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Amplify Your Strengths
When reviewing a colleague on video who has a reputation for being an outstanding speaker, several qualities jump out. The speaker is not very articulate, often stumbling on words and phrases. Moreover, the use of empty expressions like “you know” and “right” is so common it is painful. In fact, non-fluencies and stammers are so abundant as to break up sentences and thoughts, making them harder to process. Yet, on the whole, the speaker gets the job done with flair. Those who experienced the presentation live suggested it was an outstanding display and another great presentation. How can this be?
When we do critical things exceptionally right, they drown out and overwhelm the weaknesses that would normally distract us and prevent a positive evaluation. In the case of the presentation, the speaker projected extreme confidence, paused perfectly for emphasis, and told such powerful stories that the empty expressions and non-fluencies all but disappeared.
Sometimes it is smarter to focus on strengths, as opposed to weaknesses, to become more effective. When you do some things extraordinarily right, what you do poorly often fades from focus.
The majority of feedback we receive highlights our weaknesses. It seems only natural that, in order to get better, we need to correct those weaknesses. Much of leadership development takes this well-traveled view. The best leaders know that a strengths-based approach can have a profound impact on effectiveness.
Taking a quality that is good and making it great can make a marked difference in how quickly we get better. Focusing on and improving weaknesses makes practical sense and should never be overlooked. At the same time, amplifying strengths can be equally powerful in helping us become more effective. Doing both is what great leaders do to improve. This seems, um, smart, right?