Telling Your Team Your Weaknesses & Innermost Fears

Published on: Wed 30 September 2015 by Admin

Killer Questions at Interview

‘So, what is your biggest weakness?’ is often the killer question asked at job interviews, timed just when you thought it was going so well.  Although, I am not sure why this question is asked. If you have done your upmost to make a good impression, are you really going to answer the question truthfully or with a response of any substance?

In fact, interviewers usually get the answer they deserve, something watery, like ‘Oh, my friends say I am very untidy’. Not much to go on there then. But can you blame the interviewee? I have often wondered how truthful a manager would be if the interviewee asked the question of them.

Play to Your Strengths

In personal development terms, it is very current for people in organisations to learn how to play to their strengths and not to get too hung up on their weaknesses. This current trend must have come as quite a relief for most managers, particularly the senior ones.

I am an advocate of working to our strengths, however, I truly believe, that for this principle to be effective, we also need to be self-aware of our weaker areas and even to go one step further and be prepared to share this information. Ok, not necessarily at a job interview, but as a manager, certainly with our peers and even within the team.

Prince Harry announces his weaknesses

You may remember a little while back, in support of the World Aids Day, alongside dazzling stars such as Nicole Scherzinger, Paloma Faith, and Gemma Arterton, Prince Harry released a “Feel No Shame” video confessing to his fears.

Harry announced that he gets incredibly nervous before public speaking, no matter how big the crowd or the audience. He then went onto say that he was also very nervous, if not anxious, before going into rooms full of people when he was wearing a suit.

So, did this announcement surprise me? Yes, it did actually. With all of his life experiences and military training, plus his composure when making a speech, I would not have expected this of him. As a fan, does his confession make me think less of him? Definitely not, in fact quite the opposite.

None of us are perfect

None of us, no matter how successful, are perfect. There is something refreshing and grounded about someone who is prepared to openly discuss their weaknesses. Hearing it strengthens our perception of the individual, extends our admiration and even helps us to consider our own, and hopefully to follow suit and put them out on the table too. From a development point of view, this is often the first step in lessening the fear, the gnawing in the pit of the stomach and be able to make weaknesses less of an issue

The late management consultant, Peter Drucker, once said ‘Until you know your weaknesses, it is nearly impossible to know your true strengths. The reason is that most discoveries of what is “great” begin with the de-selection or elimination of what is not so good’.

Tips for Managers on how to be open about their weaknesses

So, as a manager, how do we get the message out there? Very few managers have the PR opportunities of Prince Harry. However, without making it too much of a big deal, there are ways to make our weaknesses known:

  • First and foremost: be self-aware and honest with yourself on where your strengths lie and where they do not. Personal development and psychometric assessments can help
  • Seek and discuss feedback from peers and colleagues. Some of the organisations we work with arrange ‘360 degrees’ which although a little scary, as long as they are managed correctly, can provide really valuable feedback
  • When other people are openly discussing their weaknesses join in, don’t keep quiet. Use it as an opportunity to speak out about yourself. Once people start to open up, you will often see a snowball effect!
  • Play to your strengths, but ask for help or seek development opportunities to close the gap, if necessary. Just because you are aware of your weaknesses and are happy to make them known, it does not necessarily result in you having to eliminate them. Seek development if it supports you in building your confidence, enhancing your capabilities and helps you with your role
  • Know your team. Know who is capable of what and include yourself in that mix. Play to the strengths of individuals within the team, play to your own
  • Show empathy, be honest and open up