A Weakness Is A Strength Overplayed


READ TIME: 3m 15s



Re-Reading Patrick Lencioni’s Five Dysfunctions of A Team last week a phrase stood out as something I find myself working on with individuals and teams alike, and that I would venture arises in some form in every piece of work I do.

“It sounds like your strength and weakness are rooted in the same things.”

It’s certainly something that I find is a very useful catch for myself. What do I perceive to be the weakness at play, and if that weakness began as a strength, what was it?


Take for example the leader that continually finds themselves fixing problems at a significantly lower level than they are now at, or getting involved in work that should be owned by someone who reports to them. What is very understandable is that this person is good at this kind of work and wants to keep doing it– it’s what everyone in this business knows them for and what they know they do brilliantly. So consciously, or unconsciously (usually both) they keep doing it. There are strengths at play here, including;

  • I have the experience, I know how to fix this and can fix it quickly and well and in the way that I know is best for the business.

  • I really want to help this colleague, they are lacking in confidence and it’s a strength of mine to care for and nurture my team.

However, the impact of these strengths when they are over-used, or when they are no longer demonstrated in a way that is proportionate to the level of this role, is less useful.

  • Where my time and energy most needs to go now is in the priorities of my role as a leader of this team. Fixing everything is distracting me from that, and I don’t have enough time to do anything well.

  • In taking such great care of this colleague and helping them, I am ensuring that they actually aren’t progressing themselves. They aren’t learning as much as they could, and they’re not building the confidence to take risks because I’m over protecting them.


  • I am a strong negotiator and ensure the voice of this team/organisation is heard


    I’m usually paying more attention to what I’m going to say next than truly listening and that can alienate people and mean I miss useful information.

  • I’m a great listener and people often come to me for advice and a shoulder to cry on


    I find myself stuck in the middle of a volatile situation and I don’t know how to make sure everyone is ok and it’s keeping me awake at night worrying about everyone.

  • I am helpful and pull together as part of a team to ensure we all get to our goals


    I say yes to everything and work longer hours than anyone and I’m burning out.

I could create a pretty long list of these for myself, and I’m sure you could add your own.


1. What do you, or others, currently perceive is a weakness in the way you work?

2. What strengths and/or positive intentions were the starting point for that behaviour?

3. In what ways has the impact of too much of that behaviour become less useful over time?

4. How could you keep behaving in a way that retains that strength so that it is useful to you and to others in your current role?