Leadership Knows Its Limitations


No one is excellent at everything.

Leaders know their limitations. Leaders know what they do well, better than anyone else. Great leaders surround themselves with people who do different things well.

I know people who believe they must do everything well. One friend of mine believed that he probably needed to leave his career as an accountant because he was afraid of public speaking. A woman I know tried to compensate for her own imperfections by pointing out the weaknesses in everyone else’s performance.

Each of us has limitations, just as each of us has potential.

The more effort we put into eliminating our limitations, the less energy we have to do things well.

Some limitations are painful to recognize. While we can, with determination and persistence, work hard to become better than we already are, there are some things that are beyond us. We can gain insight and wisdom from testing our limitations.

Our goal is not to become limitless. Our goal is to become fully ourselves.

As I learn to recognize and appreciate my limitations, they teach me valuable lessons. I am grateful that there are people who complement me, whose limitations fit well with my own. I see the beauty of a world in which not everyone is exactly like me.

It is my limitations that teach me about acceptance and patience. It is the things I cannot do that strengthen my character and help me become a stronger leader.

The leaders who inspire me revel in the ways we work together more effectively than we work separately. They create strong teams by bringing together people with different limitations.

If you would like to work together, let’s talk.

What do you see as your greatest limitation?

How do your limitations help you?

[Image by vrogy]

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  • http://www.tweetconnection.com Samantha

    Timely post Greg!

    I was thinking about this early this morning (and off and on for quite some time) about where some of my strengths are and where I’m not very strong. Either it’s not an inherent strength or due to lack of experience in that area. For me, the perfect example is business. I have FAR more experience working INSIDE already existing organizations and businesses then I do with creating them, etc. So the world of the entrepreneur is far more foreign territory for me.

    • Strategic Monk

      Thank you, Samantha.

      Yes! There are also things that I do not find very interesting or engaging, and that is a significant limitation for me. I tend to be much more willing to put time and energy into ideas or questions that get my attention, or about which i am passionate.

  • http://Cybuhr.com Daniel Buhr

    Thank you, Greg. Again you have shared profound wisdom with beautiful simplicity. I recently came across a document that discusses Myers-Briggs personality types and servant leadership. It takes a broader, more academic look at the same basic premise. The conclusion includes the statement, “By better understanding our own gifts as servant-leaders, based upon our Myers-Briggs type, we can make our greatest contributions as servant-leaders. By better understanding others unique gifts as servant-leaders, based upon their Myers-Briggs type, we develop an appreciation for the differences to be found among servant-leaders.”


    Lead on!

  • Strategic Monk

    Thank you, Daniel.

    A lot of the people with whom I talk have an underlying sense that leader must be good at everything, that leaders need to be perfect. I think that many my most effective leadership moments have come from asking questions, seeking help, and getting people to show me how to do things. They give people opportunities to show their abilities and explore new approaches.