Focusing on Gaps 2 – 3 Times Less EffectiveLast week I had two separate one-on-one coaching sessions with the Provost and a key Dean at a major university. We were reviewing the 360 assessment report they’d just received from students, faculty, peers, their manager, and others. Both assessments were quite strong with many leadership competencies rated at the 90th percentile and most above the 70th percentile. These scores put them in the top 10% of leaders in both our academic and global databases.

Perhaps because of their careers steeped in academia they struggled to let go of a few weaker areas (they weren’t “fatal flaws”) and focus instead on building strengths from good to great. We discussed how it might make sense to raise a grade point average by focusing on lower scores because it’s a straight mathematical formula.

But a leader’s effectiveness is not judged by objective criteria carefully and mathematically weighed out by everyone around him or her. We live in a world of perceptions. Great strengths will tower over and lessen weaker areas, and glaring weakness blocks others from appreciating our strengths.

Weighing ourselves five times a day won’t change our weight if we don’t do anything with the information. The main point of getting feedback on our leadership effectiveness should be to help us improve. What to focus our personal development plan on becomes the key issue. Our research clearly shows that focusing on fixing weaknesses is 2 – 3 time less effective than building strengths. Click on Focusing on Gaps 2 – 3x Less Effective for a two minute video clip explaining this further.

Further Reading:

• (Research paper) Developing Strengths or Weaknesses: Overcoming the Lure of the Wrong Choice
• “Building Leadership Strengths 2 – 3 Times More Effective Than Fixing Weaknesses
• “Don’t be Fooled into Focusing on Weaknesses
• “Wasting Time on Weaknesses
• “Struggles with Wasting Time on Weaknesses
• “Join Our Strengths-Based Leadership Discussion Group
• “Authentic Leadership Comes from Building Our Strengths