Everyone has an opinion when it comes to leadership. Some may even say it’s like when you have your first child; everyone knows the ‘right’ way to raise them and is very forthcoming with their advice! My approach is to align with your character and values, looking at yourself as an individual. You absolutely want to hone your strengths, capitalize on areas where you excel and stand out. But you don’t stop there. It would be like working out the right side of your body and not the left, or your upper body and not your legs. Are you getting the image? To be a well-rounded leader, you need to keep an eye on the opportunities to grow and strive to improve them as well.

Here are five ways to improve those areas that don’t come naturally to us, or take us out of our ‘strength’ comfort zone.

  1. Increase your self-awareness. Chances are pretty good that you know areas of opportunity for you. But do you know how others see them? Seek feedback from those around you, let them know you’re trying to grow as a leader, and you would value their help.
  2. Create a ‘strength statement.’ How would that look if it was a strength of yours? Let’s say you are perceived as inflexible, where solutions have to be done your way. A strength statement would be, “I will not fight the team for my approach if others propose alternatives that work.”
  3. Use a strength to strengthen a weakness. This is always a fun one! Let’s say you are impatient and like to get things done quickly. One of the strengths of impatience is passion. How can you channel that passion to become infectious for the team, rather than seeming as if you’re impatient?
  4. Define the value of the change. Let’s say you struggle with communication. It has been noted that you tend to get sarcastic when you’re frustrated with people. At the very least this results in alienating co-workers. If it persists it can become a problem with your career as it could be considered demeaning or derogatory. The value in this instance is maintaining your career and job.
  5. Coach/Mentor. Many times, we can’t do things ourselves, imagine trying to paint a masterpiece from within the picture. Look for a mentor that is one or two levels above where you are, to gain insights on their experiences. Coaches are able to help you find ways to improve that align with your character and values to create a sustainable change.

Working to strengthen your weaknesses or using the strengths to minimize their expression will help you grow as an individual and in your career. Even if you can’t eliminate a weakness, understanding how it manifests and managing the behavior is a huge achievement! My philosophy to help my clients is to give them the space to create their focus thereby becoming more effective and intentional to achieve excellence.