No Weaknesses, Only Unmet Expectations

“What exactly does team work mean? Am I abnormal, if I prefer working alone?” asked a management trainee.

“Certainly not. People in a chain have independent tasks cut out for them. It is just that your deliverables need to be in tune with the needs of other stakeholders, so that you do not become a bottleneck.”

“Then, why am I blamed for being too introverted or too independent?”

She has only started her journey, but there are many who face this dilemma throughout their lives. Some very natural personality traits, which do not really harm anyone, are touted as their weakness. Are they less efficient, or just less likeable?

Being introverted does not make one less of a team player. People expect others to fall in line with their individual needs, to fit in with their style of functioning, and those who don’t do so, are given negative labels.


I have had people tell me that they do not check their mailboxes, and I need to talk to them, to bring important issues to their attention. And they said all this, while flaunting their unavailability and ‘busy’ status. They displayed their hollow sense of self further, by adding “Whose need is it to get it pushed/approved?” Sure, mine. But me being a totally digital creature, there were umpteen reminders in their phone messages and mailboxes.

My unspoken thoughts

Efficiency is executing tasks quietly with responsibility, not throwing weight all over the place. People who do not respond/redirect their mails within 24 hours are highly inefficient. They expect an ego-boost by inviting ‘Can you spare some time for me?’ kind of pleas.

I do not know what their thoughts were on the subject.

But it was certainly a case of unmet expectations, mismatched work ethics and different communication mode preferences.

It does lead to bumps on the road, but not insurmountable ones. Maturity lies in finding a workable balance, keeping individual strengths in view. The biggest sign of insecurity is treading and trading on perceived weaknesses, telling people they are inadequate, in order to make them more servile. A person who feels inadequate does not assert or rebel, and it helps the higher-ups. In the process, future leaders have been destroyed.

A positive approach would be to spell out mutual needs, irrespective of hierarchies. A hierarchy is meant to spell out a functional structure, and place somebody in the driving seat to take responsibility, not to satiate their wretched ego.


A lot has been said about the importance of soft skills. But soft skills do not equip one to execute a task in absence of hard skills. It is only the lubricant that helps a process to move forward. Domain knowledge and expertise do matter.

Soft skills are needed in equal proportion at all levels. Boss management is not the only soft skill needed to carry an organization forward, though that is fast becoming an assumption. Keeping your employees happy with a hefty bonus and ESOPs is also not the only positive trick in the trade. It just shows that bosses lack the maturity to accept differences, and employees lack the skills to convince.


“What is your greatest weakness?” is perhaps the most hackneyed question asked ever. The failure of templated questions is that people are prepared for it, and it ensures that you do not get a genuine answer. Two fakes cancel out the impact of each other’s unprofessionalism and lackadaisical approach.

An interview is not a written test, where one is measured on the number of predetermined correct answers. A better approach is to spell out the job requirements, and then, ask questions to probe if the person will be able to measure up. The art of interviewing lies in making close-to-correct assessments, if not fully accurate ones.


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