Why Leading Out of Your Strengths isn’t Enough

I am a hungry learner. I am constantly listening to podcasts, reading articles and pursuing mentors. Every thing I learn says something like:

  • Do what only you can do
  • Lead from your strengths
  • Delegate your weaknesses

While I agree with all three statements, they aren’t complete.

When we were starting our organization, I immediately wanted to lead from my strengths and ignore my weaknesses.  So I focused on marketing and sales but didn’t pay attention to anything else.  While I was focused on my strengths, my weaknesses almost took us down.

The Problem: All of the leaders I was learning from had buildings, staffs, budgets and wrote books.

I learned the hard way that the talks you hear at conferences on leadership often lack the backstory. It’s not because the writers and speakers are being malicious. It’s simply because they forget the way it used to be.

The backstory was the genesis of their success story.  How it is now isn’t how it used to be.

Here are 3 things I’ve learned about leading out of your strengths.

1. What you don’t care about will kill you

I didn’t care about administration when we started.  I dumped it on someone else in the company and said, “I only do vision and sales.”  The outcome was a big vision, fast sales and going into debt.

What I didn’t care about almost killed us.

2. You earn the right to lead out of your strengths

I thought you just started out leading out of your strengths… Not true.

You EARN the right to do this by doing everything at first.  It wasn’t on my strengths list to write contracts but early on I had to do it. I am not technology driven but I was over all the website stuff because it had to get done.

I currently don’t do any of the things listed above because it took me five years to get other people properly trained to do it.  Don’t buy into the lie that you suck because you are doing too much.  Early on you HAVE to do too much while fighting to survive.

3. Just because it’s your weakness doesn’t mean it’s not important

We are all tempted to think that what we do is most important but that simply isn’t true.  I see entrepreneurs fail all the time because they tell me stuff like:

  • “I’m a designer, I don’t want to lead a staff.” 
  • “I’m a sales guy, I don’t want to run this thing.”
  • “I’m good at vision, I don’t want to be in budget meetings.”

When you are in survival mode, I don’t care what you WANT to do.  You do what you HAVE to do to survive and advance.  You must not underestimate important things because you aren’t good at them.

Over time you should lead out of your strengths but it doesn’t start that way.  You should fight to lead out of your strengths but make sure you are patient in the process.