Can Too Much of a Strength Become a Weakness?
I differ from conventional wisdom here and believe the answer is no. It is not the case that some weaknesses are simply strengths taken too far.
Rather, the problem is not too much of one strength, but too little of another.
The reason this is important is because if you think a weaknesses is arising from having “too much strength” in an area, you will counsel the person to dial back their strength. Which won’t work and will only result in frustration.
But if you realize that the issue is not having enough strength in a counterbalancing area, the right solution emerges: build more strength in the relevant additional area.
Here’s how Marcus Buckingham puts it in Now, Discover Your Strengths:
Some people wonder if a strong theme can become so dominating that it gets in the way of excellent performance and is thus, by definition, a weakness. For example, can someone have such a powerful Activator theme that he forgets to focus on the future? Or can someone’s Command theme be so overwhelming that he frequently upsets the people around him?
We have a different view. A person can never have too much of a particular theme. He can only have not enough of another one. For example, rude people don’t have too much Command. They have insufficient Empathy. Impatient people don’t have too much Activator. They have too little Futuristic talent.
This distinction isn’t esoteric. On the contrary, it has practical repercussions. If you assume that the person is struggling to excel because he has too much of a particular theme, then you will tell him to tone the theme down, to stop behaving that way, and to be less of who he truly is.
This is repressive advice. It may be well intentioned, but it is rarely effective.
Conversely, if you assume that he is struggling because he has too little of a theme(s), you will offer him more positive advice. You will suggest that he manage around this weakness. You will tell him to decide which of the five strategies would prove most helpful, select one or two of them ,and tailor this strategy to his unique situation. This advice often proves challenging to implement, but as advice goes, it is more creative, more purposeful, and thus more effective.