We live in a world that’s too often obsessed with fixing weaknesses. If you’re not good with numbers, you need to study harder. If you struggle in group settings, you need to hone your social skills. Yet, what if you just focused on improving your strengths? Would you achieve more by enhancing your strengths or addressing your weaknesses?
The evidence certainly suggests that most are better off focusing on their strengths. According to Gallup, which has studied human strengths for over 40 years, the key is to building on who you already are. In a nutshell, Michael Jordan should never have tried his hand at baseball and instead stuck to basketball.
The Path of Most Resistance
By focusing on your weaknesses, you’re taking the path of most resistance and it’s an approach that’s more common than you might think.
For instance, consider the computer science student who’s extremely gifted in developing software code. The norm would dictate that this person should move to a manager role, perhaps as a project manager or team lead. Yet, these roles require a whole new set of skills. It assumes that the same person who’s gifted in software programming also has great people skills, project management skills and can manage time effectively. Even in the event they do, much of their time and energy are now being diverted away from what they’re best at (programming) and instead are being invested in other areas (like managing).
Focus on Strengths
When you focus on your strengths, the research shows that people are more engaged, treat customers better, have more creative moments and have more positive interactions with colleagues. Sounds simple right?
The Gallup study has shown that when managers are focused on the strengths of their individual team members, the chances of them being disengaged are only 1%, compared to 40% when they’re focused on their weaknesses.
The onus is on both the individual and the company to ensure teams are focusing on their strengths. There needs to be less attention placed on “areas of improvement” (which is a nice way of saying weaknesses) during review time and instead the focus should be on identifying streghts and encouraging them to flourish. When this happens, everyone wins.
Take the time to identify where your strengths lie and build on them, focus less on your weaknesses. Michael Jordan may not have been good at baseball, but you just might be.
Adapted from Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tim Roth.
Photo: Above photograph used under CC license
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