What’s Your Kryptonite?
As viewers, we cheered when the Wicked Witch of the West was reduced to a puddle after a bit of a splash. We cringed when the Man of Steel was rendered powerless when exposed to kryptonite. And while those fictional characters’ nemeses were meant more as metaphor than as realism, it’s good to remember what the messages portend: that every leader—not just the bad but also the good—has a weakness. Do you recognize (and coexist with) yours?
If you haven’t yet identified your biggest “areas of opportunity,” now’s your chance. Take an honest appraisal of your skills, habits, and mindset. Examine yourself. Or better yet, get a 360 review. Ask for feedback from supervisors, peers, and direct reports. Find out what how they view you. It might come best—and most honestly—if a third party can be involved because they can impartially give the assessment, get truthful input, and help you interpret the results.
Once you’ve determined your weak zones, admit to them. In a recent interview, Alexa von Tobel, CEO of LearnVest, said, “I don’t think people’s weaknesses are bad at all…I’m not going to discredit you for having them, but I think that not being aware of them is dangerous.” So admit to yours, and let those around you know you’re aware of yourself. Too often, people try to hide their flaws because they’re afraid that coworkers will think they don’t deserve their role. However, others already see what you might not see—or what you’re not admitting. Allow yourself to open up and be vulnerable about your weaknesses. People respect and relate to honesty, and, frankly, vulnerability. You’re more likely to win the support and respect of your team and coworkers when you admit to your flaws.
Finally, through all of this, you’ll do well to surround yourself with complementary talent. Don’t hire a bunch of mini yous. Find a team who can fill in where you lack. If you’re afraid that that will only illuminate your flaws even more, don’t despair: It won’t. Instead, it will make you appear stronger because your team as a whole will perform at a higher level once skills are balanced.
Your flaws don’t need to incapacitate you or make you melt. As von Tobel asserts, “you don’t need to limit your weaknesses.” Instead, she suggests, “You should harness your strengths.” Get to work on learning more about yourself, and you’ll find you’ll get better at your role.