Keep Your Strengths Strong (#9)
Driving carpool, I overheard my teenage daughter and her friends discussing their classmates. “She’s awesome at geometry. She’s the fastest on the team.”
The chatter devolved to, “I’m not good at that. I stink at that.” I cringed at the doubt in their own abilities. Their conversation prompted this message about comparison and your leadership strengths.
This Week’s Edition
As leaders, we fall prey to the comparison of our leadership to the strengths of other leaders. Because we only have the exterior knowledge of the other person and we have 100% knowledge of ourselves, we will lose that game every single time.
Clarify Your Thinking
Steven, a new client, was describing some challenges in his business. To help find solutions, he regularly met with a group of accomplished leaders called the mastermind group.
He described that while he had received some sound advice from the group, he came away feeling less confident about his own leadership. He listed, in detail, the strengths of each leader which he quickly followed with a detailed list of those strengths he did not have. I could see him begin to doubt his own leadership as he stood in the shadow of these leadership giants.
His thinking was focused on what he did not possess. This took his focus off his own strengths, the very things that had generated his success to date.
I asked him “Steven, why are you on the team?”
He pondered this for a moment and then said, “I’m on the team because I build solid relationships. I’m able to facilitate strategic discussions. I can delegate and execute successfully.” His response provided the answer he was looking for. He shifted his thinking from what he perceived as a deficit to a list of strengths that would eventually pave the way to the solutions to his current challenges.
You are not on the team because of your weaknesses. You are on the team because of your strengths. It is your job to know your strengths and to keep your strengths strong. Outsource your weaknesses (if you can). Stay focused on your strengths especially in times of great pressure and stress.
To right your thinking from the strengths you don’t have to those that you do have, download the Clarify Your Thinking Worksheet.
Thoughts Lead to Actions
It’s one thing to think about your strengths, it’s quite another to know whether anyone else recognizes those strengths, especially the people you lead.
With Steven, our discussion focused on his own list of strengths. For a few of them, he was having a hard time giving them much weight.
“Delegation?” He asked. “I’m good at it, but I’m not sure it’s a strength.”
“Why do you think that?” I asked.
“Well, I guess it is a strength but doesn’t everyone have that strength?”
“Uh, no! No, they don’t.” I said empathically. “I can attest to that based on the 1000s of conversations I have had with leaders who struggle with delegation.”
Often times when things come fairly easy to us we assume that’s the case for others too. Meaning, if we think a strength is commonplace or ordinary we don’t think it’s special. As a result, we tend to discount it and fail to fully step into the true power of that strength.
I asked Steven to do a strengths assessment:
· Reach out to a friend, family member and work colleague
· Ask each to make a list of your strengths from their perspective
· Compare their lists to your own strengths list
Steven experienced several ah-ha’s:
· Others saw in him things that he did not see.
· They also saw things he knew, but was not fully embracing.
· Because all three contributors saw some similar strengths, he discovered that his leadership identity was consistent across those three areas of his life: personal, family and work.
As a community of leaders, let’s come together to support one another in defining clearly our leadership identity by way of our strengths. As team members emphasize their strengths and work together, they will rise above the adverse circumstances of the pandemic to achieve growth.
Complete the coaching assignment to identify or rediscover your leadership strengths.
Boost Your Performance
Leave behind the temptation to compare your leadership to others. Focus on your own personal growth. Compete against your own potential. This will lead to consistent elite performance – the best you have to offer based on your strengths.
What’s Your Opinion?
Email me your greatest strength. firstname.lastname@example.org
Don’t let Doubt count you out. Do your leadership part and commit to a hearty restart. Have a confident week!
If this was helpful, feel free to share it with another leader who needs to defeat doubt and complete their confidence.
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.