The Importance of Surrounding Yourself with People That Complement Your Weaknesses
It was in late 2020, over a Zoom call when a consultant my company hired hit me with candid observations based on my Predictive Index results. “Nathan, you’re terrible with details and you’re miserable dealing with them.”
First off, that’s some rough feedback for someone who prides themself on being good to great at just about everything. So, I pushed back and reminded Alison that I had worked in logistics and, for the past three years, built and managed a weekly invoicing system, a tedious Excel spreadsheet that required meticulous attention to detail.
She challenged me. “Do you enjoy that work?”
I hesitated, but I knew the answer. I hated this work and it was draining. It was exhausting. It was soul-crushing. I burned out and quit the job in trucking. And if it wasn’t for my CEO at Ad Victoriam Solutions, I would have quit years ago when I burned out there the first time and the second time, and the third time.
I have a lot of great qualities and skills and talents I bring to the workplace. I also have some glaring weaknesses. As I grow older, and I presume wiser, I have come to embrace these weaknesses and accept certain things I simply won’t be great at. Details are one of those weaknesses. I don’t take notes on calls, because that would distract my brain from coming up with that next great idea. I don’t retain hallway conversations, because I am too busy being present in the conversation.
This was an important lesson that Alison bestowed upon me. It’s OK to acknowledge your weaknesses. It’s actually a strength to know what you’re not good at and learn how to surround yourself with people whose strengths are your weaknesses. And I’ve put this new self-awareness to practical use already.
I run a B Culture Call every month that allows B Corp culture, HR, & engagement leaders to share best practices, tips, and pitfalls. Towards the end of 2020, around the time Alison first gave me that candid feedback, the attendance at that call was starting to dwindle–and I now knew why. Reminders and agendas went out late and meeting notes were lacking and often overlooked. Armed with a new awareness, I reached out for help and found Christina Ola, equally as excited about corporate culture, but also excited about taking notes and managing the details. With her taking over as my co-host, our call has survived and thrived over the past ten months.
And at work, when people tell me something pertinent in passing, I have started asking them to email me the direct ask or I stop and send myself a quick email reminder. I’ve learned to embrace the weakness and give myself the grace to admit I am not perfect.
And guess what, this has made me better at what I am good at. And it doesn’t make me better than my detail-oriented colleagues. People are wired differently and bring different strengths and weaknesses to the workplace. Embrace them. Embrace diversity of thought. Embrace different skill-sets.
So, how can you figure out your strengths and weaknesses?
Start with some self-reflection.
Make a list of your day-to-day responsibilities at work. What do you enjoy and what would you rather never do again? If I had done this earlier, I probably would have known that my negative list would have been a lot of the things involving heavy attention to detail. And a lot of the positive list would have included duties that required creativity, strategy, and ideating.
Take a personality assessment.
There are plenty of free options online that will provide incredible insights into your personality, what makes you tick, and what sort of tasks you’re good and bad at. A simple Ecosia search will yield pages of results, including certified B Corp Myers Briggs.
Hire a consultant to work with your company.
Assessments are great for individual learning, but if you have the decision-making power at your company to bring in an outside consultant, it is the ultimate win for both you and your team. Do you have the right people in the right role? Are you assigning work with the right level of detail (or autonomy) for your team? Why do you struggle to communicate with that one coworker? There are so many insights that a certified professional can provide. We hired Clearview Strategy Partners for our assessment and training and the results have been company-changing.
Your strengths don’t make you smarter and you’re weaknesses don’t make you dumber. They make you you. But being aware of what you’re good at and enjoy doing, and what you struggle with and dislike doing, does make you smarter. It will set you up for success in your current role and for the rest of your career.