When I got married, something crazy happened.
All of the ways I was relationally-challenged (self-esteem, anger, critical, selfish, etc) became obvious.
I had done such a good job of being on my best behavior during the dating phase of my relationship. It wasn't that I was trying to be inauthentic or be someone I wasn't. It's just that after a period of time, when you let your natural self come through, you start to show the cracks in your own cement.
Marriage exposed my weaknesses in relationships because it was the most intense of all relationships.
I think the same is true when you and I aspire to be a leader. When we campaign or interview or step through the hoops to serve in a leadership position, we tend to try and show what's great about us. We demonstrate how our strengths will be an asset and our weaknesses are actually thinly-veiled strengths that we simply haven't tapped into properly (example: I'm inpatient because I want the team to always strive for excellence).
But something happens after we assume our leadership position - the cracks in our cement start to show. The people around us notice that we really do have weaknesses and those weaknesses really do effect our leadership ability. If we fail to notice them, they can quickly derail our ability to lead.
Let me tell you a secret (just between us): Your weaknesses as a leader aren't a secret. Your people already know all about them.
There's a couple of important things that must take place once you understand this:
1. You can't continue to live like your weaknesses aren't there.
You and I must address them and admit to them. I'm not saying you should spend all of your time trying to turn weaknesses into strengths. I am saying that we must recognize where our weaknesses are a detriment and correct that detriment. People find it hard to follow a leader who doesn't recognize his or her own weaknesses when it's apparent to everyone else on the team
2. You must find ways to deal with your weaknesses.
This may mean we delegate more in those areas, we work to rid ourselves of toxic behavior, and we are open and honest about what we're not good at. While I'm a firm believer that you will add the most value to your team and organization in the area of your strengths, you must not sweep your weaknesses under the rug. Everyone has room for growth and improvement. Just because you are now the leader doesn't mean that you have arrived. Simply being in a leadership position will shine the light even brighter on those areas that you are weak in.
Back to my marriage. Once I was clearly aware of my relational weaknesses, I had to make some decisions to correct those tendencies or they would eventually destroy that relationship. In fact, I still have to be mindful of them to this day. These same types of decisions are true in leadership as well.
Why are leaders often afraid to admit their weaknesses to their team?
What weaknesses do you need to admit to?
How open are you to sharing your weaknesses with your team?
How will you address these weaknesses so that they don't negatively effect the team?