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Weaknesses in Leaders

In our social media society that promotes perfection and strengths, we have been taught to completely hide our weaknesses, or at least shade them in a positive light.

For example, instead of touting that you’re a workaholic without boundaries, you might phrase it as “giving too much” to your job.

Authentic leaders don’t succumb to this pressure. They seek to know and understand their blind spots.

And they don’t stop there.

They vocalize the knowledge of their shortcomings with those who would benefit from hearing them say it out loud.

Then they put energy into strengthening that weakness.

Think about this scenario: let’s say your boss is horrible at time management. She has the hardest time starting and stopping things on time. You know this is an issue for her and it is obvious to anyone who works with her.

What would your thoughts be if she consistently acted like nothing was wrong and that time management was not an issue or maybe even a strength?

Your gut reaction may be to feel bad for her. It’s also very likely you would lose respect for her.

If she can’t perceive an obvious fault in herself, how can she understand me, or the bigger picture within the organization?

Trust is broken down in this scenario.

Conversely, what would your thoughts be if she stated in a meeting, “I know one of my big weaknesses is time management. I need help to improve. I welcome you to hold me accountable to the timeframes we agree to for this project.”

180 degree response change!

My thoughts would be filled with respect for understanding herself and having the courage to state an obvious weakness. It shows me she is self-aware and can be trusted to tell the truth, even if it is something unpleasant.

Trust is built in this scenario.

We need to disabuse ourselves of the idea that exposing weakness will cause our followers to lose trust.

It is the attempt to cover up or ignore weakness that losses trust.

Here’s a bonus: It is liberating to know what you’re not good at because then you don’t have to pretend you’re good at it!

Yes, it takes work and energy to work on a weakness and change habits.

It takes a lot more effort and energy to keep trying to hide your weaknesses from those who probably already know about them and lose respect as they see you trying to cover them up.

How will you choose to spend your energy?

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