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Dean Fuhrman

Behavior that falls into the "its just not something I do or do well" can at the least hobble an organization the worst of ways, especially if it happens too often close to the top. In some cases, this becomes a challenge to manage up the chain to lessen the effects. Thoughts on going that direction, Steve?

Bret Simmons

Steve, I'd love to see that research that shows focusing on strengths impacts the bottom line. That would be VERY difficult to design and conduct a study like that, so if you have the citation can you share it with us? Thanks! Bret

Wally Bock

As with many things, it was Peter Drucker who first wrote about building on strength, some forty years ago. But for Drucker there was a companion bit of guidance. It was to "make weaknesses irrelevant." That can happen by helping someone get "good enough" or by outsourcing a task or embedding it in software or by deciding that it need not be done at all.

And that advice is only good for the normal things we do. If you want to achieve mastery at anything, you will work hard on those weaknesses as part of your 10,000 hours of deliberate improvement.

Dan (Leadership Freak)

Steve,

I'm giving you props on this one. I know you don't want to jetison the idea of strengthening strengths. But you bring balance to the table.

I'm all in on jamming the FAX machine :-)

Regards,

Leadership Freak
Dan Rockwell

"Strengthen Strengths" at:
http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/2009/12/21/strengthen-strengths/

Matt Wrye

Steve -

I have been studying and implementing lean for 10+ years now and your blog hits on a lot of points that I try to coach on. I love it. This post gets right to the point on "Respect for People". This is one of the main pillars we coach about within the lean philosophy. A lot of people think this means being nice. In fact, at the place I work it is way overboard in that manner to the point there are rarely any good direct conversations. Respect means letting someone know when they are out of line or not living up to their end of the deal. Not using the excuse that something isn't their strength. In fact, the best why to learn to get out of your comfort zone and build your weakness and strengths at the same time.

peter vajda

on the meta level, focusing on strenghts supports one to be good, better, best where they "are"; focusing on "weaknesses" supports one to forward the action of their life, to move forward, above, beyond where they are -who they are and how they are - (the self-actualization aspect of Maslow in your earlier blog post)

too, for some, focusing on one's strengths is a form of denial that "work" still remains to be done as we chisle our "self" from a formless block of granite

per your graphic, when all you do is lift weights and disreagard cardio, diet, and the like, what you get is someone who may be in good "shape" but not in good "health"

Steve-Personal Success Factors

Love this article. I believe what has happened with regard to this is exactly as you say. I'm guessing it started as a corrective movement to only looking at weaknesses. I agree with you: the answer is yes to both. It's great to know what our strengths are, but it's equally important to take responsibility for our weaknesses and put together action plans to work on those. If everyone does that in an organization, the results will be outstanding.

Mile High Pixie

A factor I see involved in this is time and its relationship to money (and fee). In architecture (my field), we bill our clients hourly for our time, and if it takes me 4 hours to do something and it takes someone else at my pay scale more time, I get assigned the task because we don't want to blow our pre-agreed-on fee with the client on someone who "isn't as fast."

I also see this when a manager (who bills more per hour) hands me something to do because he "doesn't know where it is on the server/doesn't have a lot of experience with this/etc." This is frustrating in two ways: one, he interrupts me to have me do this little thing for him when he could do it just as easily (if only he knew how!); and two, what happens when he needs this thing done and no one is here to do it for him?

I present this question to you and your readers: how do we incorporate and allow for improving our weaknesses into our budgets and the fees from our clients and into our projects?

Linda Davis

This is a great post, Steve! I think weaknesses are also important to one's personal development. Being unaware of your weaknesses would make you vulnerable to having a distorted image of your goals. Identifying your weaknesses would help you paint a more realistic (and accurate) picture of your capabilities. But you also have to consider that you also won't make your weaknesses as an excuse. Turn these self-limiting beliefs into self-help motivation; this will motivate you and help you rediscover your talent.

Kanchan Chaturvedi

I was loosing confidence because I was always recommended to look at my weakness. I got all my answers that I was expecting it from my mentor. Thank you Steve :)

Steve Roesler

Dean,

I find it much more difficult to impact people at the very top of the hierarchy. There can be a "I'm going with what got me here" response, or a similar "I wouldn't be here if. . ."

Don't know if other long-time consultant/coaches/managers have this experience, but the only thing that grabs enough attention is one's boss or board of directors saying, "You have ___months to do _______differently or you are out of here."

Steve Roesler

Bret,

That "research" abstract was sent to me by a consultant in California who had attended a Strengths workshop with Marcus Buckingham. I have no reason to doubt her; obviously, the complete source of the research would be found through him.

Since you mentioned it, you raised a question for me: I'm not sure if this information was gathered back in the Gallup days or since going out on his own. But his website/writings should lead to any citations that would substantiate the statements.

Steve Roesler

Wally,

There's a lot in that brief comment. I'm going to choose to focus on the 10,000 hours.

There seems to be a "What are you gifted at?" movement that sometimes misses the second question: "And are you willing to invest yourself in the 10,000 hours that it takes to master it and be a star?

It's the difference between working the karaoke bar on Friday nights and headlining at Caesar's Palace.

Steve Roesler

Yo, Dan,

Hey, I appreciate you underscoring the fact that I am definitely not throwing the Talents/Strengths thing out at all: au contraire.

Focusing only on strengths and not how to develop or compensate for weaknesses is the equivalent of having rock-hard abs and spindly biceps. Great if you want to spend your life in sit-up competition but you may not have minimal strength to drive your car to the event.

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All jobs require doing some things we don't like, or aren't particularly good at...and most companies can't afford to give all of their employees an assistant to dump work on. Sometimes we just have to suck it up and do something, even though it's not our strength. All of that said, I'm still a huge believer in focusing on strengths. I just get alarmed when I see a good concept spin out of control and become destructive.

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So it is with Strengths. It's a lot easier to say "It's all about Strengths" than it is to live a life identifying and acknowledging our strengths; figuring out where we need to become at least adequate in some of our weaknesses; and respecting the people around us enough to behave unselfishly even when we "feel" like doing our own thing our own way.

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Instead of really taking time to understand all that lies underneath a principle, the human condition tends to run with a catch phrase and treat it as "the way." A book title becomes a buzzword that gets tossed around in meetings as a mantra. It becomes problematic when that word isn't represented accurately or in context. And that happens a lot.

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Hiding behind strengths as an excuse for bad behavior. For example, "I'm sorry that I snapped at you and called you a bumbling idiot. I have a short fuse. That's just how I am. Sensitivity is not my strength. You'll just have to accept that."

Stapleton

Yes, Its very simple to say "It's all about Strengths", it depends on us how we live the life and how we serve the people.Life is all about humanity and we all the children of God.

Erich Lagasse

Being conscious of how we affect others, as well as specific situations, is something we must work at constantly. We recently posted an article http://academy.justjobs.com/recognize-your-career-stall-points that helps people recognize their career stall points. I hope it helps. - Erich

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