Which one do you choose to do: Focus on Strengths, or Focus on Weaknesses?
…And while you’re at it, answer this: Does the curious and ongoing debate about strengths and weaknesses in the field of leadership puzzle you?
What I would really like to know is who raised the issue in the first place? As if there were an issue, as if there were an answer.
It depends on who you are and what strengths and weaknesses you have. In the absence of a particular leader and situation, the debate is meaningless.
To understand this better, take the case of the recently ousted CEO of HP, Mark Hurd. His ethical wrong-doing was the poison-tipped dagger that brought his career at HP to an ignominious end.
Had he neutralized his weakness, he would still be the CEO, and still able to apply his considerable talents to the task of moving HP, the planet’s largest computer maker, forward on its growth path.
No amount of strength-building would have atoned for his misconduct and breach of fiduciary trust.
On the other hand, take his predecessor, Carly Fiorina. She was not able to engage and mobilize the organization and the board, and maintain their support for her major initiatives.
Since her departure, her strategy has been vindicated in part, but she was not able to summon the institutional will of the enterprise and its stakeholders to execute the strategy to completion.
Apparently, she didn’t have the execution and communication skills that Mr. Hurd has in abundance. It is therefore possible that she might still be at the helm had she the operating prowess of her successor.
She had strengths, but perhaps those strengths needed strengthening.
If you have serious weaknesses that threaten to end your career as a leader and jeopardize the people and the organization you are leading, your priority is to attend to them immediately. On the other hand, if you have strengths that you can build on to increase your effectiveness and results as a leader, attend to these as well.
So let me ask: Should I feed my strengths or starve my weaknesses?
Timothy R. Clark, Ph.D., is president of management consulting firm, TRCLARK.
He helps in strategy, organizational transformation, and leadership development.
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