Turn Your Weaknesses Into Strengths
With another semester quickly coming to a close, it is the time of the year when students often reflect back on all they have learned in the past few months. Outside of just this course on leadership, I have spent time analyzing personality types in psychology courses and dissecting different organisms in biology courses. However, I have also spent a portion of the semester examining who I am as a person and a leader. Something that has arisen several times throughout different points in the last few months has been being able to recognize one’s weaknesses and what makes each of us vulnerable.
Recently, I attended a mock interview with my university’s career development office. There, I was asked what one of my weaknesses was. Instead of glossing over any of my imperfections and trying to spin my answer to the question, thus making myself seem like an even more qualified candidate, I told my interviewer that I have a hard time letting things go. I have a difficult time letting someone else take control of something that I hold near and dear to me (some may even go as far as calling me a “control freak”). For example, I serve on the board for my school’s dance club where I am in charge of organizing everything to do with the recital we put on every semester. This includes organizing the music, the show order, the programs, the tickets, and pretty much everything in between. However, I am a rising senior and next year I relinquish my role of “performance director” as we call it and move up to the President position. Even though the person that is filling my soon-to-be vacant spot is fully qualified, I am already struggling with giving it up and the switch does not even officially happen until next fall.
I am fully aware that being this obsessed with a seemingly meaningless student leadership position is only a slight indication of my personality and how it may affect any leadership positions I may hold in the future. That is why I am using this turnover of power in the club to work on my weakness. I am the type of person who loves to be in charge of group projects, even if that means giving myself more work in the end. I would rather know that I am able to make sure everything in a situation is absolutely perfect, rather than relying on others to do the same (even if they are fully capable of doing so). I am knowledgeable that this is one of my weaknesses, but knowing how to improve it is a whole other story.
There was once a CEO that had a very similar problem to me… he was too controlling and came to the realization that he would have to accept the fact that his employees were capable of holding their own. Before speaking with his employees, he would ask himself “Is it worth it?” By implementing this simple task in his daily routine, he cut down on 50% of his comments that would have typically been rated as patronizing towards his employees (Goldsmith, 2010). While I may not have actual employees that work for me, the same rules apply. My fellow officers of our dance club understand what their positions require and they do not need me constantly looking over their work and responsibilities. I have enough of my own things to worry about that I should not feel like I have to worry about others, as well. Marshall Goldsmith instead encourages people of leadership positions to use their status to empower those around them, rather than patronizing them and questioning their abilities (Goldsmith, 2010).
Walking into an interview and being able to articulate one’s strengths is expected. However, people often tend to struggle with discussing a weakness that does not diminish them as a potential applicant. But by allowing us to reflect in on ourselves and talk about a weakness that we have in conjunction with how we are working on improving that weakness can be looked at as a strength in and of itself. No person is perfect and employers are aware of that. They are not expecting any applicant that sits down with them for an interview to state that they are flawless (and if an applicant did, it would probably diminish their chances of securing the position anyway). Employers are searching for employees that are not afraid to be vulnerable. They want workers who are human and capable of identifying their faults and thus working through them towards improvement. So, I am saying it today… my name is Annie and I am a control freak. I love having everything be under my control and I hate letting people handle things that I think I am capable of doing better. However, I know that there are people who are just as qualified as I am and that working together could produce even better results. By putting my weakness out in the open, I am hoping that it will help me move towards becoming a better version of myself. I was vulnerable… now it’s your turn!
Goldsmith, M. (2010, April 23). Empowering Your Employees to Empower Themselves. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2010/04/empowering-your-employees-to-e