Don’t Ignore Your Weaknesses, Build On Them

This article originally appeared in Forbes.

As a business coach, I have seen a fair share of leaders who seek advice on how to maximize their strengths and minimize their weaknesses. It is rare that leaders ask me how they can embrace their weaknesses and use them to their advantage.

I was reminded about this after watching a presentation by a good friend and leadership coach who has a unique take on how to overcome weaknesses. In his talks, he imparts this lesson: Your weaknesses are part of who you are, and when you try to fix them, you lose a little bit of the strengths that help you succeed. For example, when you work on being less blunt or rude, you may lose some of the direct honesty that your colleagues find useful in a brainstorm session.

Several years after founding and running NationLink Wireless, I became frustrated with how our company was operating on a daily basis. I felt I was the gatekeeper of everything and that everyone on our team was turning to me for answers. It took me a while to realize I had become a control freak and that I had to let go. That trait had helped me build the business, but it was holding back the growth of our team.

Leaders need to devise a plan to identify and amplify their weaknesses so they don’t become an obstacle to personal and professional growth — just like I had to do. One company’s research found that 60% of their own leaders were able to make “significant positive change” when they worked to change their weaknesses.

You can flip the script on your weaknesses to become a better leader. Here’s how:

1. Seek independent advice.

Reach out to someone who can help you change and who understands what needs to be done to succeed. It can be someone in your professional network who has made a similar change or a mentor or a coach who has the expertise to guide you. This person will make sure you have a clear vision of what you want to change and what the end result will be.

2. Make the weakness you want to change a priority.

Tackle your weaknesses head-on and treat this as if it is a company priority for which you are responsible. The first step is to write down the behavior you want to change. The simple act of writing down your goals will help on conscious and subconscious levels as you move forward. And make sure the ultimate goal is SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. You have to be able to define it and measure it to make a lasting change.

3. Find an accountability partner.

One of the best ways to achieve your goal is to find someone who you “report to” and who will hold you accountable. Working with an accountability partner allows you to share victories and challenges, provide feedback on how you are progressing, and discuss strategies to overcome any obstacles. They’ll help push you toward the finish line.

4. Hold regular check-ins.

Holding regular check-ins is one of the foundations of the business practices pioneered by legendary industrialist John D. Rockefeller and discussed at length by Verne Harnish in his book, Mastering the Rockefeller Habits. (Disclosure: I’m currently working with Verne to write a series of e-books.) Have a weekly or biweekly check-in with your accountability partner to discuss your progress. It’s the ideal time to receive constructive feedback so you can move forward to achieving your goal.

At some point in their career, leaders must take ownership of and address their weaknesses. Working on your weaknesses won’t make them completely go away, but if you follow these tips, you will be better positioned to build your business and grow personally and professionally.