As a leader, one of your most important traits is self-awareness—specifically knowing where your skills lie and knowing your limitations. The balance of pushing your growth and working within your boundaries is part of the path of healthy personal and professional evolution. Perhaps, though, the most challenging and important realization you can have is, as a leader, knowing when you have reached your peak. In the context of this article, I am defining peak as both a complete extension of your abilities within a specific domain as well as the sum of your abilities in relation to a specific role or task. In our highly competitive world, admitting to hitting your peak or any potential gap in your leadership armor is considered heretical in the leadership world. I disagree.
As a leader, the most valuable trait you have is understanding the limits of your abilities. The foolhardy leaders ignore their weaknesses liable to lead those who follow them into trouble or even disaster.
With a clear understanding of their deficits, reflective and humble leaders can identify superior resources that fill their gaps. The most effective leaders are those who can see greatness in others and bring out the best of what a group of individuals has to offer to achieve outstanding results.
Identifying your peak first requires taking stock of what you do well. This includes identifying your default skills; these can be called your strengths and are the skills that you fall back on reactively. Next identify your latent skills. Your latent skills are the larger pool of skills that are at times under the radar and brought into use when you are challenged and your default skills fail the job. Lastly, you will need to identify your deficient skills; these are the things that you are just no-go no matter how hard you try. These are the skills like becoming detail oriented when you are naturally a big picture thinker or becoming artistic when you can barely draw a stick figure. It is your deficit skills that that represent where your potential has peaked and you have opportunities to bring other’s skills to bear.
Once you have an understanding of where your skills have peaked, you have the following choices: First, explore opportunities to develop your latent skills. In fact, the continual evolution and development of latent skills is critical for long-term leadership growth and success. Developing your latent skills will expand your abilities as a leader and minimize potential peaks. Also, as part of your long-term development, you should always be working on developing one to three of your latent skills. Second, in order to address your deficient skills,, identify individuals on your team or skills that you can hire to fill your gaps.
Great leaders know what they are good at, what skills they need to develop, and when to leverage the skills of others. As part of your leadership evolution, knowing and deploying the best use of your abilities, admitting when you hit your peak, and knowing when to use the best of what is around is fundamental to your long-term success.