How To Use Strengths And Weaknesses To Be A Better Leader
Want to see my eyes twitch, face flush and fingers wring? Simply utter the following statement… “I can’t change; you just have to accept me as I am.”
Telling me this in relation to life scenarios is one thing (and it gets a similar, yet more filtered response assuming you don’t want to experience me on my coaching high horse). If you’re a business owner and looking to work with me, be prepared… is there any more damning statement to growing your business than that? I don’t think so!
Let’s recognise a couple of simple realities about life and business.
1. We are all works in progress; all of the time,
2. Our businesses are limited only by our own growth,
3. You either have a fixed or growth mindset; change only occurs with a growth mindset,
4. As business owners we must recognise that we are the most important cog in the whole business machine.
Yet suggesting that this is as good as it gets hardly serves a business where the intent is to grow or at least outlast the statistics of those that don’t last the distance. None of us start out with a perfect skill set suited to running a successful business, and yet everyday people take on that challenge. Some are destined to fail from the outset, while others will simply seem to take to “doing business” like a duck to water. Most will struggle on heroically – hosing down daily spot fires and wrestling with incessant noise that distracts them from growing at a faster rate.
What separates business failure, struggle and success, is neither luck nor ability. It is a combination of factors related to situational awareness, internal awareness of strengths and stretches and leadership. Let’s consider these one by one.
• Identify strengths and stretches
Learning to observe, plan and adapt behaviours to maximise your own and other’s potential is a critical step to achieving success in business for the long term. Remembering that no one is perfect, there are simply some things that we are not suited to, or incapable of doing. This is different to saying that you “can’t change”. When running a business, it’s vitally important to spend your time doing things effectively. The big question to answer here is – am I the right person to be performing this function – or is my time best spent elsewhere on the business? You don’t need to, and in fact should not be doing everything yourself. Identify where your strengths lie and work at maximising them. Where you can see critical weaknesses in your performance, consider who is in your team that has that strength, and what you need to do to be able to delegate to them. If you don’t have people to be able to allocate those tasks to, consider an outsourcing strategy, or investment in your own education to up skill yourself if this is the best decision for your business.
• Prioritise needs and consider costs / benefits
In alignment with the point above identify your strengths and stretches and make decisions based on where changes/improvements will have the most impact upon your bottom line. For example, you could suffer through the next 6 months learning the intricacies of MYOB or Quickbooks or you could simply outsource book keeping to someone who lives and breathes it, thereby more effectively using time and money. Consider how much it costs you to do three hours of bookkeeping. Unless this is something you enjoy doing, you’re likely to have a book keeper efficiently do the same thing one hour (or less) and they are most likely to cost you less than your hourly rate. The question is, why would you do it yourself? Prioritise your business needs and determine whether you doing that activity is the best use of your time and energy to get the result.
· Call in the experts.
Where you have identified a weakness, don’t stick your head in the sand. Sometimes, an unbiased critical eye to either validate or challenge the status quo is just what is needed. There is a time and place for experts to help your business reach the next level. Marketing, finance and business consultants are just a few specialists that can add critical insight and value to your business. A fresh pair of eyes can sometimes make all the difference in how you see yourself and your business operations, but you have to be ready to face the fact that you’re not perfect and some things probably do need to change.
• Prioritise Time
We all only have twenty-four hours in a day. How we choose to use those hours will ultimately determine our success or failure in all aspects of our lives. Do you have a strong sense of when / where your time and energy is most effectively used? When planning out your day, week, month etc, look at whether your skills are being used to take your business in the direction you want it to go in, or whether you are holding back because of lack of confidence, skill, certainty, form or function in certain areas. If you are holding back, think about what needs to change and most importantly how YOU need to change to move in the direction you want to go. If the change needs to be in you, consider the best way to achieve that.
• Invest in your development
As Ray Kroc said, “Are you green and growing or ripe and rotting?” Great businesses almost always have great leaders at the helm. Great leaders learn how to lead themselves first and then others once they have trodden their own path. The funny thing is that most leaders had to learn the ropes of leadership – they weren’t “born leaders.” They did so by investing in their soft skills. They developed greater emotional intelligence while building communication skills and learning to understand self and others. Ultimately great leadership is not being able to be able to perform work related skills better than anybody else. It’s about being able to see your own strengths and weaknesses, together with being able to coach, motivate and inspire others to be the best that they can.
The key in all of this is to first maximise strengths, then recognise and neutralise weaknesses and then continually make improvements. It’s a constant process that needs to be revisited regularly.
What do I have to do to make it work? Delegate, get help, get out of the weeds, upskill, re-prioritise etc?
The stark reality is that you’re never going to be perfect. To achieve the greatest success in your life and business it is critically important to play to your strengths, and at the same time be open to identifying, neutralising and improving on your weaknesses.
Change is about growth. You can change. You can be better and you can get better results from your business. You have to be you, you can’t be anybody else, but you can be a better you.
Your customers, your people and your bottom line will appreciate the difference.
What to do next:
I live and breathe helping business owners get the clarity needed to continue going forward, and this is without a doubt my deep passion and purpose; I absolutely love what I do. If you want to have a chat about how I help you achieve your goal, get in touch.