Important Questions to Manage Weaknesses and Maximize Your Strengths
Leading a team at any level is complex work, and I have yet to come across a leader who is good at everything.
It is helpful when trying to describe complex issues such as leadership to simplify our descriptions into broad categories so that we can understand them better. Rather than identify every single thing that leaders do in their work, we can use these broader categories instead and this is much more manageable.
We know that leaders have to identify goals, develop ideas and establish plans. These plans enable organizations to develop and grow. These leadership activities sit in the
Strategic Thinking domain:
You will tend to see the big picture and how complex issues are interrelated.
You will think more about what is possible and be able to come up with new ideas.
You will enjoy learning about new ideas and approaches and see how these might add value in the future.
You will enjoy identifying opportunities and solving problems.
We also know that leaders have to set milestones, develop measurements and build the right systems and processes that enable work to be done effectively and efficiently. These activities sit inside the Execution domain:
You will be effective at organizing your thoughts into action and then driving hard towards your goals.
You will want to meet your commitments and arrange your work in a sequence of logical, manageable steps.
You will tend to work hard with a lot of stamina and be tenacious in your pursuit of goals.
You might be effective at considering and mitigating risk if you can control your visceral need to act.
Leaders can't do everything on their own - they have to work with others and persuade them that their course of action is right and achievable. Sometimes this involves arguing his or her case or insisting that something is done - not everyone agrees the first time. These activities sit in the Influencing domain:
You will tend to know your mind and speak with authority and confidence.
You will like to reason things through with others and help them understand the issues around them.
You will sometimes like to "stir the pot" and enjoy challenging others to think differently.
You will like to take charge and manage and lead others.
Leaders also have to develop other leaders for the future and build relationships that enable teams to work effectively together rather than in isolation from each other. These activities sit inside the Relationship Building domain:
You will be drawn to more personal and deeper relationships with people who are important to you.
You might feel high levels of sensitivity towards how others feel and show empathy.
You will be able to connect with others on different levels and be interested in their growth and development.
You will tend to consult and be effective at getting others involved.
As you read through these descriptions, write down which domain you believe is your strongest, and which domain you believe is your weakest.
This should help you begin to build a picture of your leadership strengths, and it is important to test this picture on the people who know you well. Share your thoughts with a manager or peer, and pay close attention to their response to answer these two questions:
How do they react to your leadership strengths?
Do they see your chosen top domain as your strongest?
Can I identify at least two options for the problem I am dealing with?
Am I implementing what I think is easiest and most obvious, or am I pushing myself to come up with the best and most impactful solution?
Am I moving too quickly from thought to action and failing to plan each step effectively?
Am I effectively managing my workload and avoiding taking on too many tasks?
Do I take the time to really listen to what others are saying?
Do I struggle to deliver direct, honest, and challenging feedback to others who might not be performing very well?
Am I consciously seeking to grow my network?
Am I so focused on achieving goals that I fail to take into account how others might feel?
Questions like these will help you to effectively manage weaknesses and get the very best out of your strengths.
I’m interested to hear the responses you have to the questions I’ve laid out above. Which domain do you believe describes your greatest strength, and which questions resonate the strongest for areas you could more effectively manage to work in greater collaboration with your team?
By Barry Conchie
April 21, 2016