Are you focusing too much on your weaknesses – or just as bad, are you focusing too much on your strengths?
You can actually arrest your own leadership development by doing so.
Before the rising of the popular strengths-based coaching approach, workplace mentoring and coaching focused on helping its workforce to strengthen identified weaknesses. But we discovered after some time that the results were poor. In fact, employees were showing negative outcomes.
Focusing on weaknesses in leadership development can result in the following:
- It can give a false sense of ineptitude and negative self-image. By giving weaknesses too much attention, the executive in question may begin to feel inept. Little discussion is made about what is going well, and so a negative self-image may begin to form, diminishing confidence.
- By neglecting to bring strengths into the process, an imbalanced approach to getting the work done may actually result in an even poorer performance.
- The weakness in question needs to be relative to the role the executive plays. Is the weakness in question hindering performance or hampering company goals? Or is it simply a result of a list that has no relevance to the job?
Face it – it’s more fun to focus on strengths! But there’s a drawback to swinging over to focusing on strengths, as well.
Focusing on strengths in leadership development can result in the following:
- It can give the executive a false sense of competence, paving the way to neglect what might be hampering his or her best work.
- By neglecting to address what is not working, focusing on strengths can give just as imbalanced an approach as focusing on weaknesses. In fact, focusing too much on developing a strength can actually render that strength a weakness. For example, if an executive has great ambition, developing that to the point of exaggeration can actually send wrong messages and behaviors and derail a career.
- The strength in question needs to be relative to the role an executive plays, or it doesn’t matter how special that strength is! Is the strength key to performance? Is it aligned with company goals?
A balanced approach to your personal and professional leadership development with methodologies that are evidence-based – proven to work – is the first step.
If you are working on this to improve your performance and your career trajectory, make sure that what you are doing is actually relevant and supportive of where you are – and where you want to go!
Patti Cotton helps executives optimize their effectiveness in leading self, others, and the enterprise. Her areas of focus include confidence, leadership style, executive presence, effective communication, succession planning, and masterful execution. With over 25 years of leadership experience, both stateside and abroad, Patti works with individuals, teams, and organizations across industries, providing executive coaching, leadership development, succession planning, change, and conflict management. She is also a Fortune 500 speaker. For more information on how Patti Cotton can help you and your organization, click here.