Why You Should Leverage Your Strengths, Weaknesses and Preferences

“Knowing your weaknesses is as important as knowing what your strengths” – Anonymous

We all have our own specific strengths, weaknesses and preferences. There are things we find easy to do and things that we don’t. For instance, what’s a strength for you might be a weakness for someone else and what’s a preference for them might be a weakness for you. It’s what makes us unique. Those who work smarter in the work environment leverage their strengths, weaknesses and preferences.

It’s no surprise that output and performance can vary quite significantly across workers. The book Peopleware (by Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister) says: “Count on the best people outperforming the worst by about 10:1.” Yikes, that’s a huge difference!!! Should we just accept it or is there anything that can be done to bridge the gap between the best and worst performers? I think there is, but the devil is in the detail.

Too often it’s assumed a standardisation approach will increase performance across the board. While there’s merit for that argument, there are also serious flaws because 1 size fits all is typically only successful for 70% of people. A better way to maximise performance and productivity is to leverage the unique aspects of not just most workers, but everyone. Customise how they work to their unique attributes. This shouldn’t be confused with just letting people do whatever they want because productivity will still need to be a key measure.

Let me explain. We’re more efficient when we have good habits and routines in place. This helps to reduce stress or unnecessarily wasting time and energy because we don’t have to think about how or when we can do something. However, the specific details of habits and routines don’t have to be the same for everyone.

Where’s the connection to strengths, weaknesses and preferences?

What we need to do is align habits with each person’s strengths, weaknesses and preferences. It’s not hard to do this. The real benefit is it removes the points of friction while providing the environment to be the best version of themselves. For example, if your:

  • Strength – is to get things done then ensure you’re good at planning and prioritising so that you focus on the things that matter

  • Weakness – is having an active mind that finds it hard to focus on the task at hand for long then you need to have mastered how to work in sprints and manage distractions

  • Preference – is to be organised (for instance your garage is tidy with tools hanging on the wall in an orderly manner) then how you manage paper and electronic data (like email) needs to be organised accordingly

Businesses improve culture and performance when the leaders and teams who work there leverage their respective strengths, weaknesses and preferences. This unlocks them to relieve pressure and achieve better outcomes in less time.

What should you start leveraging that will help you show up every day as the best version of yourself?