What’s best for career development? Focusing on your strengths or weaknesses?
This is one of the great dilemmas regarding personal development strategies and methodologies.
Traditionally, the assessment of individual and group performance and development plans focused on improving a person’s weaknesses and areas with room for improvement.
But there is increasing evidence that a new outlook is needed, one that focuses mainly on strengths and only considers weaknesses that are really crucial for a person’s current performance at work or achieving their mid-term career goals.
According to Warren Buffett, an example of a successful executive, it is easier to achieve your goals if you can pinpoint the jobs that involve some of your strengths.
The University of Nebraska conducted an experiment about the speed of reading with 2 groups of students that demonstrated the difference that focussing on strengths can make. After a period of training, students with a medium level improved by a good 66%. But the performance of those assumed to have a natural aptitude increased by an impressive 828% (https://is.gd/TAMxOh).
To increase the emphasis on strengths, the consultancy Gallup created the Strengths Finder (www.gallupstrengthscenter.com) based on research by Donald Clifton (https://is.gd/HnF6LR), which demonstrates the importance of focusing on the subjects and skills that you do best.
This test helps pinpoint your 5 main professional strengths from a group of 34 skills in 4 main areas: strategic outlook, execution, creation of relationships and influence.
On the other hand, if your weaknesses are essential for your work, they must also be improved, as shown in the excellent film, The King’s Speech.
This film tells the story of the life and evolution of King George VI, an anxious stutterer in his youth. England was on the brink of war and desperately needed a leader who could communicate well and inspire citizens to fight for a future of freedom for them all. So he entrusted himself to an expert speech therapist and managed to reach an intermediate level of public speaking after a great deal of effort and perseverance.
Your strengths are crucial and can be your greatest allies in advancing towards your career goals. Paradoxically they can also be a major obstacle and one of your worst enemies if used to excess. Like everything in life, moderation is the key.
Positive thinking, resilience, focusing on results, humility, exploration, willingness to learn and unlearn, mentoring, coaching, etc are all amazing tools for career advancement if we know how to use them well.
In this world full of fantastic opportunities for face-to-face and on-line learning, the challenge is not to access knowledge but to filter, focus, personalise, have common sense and maintain an appetite for on-going improvement and being young at heart.
Improving the weaknesses that hold you back will improve your competitive edge. It is possible to improve your strengths exponentially, and this will help you win.
Join the Do Better community
Become a member and enjoy our free benefits. Get recommendations, receive personalised content in your inbox and save your favourite articles to read later.