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Manage your weaknesses but focus on your Strengths

Posted Sep 12 2008 6:11pm

In Go Put your Strengths to Work Marcus Buckingham persuades us that it is vitally important to our happiness and success at work to understand clearly what our strengths and weaknesses are. Nothing new here, you might think. The crucial difference between Buckingham's (and the rest of the Strength's Movement) approach and the conventional business approach is that once we have that information, we start to focus most of our energy and attention on our strengths, and less on our "development areas".

Traditionally, it is held true in the business world that in order to excel in our work, we need to know what areas we are weak in so that we can plan a necessary training and development programme to overcome those weaknesses, and over time be able to add them to our list of strengths. Buckingham argues this is a fallacy.

"The point is simply that you will not learn and grow the most in your areas of weakness. Instead you will learn and grow the least .. and what learning and growth you do achieve will be hard won."

It makes far more sense to concentrate your energy on your areas of strength, because that is where your development will make leaps and bounds, and in applying your strengths you can make the most positive contribution to your company.

"You will be most optimistic, most courageous, and most ambitious when playing to an area of strength. And when you hit resistance or obtacles to your goals, you will bounce back fastest when those goals centre on one of your strengths."

Buckingham works with another key difference in the traditional approach to strengths, and that lies in how we identify what our strengths and weaknesses are: you are the best judge of your strengths and weaknesses, not your boss, and not some objective third party who applies a series of test measures. The reason being that your strengths and weaknesses are clarified by your feelings about different activities, and only you can know how you feel.

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