Playing to Your Strengths

One of the most memorable talks I have ever heard was Marcus Buckingham speaking at the WCA Leadership Summit on the importance of playing to your strengths rather than trying to bolster your weaknesses.

I had heard the idea before but never presented quite as clearly and as compellingly as Buckingham did that day. Essentially he was arguing that ‘we are who we are’ in broad terms and that is unlikely to change. Type A personalities are rarely going to be Type B. If you are by nature gentle, caring and people focused you are unlikely (ever) to become a strong, dominant task oriented person. And Buckingham was arguing that we need to become the best version of ourselves we can be by developing our strengths rather than seeking to compensate for our weaknesses.

This week I was listening to Andy Stanley’s leadership podcast, where I have picked up a few gems lately, and he was speaking about ‘less is more’. His main point was similar to Buckingham’s.

‘Do what only you can do and do it to the very best of your ability’ he said.

He argued that ‘your job’ (referring to pastoral team leaders) is not to be a well rounded person (ie compensating for weaknesses) but to build a well rounded team.

Over the last few years this has been a remarkably freeing insight as I have given up trying to be omnicompetent and have accepted that God has gifted me with some great strengths that deserve developing rather than weaknesses that are worth crying over.

In the last few years I’ve also been more aware than ever of the complimentary nature of Danelle’s and my leadership. Danelle has been growing in her own confidence as a leader and has been willing to be bolder with her views and insights and we are the richer for it. She is also very differently wired to me so its great to hear a totally different take on the same issue.

The beauty of ‘playing to your strengths’ and ‘developing a well rounded team rather than being a well rounded person’ is that everybody wins. You get to do what you were created for and people get to benefit from your strengths while other people also get brought into the game and are able to make sure a community is healthy.

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