Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Quit focusing on your weaknesses

Let’s face it. 
We all have faults that make us at times less than the person we would like to be. 
Awareness of these issues for me has been a bit of an obsession which I know is a result of my personality type. I have taken assessments galore, sought feedback from those around me and spent considerable time in self-reflection.(a true INFP)  
Awareness of my gaps have been critical to my growth over the years and many times has served as motivation for education or behavioral changes. However, there is an important watch out that took me a few years to understand. 
Back in my early days of introspective I more often than not found myself focused completely on “fixing” all the things that in my mind I saw as negatives. When I was a trainer, I would take the one or two negative comments and obsess over the feedback totally ignoring the value of the many positives. 
When I became a manager, I took the DiSC assessment and scored very low in the directive quadrant which is somewhat unusual for a manager. Picture being at a leadership conference with folks divided by DiSC tendencies and finding yourself standing alone in the high I (influence) corner while across the room the Ds were packed full. 
Yep, that was me. 
“I have got to get more D!” is what I would find myself thinking. 
Back at work, I created an action plan to be more assertive and directive. This behavior was uncomfortable, unnatural and more importantly just plain did not work for me. Fortunately, at the time, I had a good manager that during a 1:1 pointed out that I was not very good at being the typical D leader and instead should focus on the skills that had already served me well. 
What I failed to consider when striving to improve is that my uniqueness serves a great strength and part of my success. Working to grow where I perceived myself as weak resulted in opportunity time lost when I should have instead been working to identify what made me strong.
Yes, it is important to be aware of your gaps and to grow in those areas but your greatest potential to excel comes from your strengths. This is referred to as the 70-25-5 principle. 
Focus on what you do best by spending 70 percent of your time on your strength areas, 25 percent of the time in areas to improve and the remaining 5 percent on your inherent weaknesses. 
Key is to use tools like StrengthsFinderDiSCMBTI, 360-degree surveys and other methods to identify these areas and then next determine a plan. If you obese over all that is “wrong” with you then you will miss out on the 70 percent that is right. That is your sweet spot. It is the area that will give you the best possible return of effort to take you to the next level of success. 
After identifying your plan put it into action with checkpoints along the way to ensure you are on track in all three of the 70-25-5 elements through continuous improvement reflections. These should involve not only surveys but also a neutral party such as your direct manager, a work peer or a coach that has an opportunity to observe you.
Focus on where you are best and soon you will find that you are not only excelling but can then use these same skills to bring out the best in those around you.