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Don’t Let Strengths Become Weaknesses


Put people under pressure – like the stress that comes from dealing with change – and they usually turn to their strengths.  It’s human nature, and on the surface it makes sense: Rely on what you do best…fight with your favorite weapons…stick with well developed habits where you really shine.


But what if conditions call for new moves?  What if doing what you do best doesn’t work any more? 


When people are doing the wrong things – even if they do them flawlessly- the organization has trouble coping.  Strengths become weaknesses when circumstances change but behavior doesn’t.


A culture of inflexibility develops if people put too much faith in their strengths.  So be prepared to abandon your best moves.  Show respect for what works.  Go ahead and give the organization what it needs most - even if that’s not your strong suit.  Be willing to stumble along.  You can get better as you go.  If you’re doing the right things, you don’t have to do them perfectly to get great results.


The key is to keep learning.  Develop in new directions.  Adapt.  Don’t get locked in to a set of skills or an approach that could become outdated.  Be willing to bend, to adjust.  A rapidly changing world requires new competencies.


Do your part to keep the culture from getting stiff.


There is no permanent solution.


-adapted from Price Pritchett, Culture Shift, 1993.



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