Are you willing to acknowledge your weaknesses?
This week I attended a leadership day where 12 leaders from large UK organisations were gathered. (Interestingly only 1 of the 12 was a woman which I made a note of in light of my previous article.)
I had been invited by the organisers as they are keen for me to become involved with their programme so my capacity this time was as an observer rather than a presenter.
The format of the day was different from the usual leadership days I have been on. Although it was obviously well structured I liked the more informal approach they were adopting. The activities they had planned were different, engaging and certainly got the points across.
At first the people gathered around the table appeared to be a little taken aback if not puzzled by the informal, interactive style of the day. However, this quickly turned into pleasure and enthusiasm and, bearing in mind most there were from different companies, an openness I have not witnessed before in such a room of august individuals.
Weaknesses define our humanity
I know that many leaders at the top of their companies find the role very lonely and the old way of doing things promotes the idea that being lonely at the top is a given. However, on this day, some of the revelations that came out were quite personal and gave a great insight into the human being that was behind that leader.
We all have strengths and weaknesses and sometimes it is hard to admit, own or appreciate your weaknesses. What tends to stop people is fear. Fear of admitting you have a weakness or fear of asking for the help you need to tackle your weakness. There is also a fear of acknowledging your own weakness in front of peers or colleagues because you will ‘lose face’ or authority.
And yet, as I always propound, identifying and admitting your weaknesses is the first step in finding the courage to change it. Knowing what you are not good at or are lacking can be transformed into a strength. The key to doing so is always to be honest about them with yourself, others and then taking the actions needed to find the knowledge or information that will precipitate the transformation.
Here is one of mine: I am comfortable in admitting to myself, my colleagues, friends and family that I am too much of a perfectionist. Striving for this perfection in everything I do is exhausting and consciously I know unattainable (there is no such thing as perfection). Having acknowledged this major weakness I am working on lowering my expectations in this regard by getting those close to me to point out when I am exhibiting my perfectionist trait, taking advice from other people and encouraging constructive criticism from varied avenues. It’s a work in progress however I am encouraged by the reduction in stress I am already experiencing. I feel almost ready to consider tackling another of my weaknesses.
Turn your weaknesses into strengths
Try it for yourself. Think of just one weakness you have (don’t make a list as that would be too soul destroying) that hinders you enjoying what you do or is slowing your progress, and be brutally honest. Think of the opposite trait that you would consider a strength and then work out what actions you need to take to move you from where you are now towards your desired strength. Open up and tell other people about all of this and your plans, asking them for their feedback as you progress.
You are now committed so make a start!