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4 Costly Mistakes: How You Can Be Betrayed By Your Own Strengths - 2018-09-08

4 Costly Mistakes: How You Can Be Betrayed By Your Own Strengths

Pulling to the right

Years ago, I came across a story of a man who had to row a boat from his house across a lake to catch a train. My recollection is that one morning he left out late and had to row faster to make up the time. He could row a lost faster with the right oar than with the left. So, he doubled up on the use of the right oar. He ended up off course and missed the train.

The moral of the story is that if we overuse our strengths we can end up failing to meet our objectives. Our go-to strategy can betray us if we overuse it.

Taken to the logical conclusion, if the man only used the right oar, he would simply go in circles.

Balance is an essential component of forward movement.

Dangerous reliance

The challenge is that under pressure and in a crisis, we tend to go for our most trusted response. Sometimes, it betrays us.

Our DISCerning Communication Model of Communication and Leadership offers us four insightful examples of the dangers of overusing our strengths.

I > Denise (D-Style preference) built a successful career based on her decisiveness. She thinks fast on her feet and backs herself to make the right decisions.

Faced with an unfolding crisis, Denise went to her strength. She quickly summed up the situation and took decisive action. This time she overlooked some critical information and found herself in a box of bricks.

Denise was betrayed by an overuse of a characteristic of her D-Style preference which has served her well. Denise would have been better served by incorporating more facts and evidence (C-Style). She could also have benefited from getting input from others in search of consensus (S- Style). Balance!

II > Ivan (I-Style preference) is an off-the-chart success story when it comes to team building and encouraging employee engagement. He buys in early and encourages his colleagues to get involved. Ivan loves the idea of volunteering and getting to meet new people.

The adrenaline rush and the joy of adding value in other areas drives Ivan to step up his level of volunteering. However, this is now starting to impact Ivan’s performance in his principal role. Also, he is missing some deadlines for deliverables in some of his volunteering projects.

Ivan is being betrayed by one of the strengths that make him tick. He can benefit from some C-Style scheduling and increased caution when making commitments.

III > Stanley (S-Style preference) is the best friend or colleague that one could ever have. Stanley stands in your shoes and empathizes with your challenges even when he is adversely affected. He sacrifices himself to make you comfortable and understands your missteps.

Stanley recognizes that this attitude reflects spiritual maturity. Self-denial and compassion are virtues to be embraced.

June recognizes this feature of Stanley’s behaviour and decides to exploit it. She plays Stanley like a fiddle. There is a recurring cycle of abuse, understanding and self-sacrifice.

Stanley is being betrayed by a strength that is closely aligned to his faith.

Stanley would benefit from a dose of C-Style scepticism and objectivity. He could also use a touch of D-Style what-is-in-it-for-me pragmatism when dealing with June.

IV > Carol (C-Style preference) does not miss anything. Her capacity to notice, record and recall facts is the envy of many who have been found stuttering as Carol recalls what actually happened.

Attention to detail and a devotion to gathering information has served Carol well. As a committed disciple of evidence-based philosophy, her arguments are always well-grounded.

Carol takes that mind-set over into work on the development of a new service. She keeps seeking more data, more testing, more feedback from prospective clients. She wants to ensure a successful launch. However, a competitor fast-tracks their development and launches their service before Carol. They gain the critical first-mover advantage.

Carol is now in a predicament because she was betrayed by overuse of her strengths. She would have benefited by injecting an element of D-Style risk-taking and greater confidence in her problem-solving abilities.


Learn more about our DISCerning Model of Communication & Leadership. Request a free copy of our publication: DISCerning Communication – Comprehensive Guide to Interpersonal Relations, Leadership and Coaching at info@successwithpeople.org

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Trevor E S Smith and the Success with People Academy team prepare and certify Leadership Professionals and Coach/Mentors and develop Engaged, High Performing Teams. Hire Smart with their recruitment solutions. Now enrolling coaches in the ICF/SHRM-Accredited Certified Behavioural Coach program.  E-mail: info@successwithpeople.org

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