Is strength your weakness?

One of my first yoga teachers was fond of saying, “too much strength makes you inflexible too much flexibility makes you weak always balance.”

At work, the same is true.

Strength can make us weaker.

Here’s how

Over-reliance on one skill

I love to speak– with energy and enthusiasm. This comes naturally to me

But if I am not careful, that energy can become overwhelming “is she for real, who gets that excited over this stuff?”

Since I heard that comment (which ticked me off), I tone it down (occasionally).

I have also been watching for signs of over-used skills around me to see if I can help. The number 1 over-used skill has been relationship building. I have watched folks who are fantastic at building relationships and consensus, lose credibility when that becomes too much of their focus.

When leaders over-use this strength, they can lose sight of the real work that needs to be done. Or even worse, surrender their own instincts or opinion in the spirit of consensus and relationships.

Thinking You Have It “Handled”

Another way a weakness can become a strength, is a feeling that you’ve got that skill handled, and don’t need to work on it. Can you ever be too good at public speaking, strategy, or finance? So often I see development plans focused on a person’s weaknesses, overlooking on how they can build on their natural gifts.

Over-reliance on the strength of your team

As a leader it is absolutely vital to build our teams to complement and supplement our weaknesses. That is a strength of a great leader. The challenge is that over-relying on that strength can also make us weak, not investing at becoming stronger ourselves in those arenas.

An exercise that can help

  • Make a list of your greatest strengths (as an individual or as a team)
  • Next, brainstorm how each of these strengths helps you perform as a leader (or as a team)
  • Then, take that same list and do an honest assessment of where this strength is getting you into trouble
  • Identify some key actions to get a more balanced reliance on that skill

Please comment:
What strengths are you over-using?

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Posted in Communication and tagged , , , , .

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt, is CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders and a former Verizon Wireless executive. Karin was named on Inc.’s list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers for Your Next Conference, the American Management Association List of 50 Leaders to Watch, and as a Trust Across America Top Thought Leader in Trust. She’s the award-winning author of two books, Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results— Without Losing Your Soul, and Overcoming an Imperfect Boss. She’s regularly featured in business publications including Fast Company, Entrepreneur, and Inc.

7 Comments

  1. There is another dimension to this concept. Often an underlying personality trait leads to both a person’s strength and weakness. Two sides of the same coin. Sensitivity can be manifested as awareness and understanding, but also as vulnerability and harboring of injury. Detached objectivity can be manifest in strong analytic skills and composure under stress, but can also be seen as a lack of caring or passion. Sometimes when I find myself wishing someone’s bothering “fault” away, I have to remind myself that without that characteristic, something I treasure would be lost.

  2. This is such an important idea because it is rarely considered by many. For example my mother is really good at off the cuff/impromptu speaking and she mainly relies on that. She tries to prepare sometimes but considers it unimportant as she can always come up with something new on the spot anyway. Often entertaining but off-topic.

    I agree that it is important for us to be aware that over-relying on our strengths sometimes makes us complacent and creates the tortoise and the hare situation. If we cease to improve and rest on our laurels, we may end up the laggard.

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