Strengths-based Leadership

It’s human nature to want to look for what’s wrong and try to fix it. Some of us do this more than others! So, what’s wrong with that, you might ask. Well, nothing, when it relates to projects. When it relates to people however, there is a more effective approach – a strengths-based one.

A conventional approach to personal development looks at maintaining a person’s strengths and works on fixing weaknesses. This approach assumes that most behaviours can be learned, that those who are the ‘best’ in a role display the same behaviours, and that fixing weaknesses leads to success.

A strengths-based approach however focuses on each person’s strengths and manages around their weaknesses. The assumptions here shift to an understanding that different people use different strengths to get the same results, and that not everyone can be great at everything. Instead, while weakness fixing prevents failure, it is investing in your natural talents and building your strengths that leads to success.

Working within organisations who have taken a strengths-based approach is energising. Research shows that people who use their strengths at work are:

  • more engaged,
  • have more positive than negative interactions with co-workers,
  • treat customers better,
  • achieve more on a daily basis, and
  • have more positive, creative and innovative moments.

From a leadership perspective, there are also many benefits to taking a strengths-based approach. Leading and developing your team’s strengths is linked to higher productivity and lower attrition. It’s essential for improving engagement. A Gallup study found that only one percent of employees become disengaged if their manager actively focuses on their strengths, while 40 percent become disengaged if they are ignored.

Understanding your team’s strengths can also enable you to build a strong, diverse team. Knowing what areas would help round out your team prevents you falling into the trap of hiring ‘someone like us.’ Having a wide range of skill-sets, attitudes and cultural values helps you be more innovative and high performing.

Having teams who are engaged, curious, and who have differing perspectives and opinions will help lift the team’s performance and ultimately drive organisational success.

Emma Holderness is Catapult’s strengths expert and is qualified to undertake Clifton StrengthsFinder assessments and to facilitate one on one StrengthsFinder coaching and team StrengthsFinder workshops. Find out more on our website.