A Word About Strengths and Weaknesses

Asking the Wrong Question

Just last week, I was meeting with a man at our company that I’ve come to greatly respect in just the short time I’ve been sitting in his management training class. He’s been teaching us about the OGSM strategy model and had assigned us the task of creating our own document about a particular problem or series of problems in our respective departments.

Before moving toward the implementation phase of the project, he offered to meet with us one-on-one to review our plans and discuss the execution. One of my main questions was around how to get non-detail-oriented people to become detail-oriented. To my surprise, he basically told me I was asking the wrong question.

3 Lessons on Strengths and Weaknesses

What he went on to share with me was a lesson in strengths and weaknesses…one that he’s learned through many years of management. The funny thing is, as soon as he said it, it intuitively struck me as the right approach. I just didn’t know it was allowed to be.

As a former teacher, I know we don’t all learn the same way. I know we don’t all care about the same things, and we don’t all have the same strengths or the same weaknesses. But this man’s answer along with two important definitions I just got done reading tonight have added a lot of clarity for me. Maybe it can help you, too. Here’s the gist of it:

  1. There’s no rule that people have to be both great abstract and linear thinkers. And we shouldn’t force them to be.

    I made a huge mistake in my planning by assuming too much about the character, skills, strengths, weaknesses, and capabilities of the people on my team. And what this wise man pointed out to me is that it’s a far better approach to begin with strengths.

  2. Strengths don’t just have to do with what you’re good at. They have to do with what makes you strong and what gives you energy. And weaknesses don’t have to be something you’re bad at. They just have to be something that drains you, even if you’re great at it.

    In reading through Scaling Up by Verne Harnish tonight, I stumbled upon the above explanations of strengths and weaknesses, and it brought me back to that conversation last week. I’ve taken the StrengthsFinder assessment, and I even know what my top five strengths are (command, focus, intellection, restorative, and ideation—what, what), but this distinction between strengths and weaknesses is entirely new to me and incredibly eye-opening and helpful.

  3. Because 1 and 2 are true, it’s perfectly acceptable to make sure your entire team is busy doing what they really love to do and to hire a new person who basically loves to do all the things your current team hates doing.

    Who knew it could be as easy as that? But it is. Productivity and morale are bound to stay high when people get to spend the day doing what they love. So, why not do everything in our power to make the ideal situation reality?

All of this has reminded me that sometimes we have to step back and look at problems a little bit differently to see if there are any other solutions or options we may have not even thought to consider. Pretty good insights for a Monday, eh?

What important life lessons have you had to learn when it comes to strengths and weaknesses? Anything you’d add?

Beka Johnson
Beka Johnson
Beka is an inbound marketer for a tech startup in the Seattle area. She loves dabbling, reading, scheming, writing, and dreaming up ways to make good things better. When she's not working, you can find her digging up all sorts of adventures in her new city.
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