As a leader, it is critical that you grasp this concept. Andy says that he discovered, “My fully-exploited strengths were of far greater value to our organization than my marginally-improved weaknesses.” Have you discovered this? It has the potential to change everything about how you lead. (Thanks to @MattPerman for bringing this to my attention.)

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26 thoughts on “You Don’t Have to Be Good at Everything to Lead

  1. It’s a great observation by Andy. I battle almost daily with wanting to improve the areas where I’m weakest at. 

    I love how Andy points out that our greatest strengths far outweigh our slightly improved weaknesses.

    A great illustration that has helped me over the years in leadership is this:

    Imagine your organization was a bus, a great leader not only knows who to put on the bus and who to take off the bus, he also knows where each person should sit on the bus.

    I believe what Andy said toward the end re-enforces this.

  2. I’ve heard Andy share this concept in other contexts.  My question is this:  as a pastor of a small church,  there are things which have to be done that are weaknesses of mine, yet, for now anyway, there isn’t anyone else currently available to plug into those positions.  Any suggestions? (I’m asking this of the community at large.  Please weigh in.)

    • Karl,

      I can’t say this from experience but only as an observer. I became a Christian 9 years ago at my home church in Ireland. It had about 30 members and has grown to about 100 right now. I was close to my pastor there and he was and in many ways still is in your shoes. 

      He and his wife pretty much do everything. They both came to the US recently and I had a chance to ask them how everything was going. They said candidly to me that they would be pulling back from a lot of areas because people were not available to help.

      He had said that a lot of things were being done but they were only half done.

      They will be focusing on a smaller number of areas but doing those areas with a lot of excellence.

      I know that probably isn’t much help, again I was only an observer rather than being in the middle of it.

      My Pastors have been in Ireland now for 12 years as missionaries with minimal help. I am close enough to him to see the temptation to get pretty frustrated so I can relate in that area.

      If I had to offer my two cents, Identify the areas that are critical that have to be done, whether they are your weaknesses or not. They have to be done right?

      Everything else gets put on the shelf until a proven faithful person comes along to take charge of it.

      I really hope that helps.

  3. This is a great thought…I wish more leaders grasped this concept in developing their people and really play up the strengths of their employees.

  4. Well put by Andy. I wrote about this and contextualized it with the net result of specialization by surgeons who once studied general medicine so as to become “well rounded” surgeons. Then specialization was put into practice.

    For hospitals and patients, the net result of specialization has been this: the mortality rate has dramatically decreased, recovery time and the patients length of stay in the hospital has dramatically decreased, and surgical mistakes have dramatically decreased. In short, your odds of walking out of a hospital after being admitted these days are significantly greater as a result of specialization.

    You can read more of my comments at

    Andy’s video was succinct and well put – thanks for sharing, Mike!

  5. YES! This idea totally changed me as a parent, friend, coach and leader. It’s why I love working with Strengths Finder. So excited that you shared on this. What an amazing world we’d live in if everyone invested in who God made them to be instead of wrestling with who He didn’t!

  6. “My fully-exploited strengths were of far greater value to our organization than my marginally-improved weaknesses.” What a true statement, though I never thought of that this way!

    I think it’s quite natural that we tend to give less importance to our strengths because they are always easy for us. But that produces mediocre results. In fact, we need to work more on our strengths than our weaknesses. I am disciplining myself to do that these days though it’s a struggle sometimes!

  7. This concept has changed my life and led me to get more involved in StrengthsFinders.  I’ve not only used it in my business and personal life but am bringing this philosophy into my church community.  We are so programmed to “improve our weaknesses”.  Our lives flow so much easier when we concentrate on our specific talents God gave us individually.

  8. “My fully-exploited strengths were of far greater value to our organization than my marginally-improved weaknesses.” — Yup! I like playing my strengths and leveraging on my pros rather than trying hard to overcome my weaknesses.

  9. As someone with many weaknessess (and but a few visible strengths), this message is good to my ears! However, I might contrast this with the leadership philosophy of the Marines: taking a weakness and honing it into a strength (see: One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer).

    Not every organization has the resources to turn every weakness into strengths. I’m also not sure that approach can work everywhere, but it’s something to think about. What kinds of orgs benefit from each approach, do you think?

    • Personally, I don’t think any organization can afford to turn weaknesses into strengths. I think they would be much further ahead to discover the strengths of their people and develop them.

      • Perhaps there’s a difference with organizations like the military, who, for example, needs certain universal skills among say, junior officers. Not every organization is funded like the military, either. They may also only choose to focus on certain kinds of weaknesses (the authors’ was his swimming abilities, for example). 

  10. I love Andy Stanley’s leadership podcasts, his ideas are always paradigm shifting for me! I wish more churches and businesses operated from this principal, life would be better for everyone!

  11. Fantastic. It’s hard to let go of being seen to be good at everything. The bravery is in letting go and letting others do what you don’t do well, and letting them do it their way.   

  12. I really appreciate this short video. Thank you, Michael. I know the few things I’m good at and so, as Andy confessed, I know I can “wing it” there and get by. This reminds me to “fully exploit” what I am good at and I’ll be a better blessing to the people I serve. This was helpful.

  13. This is right back from his book “next generation leader” which I strongly recommend. He is correct but for anyone in ministry you need to listen carefully because he is actually saying, don’t “wing it”, when it comes to your strengths. In other words, don’t become prideful. Recognize, always where your strengths come from, work hard at improving them, put the work in and yes, your life and organization is so much better for it. No doubt.

  14. “My fully exploited strengths are greater than my marginally improved weaknesses.”  Great leaders have learned this and with humility build a team of people who shore up their shortcomings.  It is not difficult to find people who are much smarter then I am and to use their talent.

  15. One note of caution…
    I’ve seen leaders focus on the latter half of this concept.
    They ‘wing’ their strengths while delegating their weaknesses…

    they are lazy, comfortable and are disorganized about everything they do…
    and they rarely excel…  Remember, you must also exploit your strengths!
    This takes a plan, having a goal in mind before you start, and executing that plan.

  16. If Andy’s message resonates with you, I highly recommend and suggest you purchase Tom Rath’s Strengths Finder 2.0.   In this book you will read about finding and focusing on your strengths rather than building a house on the sand of trying to improve weaknesses.   There is an assessment “quiz” and your results are emailed to you.   Very enlightening, freeing and powerful.   It does not say hear are your exact strengths, it provides you with your natural talents that can be turned into strengths over time.     

  17. Andy always has some great morsels of wisdom to share. And this one just whetted my appetite for Catalyst West.

  18. Andy really said great thought . i respect it. I grasped his concept & the concept has be changed my life style . It is the video which inspired me to get more involved in strengthsFinders. One day really i will used these concept on my life & business also as well. Thanks for giving such a great concept .

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