I am sure that at one time or another many leaders will have spent time contemplating whether they should focus on developing their strengths or addressing their weaknesses.
There are a wide range of views and research on the topic, favouring one approach or the other. Those who advocate focusing on strengths believe that spending more time on the things we are good at and enjoy will result in us being happier, more engaged and more confident. In turn, we will be more productive and more successful. This may also help us move our careers forward at a faster pace.
On the other hand, there is a school of thought that believes that working on our weaknesses is a positive way of helping us face fears and even discover new strengths.
An alternate way to look at this issue is to try and identify the tasks within your responsibilities that could be better completed by someone else.
The most important outcome of this, in my opinion, is that handing over tasks to others frees you up to spend more time doing what you are best served doing. This does not mean delegating the jobs, as this normally implies the tasks will be done by someone more junior. What I am referring to is handing over tasks to someone more capable of effectively completing them, which could potentially be a peer or even someone more senior than you.
None of this is to say that you should not work on your weaknesses – I am the first to admit that this is a critical part of development. However, if you run your responsibilities through the “am I the best person to be carrying out this task?” filter, then there will be a far more finite set of weaknesses to work on. This will allow you to prioritise and really focus on the areas that need to be developed.
So where do you find the people who are better than you at some of your current responsibilities? Well hopefully if you own, or are working for a company that employs sensational people, then the solution is right beside you. If you adopt this policy within your business, it is an opportunity to reshuffle responsibilities to ensure that each person is more effective, ultimately happier, more productive and delivering better commercial outcomes. In turn, hopefully your staff retention will also improve significantly. A good time to consider where tasks and responsibilities best sit is when you are recruiting. If someone is leaving or you need to hire someone new, this presents an opportunity to look more closely at the distribution of tasks.
Another option is to outsource specific tasks or projects. At face value, this can look like an additional expense. But if you calculate the time and associated cost of you completing this job against the alternatives, you may find it’s more economic.
At times, managers can be reluctant to employ people with skills they don’t have or hand over responsibilities for fear that it might jeopardise their position and authority. But a good leader will look at the greater good, knowing that success doesn’t rest on the shoulders of an individual. Success is a team effort and the complementary skill sets of a variety of people will lead to better outcomes. Furthermore, we can always learn something from those who have skills that we don’t.
It might not always be possible for budgetary reasons to hire, hand over or add new scope to existing positions. But where it is possible, these options provide a win-win solution – the tasks will get done and by default, you will be able to spend more time doing things you are good at and enjoy – your strengths. Surrounding yourself with sensational people who bring valuable, needed expertise is a surefire way to help any business achieve their vision.
So challenge yourself, at both a personal and business level. The outcomes can be fantastic – not to mention incredibly satisfying for everyone in the team.