A participant at one of my seminars came up during a break to talk.
She said that during a recent review, her boss had told her that doing formal presentations was a weakness for her and she would need to turn into a strength if she ever wanted to be promoted into a leadership role.
She was upset by his negative feedback. She said she didn’t particularly like doing presentations (most people don’t). She also said that his assessment was surprising given that most of the people at the top of her company were not very effective presenters. They packed slides with too much data, droned on and on while reading from those slides, and many people dreaded going to those presentations and often made up excuses not to go to them!
If this was such an important leadership skill at that company, why were so many people at the top terrible at it? Not surprisingly, his feedback seemed inauthentic to her.
It brought to mind two things:
First, her boss lost credibility by presenting something as a “weakness” she had to correct to get into the leadership ranks, when it clearly was not something that was a strength among the existing leadership team.
Also, it’s an example of someone (her boss) assigning someone but I’m sure he thought was a challenging task without learning from her what was important, relevant, and valuable to her. Had he spent more time listening rather than talking, he would’ve learned what truly motivates her.
I used to think earlier in my life that there was something noble about focusing on weaknesses.
But I realized it’s actually a bad idea. The number of things I am bad at far exceeds the number I’m good at. So, just in terms of efficiency, focusing on weaknesses seems like a fool’s errand.
Also, why would I spend time working on getting better at something if I’m not truly passionate about improving in that thing? That might explain why so many people struggle to improve even slightly in areas where they are not very good. It’s likely they are not passionate about those areas in the first place.
Finally, I apply the “five hour rule” to how I might best use my time in life. So, would I commit five hours to trying to improve something I’m terrible at so I might be a little less terrible at it?
Or would I use that five hours to take something I’m pretty good at and become much better at it?
It is an easy decision: I am much more likely to enjoy spending time on something I already enjoy doing.
I hope this might help you decide where to commit your time and resources.
And if you’re wondering what happened with the person who came up to me at the break, she decided that her boss’s assessment was off the mark. She decided to pursue a leadership role in another company and never looked back.
Question: What are you pretty good at that with a little time you could become even better?