When might a strength become your achilles heel?

  • The quality or state of being strong.
  • A good or beneficial quality or attribute of a person or thing.

Optimising our strengths is something we are encouraged to do. In fact many workplaces are exploring these in detail at both an individual employee and team level. The purpose for this development is to ascertain how to get the ‘best’ from people, as well as improve work engagement.

As an example, if a team member is strong in analytical thinking, yet another team member has strengths in social-intelligence, and a project requires detailed, analytical thinking, as well as conveyance of results and recommendations, it would be wise to optimise their combined strengths so each person takes the lead during different stages of the project. 

The thing is, that if over-extended, our strengths can also become our achilles heel or weakness. As an example, someone with the strength of being able to debate, if over-extended, can be seen as arguing for the sake of an argument. Furthermore, someone who has a character strength of kindness, if overplayed, they can become a ‘door-mat’ or rescuer. Also, the person who is both capable and kind can end up taking everything-on for others.

We can liken it to the Goldilocks story. The ‘temperature’ of our strengths shouldn’t be cold/under-played, nor too hot/over-extended, but just-right/in-flow.


So what are your strengths, both in what you do and who you are as a person?

Where might you be over-extending them?

What impact is this having on yourself and those you lead?

What will you do differently?


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