Teams need great managers, now more than ever. But managing a team is challenging. Not only do managers (like you) have to ensure productivity and outcomes in a short time, but you also have to manage your team’s dynamic, engagements and motivation. The most important thing as a manager is to learn to utilise your own strengths to effectively manage your tasks, time, emotions and motivation. To build on a strength-based leadership model. 

From there you can use your strengths to improve how you lead your teams best.

It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do, you are equipped with the tools you need to be successful. You have your strengths. These are the things you are naturally best at. Once you know these, it is easier to manage your team, meet your goals and improve the success of your team. 

What is Strengths-based leadership?

A strengths-based leadership summary can be attributed to a study by Gallup, which found that the most effective leaders harnessed the following three things:

  1. They always invest in their own strengths
  2. They know how to maximise their team
  3. They understand their team’s needs and how to best support these1

To be the best leader for your team you have to understand your own strengths and how to use them to manage yourself, your needs and motivations as well as your blind spots.

It also means to recognise your team members’ strengths so you can develop an individualised approach for each team member based on your and their strengths, blind spots, needs and motivators. 

strengths

The 4 Steps of Strengths-Based Leadership

  1. Master your own strengths 

Understand and invest in your own strengths to lead yourself effectively and manage your blind spots.

  1. Lead with strengths

Define your unique leadership strategies to communicate effectively, inspire and lead your team. 

  1. Become a strengths coach for your team 

Support your team members to understand and master their strengths. Help each individual to be at their best every day. Together, define ways to best work together based on your combined strengths. Define an individualised way to lead each team member.

  1. Empower a strength-based team

Create strengths awareness and work together to use the team’s collective strengths to maximise the potential of everyone.

Let’s dive deeper into what these four areas mean for your and your team! 

Step 1: Master your own strengths 

To be an effective leader, it is important that you understand your strengths, your blind spots, your needs and your motivators.

It is important to spend a bit of time understanding your strengths and focusing on building that strengths muscle.

As part of your strengths development, you want to focus on the following 2 areas…

Strengthen your strengths to use them every day!

Understand how your strengths show up in your life, at work or as a leader. And then define aligned actions to use your strengths every day. Sometimes we don’t realise that the things we naturally do well, are in fact our strengths that set us apart from others. We want to ensure that we don’t underuse our strength and therefore our full potential.

Refine your strengths so they don’t stand in your way. 

Sometimes our strengths can stand in our way. This may surprise you. But if something comes natural to us, we also often revert to it in times of pressure or doubt. These can often be our blind spots as might overuse our strengths or use it at the wrong time.

Once you are able to live in alignment with your own strengths, it is much easier to lead from a strengths based leadership perspective. It is about embodying how you want to lead and to do that, you need to practice what you preach. 

Step 2: Lead with strengths

As a leader, it is important to learn to intentionally aim your strengths to lead effectively.

Think of your strengths as your toolbox. They will help you to thrive during any leadership challenge.

Identify potential blind spots and misconceptions and define ways to manage and anticipate the perception others might have of you.

Define strategies to increase the performance and engagement of your team.

It can be helpful if you start to apply each of your top strengths to some of the most common responsibilities of a leader. Think about how your strengths can help you to communicate effectively, inspire, create accountability, develop individuals, lead change and think critically2.

For example, if you lead with the Strategic® strengths you can inspire others by becoming known as a mentor who can give advice for a particular problem. As you can see patterns quickly, you are also able to come up with different ideas to solve the problem. You have the ability to naturally see a way when others think there is no way out. This can have a very uplifting and motivating effect.

Another example is that you can lead change by tapping into your Empathy® strength. Due to your natural talents to understand individuals, you will be able to anticipate their reactions or reservations. This allows you to individualize your communication strategy to provide stability and compassion during times of change.

Step 3: Become a strengths coach for your team 

First, you want to invest time to understand and gain an appreciation for the individual strengths of each team member, then use a coaching leadership style to support the individual to understand and own their strengths. Help them see their uniqueness and special talent in a new light. You also want to support your team to define strategies on how to use their strengths every day to fulfil their role more effectively.

Furthermore, you want to support your team members to find ways to work around their weaknesses and manage their blind spots.

To be an effective leader, you have to use an individualised approach with each of your direct reports. Every person is different, with their unique strengths, blind spots and needs. 

This coupled with your unique strengths, means you have to find the best approach for your collective strengths profile. You can also create individual development plans for each team member.

Keep in mind that you will also be perceived differently by each individual.

What is easy for one person can be difficult for someone else. One person might prefer face to face conversations, and another likes to have everything laid out in an email.

What one team member finds inspiring can be absolutely boring for another. 

To set each person up for success, you need to understand how to motivate and energise them while playing to your own strengths as well. It can be a juggle, but you can absolutely do it! 

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Step 4: Empower a strength-based team

Now that you have understood your own strengths in the context of leadership and have worked on an individualised leadership approach for every team member, it is time to look at the collective strengths of the team.

You will achieve the best outcomes for your team’s performance and engagement if you manage to use the team’s collective strengths to maximise  everyone’s potential.

“A strengths-based team is a group of imperfect but talented contributors who are valued for their strengths and who need one another to realise individual and team excellence”3

The most effective teams know their collective strengths and blind spots. They understand how they can best work together to achieve their goals. 

To get there each individual has to understand their own strengths and unique contribution to the team as well as the strengths of the other team members. They learn to be able to spot the strengths in others and support their colleagues to fully embrace their strengths at work.

They also know and accept everyone’s lesser talents and have defined strategies to support each other or work around these.

In short, everyone has to learn how to make the most of each other’s strengths in context of the work and challenges the team faces.

Final thoughts 

To be a strengths-based leader, you first need to identify your own strengths and how you work as an individual. From that place, you can then effectively work with your team to develop their strengths and coach them through understanding where their strengths lie. 

When it comes to being a strengths-based leader, you must focus on these areas of strength, not the weakness of each person (and most importantly yourself). 

Do you know your strengths? Have you worked directly on your strengths in order to be a strengths-based leader? 
Unleash your strengths and natural talents by focusing your energy on what you are good at (not what you aren’t).

To learn more about learning and understanding your strengths, click here!

Resources:

  1. (Source: Rath T, Conchie, B.: Strengths Based Leadership (2008), Gallup Press, p. 2,3)
  2. (Source Gallup, Resource Guide for Managers)
  3. https://www.gallup.com/home.aspx