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Is Focusing On Your “Areas Of Improvement”

When you think back to your last performance appraisal, did you spend more time speaking about strengths and achievements or did you and your manager focus on your weaknesses and your areas of improvement?

For most of us … our focus has been on our “areas of improvement.”

This focus starts early in life with the review of the end of term school report card.  I seem to remember my parents glossing over the A’s & B’s and a zeroing in on that ever present area of weakness… which for me… was English, and my inability to spell.

So for years my daily routine when I arrived home from school was to suffer through an afternoon of spelling practice.  I hated it and it never seemed to get any easier.  And clearly it didn’t do me any good.  To this day, I still struggle to spell!

We are all pre-programed with tasks and activities that we are great at and which are our strength and others, which take more of our energy and that, will never be something which we excel at.

Imagine what we could achieve if we were to focus our time, energy and efforts on improving and strengthening those areas that we are innately talented in?  Instead our strengths often lie dormant or neglected while we attempt to repair our flaws.

Why is it that we focus on “fixing” our weaknesses?

Yes it is important to acknowledge and strengthen those areas of our work that are holding us back.  As a leader your success is reliant on you being a great leader and manager of people, able to develop and implement a successful strategy and to be highly skilled in your area of expertise. 

Ignoring your development in any one of these areas will have you falling short as a leader.  But focusing solely on your weaknesses will hold you back!

So how do we identify our strengths? 

There are many tools and assessments that can help with this.  The one that I use and love is the Extended Disc Behavioural Profiling tool.  This simple tool provides an easy to understand guideline on behaviours and activities that come easily to you and those that take more energy to master.

Knowing and understanding your strengths is an important step in your leadership development.  By far the simplest method for understanding your strengths is understanding YOU.  You are your best judge of your own strengths.

How do we define our strengths?

Strengths can be summed up as those activities that makes you feel strong.  If we pay attention to how a task or activity makes us feel; before, during and after the event, our emotions will give us all the information we need.  Some activities we actively look forward to.  While we are doing it we get into the “zone” and time speeds and afterwards we feel invigorated and energised.

Defining our weaknesses.

A weakness on the other hand is any activity that leaves us feeling weaker.  They are activities and tasks that we tend to avoid and get no joy from.  After we complete the task we feel depleted and drained of energy.

Generally we will enjoy being engaged in those tasks that call on our strengths and enjoy less, tasks that require us to venture into areas of our weakness.

But do not be fooled.  It is possible to be highly skilled and capable in tasks that we have no apatite for.  Just because we are good at something does not automatically mean that we will love it.  And the danger here is that you will be funneled into a role that has more and more of these tasks just because you are good them.  And before you know it you will find yourself in a job that brings you no joy.

What next?

1. Identify your strengths. Notice what activities leave you energised and do what you can to build more of these into your day to day and your career.  If you are not sure, then Extended Disc Behavioural Profile will definitely be helpful for you.  

2. Clarify your weaknesses. Notice what activities drag you down and leave you feeling uninspired and bored.  Delegate as many of these as possible.  There must be others in your team who are better at these tasks than you!

3. Look for opportunities to capitalise on your strengths.  Leverage your strengths and build your skills even more in this area.  The pay off of doing this will be more job satisfaction and better results for you and your team.

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