When weaknesses are identified the general proclivity is to amend the weakness and somehow convert it into strength. I was one of those people who believed that weaknesses can be converted to strengths. The question that I started pondering was: is it worth the time and effort spent to improve a weakness? From my personal experience and from that of people I know of – even though it is anecdotal, answer is a definite NO. I strongly believe that time spent to improve weaknesses would have been time better spent on improving strengths.
The title:”Different: escape the competitive herd” caught my attention at a bookstore, after reading, I realized that the author has a point and it is applicable at multiple levels (personal, professional and product development). The author, a teacher, mentions that when the students are highlighted about their weaknesses in a subject the immediate reaction was to improve the weakness. So, with almost everyone in the class focusing on their weakness the class almost became a homogenous group, and losing its originality and creativity in the process. And, the author logically extends this perspective to product development and products in the market [this will need a separate post].
Imagine the situation in a work environment: the annual review where the employees are given performance feedback. The evaluator tends to spend more time talking about the weaknesses and asking the employee to focus and improve on those areas. This insistence on improving a weakness gets even worse when the evaluator needs to justify for a lesser pay raise. Employees will not only be more obsessed about their weakness but will also get demoralized – which will in turn affect productivity. The goal should not be to create a group of similarly performing unsatisfied automatons but an energetic and confident group that contains individuals complimenting each other by filling in the weakness gaps.
Humans in general want to be well rounded without any flaws, and tend think in terms of weaknesses rather than strengths. Successful leaders in any field: sports, business or politics, are the ones who played to their strengths, and seldom displayed their weaknesses. This is what differentiates leaders from the rest.
Are weaknesses supposed to be totally ignored? In the book “Truth about you”, the author says that weaknesses cannot be converted to strengths since they might be inherent to the person, but they can possibly be neutralized. I’m not sure how weaknesses can be neutralized, but I totally agree with the author about having strong strengths that would pale any weakness.
The smartness lies in the ability to identify the true strengths and weaknesses and intelligently using them as parameters that differentiate and not homogenize.
- Different: escape the competitive herd – Youngme Moon
- Truth about you – Marcus Buckingham