Strengths Based Leadership

By: Drs. Sheila Boysen, Mike Cherry, Lesley Page

The first step to using strengths-based leadership effectively is to reflect and evaluate your own strengths. What are you great at? What are your opportunities or weaknesses?

Strengths-based leadership is an approach to leading others that builds on what’s talents and strengths, rather than deficiencies. Research and evidence-based best practice shows that strengths-based leadership empowers leaders, and the people who follow them, and fosters healthy and positive workplace cultures (Rath, 2007).

Great leaders don’t have one single ingredient that makes them great. Presence, charisma, technical knowledge and a whole range of attributes may contribute to their effectiveness. But a consistent trait of great leaders is that they know their strengths and how to use them to become more influential in their leadership practice. Simply put, bringing out the best in an organization’s leaders tends to bring out the best in an organization’s employees.

You also need to learn about the strengths of your team. Once you have a clear idea of what their strengths are, you can focus and design their work to suit their individual skill sets. Listen carefully to what your team members talk about during performance reviews, particularly if they are interested in discussing previously underdeveloped skills. Stay curious about your team’s strengths and make note of them.  At the same time, stay open to feedback on your own performance.

Understanding and using our strengths at work increases levels of engagement, wellbeing, and, ultimately, our performance. However, knowing and growing your strengths as well as the strengths of your team is not a one-time event, it should become part of how you work together. It all starts with your awareness of your own strengths and limitations.

Rath, T. (2007). StrengthsFinder 2.0. Gallup Press.

About Dr. Sheila Boysen

Sheila M. Boysen, Ph.D., PHR, BCC, MCC is Master of Organizational Leadership Program Director and ICF ACTP Director at Lewis University

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