their leadership roles. They do not waste too much energy on fixing weaknesses. But here is the caveat: If you strive to “scale the corporate pinnacle” you will have to excel in more than one competency. Studies show that the most successful leaders demonstrate 3 competencies: technical skills (like strategic, financial, analytical skills, etc.), result driven orientation and people skills. So if your strength is your technical core competency, growing to a higher leadership level means developing your people skills and improving your results orientation thinking.

There are 3 ways to improve your people skills: read personal development books, find a personal development coach or ask your colleagues for help. The last one is personally the hardest and professionally the most valuable. Your perception of yourself will break while listening to the people you work with. I have tried all of them. I am lucky to work in a mentoring business environment where the founders find time to coach their people. I am lucky my colleagues penetrate my ego “walls” to provide me with truthful and sometimes painful personal feedback. This takes me to the next level in both my professional and personal life. When you start this journey there is no way back to your old self.

Climbing the corporate pinnacle requires tremendous people management and results orientation skills. The technical skills that you have developed throughout your career are valuable, but the best leaders trust the technical competencies of their colleagues. Surround yourself with people that are better than you in your weak technical competencies zones. Never give up developing your result orientation and people skills.

About The Author

Original article by Dave Osh who is a forward thinking leader who has steered his way to the corporate pinnacle. His Thought Leadership blog is a wealth of stories, ideas, experiences, values, traits and skills which every manager who seeks a breakthrough towards international enterprise leadership needs. For more details visit http://daveosh.com/ and http://daveosh.com/2009/11/03/should-you-focus-on-enhancing-your-strengths-or-eliminating-your-weaknesses/
The author invites you to visit:
http://daveosh.com

 


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