Tuesday, August 16, 2011


“Success is achieved by developing our strengths, 
not by eliminating our weaknesses”
~Marilyn vos Savant

 Perfect Blue by Lain Alexander

As shared in the introduction to the book How Full Is Your Bucket?, a Gallup poll conducted a randomized survey with more than a thousand employees. In this study, they asked the employees where their manager focused the most time and attention:

a. On employees’ strengths

b. On employees’ weaknesses

c. Neither of the above; the manager ignored employees

The surprising results of the survey were that “one person, specifically the manager in this context, can eliminate almost all of the active disengagement in a workplace if he or she primarily focuses on an employee’s strengths.”

When people reported that their manager ignored employees (neither focusing on strengths or weaknesses) there was a 40% chance of them being actively disengaged on the job.

If their manager focused on weaknesses (demonstrating that they were at least paying attention) there was only a 22% chance of them being disengaged.

But, when the manager focused on an employee’s strengths, there was just a 1% chance of that employee being very negative or actively disengaged on the job.

Does this surprise you? I mean, shouldn’t a leader help employees find their weaknesses and improve them? This feels counterintuitive to me and has caused me to reflect on this thought for several days.

As often happens, just as I began thinking on this idea, a serendipitous moment occurred. Michael Hyatt posted a short 3-minute video by Andy Stanley relating to this exact topic. Watch it below before we continue.

My take-aways from Andy’s talk: 
  1. Your fully exploited strengths are of far greater value to your current organization than your marginally improved weaknesses.
  2. Your weaknesses will always be weaknesses in comparison to your strengths.
  3. The way for you to develop an incredible organization is to create space for the members in your organization to fully exploit their strengths and help them delegate their weaknesses to people for whom those weaknesses are actually strengths. 
When I look at my own life, I know that I possess certain strengths which are just natural strengths for me. I also know that my areas of weakness will never reach the heights of my strengths no matter how much I work on them. 

By the way, I don’t think that we should ignore our weaknesses and make excuses for them. I want to do better with my weaknesses. But, I know that the majority of my focus should be on utilizing those strengths with which I have been blessed.

In an effort to embrace this idea of focusing on my strengths, I am going to help you and me focus on our strengths for the next two days. Tomorrow, we will assess our strengths and the next day we will allow others to assess our strengths.

These exercises can prove valuable in helping us to become more effective leaders and managers of others and of ourselves.

QUESTION: What kind of boss do you have? Does he/she focus on your strengths, weaknesses, or just ignore you altogether? Please post comments below.


Dr. Frank Buck said...

The best leadership books have said to play fro your strengths, and do so in a way that makes your weaknesses irrelevant. Enjoyed the post. Keep them coming.

Jason said...

Growing up you always here that you need to improve your weaknesses. But, I like the idea of playing from our strengths too. It just makes sense. Thanks for stopping by again.