The ‘Yin and Yang’ of Strengths Based Leadership



Yin and Yang. Light and Dark. Strength and Weakness. Can there be one without the other? Philosophically speaking, no, as one interrelates with and gives meaning to the other, hence the well-known symbol with black and white elements co-habiting, one intertwined with the other.

The concept of Yin and Yang in Chinese philosophy, explores how seemingly opposite forces may in fact, be strongly interdependent and complimentary.

So it is with our behavioural strengths and weaknesses according to the Belbin Model, and more specifically, how they should both be taken into account when working with leadership styles. How could we work with our strengths without honestly addressing the natural weaknesses?

To truly understand and best project our strengths without exploring the natural weaknesses that come with them, would be an incomplete exercise. It can even undermine our authenticity and our ability to project our strengths.

Our strengths are to be valued, cultivated and projected whenever possible, and our weaknesses are to be understood, acknowledged and managed as an integral part of the total package.

In the Belbin Model they are considered to be ‘allowable weaknesses’ where our strengths are being expressed clearly and only become ‘non-allowable weaknesses’ when their excesses may damage working relationships and performance beyond acceptable norms.


This term ‘allowable weaknesses’ is a liberating approach that offers people some psychological freedom to be themselves, and to better understand and tolerate the behaviours of others.

Belbin’s Model and its comprehensive profiles and reports are used to measure in an evidence-based way, how we may best project our strengths and manage our naturally occurring weaknesses. It speaks in terms of our strengths and contributions, but also of the realistically allowable weaknesses that will come with them.

As with the concept of Yin and Yang, to attempt to recognise one aspect without the other, or to try to artificially change what is natural, can impact balance and authenticity. It is about understanding and then managing behaviour, more than trying to radically modify what may be unrealistic to change.

Play to your strengths and manage the associated weaknesses. Be yourself - just a better understood and more behaviourally adaptable version of yourself.

Whether as a team member, manager or leader this balanced approach to behaviour offers sustainable outcomes and meaningful impact at work.

To find out more about the Belbin Model and how it can be used for leadership, management and team development visit www.Belbin.com.au .

Yin and Yang

“Yin and yang can be thought of as complementary (rather than opposing) forces that interact to form a dynamic system in which the whole is greater than the assembled parts.. According to this philosophy, everything has both yin and yang aspects (for instance, shadow cannot exist without light). Either of the two major aspects may manifest more strongly in a particular object, depending on the criterion of the observation. The yin yang (i.e. taijitu symbol) shows a balance between two opposites with a portion of the opposite element in each section.”

Georges Oshawa (1976) The Unique Principle. ISBN 978-0-918860-17-0