The Report Card Syndrome

backpackTake a moment and reflect: List your three biggest weaknesses.

What are you doing to fix them?

As you read this, how do you feel about those weaknesses? Chances are, you may have spent a good deal of your life frustrated by trying to overcome something that just wasn’t natural.

What if I told you the best leaders don’t bother trying to fix their biggest weaknesses.

Unfortunately most of us have been trained to focus on our weaknesses from a very early age. Consider if your son or daughter brings home a report card with A’s in biology and algebra, a B in Spanish and a C minus in literature.

What do most parents do?

This is perpetuated in the workplace by employee reviews where supervisors identify opportunities for improvement in direct reports.

Michael Hyatt writes in his blog, “I thought I was being helpful. As a leader, I thought that was my role.”

Everything changed when I read Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton’s bestseller, Now, Discover Your Strengths. They had a simple but powerful thesis. The best way to get ahead in your career and be satisfied in your job is to focus on developing your strengths. No matter how hard you try, you really can’t improve your weaknesses. You are wasting time and energy trying to do so. The best thing you can do is discover your strengths and then find a role that allows you to use them.

One of the biggest a-ha moments of my career was learning that as a leader I didn’t have to be perfect at everything. In fact, the most successful leaders in the world have just as many things they aren’t good at as you and me. But it’s how they deal with those weaknesses that makes them special.

Rather than frustrate themselves by spending oodles of energy to make marginal improvement in areas they just aren’t naturally good at, they instead take the same amount of energy and get exponentially more accomplished by focusing on their natural strengths.

They also have a lot more fun.

The best leaders don’t just outright ignore their weaknesses, though. They set aside their egos and either delegate  those areas to folks in their organization who have those strengths and/or they hire someone to compliment their own strengths.

This is also the driving philosophy behind the StrengthsFinder book from the Gallup organization.

Mike Roth, in his recent EOS blog post, quotes Dan Sullivan’s book, How The Best Get Better, “Focusing on one’s weaknesses leads to a constant struggle with oneself throughout life–accompanied by a sense of deficiency, failure, and guilt….The best entrepreneurs in the world have discovered that the key to success is to focus totally on their Unique Ability and to delegate everything else.”

If you want to become a better leader and start focusing on your strengths, email me at with the secret password STRENGTH in the subject line and I’ll send the first 10 responders a free copy of the StrengthsFinder 2.0 book.

Chris Wills About Chris Wills

Father Time, or Chris Wills, is passionate about helping other leaders learn and grow and free up time they didn’t think they had. He is the Founder of Student Paths, an organization that better prepares students for their future in college, career and life readiness. You can reach Chris at:

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