Successful people know where they excel … and they do as much of that as possible.
In The Effective Executive, one of the twentieth century’s top management consultants, Peter Drucker wrote:
To achieve results, one has to use all of the available strengths — the strengths of associates, the strengths of the superior, and one’s own strengths. These strengths are the true opportunities.
Building on strengths affords you the best opportunity to contribute to the company or grow your business faster.
On the other hand, building on weakness is like trying to erect a building on cracked foundations.
Sure, you might finish the job, but it’ll hardly stand up next to a job by a professional who excels.
It’s also not how Steve Jobs and other top executives worked.
How Successful Leaders Built on Their Strengths
When Franklin Roosevelt was president of the United States, he built on his strengths by delivering fireside chats on the radio to reassure a depressed nation.
“There are many ways of going forward but only one way of standing still,” he said.
Steve Jobs built on his strengths as a designer, product manager and later an entrepreneur to create products that looked unlike anything else in the marketplace.
“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works,” he said.
Pixar Studios builds on the strengths of its teams via a Braintrust.
There, its award-winning writers and directors collaborate and offer feedback on the studio’s latest film projects.
In Creativity Inc., Pixar Studios cofounder Ed Catmull wrote,
The Braintrust is one of the most important traditions at Pixar. It’s not foolproof — sometimes its interactions only serve to highlight the difficulties of achieving candor — but when we get it right, the results are phenomenal. The Braintrust sets the tone for everything we do.”
How to Compensate for your Weakness
Building on your strengths doesn’t mean tolerating glaring deficiencies in your work or at your company.
First, acquire a basic understanding of what’s required to address these issues.
You could take a basic online course or read an introductory book about the area in question.
If you’re unsure where to start, consider your ability to talk about a different discipline with a professional from that area.
Peter Drucker wrote,
Analysis will rapidly show where you need to improve skills or acquire new ones. It will also show the gaps in your knowledge — and those can usually be filled. Mathematicians are born, but everyone can learn trigonometry.”
The goal isn’t to work your day job and get your hands dirty, as a would-be designer, developer, copywriter and so on.
Once you’ve grasped the basic concepts and language of this new discipline, outsource to a freelancer or delegate to another team member.
If you hate tinkering with the backend of your website, contact a developer via a third-party site like UpWork to do this for you.
If designing a sales presentation frustrates you, find an agency that specializes in this area.
If your sales pages aren’t converting prospects, commission a copywriter to create one that works.
Now that you can talk their language, you stand a better chance of getting what you need.
This mindset should free you up to spend time on what you’re great at.
A copywriter should write sales pages.
A developer should code.
An executive should deliver results.
An entrepreneur should build their business.