Where a Strength Goes Weak

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Just about any weakness can be attributed to one or more strengths that are overused. 

That’s an interesting start to a leadership article. Grabbed my attention. And so did the next paragraph which describes how an emerging leader’s passion for taking care of her customers was turning into a liability. Wait! Turbo-charged customer service is who we are! 

According to Dan McCarthy (who was a business leader until 2011 when he joined the faculty at the University of New Hampshire), there are six common leadership strengths that can be overdone…to the point they become weaknesses:

#1 – The results focused leader. When overdone, the results become more important than…fill in the blank…the people, the customer, the culture, the fun, etc. 

#2 – The courageous leader. Taken too far, this leader becomes uncompromising, burns bridges. 

#3 – The caring, compassionate leader. Too nice can mean not dealing with underperformers, avoiding conflict, inability to make tough decisions. 

#4 – The empowering leader. What? You can overdo this? Yes, if you give too much responsibility to those not ready for it, and not enough direction to those that need it. (So, remember to lead situationally!) 

#5 – The motivational leader. Even this one can be a weakness, IF it means pushing people beyond their limits, or burning your team out. 

#6 – The visionary, brilliant leader. Think Steve Jobs. This leader is two steps ahead, which is great for setting strategy, but if overdone, erodes an ability to relate to (and listen to) others. 

All of the above are strengths. Be aware of yours and work them, but the point?

Be open to feedback, and learn to “dial it back”, especially when under pressure.

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