Nobody is perfect. We all have things we need to work on to improve our skills, and this is especially true of business leaders. Unfortunately, many fail when promoted to a leadership position. While there are many reasons that can contribute to each individual failure, many of the problems arise because of people who are unwilling to address their own weaknesses.

Whether you don't know how to speak to your employees or misunderstand the importance of workplace discipline, focusing on your weaknesses so you can turn them into strengths may be one of the most important things you ever do as a leader.

Learn to identify your own weaknesses.

Focusing on one's weaknesses may not be very fun, but it is essential if you wish to be an effective leader. However, many people in a position of leadership struggle to identify what their weaknesses are, either because of pride or misconceptions about their performance.

Improving your self-awareness about your weaknesses is key. Motivational speaker and author Alan Stein Jr. told me, "you increase your self-awareness by getting feedback from people you trust." Open yourself up to listening to people close to you or to the people that report to you (they know how you lead best).

This could come in the form of a formal 360° assessment and report or a simple one-on-one conversation. The key is that you are asking others to improve your self-awareness about where there are opportunities for growth. 

Leverage a co-founder's strengths.

One potential weakness a business leader can have is a lack of knowledge or experience in a certain area of business. For example, you may be a master programmer, but not have any marketing expertise.

The good news is that you don't have to try to manage a business on your own. Many startup founders, in particular, have found that the right co-founder can more than make up for their own personal shortcomings.

Focus on continual improvement.

While there are some areas where it is better to delegate responsibility to a trusted partner or co-founder, personal improvement should always be a goal for any business leader. You may not be able to become a master programmer, but you can improve the way you lead your team.

Since leadership is a journey and not a destination, you always have to be thinking long-term about your development and not the immediate.  If you don't already find time to work with a coach or participating in training programs that target your weaknesses. Getting help from an expert will help you identify the fastest way to improve your performance.

None of this will necessarily make you an expert. These areas will still be weaker than your natural strengths. But as you focus on trying to learn and improve these skills each day, you can ensure that they will no longer drag down your own performance or the performance of your team.

When you have a leadership role, it can be all too easy to get caught up in the ways your team members need to improve. But you can't ignore your own imperfections. By exercising some humility to identify ways you need to change, you will become a more dynamic leader who is better positioned to lead your company.

Published on: Aug 30, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.