Strengths-based leadership produces better outcomes than other approaches. Historically, it was believed that weaknesses should be identified and developed by management until they became strengths. But anyone with two left feet knows they can practice every day and they may become a better dancer, but they will never be Fred Astaire or Ginger Rogers. If anything, they will become frustrated and deflated at having expended so much time and energy only to achieve mediocre results.
It is the same in business. Strengths-based leadership identifies individual skills, aptitudes, and strengths of team members and leverages them to achieve tangible results. A strengths-based leader understands that they don’t have 15 account managers on their team, they have 15 individuals with varying gifts, desires and skills. To the extent that leaders effectively engage, develop and leverage their team’s individual strengths they will achieve success in both productivity and employee satisfaction.
Putting Strengths To Use
In many cases, employees may be in roles where they are able to perform to expectations, but that doesn’t mean they’re using their strengths. The risk of this includes potential disengagement, dissatisfaction and eventual turnover. If, however, that employee’s strengths are identified and they are given opportunities to put them to use, they will often feel more valued and utilized. Special projects, productivity metrics, and other goals may be achieved which were not otherwise possible.
Appreciating Weaknesses, Not Dwelling on Them
Weaknesses are sometimes seen as vulnerabilities. But in today’s corporate culture, vulnerability is an asset. Gone are the days when people expect management to have all the answers and be infallible. Those things were never true, anyway. Admitting areas of weakness actually creates opportunities for growth in leadership and among team members.
Being vulnerable and honest about one’s weaknesses demonstrates authenticity and humility, for one thing. Additionally, it positions a leader to identify that they don’t know all the answers and are aware of gaps in skills that can be more effectively leveraged through the team. Identifying and acknowledging the strengths of others, especially in areas you may be lacking, creates occasions for team members to step up, shine and achieve results together, which strengthens them, the organization and its culture. Acknowledging areas of weakness is a positive thing, dwelling on them or trying to magically turn them into strengths is not.
Developing Strong Leaders
Inserting someone into a management role who doesn’t display any of the aptitudes necessary for success is a recipe for disaster. Even those who do show leadership characteristics such as strategy, influencing, executing and communication still may not be naturally hardwired to understand and execute strengths-based leadership well, at least not initially. Leadership training for those new to the role or hoping to enter into leadership is necessary to mature those skills. For those who have held management positions for some time, leadership coaching may be a great solution. Coaching allows for one-on-one interactions to process through challenges, development and practical situations as they occur.
New Summit Leadership works with companies to provide solutions to the issues that plague them and their leaders. If you are interested in a free Leadership Development Session, contact us to learn more.