Why Your Greatest Strength Can Be Your Greatest Weakness (and How to Avoid It)

For the longest time I didn’t realize my strength could be a weakness. I had heard that I needed to find what I naturally did well—where those strengths lie—and focus there. Yet, I’ve come to find that too much of a strength may not always be a good thing. Let me explain.

I’m a doer; I get things done timely and efficiently. I push things forward. One day a former boss of mine sat down with me and said the final product was great; however, the delivery needed a little work. In my attempt to pursue excellence I had overlooked inviting others in and allowing them to feel ownership. He said I had allowed my strength to become a weakness.

How does this translate for you? Here are a few examples:

  • For the person who dreams with zest, accomplishing the task may be a challenge.
  • Leading with harmony and giving people a platform could allow for too many cooks in the kitchen, resulting in missed deadlines, or a less than desired outcome.
  • A task-oriented mindset may overlook people in the process.
  • Someone who easily comprehends complex problems may become frustrated with others who don’t grasp the idea as quickly.
  • A person who is very kind may shy away from healthy conflict resolution.

Every strength, if overdone or taken too far, creates a lopsided leader. It’s hard to detect, too. We see our strengths as a positive, but fail to see when they are overused. It’s important to be honest about your leadership and realize an overemphasis of a good thing isn’t usually healthy.

How do you recognize if your strength is taken too far? If you’re lopsided?

  1. Make a list of your strengths. Then, next to each, write out its corresponding weakness. Identify how that strength may hurt others or cause a roadblock.

  2. Now, make an honest evaluation of your leadership. Can you identify times when a corresponding weakness played a role in your leadership and how it affected the people and outcome?

  3. Knowing where you might become lopsided, identify how you can manage healthy balance moving forward. What are the indicators that you’re leaning a little too far in the direction of weakness? How will you adjust?

As a leader, you are called to a higher standard that requires honest heart reflection of your strengths, and may require some soul digging as well. Don’t shy away from exploring how you can grow as a leader; weakness only has power if it is not confronted. If you try to avoid the possibility that failure is an option, weakness has room to grow. You’re not called to dwell on your shortcomings, but you are expected to humbly honor your role by being the best leader you can be.