In an ideal world, this question would be irrelevant. 

In such a world, we would have enough of what we need to upgrade our strengths and also address any weaknesses.

But in our somewhat less than ideal world, we have limited resources such energy, know-how, money and time.

As a result, we must continue to make choices between equally important and pressing issues.

Soccer & Basketball

Malcolm Gladwell, best-selling author and renowned thought leader triggered my thinking about the challenge of upgrading strengths pr addressing weaknesses.

In a discussion about post COVID life, he used the analogy of soccer and basketball. 

He explained: “…soccer is a weak-link sport and your team is only as good as its weakest member.  In soccer, one bad player means a botched pass, and everyone’s efforts in the field end up going to waste.”

Never having played soccer, I’ll take his word on that.

Basketball on the other hand is “…strong-link sport. If you want to make a basketball team better you bring in Kawhi Leonard. You bring in a superstar.”

Given my limited experience with basketball and as a Canadian, a lifetime’s exposure to ice hockey, another strong-link sport, that makes sense to me.

Certainly, the dynamics of sports teams are dramatically different from those of running a small professional service business.

However, applying Gladwell’s strong-link and weak-link concepts generates a useful insight.

In a nutshell– running a small professional service business is both a weak-link and also a strong-link sport.

Your business is a weak-link sport: its overall effectiveness and ultimate success is only as good as the weakest functional area. Too many botched actions, alone or in bunches and you risk all your best efforts going to waste.

Your business is also a strong-link sport: if you want to make it better, you continue to improve, becoming the superstar you really are.

As challenging as it may appear for our small service businesses being both a weak-link and also a strong-link activity, there is good news.

Conventional business wisdom offers some helpful guidance.

Grow To Your Strengths, Hire To Your Weaknesses

In a nutshell, our strengths are those things that we love to do … and typically are quite food at starting and completing.

For example, in my case, I love to learn, write and share my lessons learned.

What do you love to so much that you can never seem to get enough it?

These are the functions to which we can assign upgrade priority.

On the other hand, our weaknesses are those things we don’t like to do.

Not surprisingly our competence is at about the same level as our enjoyment.

Although I recognize the importance of digital marketing, it’s not something that’s near and dear to my heart.  So, the time has come to hire a digital marketing manager.  Any recommendations?

Echoing the question in the title, the answer would be both.

Upgrade your own strengths and hire or otherwise delegate to someone else whatever weaknesses are or might cause trouble.

Not sure about strengths and weaknesses?

Try a SWOT analysis.