The CliftonStrengths Coaching Blog is a resource for those who want to help others truly understand their strengths and learn how to use them. Gallup experts and outside contributors share tactics, insights, and strategies to help strengths coaches maximize the talent of individuals, teams, and organizations everywhere.
I am often asked about the tug-of-war that seems to go on between our weaknesses and our strengths. Patterns of non-talent, or the themes that do not hang out around the top of our strengths profiles, are simply that -- patterns we do not naturally possess. These themes become weaknesses only when we have to use them. In the best scenario, we would all understand our strengths and work to align them with our expectations every day. Until then, there may be requirements you must meet that just don’t seem to feed your strengths. Think of it like a boat: In order to sail forward quickly and effortlessly, we must capitalize on what we do well. If we have a leak in an area that doesn’t affect the boat, we probably won’t spent much time fixing it. But if our leaks get in the way of us being successful, they must be addressed. In this post, I will focus on weaknesses and how to plug your leaks.
Maybe you think the strengths approach is one-sided. Nope. As a coach, I realize we all have weaknesses in our personal lives and in business. Weaknesses are like water leaks in a sailboat, and if we don’t plug our leaks, we sink. You may be experiencing a major weakness if you are not good at an activity and don’t feel passion for that activity, yet it’s important to your career success. A minor weakness is sometimes called a “learned behavior” that we are average-to-good at, however we do not enjoy or have passion for this activity, and the activity is not a major part of our job responsibility or career success.
Use my acronym below to help you identify your top personal and professional leaks (weaknesses) today.
What activity do you hate doing with a passion? You’re going to laugh when I confess this, but I loathe and hate dealing with the cable TV remote control or anything related to hooking up a DVD and cables. When you loathe an activity, you will find a way to…
What activity do you want to avoid and get someone else to do? You guessed it, I ask my wife to take care of the remote control and hooking up any electronics. Similarly, she hates installing the toilet paper, so for 27 years I’ve been the one who puts it on the roll.
In business, I loathe and avoid entering data and dealing with Quickbooks, so I’m frequently singing, “Help me Rhonda! Help, help me Rhonda!” Oh, I’m determined enough (whether I’m smart enough is questionable) to learn how to control a TV remote and figure out Quickbooks, but I will always be…
What activity is a weakness in your life or business that, no matter how much you learn or practice, you will only be average or below average in performance? Many professionals despise public speaking and try to get better by reading books or going to Toastmasters (which I recommend). The truth is, they can get better, but they will only be average or below average in performance because it’s not their strength.
In fact, you can become average in a weakness and still feel a…
What activity, no matter how much you improve (and I recommend improving your weaknesses to a point) there is still a kink in your stomach? A feeling of stress and strain?
My wife gets a feeling of stress and a kink in her stomach just thinking about dealing with conflict personally or professionally. It is a weakness of hers, however she has learned how to plug that leak (and lean on me to help, since this is one of my strengths). In 28 years of marriage, we have had a couple (okay, our fair share) of conflicts, big and small, but we are still afloat.
We have found a way to PLUG our leaks so we don’t sink.
One of my coaching clients loathes public speaking. He wants to escape it or get someone else to do it for him. He tries to improve, but still just feels average. He even feels a kink in his stomach when he presents a report to the senior management team. His top five strengths are Deliberative, Belief, Responsibility, Discipline, and Relator.
How can he PLUG the LEAK?
Plan on consciously using one or more of your signature strengths to boost your weakness. If your strengths are Deliberative, Belief, Responsibility, Discipline, and Relator, then you could decrease the stress (landmines) before you speak, stick with topics on which you can share your strong Belief, use Responsibility to make you follow through with quality, structure your talk with Discipline, and open your heart so you connect with your audience.
You will likely have to do some public speaking in your work, but what if you could eliminate 80% of public speaking? Of course, don’t volunteer for public speaking jobs. Make it clear to your boss and team that you want to decrease any opportunity that could create public speaking moments.
Who on your team could you unite with that excels at public speaking -- who loves public speaking and could take the pressure off of you? Many companies hire a spokesperson. You can, too, in critical public speaking situations. Who knows! You could even barter with someone who has the strength of public speaking.
We all have to do things that we are weak at to some extent. Go to Toastmasters or hire a coach to help you maximize your speaking abilities. Grow in the basics and let it go. Take the pressure off of yourself to be the best at everything, and invest your time and energy in your strengths.
Brent O’Bannon is a Gallup Certified Executive Strengths Coach who has conducted more than 27,000 coaching sessions and spoken to more than 60 organizations in the U.S., China, Dubai, and Afghanistan. For more information visit www.brentobannon.com.