When it comes to being a leader, almost any skill, attribute, or characteristic has the potential to become a strength or the risk of becoming a weakness. No matter how experienced or knowledgeable, all management possess weaknesses, but how can you turn that weakness into a leadership strength?
Management weaknesses can vary widely, and can be anything from technical knowledge and abilities to mentoring and facilitation skills, communication, and even personal characteristics. And while this can apply to anyone in the workplace, the ability to transform management weakness is continually under increased pressure by virtue of its level of impact to organizations.
What are some of these weaknesses and how can they be turned into a strength?
The ability to recognize your role and impact in a high-level position is the first requirement. A lack of clarity in this regard can be a glaring weakness that can infiltrate other areas of your work and have a trickle down effect. When taking on a lead role it's critical to understand not only what's required, but also what you bring to the table or lack.
How can you strengthen your understanding?
- Before taking on a management/leadership role ask about the top priorities and "must have" skills and abilities for the role.
- Once on board, spend some time researching department and company strategic goals, philosophies, approaches, and culture.
- Take stock of your skills and abilities in relation to all of the above.
- Talk with the leadership team and get additional clarity about your role and their expectations.
- Continually trace your role and contributions back to company and departmental goals in order to gain an understanding of your responsibilities and impact on strategic goals.
Emotional intelligence, culture & diversity is an area that can easily go unaddressed at the leadership levels, yet can only be properly set within these ranks. This is often unintentional, and merely a result of the intense level of focus that goes into strategy, and the impact of daily activities on the bottom line.
What can management do to turn this into a strength?
- Each leader in every level of management has to develop an understanding of culture, diversity, and the value of its employees. Typically, in order for this to become a true strength, it needs to be adopted by all levels of the leadership team company-wide.
- Working with an internal or external individual or company may be the first and best place to start to gain unbiased expertise on best practices and approaches for improvements.
- Assess all employees, their strengths and their weaknesses, working styles, and communication styles, as well as their viewpoints.
- As a leader, make it your mission to become more emotionally intelligent and improve team culture and diversity by focusing on inclusion and fair practices.
- Develop a reward and recognition system based on realistic, fair and measurable contribution levels that make sense.
- Leave room for policies and practices that recognize the mobile workforce and work life balance.
Leadership & mentoring abilities are a key component of effectively leading. Employees, consultants, and even other members of the leadership team rely heavily on these necessary attributes.
How do you make yourself a better leader and mentor?
- The first step to being a great leader is ensuring employees feel you are approachable. Avoid being arrogant or acting superior.
- Make a continued and concerted effort to avoid being a taskmaster and avoid trying to control everything and everyone. This is just an exercise in frustration for everyone.
- Make it a practice to share credit when and where it is due, resist the urge to play loan hero, this only ends in mistrust.
- Strive to be as transparent as possible to establish trust with employees, co-workers and other leaders.
- Recognize your role is to guide, mentor, and support your team at all times.
- Trust in your policies, procedures, and the abilities of team, that's why you hired them.
- Keep communications frequent and clear at all levels.
- Try to remember “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things” - Peter F. Drucker
Active listening and message translation is at the core of all other skills and activities. Without the ability to hear not only what's being said, but also how and within proper context, extensive issues can arise. Absent this primary skill, much of how a message is encoded and decoded can create confusion that can cause subsequent dialogue and action to be based on errors.
How can you turn this into a strength?
When a message is being relayed, to, or by you:
- Set aside other activities and focus the message (don't multi-task).
- Pay close attention to how the messages being relayed to you or how you’re relaying it, including tone and body language. Many messages have been taken out of context solely based on tone and body language.
- Practice paraphrasing the message and asking for clarification to ensure it has been heard correctly. It’s safer to do this than to assume.
- Use the most relevant medium for the nature of the message, timing, and the recipient.
- Ask others to help you practice perfecting this skill, the more this is put into practice, the faster it will become a core strength. This should become an on-going exercise.
There are many other weaknesses that can have an impact on how effective you are as a leader, the key is recognizing your weaknesses, how the weakness impacts your role, your team, and the company as a whole. Then, develop personalized strategies that can turn them into great strengths.
This offers opportunities to transition from being part of management to becoming a true leader.