Thinking Out Loud

What Are You Bad At?

Imagine taking a leadership position and immediately announcing your weaknesses—as well as your strengths—to your team. Would that be unsettling to the team? Not necessarily. 

Fear of acknowledging our weaknesses is usually connected to worry about losing respect and power. Would others think you are weak and, therefore, take advantage of you? Being afraid of your strengths sounds counterintuitive, yet it’s not uncommon. Imagine telling others, honestly and openly, what you’re good at. Would you wonder that you’d come across as arrogant or that you’d look particularly foolish if you make a mistake resulting from your self-proclaimed strength?

We get so tangled up thinking about how open to be with others in our workplace when it comes to our skills, abilities and competencies. Of course, they’d come to learn our strengths and weaknesses over time but stating them up front cuts to the chase and sets a tone with the team that it’s safe for others to do the same.

So what’s the purpose with this? It gives you and those you work with a straightforward opportunity to:

  • Draw on the multiple talents of the collective
  • Problem-solve around weaknesses before they cause problems
  • Proactively help each other out
  • Create a trusting work environment

Often we think about our strengths in terms of the tasks that we do related to our job description. But those tasks are connected to our processing skills and it’s especially helpful to understand the relationship between the two. For example, our communication skills are driven by how we process information in different domains. So we might have strong verbal skills but not writing skills. Wouldn’t it be universally helpful if we acknowledged that and account for it by drawing on the strengths of someone else—say someone else’s writing skills.

So, think about it. What would you like those you work most closely with to know about you—your strengths and weaknesses? What do you imagine would happen if you had a frank discussion about that at your next staff meeting? Taking risks, being open and fearless is part of being a strong leader. Leading by example in this situation could help your team become more collaborative, supportive, and productive.

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