How often do we hear “ convert your weaknesses to strengths”? I am sure you all would have heard it a zillion times.
In a recent study, psychologists and behavioral analysts have challenged this management adage.
A new study revealed that you don’t grow by overcoming your weaknesses but you grow by strengthening your core strengths.
Find out what you do well and do more of it.
In a recent study, researchers gave reading training on the reading techniques to the group of readers (average readers and good readers).
The poor readers, who started at 90 words per minute, made an improvement to an average of 150 words per minute. But the top readers who started at 350 words per minute, multiplied to more than 2000 words per minute.
Researchers assumed that the poorest readers would make the greatest percentage gains. But in reality, the speediest readers grew the most and profited most from the training.
The paradigm change from weaknesses to strengths.
Companies shall not grow by improving on their weaknesses but they grow by studying their competitors who are successful even in the economic slowdown. By studying these competitors, you may get some tips for improvement.
Practice makes perfect transitioned to Practicing a strength makes it perfect.
In my retail career, I came across a buyer who was perfect in supplier management, placing orders on time and getting very competitive rates for the goods we bought. She was perfect in product sourcing and product conceptualization & negotiations.
Based on her excellent performance, the company promoted her to the position on Sales head, thinking she would utilize her product knowledge in training sales team and also convincing the new customers to buy.
The moment she took charge of the sales team, her performance started deteriorating. She could not manage the sales team nor managed to sustain the earlier sales level.
Do you want to know the reason?
She was excellent in making product presentations and talk about the products but she was hesitant to ask the customer for their sales order or persuade them to purchase. She was not meant for Selling. By practicing a weakness, she was undermining her self-respect.
The company thought that sales techniques are something that anyone could learn and Selling is the easiest task.
Does this case sound familiar to you? It happens in all the companies across all sectors.
The greatest chance for success lies in reminding people or organization of existing strengths and getting them back on track while initiating a management strategy for the weaknesses.
Learning for all management professionals…
“Focus on strengths and manage the weaknesses”.
Weaknesses to Strengths: The Strength Theory.
In 1984, china retained the gold medal for Table Tennis (China has a terrific record in winning medals in table tennis)
One of the sports journalists interviewed the coach and asked him on the team’s success recipe.
“We practice eight hours a day perfecting our strengths” – coach replied.
He further explained, if you develop your strengths to the maximum, the strength becomes so great that it overwhelms the weakness. Our winning players play only “forehand” (a type of playing style), they cannot play backhand. Our competitors know about this weakness but his forehand is so invincible that it cannot be beaten.
This theory can be easily implemented in the corporate world, Instead of thinking in terms of employees’ weaknesses, the focus should be on identifying strengths and developing those strengths while managing the weaknesses.
Implementation in Daily life
We all can practice Strengths theory in our parenting activities at home; It is important that we teach Discipline to our children but that does not mean controlling them or putting undue restrictions on them.
Studies have revealed that children growing up in over strict and disciplined environment turned out to be Introverts i.e. lacking self-confidence and were rebellious.
Rather, Spend time in developing relationships with them and help them grow rather than controlling them. This would inspire them to listen and cooperate with you.
The theory stresses that focus must be on the strengths while weaknesses are to be aggressively managed, not ignored.
Strengths vs Advantages
In one of my recent meetings with a senior retailer in Kuwait, she pointed out that being from Ivy League management school is a huge strength.
“Is it a strength or an advantage? I asked.
Having a degree from Ivy League colleges is only an advantage that can open the door for you but in order to sustain and achieve success, you need to build on your strengths.
You need Persistence, discipline and never give up attitude.
A million-dollar inheritance is an advantage but the ability to build on (and not lose) an inheritance is a strength.
Learn how to build persistence, click here.
Don’t fix if it isn’t broken
Most entrepreneurs when they start, their only focus is on sales, sales, and sales, which is the right thing to do in order to make your business sustainable and scalable.
But the moment, they achieve slight success, they start working on their loopholes and fixing their weaknesses and this is when they start losing the ground of their entrepreneurial venture. Always remember this management mantra.
Processes that have been working for your venture only need to be strengthened so that you grow and scale your business.
But focusing on improving weaknesses will hamper all your efforts.
Learn How Rent The Runway created its empire, click here.
To end this article, I would sum up by saying “Manage your weaknesses and Grow with your strengths”.
Watch this video which resonates with my article completely.
Reference: My learnings are from the book “Soar with your strengths” by Donald Clifton and Paula nelson.
About the author:
Ritesh Mohan is a passionate retail professional with over 20 years in the Retail sector, handling some of the biggest brands in beauty, fashion and fragrances retail & FMCG sector. Ritesh has been instrumental in the growth of some of the regional brands as well in the Middle East region. He specializes in Retail management, Product development, and Brand Management, Retail Operations, Sales Management, and Franchising & Business Management. He strongly believes in empowering business owners with his wisdom & experience of around two decades in the industry.