When Strengths Hinder Leadership

A person’s greatest strengths can hinder effective leadership. For example, Jason, the owner of a medium-sized restaurant, is naturally helpful, supportive and encouraging. His teenage employees appreciate his encouragement and, by following his example, have helped his restaurant earn a reputation for excellent customer service.

Like all managers, Jason occasionally needs to correct his employees. At such times, to prevent his feedback from sounding harsh or unkind, he avoids direct correction and drops hints or beats around the bush. His employees sense his stress and his muddled style of communication often leads to confusion and his efforts to correct miss the mark.

RightPath’s Path4 and Path6 Behavioral Profiles measure natural, hard-wired behavior. When Jason took the RightPath assessment, his most intense strength was Accommodating with a score that indicates he is MORE encouraging and supportive than 95 percent of the general population. This is a very helpful trait.

However, there is a flipside. His score also means that 95% of the general population are naturally LESS accommodating and MORE directing than he is. Therefore, most people are comfortable receiving clear and direct feedback – the type Jason is uncomfortable giving.

When Jason realized that he was avoiding correction based upon his own discomfort in receiving it, not based on the actual receptivity of his employees, he saw that he had room for improvement. He could be accommodating without sacrificing directness in his management style. Recognizing this flipside freed Jason from fear allowing him to adjust his management style to give clear and direct feedback.

Great leaders need to recognize and harness the power of their strengths. But the best leaders also understand that others are different and that they must adjust their leadership approach accordingly.