Hi, Astrid here. I haven’t been as active as I would like to be on the Brain Juice blog – something I hope to correct in 2021. This is a revised English version of a German post on our company homepage. My motivation for writing this post is the banality of many business coaches posting on LinkedIn. Please leave a comment. I am interested in what readers of this blog think.
Far too many business coaches are currently preaching the mantra “focus on your strengths.” They would lead you to believe that positive reinforcement and drawing on what comes naturally to you is a guarantee for success and development. Frankly, I think this is nonsense.
Focusing only on your strengths limits your development potential
Imagine a professional tennis player whose strength clearly lies in his backhand, while his forehand is greatly in need of improvement. If his coach works with him exclusively on his backhand, our tennis player will never become a Dominic Thiem.
“Dominic knows what he can do. But what he can’t do interests him more,” sums up his coach, Günter Bresnik. Anyone who wants to be successful should take this advice to heart.
Applying this to the business world, imagine a salesperson who is great at getting appointments, discovering customer needs, and presenting her offer in an appealing way, but then fails to sew up sales because of weaknesses in closing and negotiating. Or there might be another salesperson who is great at establishing customer relationships but always gives away high discounts and has a low profit margin. Both will develop more if they work on their deficits rather than building on their strengths. Without facing their weaknesses our example sales representatives will never become top sales stars.
Naturally, being aware of one’s strengths and how to use them optimally is also important. However, placing to much focus on strengths in working on one’s professional and personal growth will limit development and is a guarantee for mediocracy at best.
Focusing on your strengths is not motivating but incapacitating
It is a myth that focusing on one’s strengths is more motivating in the long run. Our tennis player would quickly realize that his further development is extremely limited, and our sales representatives would never experience the feeling of having achieved the best possible results for their company. Focusing primarily on your strengths may be motivating for a while, but a lasting sense of achievement comes from looking your weaknesses in the face and overcoming them.
Coaches who believe that people can only be motivated by an enjoyable focus on their strengths deny them openness to criticism, a fighting spirit, and a willingness to work hard for personal growth. I find this sad.
The world needs people who strive for more than mediocrity and who are willing to face their own shortcomings and work on them. It is high time to say goodbye to the mantra “focus on your strengths.”