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Strengths and Pitfalls

Being aware of one’s “pitfalls” helps to put to better use the underlying strengths.

15 – 30 min.


This is a simpler version of Ofman’s Core value model, which highlights the link between a person’s strengths and weaknesses. Being aware of one’s “pitfalls” helps to put to better use the underlying strengths.

Two examples

Peter is ambitious, and it is important to him that assigned tasks are completed accurately – this is a strength. But Peter is also impatient and quickly becomes angry if someone does not complete an assigned task on time – this is his pitfall. Peter has to set himself the task of better balancing his ambitions against the needs of his employees – this is his challenge.

Maija wants to ensure that other employees do not make mistakes, therefore she pays attention to details and contemplates various potential risks. The related pitfall is her tendency to explain things in too much detail, which causes her colleagues to become impatient and stop listening to her. Maija’s challenge is to develop the ability to trust her colleagues and to improve her delegation skills.

How to use this model for personal development?

Consider: What are your main strengths? What are the related pitfalls? Or you can start from the opposite end: What pitfalls do you experience? What are the underpinning strengths for these pitfalls?

In the next step define your challenge and consider specific activities for addressing it.

How to use this model for giving feed back?

When you give feedback to a colleague, you can use this approach: 1. Begin with a strength; 2. Constructively address the pitfall; 3. Suggest a challenge. For example: “Peter, I know it’s important for you that tasks are completed in time. But sometimes I’ve noticed that this makes you become impatient and overreact if someone is late with his work. I think you could work on balancing your ambitions against the needs of your colleagues.”


A video about Ofman’s Core Qualities.

This work by Toms Urdze is licensed under
CC BY-SA 4.0