Let me tell you about Mark and Jen.
Mark leads a team of 30. He likes to challenge his team to do more than they think they're capable of, and he often inspires them to do so. He thinks and moves fast, always quick to "run the experiment," i.e., try out new ideas and adjust on the fly.
Mark gets results.
But not everyone loves Mark's management style. Many feel he's more concerned with ticking boxes off his task list than he is about their welfare. And sometimes Mark's attempts to move quickly backfire, creating major setbacks.
Now, let me tell you about Jen.
Jen also leads a large team. People love her empathy; they feel she "gets" them. Due to her excellent relationship-building skills, team turnover is low. A careful, analytical nature allows Jen to get to root causes of problems, leading to better, more effective solutions.
But it's that strong empathy that also causes Jen to hate conflict. Because of this, Jen sometimes pushes off the tough conversations. And that careful, analytical nature? Sometimes it leads to missed opportunities--out of fear of trying something new.
Now, a question:
Are you more like Mark, or Jen?
Both Jen and Mark have major strengths--and leveraging those strengths can help them get the most out of their teams. But taken too far, those strengths turn into weaknesses, and actually hold everyone back from reaching their full potential.
Emotional intelligence, the ability to identify, understand, and manage emotions, can help. In this case, it begins by learning to embrace the law of strength and weakness.
The law of strength and weakness
Interestingly, the law of strength and weakness was derived from an article offering marriage advice, which I found also applied to workplace relationships.
The law goes like this:
A person's strengths and weaknesses are often different facets of the same quality, like two sides of a coin. They are inextricably linked, so that you cannot discard one without the other.
To embrace the law of strength and weakness, then, is to learn how to leverage the strength while also mitigating the weakness.
Here is where emotional intelligence can help. Because by building self-awareness, the ability to understand your own emotional tendencies and behavior, you can then build a plan to manage that behavior.
Here are three ways to do it.
1. Find the right partner.
The first step to building self-awareness is to find a trusted colleague, family member, or friend with whom you can speak and get perspective.
For example, if Mark and Jen were open to working together, they could prove to be excellent learning partners. Jen could help Mark connect more deeply with his people. And Mark could help Jen deal with confrontation more effectively.
The key is to choose a person who is strong where you are weak, and vice-versa, so you can help each other to achieve balance.
2. Follow the "rules."
Over the years, I've learned to use simple, easy-to-follow "rules" that can help you manage your emotion-based behavior.
These rules are constructed simply enough that a person can quickly go through them in an emotional moment, to help them avoid saying or doing things they later regret. With practice, they can be used to gradually change harmful behavior.
(If this interests you, be sure to sign up for my free emotional intelligence course, where each day for 10 days you get a rule designed to help you make emotions work for you, instead of against you.)
3. Practice. Learn. Repeat.
No matter how good you get at understanding and managing emotions, you'll still make mistakes. And while you can find ways to mitigate weaknesses, they'll still be there--remember, they're simply the "other side" of your strengths.
But view mistakes as case studies, identifying lessons learned. Then, use those learnings to help you manage behavior in the future.
This could include getting help when it comes to activities that require a skill set in which you are weak (or even delegating those activities altogether). In other cases, it could mean learning to step back when you are in a situation that's over your head.
Above all, remember: Nobody's perfect. A strength can easily become a glaring weakness if left unchecked. The key is to recognize this fact, and learn to leverage the strength and minimize the weakness.
Do this right, and you'll make the most out of your own potential, and help others to do the same.