Thursday, January 31, 2013

Intro Chapter Excerpt 3


Whatever the strengths that brought you to this point in your career and business life, I want you to keep those with you. What’s equally important, however, is to get a full picture of your strengths plus your weaknesses, so you can harness those strengths while working around any potential vulnerabilities so they don’t trip you up on your path to increased growth, higher returns, more reliable products, you name it.

It’s not always easy to hear, but we all have limitations—that’s part of being human. Despite those individuals who take a strengths-based approach (i.e., rely on your “genius” and don’t worry about your weaknesses), there are some real risks to senior leaders who choose to ignore their limitations or who don’t understand or respond to them. Even the most self-aware, well intentioned executive has to work hard to stay grounded. The success of being at the top can get a little heady, clouding a leader’s ability to view him or herself objectively. Then, compound that with the fact that the higher a person’s rank, the less likely those around him or her are to give honest feedback, and that can set a leader up for disaster at worst, dysfunction at best.

Think about it: as an individual at the top of the organization or business, those below you are less inclined to give you criticism, even if it is constructive. Who wants to tell the boss he or she might be “off-base” or at the source of certain challenges within the organization? People don’t want to risk the political fallout by giving honest feedback to the boss. That’s Strike One for you as business leader against understanding your weaknesses or limitations. Strike Two? Maybe people have tried to give you feedback only to see that you ultimately ignore it. So they stop. Or possible Strike Three: when people do give you feedback, you may make it so difficult, that they don’t want to go through your outburst of defensive comments again.

As a result, it’s easy to end up at the top of your organization with certain blind spots that fewer and fewer people are willing to call to your attention. Sooner or later, those blind spots may cause you to stumble or drop the ball.

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