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How to Turn a Weakness into a Strength

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As CEO from from 1984 to 2005, Michael Eisner was Disney’s idea guy. He was enthusiastic and creative. He always had detailed visionary concepts, but he wasn’t so good at theminimize a weakness and play to your strengths implementation of the ideas, the business end of things. He depended on Frank Wells for that. Frank did the numbers, investments, and time frames. He probably didn’t have an artistic bone in his body. Together, the two are responsible for retaining the original vision of Disney, and making it the entertainment empire that it has become.

Weaknesses are not necessarily bad. We all have them. While it is not a bad thing to improve your weaknesses, it is even better to exploit your strengths. Think of what might have happened had Eisner spend his life crunching numbers in a dark business office; the magic of Disney would have taken a back seat!

Have someone who is strong where you are weak perform the job. They’ll do better at it.

Knowing how to accommodate your weaknesses is the key. In fact, many weaknesses can even be turned into strengths, just by a simple change of focus.

For instance:

  • Weakness: I can get impatient when other people do not work as fast as I do.

Strength:   I am a fast worker, but I try to just pay attention to my own work and not be concerned with anyone else.

  • Weakness: I can get impatient when other people do not work as hard as I do.

Strength:   I am a hard worker; I have learned to just let others do their thing and I do mine

  • Weakness: I can be too easy-going.

Strength: I get along well with others, but I have to be careful not to take on more than I can handle.

  • Weakness: I used to procrastinate. I would put things off.

Strength: But I have learned that it is better if you do things right away. I have gotten in the habit of making a “to do” list to be sure that everything gets done.

What are your weaknesses and how can you reframe them into strengths? Who can you get to compensate for what you aren't so great at?


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Karlin Sloan is the founder and CEO of Karlin Sloan and Company, Ms. Sloan provides organization development consulting, training and executive coaching to clients the U.S., Europe, South America and Asia. She is the author of Smarter, Faster, Better; Strategies for Effective, Enduring, and Fulfilled Leadership (Jossey-Bass, 2006) and Unfear (January 2011).
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