“Do you know yourself?”
If I asked you this question right now, would you be able to confidently answer with a yes? Probably, and that’s great! After all, “knowing thyself” is one of the requirements to lead well (according to Peter Drucker), and as mentioned in Mark Miller's book Smart Leadership.
But here’s a follow up…
Do you know your strengths and weaknesses? Can you confidently OWN up to them?
Owning your strengths and weaknesses is more difficult than most of us believe. It's easier for young people to say, "I suck at that" than it is for them to step back and ask a very important question that we should all ask about our weaknesses:
Is it a Character Flaw or Non-gifted Area?
If I lie or cheat or steal or don't tell the whole truth... those are all personality weaknesses. But really these are called“character flaws”—areas where my people pleasing or insecurities have driven me to act inappropriately.
These are wrong. These are bad. These must change, but not without you working on them.
Start with forgiveness (learn how to be forgiven and how to forgive yourself from my earlier blogs based on Harvard Research).
Again these have to do with our personal character flaws. But there is another kind of weakness that is not our fault. These are called “non-gifted areas.” If I am not a detail-oriented person, or if I don't have as much empathy as my wife, or if I tend to enjoy projects more than people... that is just how I am wired up.
I love to fix things, come up with bold courageous decisions, and get stuff done. That's just who I am. I tell people "My wife is the most kind, caring, empathetic person you have ever met... and opposites attract!" Our personality types all have strengths and weaknesses. If you've known me for a long time, you already know that I've had the privilege to lead some fairly large international organizations.
I've led two different organizations that worked on six continents. This includes leading John Maxwell's EQUIP Leadership Development organization. Can you imagine how many meetings I've led every week for years as we kept those organizations on track and grew them to be all they could be around the world???
Here's my big secret, revealed: I didn't lead the meetings!!!
Why not? Because I'm usually terrible at leading meetings. I care deeply about too many things and I talk too much. Nobody wants to attend meetings that aren't direct, confronting reality, meaningful to the participants and keep moving. Most meetings also have too many people. The people who should be in the meeting are those who can make decisions, garner healthy conflict and make firm decisions that are right most of the time.
But I couldn't do that well, so I always had someone else lead my meetings, and I was a participant who was not allowed to dominate.
And people loved "my" meetings—because we were great at making decisions and we were all in it together. So I was in charge, I was the CEO, but I picked someone more administratively gifted to run the meeting. I used their strength instead of my weakness.
So you see, there’s really nothing wrong with admitting that you have weaknesses. That’s a good mark of a leader, in fact—acknowledging your weaknesses and then doing something to address it so that it doesn’t affect the team and the organization.
Do you need help addressing your weaknesses? Let’s talk: email@example.com.
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