Every person and every company has shortcomings. Just about every big company addresses “Continuous Process of Improvement” (CPI) in some form or another. The acronym changes from company to company, but the concept and need for CPI holds considerable merit for any company that wants to stay afloat.
It should be noted that corporate CPI is one thing, but personal CPI is another. In today’s environment, CPI is incomplete without personal and professional growth occurring at all levels of the company—especially the senior levels. Self-awareness is vital to good leadership, and as we should all know by now, good leadership is critical to successfully guiding a company though the seas of change.
The key to remember is that every personal strength has a corresponding weakness. We can look at one person and say, “He is great at making quick decisions to keep us going.” But a potential weakness directly tied to his strength may be that he misses key details at times and some of his decisions may not be the best. Missing key details may not be this person’s exact weakness, but I’ll guarantee that a weakness exists that is directly related.
Nobody can be all things to all people, therefore, let me emphasize again: Every strength has a corresponding weakness. The sooner we accept that fact about ourselves the better leader or manager we will be. Blind is the person who claims to have no weaknesses, and downright dangerous is the person who knows about them but chooses to do nothing about them.
In my opinion, self-confrontation should be a component of every CPI program. Personal CPI is so important to one large organization in Southern California that the very first class required by their new leaders is titled “Self-Confrontation.” They strongly believe that leaders must know their strengths AND their weaknesses in order to be effective.
The idea is to look closely at oneself and not just say, “Yeah, I have these strengths and these weaknesses.” A good leader takes a thorough, ongoing (and sometimes painful) examination of his or her inner workings. The benefits are many, because the more one knows about one’s self, the more one CAN know about one’s self.
A friend recently told me about how he gets ready for work in the morning. Because his focus is on the day’s upcoming work list, he usually gets himself looking acceptable and gets out the door as fast as he can. But the other day he took some extra time and closely examined his face in the mirror. “There are a lot more lines there than should be,” he confided. “Funny how I never really noticed them before—must be something wrong with the mirror.” We laughed, but if you’ll pardon the pun, reality was staring him in the face.
Essentially, if we stop and examine something closely, we see things that are not readily apparent with an average look.
For this reason, we need to create a Continuous Process of Personal Improvement. That means investing time and energy to examine ourselves closely. Granted, it’s not an urgent activity, but it sure is important.
1. Choose a time to examine your strengths.
2. Consider what weaknesses are attached to those strengths.
3. Come to grips with reality: You have weaknesses.
4. Commit to shoring them up.
It may be that you genuinely need to make some changes in the way you do things, or it may be that someone else can come alongside you to “fill the gaps” in your area of weakness. Whatever weakness you find, here’s a three-step approach to use once you’ve identified them:
1. Clearly define how you want to shore up the weakness. Set standards or goals.
2. Make sure you have accountability.
3. Set follow-up dates to reassess yourself and measure your improvement.
Take special note of that second step—it’s darn hard to make improvements on yourself without the help of an accountability partner.
Bottom line, if you’re not “Paying Attention” to your personal shortcomings, you’re likely to have “Pain and Tension” as a result.
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© 2004 Dan Bobinski / Leadership Development, Inc. You may freely forward this information on condition that you send the text as an integral whole along with complete information about its author, date, and source.
Dan Bobinski is President and CEO of Leadership Development, Inc. He can be reached at (208) 375-7606 or by Email at firstname.lastname@example.org