When we think of leaders who inspire us, how often do we focus on their strengths, and what they are doing right? Do we stop to see the places where they shifted, learned, and grew from a failure? How important is it to understand our shortcomings?
Good leaders know themselves, their strengths, and weaknesses. While they certainly play to their strengths, they are not afraid to dig into the places where they are not as strong. There is a keen desire to uncover opportunities for growth. They also recognize that while growth is possible, working with others for whom these characteristics are strengths is a great way to fill the gap in their own capacities. They are not threatened by the other person’s strength, they are inspired and excited to learn. They see that together they can exponentially improve performance while learning from each other.
In leadership, much like life, we are generally encouraged to focus on our strengths and play down or work around our weaknesses. Weaknesses are seen as flaws and deficits, rather than opportunities for growth. In Transformational Leadership, we explore our strengths, and their origins, and how they can become crutches when they become our default setting. We also explore those areas that we consider our short-comings and weaknesses. We are not afraid to explore the dark caves that are so often hidden from our obvious view. This includes digging to find out where they originate and consider how they no longer need to hold us back. They are seen as opportunities for growth rather than obstacles to avoid.
We also explore, discover, and consider our blind spots, those things about ourselves that others see about us and our leadership that we are unaware of. An undiscovered, and unexamined weakness can undermine the greatest strength. Exploring blind spots allows the leader to examine what others might see and experience when interacting with them. Any discomfort is usually minor compared to the potential consequences of remaining blissfully ignorant basking only in the glory of our strengths.
Digging into the caves takes courage, strength and vulnerability. There is nothing weak about this exploration. The best organizations, teams and leaders welcome the opportunity and time to do this exploration.
Leadership is not about a title, it is about people wanting to follow, and for that they need inspiration, trust, and connection. What is interesting is, as leaders, we often ask others to work on their weakness, stretch and examine themselves (explore the cave) and yet there can be a reluctance to do this work ourselves. In order for a leader to have any creditability and authenticity they must be willing to do what they ask of others.
Great leaders aren’t inspiring because they know everything or have it all figured out. They are inspiring because they are still learning and growing too. They provide a context for others to join them on a journey of exploration, transformation, personal accountability, and ultimately growth and success.
Are you ready to embark on the journey of cave exploration?