Have you ever heard the phrase “play to your strengths?” It turns out that doing so can be a remarkable tool in leadership. Focusing on your best areas and encouraging others to do the same will allow you to build a team of all-stars. But how do you get started? It’s easy! The best place to start is with you. To learn more, John Mattone spoke with Christina Lattimer, Founder of the People Development Network.
How can people use their strengths to be better leaders?
A leader uses their strengths to impact their teams by:
- Being a good role model. Demonstrating your strengths will give your followers a road map to follow. It will also offer insight into what good looks like. It gives them something aspire to.
- Setting a standard. Leaders are constantly challenged to walk the walk; and by doing so, they raise the game for their followers. You have to show them what is expected of them.
- Harnessing goodwill. This means harnessing the respect of your followers, stakeholders and customers through the strengths that you display. If done right, demonstrating your strengths can help you gain valuable trust.
In what ways can people use their weaknesses to be better leaders?
In my experience, the best leaders are lifelong learners. If you know you have an Achilles heel to contend with, you can still use the experiences that have come from your weakness to raise an awareness of self. Doing so will help you to accept and remember that others don’t have to be perfect. Good leaders use their own weaknesses to help them grow. You must realize that if everything were perfect, there would be very little to strive for. Learning from your weaknesses helps you to maintain a humble attitude. We are all fallible. It’s helpful to know that.
Can you describe a personal experience where you’ve had to do either?
I once promised my team that I would consult with them about any decisions that would affect them. Then, a while later I managed to secure a brilliant deal on some training for them. I assumed they would be as delighted as I was. Of course, I hadn’t consulted with them as promised, and they took me to task for it. I then realized that in life, you are only as good as the promises you keep; and while the training an undeniable success, I had reneged on an important promise. My weakness was that I became blinded by what I saw as a great opportunity, and as a result I tossed my values to the wind. My strength was that I accepted my mistake, I was able to apologize, and I was able to make things right again.
What can you do to encourage leaders to open up and allow themselves to take your advice?
As a leader, you need to understand several things about yourself. Leaders need:
- To have the humility to apologize when you get it wrong.
- To realize that they may not have all the answers.
- To be self-aware and see that there will always be a need to continue learning and growing.