Do you over leverage your strengths?

“I don’t like being bad at things.”


That was a quote by my son that I shared back in my newsletter titled Why You Should Try And Be Bad At It.


I get it. It feels good to do something well and there are many things each of us do very well.


That mindset may be behind a phenomena I see in doing 360 feedback assessments for my coaching clients: over indexing on our strengths.


When we are good at something we attribute our success to it. I have clients who are praised for… being quick thinkers, their willingness to go the extra mile, their high standards, and their attention to detail.


As a result, they tend to over leverage that quality since it is the source of positive feedback. Not realizing when we tend to over index our strengths this also becomes our areas of weaknesses (or putting a positive spin on it, growth opportunity).


It reminded me of the saying, “Ego takes your strengths and makes them a liability.”


When we buy too much into thinking, this is what I’m good at, we overuse that strength, we rely on it, and we infuse it into everything that we do and the result is, it becomes too much.

  • The quick thinker leaves people behind and doesn’t bring people along or gain their buy in.
  • The employee who always raises their hand to pitch in becomes stretched too thin and the overextending leads to burn out and critical items falling through the cracks.
  • The manager with high standards and attention to detail loses the forest through the trees. In striving for perfection, she makes her team feel like nothing is ever good enough causing disengagement and low morale.


When leaders receive feedback that their strengths are starting to work against them, it becomes a wakeup call and a rebalancing act.


We already know what we do well. Let it be your foundation but not your elevation.


Want to be a better leader? Instead of focusing on what you do well, look for opportunities to build a new skill. Find something to be better at. If you are not sure, ask! Try, “When does this behavior work for me and when doesn’t it work?”


Is there a strength that you’re overusing?


Happy Father’s Day to my husband, my dad, my father-in-law, and all the dad’s out there!


More with Michelle


Excited to connect with my friend Joe Apfelbaum and partner Lou Diamond for this LinkedIn Live. It is always a good conversation with these two. Have a listen.



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