Not too long ago, I worked with a group of division presidents for a fast-growing company. Two things struck me as interesting, and somewhat of a paradox: First, they were all reasonably successful in their jobs (and their jobs were substantially the same, just different geographic regions). Second, they were all incredibly different. Yes, they each had similar behavior characteristics, such as intelligence and work ethic. In other areas, such as sales, marketing, people management, organizational skills, strategy, planning, and do forth, they were all over the charts.
So what? Well, I’ll tell you “so what.” You hear a lot of garbage about understanding your “strengths and weaknesses,” and then you’re supposed to work on your weaknesses. Let’s look at it differently. How about we assume that succeeding in a position can be done in any of several different ways, using a variety of skills. Using that reasoning, you don’t have strengths and weaknesses, you have learned skills and skills you have yet to learn.
So, then, we should then simply “learn more skills,” right?? No, no, no… We should, instead, clearly identify our skills, since we know that we can succeed with them, and work on improving our strengths! That’s right, improve our strengths, since we already know that they work for us. Learning new skills is time consuming, and depending on application, may or may not work for us the way they work for others.
Now, this logic assumes current success, so don’t confuse this with those managers who are clearly unsuccessful, though I would argue this could help them with their improvement also.
In other words, as Bum Phillips (retired Houston Oilers coach) would say, “Dance with who brung you.” Use the skills you have — improve and hone them to a razor’s edge — and continue your increasing levels of success. Over time, identify some additional skills you would like to pick up, and develop a plan to learn them in a reasonable time and fashion.
But don’t break what works.