Skip to content

Can My Greatest Strength Be My Biggest Weakness? (#155)

TCL Illustration 155

The Confident Leader


“Robin, I know I am able to process massive amounts of information and arrive at decisions quickly. It’s my greatest strength, but I’m concerned about its negative impact.” said Brendan, the CEO of a high growth investment company. 

““In most cases, strengths and weaknesses are two sides of the same coin. A strength in one situation is a weakness in another, yet often the person can’t switch gears.”

— Steve Jobs

This Week’s Edition

Is your greatest strength your biggest weakness or is this a leadership myth that most leaders believe is true?

Clarify Your Thinking

“I’ve come to realize that I’m able to move quickly on opportunities and often beat my competitors. My win rate is high and this ability to move quickly is the main reason for our growth and increased market share,” Brendan further elaborated.

“I feel a ‘but’ coming…” I said.

“Ha… yes! BUT, in the realm of leading others, I am concerned that my greatest strength is my biggest weakness. I expect others to keep pace with my rate of processing even though they may have started only a short time ago.”

“Has something happened recently to make you think this?” I asked.

“Two of my top leaders resigned after only six months. They churned quickly, perhaps as a result of my high expectations for picking things up quickly… too quickly perhaps.”

This concept of “my greatest strength is my biggest weakness” creates thinking issues for leaders for two reasons: 

First, they believe the widely held cliché is true. 

Second, if it is true, it creates a leadership trap: use your greatest strength and risk negative ramifications of your biggest weakness. You can’t win without losing.  

Old Thinking: I don’t know how to use my biggest strength without the negative effects that come along with it. I guess I shouldn’t use it at all or just bear the cost.

New Thinking: My greatest strength has gotten me to this point. Maybe there is a way to use this strength differently. 

Thoughts Lead to Actions

Leadership is situational. Not all situations require the use of the same strengths. Discerning which strength should be used for which situation is the leadership wisdom that keeps the leader from being stuck.

For Brendan, his fast processing wins deals. His strength may not be useful in situations related to onboarding new team members. We focused on the other strengths that make up his leadership style: inspiration, teaching, training and coaching. 

He kept his “greatest” leadership strength, fast processing, dormant in his toolbox while he employed his other leadership strengths. They were more effective for the situation at hand. 

Use these steps to determine the right leadership strength

Step 1: Reflect. Make a list of your leadership strengths.

Step 2: Identify the best situations in which to use each strength. 

Step 3: Identify those situations in which you might not want to use a particular strength. Note: think about recent circumstances where you have not gotten the outcome you wanted. Determine whether it was due in part to the use of a strength that should have stayed in your leadership toolbox. 

Brendan asked his team for feedback regarding his fast processing and the expectations that came with that strength and started a dialogue about how he could rely on other strengths to support his team.

Boost Your Performance

If we think our strength is simultaneously a weakness that will cloud our thinking about how to use that strength. Watch this week’s video to understand more fully the dilemma leaders experience in this area of their leadership.

#155 from Robin Pou on Vimeo.

What’s Your Opinion?

What is your greatest strength? Share it with me at

If you are going to be a leader, you might as well be a good one. Don’t let doubt count you out. Have a confident week!

Robin Pou, Chief Advisor and Strategist

We live to make bad leadership extinct so forward this newsletter to others who strive to be confident leaders. 


Let’s Connect

Follow me on Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter.

What is “The Confident Leader”?

During the Covid-19 Pandemic, I began a video series called “Panic or Plan?” It was designed to equip leaders to navigate the doubt they experienced and to rise in the confidence they needed to lead during turbulent times. It took off. I then started this newsletter to equip leaders in the same fashion each week for the doubt that crashes across the bow of their leaderSHIP.