Who doesn’t love a confident, engaging, thoughtful leader? We all need to believe in ourselves, but the reality is that we’re most healthy and self-aware when we accept our imperfections and struggles. Not convinced? Here’s my persuasive argument based on years of experience.
Watch this month’s Leading with Honor Coaching, and then continue with the article below –
In all types of development and especially leadership development, you must know yourself—your innate strengths and struggles that holistically define your core identity. Like plants we are all different. Some need a lot of water and some very little. Some need a lot of sunshine and some very little.
“Self-awareness is the starting point for all personal development, and it’s important to ‘know before you can grow.’” [Tweet This]
Two Sides of a Coin
In our consulting and training, we refer to strengths and struggles as two sides of the human behavioral coin. Our DNA comes hard-wired with both strengths and struggles.
Strengths define our best talents. So much of the career and work literature focuses on strengths, and we certainly need to know them because they define our best talents. These are the areas where we get the biggest payoff for our efforts in our work. It’s like swimming downstream—fun, and others are cheering your speedy progress.
Want to know the most powerful, authentic way to influence others as an honorable leader? Show others what you can do best while positively influencing others to help them do their best. Then to rise to the next level, you must have the courage to be honest, open, and vulnerable about your struggles too.
Two Groups of Struggles
When identifying and determining personal struggles, we categorize them into two main groups –
- Lack of Talent. For example, accounting requires accuracy and detail, while outside sales requires a talent for being a spontaneous generalist. Therefore, most accountants will not be successful in sales and vice versa. They would struggle in those opposite roles because they lack the natural strengths. Who wants to swim upstream all day every day?
- Struggles from Strengths Overdone. If you look at great leaders throughout history, you can see this type of struggle is true. Winston Churchill, the amazing leader of Britain in World War II, always comes to mind. In his biography of Churchill, Piers Brendon said –
“Churchill rose to this challenge with incomparable vigor and self-confidence. These characteristics were precisely the ones to which he owed both his failures and his successes as First Lord. For as Admiral Bacon said, ‘Churchill’s vices were simply his virtues in exaggerated form. Dash became rashness. Assurance became cocksureness. Churchill’s overflowing energy was difficult to harness. His overwhelming faith in himself closed his mind to the opinions of others.’”
Are you guilty of getting in your own way? When we hear the expression saying someone “gets in his own way,” it’s usually about a person overdoing one of their strengths. We know from years of experience and data, we know that people who are verbally gifted can be great at explaining things or making a presentation, but they get in their own way when they talk too long or speak up too often. Similarly those who are naturally decisive have a great strength, but when they want to make all the decisions, they are control freaks.
“For every talent or strength that you have, there is an opposite struggle lurking on the other side of the coin.” [Tweet This]
It’s Worth the Effort
Awareness of your struggles is critical because it’s the only way you can manage them. And if you manage them, others will not see them as a weakness. You see, there is great leverage in a learned behavior that helps you manage a struggle. A little goes a long way and will keep you from getting in your own way.
We have just finished a new book that unpacks eight factors of human behavior with their accompanying sixteen Traits. For example, the Patient trait has five strengths as well as five struggles (as does its opposite trait, Fast-Paced). Want to dive deeper into discovering your unique strengths and struggles? The new book Leadership Behavior DNA will be out in January, and you can pre-order yours now from Amazon and other retailers.
NEW! Discover and Define Your Strengths and Struggles
Grounded in statistical research and supported by data from millions of clients and more than 45 years of workplace experience, Lee Ellis and Hugh Massie reveal their personal stories and experience on how they’ve successfully helped organizations achieve their goals by applying practical insights on human design.
Preorder Your Copy on Amazon
“…There are few that have made significant strides on making ‘knowing yourself’ operational and real as Lee and Hugh have in this marvelous book. Reading this book is a compelling adventure. If you follow the path, you will change for the better!” – Richard Boyatzis, Co-author of the international best seller, Primal Leadership and the new Helping People Change
“This is the book that I have longed for during my decades in managing talent. Having seen the positive impact of DNA Behavior on my teams, this is a must-read for leaders who desire to build strong teams by accelerating natural talents in an authentic and lasting way.” – Belva White, CPA, MBA, Vice President for Finance & Treasury, Emory University