Leadership does not require perfection — far from it. Effective leaders don’t have to be strong in many leadership skills at all. Effective leadership emerges more from knowing your strengths and weaknesses than on having many strengths.
Speed and strength are valuable to any position in football, but a quarterback doesn’t need strength like a lineman. And a lineman doesn’t need to be as fast as a running back. A quarterback trying to be as strong as a lineman is wasting his time and hurting his team.
Using Columbia Business School’s breakdown of leadership skills into the six categories, for example,
- Decision making
- Negotiation and conflict resolution
- Perceiving others
- Influence and persuasion
- Groups and teams
Most people will be stronger in some and weaker in others. You know you have your strengths and weaknesses. People receiving their first 360 feedback see in their reviews a distribution of perceptions of their skills.
Improving social and leadership skills only improves your life. So where to begin? Most people want to work on their greatest weaknesses first to bring them to the level of the others. I recommend choosing which to improve by what will best motivate you to start and continue through the challenges. If a skill being weak motivates you, use it.
But remember that effective leadership doesn’t require strength in all areas. No one is equally strong in everything. Thinking you need strength across the board will hold you back. Work on what will help you progress best, recognizing you can’t and don’t need to be strong in everything. Sometimes leaving your weaknesses weak creates no problem and frees resources like time, energy, and attention to improve other skills where your progress will be much greater. In the meantime, be aware of the remaining weaknesses and work around them, usually by finding teammates strong in those areas.
Effective teams are built on strengths. As long as you know your weaknesses, you can lead, or operate in any team role, effectively. Just find people with strengths where you are weak and learn to work together.
Again, effective leadership emerges more from knowing your strengths and weaknesses than on having many strengths.
Learn to make Meaningful Connections
with a simple, effective exercise from my book, Leadership Step by Step.
- Step by step instructions
- Video examples of me and Marshall Goldsmith
- An excerpt from my book