Weakness and Leadership

“What does weakness have to do with leadership?” I can hear you ask. 

Well, the answer is quite a lot!  

You see we all have weaknesses, even exceptional leaders.  So as a good leader you need to know your own weaknesses so you can deliberately overcome them.  

We will always have gaps in our knowledge or experience, our understanding of another culture or even our customer’s reality.  We will always have better skills in some areas than others.  Sometimes the very habits or attitudes that have allowed us to succeed in one situation can become a weakness in a different situation.  

Have you given thought to what your personal weaknesses might be?

When we interview an applicant for a new position we often ask them what they consider to be their greatest weakness.  Someone who has considered the question and has a reflective answer that explains how they have overcome it, is likely to be a good employee.   

Similarly, as a leader you need to consider what your weaknesses might be in different situations and how you might overcome them.  

If you have been appointed to a new leadership role, it may be that the skills that won you your promotion are no longer enough for you to succeed in your new role.  You may need to develop a whole new set of leadership and management skills.  

If you are good at some things but have other things that you only do under sufferance, you may neglect the tasks you don’t like when you get busy – unless you ensure someone else on your team has responsibility for them.  

If you are male you will want to ensure that you appoint some women on your leadership team to understand their perspective. If you are selling to people from a different culture you will want to go out of your way to listen to your customers, respect their perspective and include people who share their culture in your team.  

Diversity of background, culture, skills, attitudes and experience in your team will overcome many leadership weaknesses if you value and respect everyone’s input and their strengths.  

As soon as we accept that everyone – even an outstanding leader or manager – has weaknesses, we can begin to look for the strengths that compensate.  

Exceptional leaders recognize and work on their own weaknesses, and they ensure that someone on their team has the strengths that compensate.  


More on how to address weaknesses in the Quick Tips below:



“Leaders are learners.  They learn from their failures as well as their successes.” James M Kouzes and Barry Z Posner, 1995


The Leading Well Bottom Line:  

You don’t have to do it all on your own.  Join us in the Leadership Coaching Club and leverage off all the wisdom, insight and experience of dozens of guest experts, other participants and your mentor Kerrie Mullins-Gunst. See http://leadershipcoachingclub.com for details. 



*   The important thing is not to torture yourself (or anyone else) over weaknesses, but to work out how to address them.  A weakness only becomes a problem if it isn’t addressed.  

*  Weaknesses are often the flip side of our strengths.  So a highly productive creative worker who works best with a ‘Do not disturb’ sign, may never be good at training someone else or talking to your customers. If you force them to do it, you may lose your productive worker and still not gain a good trainer or customer service person.  

*  Even though we can do something, it doesn’t mean we will enjoy it.  When we get busy or face pressure from change or deadlines, we naturally put off the things we like doing least.  Unless we have recognized this weakness already, and worked out how to compensate, a small weakness can quickly become a major problem.   

* Acknowledging our own weaknesses and encouraging others to do the same can help avoid weaknesses becoming problems.