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Strength-based leadership

Enhance your leadership development

Strengths-based leadership is an approach that focuses on identifying, developing, and leveraging the strengths of leaders and their followers, rather than trying to fix their weaknesses. It is based on insights from the branch of psychology known as positive psychology.

For the avoidance of doubt, this approach does not assume the absence of weakness of challenges for the leader but rather views these objectively but from the perspective of a leader’s strengths, thereby making them more accessible, less daunting and also promoting agility through the deployment of existing strengths to assist performance in these challenge areas.

Strengths are defined as the natural talents, skills, and abilities that enable people to perform well and enjoy what they do. According to Gallup, a global research and consulting firm, people who use their strengths every day are six times more likely to be engaged in their work, three times more likely to report having an excellent quality of life, 8% more productive, and 15% less likely to quit their jobs.

Strengths-based leadership has many benefits for both leaders and followers. Some of the advantages are:

  • It increases engagement, motivation, and satisfaction. When leaders use their strengths, they are more likely to be passionate, enthusiastic, and committed to their work and goals. They also experience more positive emotions, such as joy, pride, and gratitude.
  • It enhances performance, productivity, and innovation. When leaders use their strengths, they are more likely to achieve higher levels of performance, productivity, and innovation. They also have more confidence, resilience, and creativity.
  • It fosters collaboration, trust, and diversity. When leaders use their strengths, they are more likely to collaborate effectively, trust each other, and appreciate the diversity of talents and perspectives in their teams. They also have more empathy, respect, and loyalty.
  • Enhanced customer satisfaction and loyalty: By using their strengths to deliver excellent service and value, employees can create positive experiences and relationships with customers. Customers who feel valued and appreciated are more likely to be satisfied, loyal, and refer others to the organisation.
  • Reduced turnover and absenteeism: By creating a strength-based psychological climate that appreciates, identifies, develops, and leverages employees’ strengths, leaders can reduce the costs and risks associated with turnover and absenteeism. Employees who feel valued and supported are more likely to stay with the organisation and perform at their optimal level.

For those of us looking to understand and refine our leadership strengths in our current/future roles, there are four key steps to consider:

  • Discover. The first step is to identify our strengths and the strengths of our team members. Various tools and assessments can be deployed to help with this process, such as the CliftonStrengths assessment, which measures 34 themes of talent that can be developed into strengths.
  • Develop. The second step is to develop our strengths and the strengths of our team. This can be done by providing opportunities for learning, growth, and feedback that align with your strengths. Mentors, coaches, and peers can be remarkably effective in this regard.
  • Deploy. The third step is to deploy our strengths. This can be achieved by assigning roles, tasks, and projects that match our strengths with appropriate stretch targets and developmental challenges. We can also leverage strengths to overcome challenges, solve problems, and achieve goals.
  • Celebrate. The fourth step is to celebrate strengths. This comprises recognising, appreciating, and rewarding the contributions of each person’s strengths. The sharing of success stories, best practices, and lessons learned help to showcase the power of strengths.

Strengths-based leadership is increasingly recognised to confer many benefits for both leaders and organisations, and is a potent tool for anyone focused on leadership development, whether an individual leader, L&D specialist or leadership coach.

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