When to Work on Your Weaknesses and When to Delegate Them

by Andy Wood on April 29, 2015

in Ability, Enlarging Your Capacity, Five LV Laws, Leadership, Life Currency, LV Cycle, Principle of Abundance, Principle of Increase, Tense Truths

Weakness on Warning Road Sign.

Tense truth:  Since we all have points of glaring weakness, it is far more efficient to focus on our strengths and partner with others to address our weaknesses.  But sometimes we can’t escape the necessity of addressing those areas of epic incompetence. The key is discerning when to hunker down and deal with it, and when to hand it off to someone else.

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Need some encouragement?  I can help you with that.

Need to find the right words to express something?  I’m your guy.

Need me to remember a meeting or handle a detail I told you I would?  Sure hope I wrote it down.  With a reminder.  In more than one place.  Why?  Because I’m awful – I mean awful – at details.  Just ask some of my students about my “absent minded professor” moments.

Um, better still, don’t.

The only thing that makes you and me different in this regard is what we would list as actual strengths and weaknesses. But the question inevitably comes up, especially for people in leadership, how do I address those weaknesses?  People with high standards for themselves intuitively want to spend a lot of time turning their ugly into pretty, their weak into at least adequate.

Not so fast, say the latest experts on excellence.  It is far more efficient – and effective – to focus on what you do with genius and learn to do it even better than to waste time trying to improve on something you never will be that good at.

In leadership, we put it this way:  Lead with your strengths, staff to your weaknesses.  Build a team of people who are different from you and turn them loose to flourish where you would flounder.

That makes sense, and I think it’s true about 80% of the time.

But what to do with that nagging 20%?  And how can you tell when you simply have to hunker down and face the dragon yourself?  Moreover, if you’re stubbornly insisting on doing something yourself (you control freak) and it just isn’t working, when do you wave the white flag and call in support?

A One-Word Solution

There is actually a single answer to both questions. And if you can master applying this one principle to your areas of strength and weakness, it can leverage your growth and performance exponentially.

I’m going to tell you what that one word is.  But first…

Just kidding.  Don’t you hate it when you’re reading some ad for something waiting for the answer to their magic headline and they keep delaying the answer until you’re shouting, “Alright already! Just tell me what it is!”

What?

Oh.

Sorry.

The one word is… relationships.

That’s right.  Relationships.

Here’s how it works.  How do I know when it’s time to hunker down and focus on areas where I am weak, knowing I’m not good at them?  When people I am in relationship with are depending on me, and I’m the only one who can do it.  They may be people in family relationships, business relationships, friendships or spiritual relationships. And when the need is there and you’re the only one who can “be you” in that moment, there are no excuses.  You are accountable for getting it done or answering for why you failed.

On the other hand, How do I know when it’s time to hand off that area of weakness to someone else?  Again, the answer is relationships.

This can be a beautiful experience, but first let me introduce you to ugly.  What I’m not talking about is that brand of delegating where you dump work on somebody and wash your hands of it and them.  That’s not delegating – it’s abdicating. It’s not leadership – it’s abuse.

But your weaknesses create wonderful opportunities for partnerships, if you’re humble enough to seek them out.  Think about it.  Nobody connects with supposedly perfect people. They put them on pedestals and use them for target practice.  We connect with people because of our humanness… and theirs.  Here’s how author Donald Miller puts it:

It’s true we impress people with our supposed perfections, but we connect with each other in our flaws.  I’d rather be connected than perfect.

So when you’re facing a need that would take you a week to satisfy but someone else could do it in an afternoon, there’s an opportunity for relationship. Sure, it may be something of a detached business relationship, but it’s still a relationship… and one that may create opportunities down the road for you to share some of your experience and strength.

That said, relationships like that only happen when you seek them out.  So what’s your strategy for leveraging your weaknesses with new community, new partnerships, or new friendships?

What’s your strategy for feeding the relationships you have – giving life and energy and strength to people who currently serve you at your points of weakness?  Even saying “thank you” can have power.

The Ultimate Relationship for the Ultimate Weakness

All this is a reflection of a spiritual principle – that in biblical terms we are not strong in spite of our weaknesses, but because of them.

That’s why God doesn’t magically remove those areas of glaring weakness when He easily could.  Your weakness is an opportunity and invitation to know the God of the Universe more intimately and personally than you ever would if you were out there flying in your strength, cape flapping in the wind.

Relationships.  It’s all about the relationships.

If that flies the face of Despicable Solo-you, sorry.  But you’d better wise up.  People are depending on you.  AND people are available to you if you’d turn away from the mirror long enough to see it.

Gotta go.  My reminder just went off.  I have a meeting in two hours.

Hope I don’t forget.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Joyce Gerald April 30, 2015 at 9:25 pm

I love this post. It made me laugh out loud. I had a pastor once who would say from the pulpit don’t ask me about the date, and don’t ask me to remember stuff. I am not any good at administration. He figured out how anal-retentive I was and asked me to help him with some things.

It is important that a leader not surround themselves with people just like them. I am probably the only INFJ on my leadership team. I used to be an INTJ at one time. I think that was before my divorce. I have some ENTJs on my team and INTJs too. I do not have to demonstrate how good I am at anyone thing. I certainly do not have to do everything in the ministry. Burnout will come quickly. I have learned that I must slow down. I think that most leaders have that problem. They do not know how to plan “wilderness” times for themselves. During this class, I scheduled times just to play games so my mind could unravel itself. I even scheduled times when I would get up and just walk around the garden. That is the IN part of my personality.
Joyce Gerald´s last blog post ..Integrity check

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