When weaknesses are used they lead to feelings of negativity, disengagement, and lack of motivation.
Not to mention the obvious poor performance. Evolution taught us to naturally attend to what’s wrong so don’t blame yourself, but you can change the focus to what is right.
So why you shouldn’t develop your weaknesses but what to do when you need them?
Here are some ideas of how to think of your weaknesses and what you can do about them when you have to use them in your work or home life.
A weakness is a weakness
Don’t dress it up. Call it that and accept it so that you can get on with dealing with any impact it has and focusing your development in the areas of your strengths. Avoid stress by asking for help when you need it, and be more honest about the work and roles that you are suited for and those you are not. It also opens opportunities for those around you to dial up their strengths in the areas of your weaknesses, allowing others to shine in new areas.
It is not an ‘area for development’
These should be something where you can develop to become exceptional, which is not going to be in an area of a weakness. Development that is focused exclusively on weaknesses is ineffective. You will end up feeling like a failure in the process, like the good old ‘presentation course’ which tries to teach someone who prefers staying in the background to stand on stage. Our advice is not to waste money trying to make yourself or others excel in things at which they are naturally poor.
Let me be clear, this is different from people developing in times of challenges. For example, you may go on to develop a new strength in Time Optimiser during your first few months of parenting, but you are still very unlikely to be a good Planner or enjoy it if you never did!
Don’t get me wrong, weaknesses shouldn’t be ignored. You need to know what your weaknesses are, and then manage them in a way that minimises them and makes their impact irrelevant. Try the following:-
Reshape the role – Reorganise what you do in a way that reduces the extent to which you have to use the weakness, ideally so that you don’t have to use it at all. Do this by delegating to others — if you can — or by rearranging the way that work gets done.
Reshape your approach – What if it wasn’t making small talk (Rapport Builder), but instead you tasked yourself with finding out more about something of interest about the person (Curiosity)?
Use strengths to compensate – Use your strengths in such a way that your weakness is compensated for. For example, a strength in Resilience might enable you to overcome a weakness in Feedback.
Find complementary partners – Find someone who has a strength where you have a weakness.
Get good enough – Finally, if none of the above are possible, learn to practice this weakness to a level of competence. Accept that the weakness is not something you’re ever likely to do well in or be energised by.
So, now you know how to manage your weaknesses, focus on developing what you love to do with your strengths.
If you’re ready to start your journey to becoming a strengths coach and see what your next steps could be, find out more here with the tool that I use: Strength Profile.
Thanks Trudy Bateman for this guest article. Always great to add your ideas. Katy