You have many strengths. I know this because school leadership requires people who are multi-talented multi-taskers. The administrators I work with are perpetually revealing their true strengths as they move along their leadership journey.
My guess is that you are also acutely aware of some areas in which you have some growing to do. We all know when our ugly side showed up in our words or deeds. Often, we aren’t really sure what to do when we’ve allowed that to happen.
Everyone has strengths and weaknesses.
Today, my goal is to convince you to completely re-examine what you perceive to be your strengths and weaknesses. Let’s get into our elementary school brain and pretend that it’s Opposite Day
Today, let’s pretend that your strengths are your weaknesses and your weaknesses are your strengths.
Entertain the opposite and see what it does for your perspective.
I’ll use myself as an example. Before we start, though, I want you to get out a pen and paper. Divide it into two columns. Set a timer for five minutes and write out some of your strengths and weaknesses. When you are done, set it aside and finish the blog post. You will use it again at the end.
Strength as a Weakness
One of my greatest strengths as a leader is that I’m very confident, direct, and precise during interactions with others. This is a strength because people see me as strong and they appreciate knowing exactly what I expect and exactly how I feel. Part of that directness is actively expressing gratitude to others. It also empowers me to engage in public speaking and workshop facilitation with ease.
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However, all of that confident, direct, precise communication has a downside. Although I still find it hard to believe, enough people have told me this that I believe it must be true. I’m intimidating. One teacher said to me once, “Just the way you walk through a room sometimes makes me want to hide.” That stung, but it was important for me to hear.
Another downside to these personality traits is that I expect that others will be just as confident, direct, and precise. I find myself perpetually disappointed to find that people have held back the full truth from me because they were intimidated. My frustration at people who don’t say exactly what they want and ask for it directly is very real.
I still have work to do on this one, but I’m committed to finding ways to soften my edge without losing my confident spark.
Weakness as a Strength
One thing that a colleague or two in my day complained about was my tendency to get attached to an idea. This involves lobbying everyone to death with facts and information in order to get them to agree with me. That is followed by me dragging them through the process of completing the goals and convincing them to commit their time to things they don’t want to do in order to get it done according to my timeframe.
Do I sound fun or WHAT?!
Okay, I acknowledge that I’m a little intense. But here’s the deal, I get stuff done and I do it with integrity. There are a lot of people in this world full of great ideas that they never bring to life. That’s not my style. I love doing the work when the end vision is purposeful.
The other thing I know to be true is that most people want to be led. Free-thinking individuals often still want to have a greater structure to lean on and a place to turn for information and guidance. I can’t tell you how many times I had a teacher say something to me like, “Thank you for making me/us do that. I was kind of mad at you but I’m so proud of myself/us for what I/we accomplished.”
Many people are content to maintain the status quo, even if it is less than ideal. Staying the course is easy, but that doesn’t mean that people won’t roll up their sleeves and do the work when a leader calls upon them. Much can be accomplished in a school with a leader who respectfully pushes people just beyond their comfort zones.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that I couldn’t benefit from working on my approach. I’ve got to get better at selling people on ideas before the work is started.
So much work to do…
Flip Your Script
So, what stories do you tell yourself about your strengths and weaknesses? Take out your list and review it. Do you want to change anything?
Pick a couple from each column and do a brainstorm on how you can flip the script on those personal qualities. How do some of your “strengths” hold you back? How do some of your “weaknesses” serve you or your community?
What is the point of all of this?
It’s about mental flexibility. Great leaders are open and agile. They remain unattached to maintaining the status quo and open to the ever-changing needs and culture of their school. When you entertain the opposite, you make space for positive growth.
Reflect. Re-examine. Reposition. Repeat.
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