October 26, 2009

When a Strength is no longer a Strength....

I am currently reading the book The Perils of Accentuating the Positive, edited by Robert Kaiser. Now, talking about being "too positive" is not particularly endearing. How does one argue for negativity? And it is clear that Positive Psychology and the Strengths-based Movement have made significant contributions to the management field, especially in clarifying the need to help successful leaders become even more effective through coaching and development programs. But this book puts forth a compelling, research-based argument that too much emphasis on strengths can be a problem and there is a need for greater balance.

Some of the issues they raise--
  • Not all strengths are created equally--some matter more than others to the success of individuals and companies;
  • Strengths overused become weaknesses;
  • Weaknesses really do matter--how many people fail or derail because of their strengths?
  • Sometimes your personal strengths are not what is needed to get the job done--For example, strengths in one context may be weaknesses in another;
  • We are in danger of developing Lopsided Leadership. As the saying goes "If you are a hammer everything looks like a nail".

Today we need well-rounded leaders who are versatile, adaptable and agile. Yes, understanding and fully developing one's strengths is important. But addressing weaknesses as well creates a more balanced approach to leadership and is a greater recipe for success. Positively!

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