Once you’ve discovered your strengths, you need to discover something else: your strengths can work against you. You can have too much of a good thing.
Many leaders know this on some intuitive level, and they see it in others. But they don’t see it as clearly in themselves. Mainly, they think of leadership development as working on their weaknesses. No wonder. The tools used to assess managers are not equipped to pick up on overplayed strengths. Nowhere in most assessments is there language or diagnostics that can reveal when someone is overdoing it—when more is not better.
Nationally recognized leadership experts Bob Kaplan and Rob Kaiser have conducted thousands of assessments of senior executives designed to determine when their strengths are betraying them. They draw on their data to identify four fundamental leadership qualities, each positive in and of itself but each of which, if overemphasized, can seriously compromise your effectiveness. Most leaders, they’ve found, are “lopsided”—they favor certain qualities to the exclusion of others without realizing it. The trick is to keep all four in balance.
Consider Steve Jobs, who was fired from Apple because of his lopsided emphasis on grand strategic vision. It was when he returned and corrected that lopsidedness—exemplified in his mantra “real artists ship”—that Apple became the powerhouse it is today.
Fear Your Strengths provides tools to help you become aware of your leadership leanings and excesses and provides insights for combatting the mindset that encourages them. It offers a practical psychology of leadership, a better way for leaders to calibrate their performance, one that is truer to the realities of managerial work.