The task of leadership is to create an alignment of strengths in ways that make a system’s weaknesses irrelevant.
- Peter Drucker
The most effective leaders focus on the strengths of their team members. As the founder of the StrengthsFinder test, Gallup knows a lot about why this is important:
- When leadership focuses on individual strengths, 73% of employees are likely to be engaged, compared to a shocking 9% when leadership focuses elsewhere.
- Teams that focus on strengths everyday are 12.5% more productive.
- Individuals who use their strengths everyday are less likely to leave their company and six times more likely to be engaged.
Focusing on strengths unlocks potential. Here’s how to develop your leadership skills to make that happen.
Identify your team’s strengths.
Employees need to know their strengths to be confident and empowered. They're also 7.8% more productive when they are aware of their strengths.
Performance reviews aren’t the only way to identify individual strengths. Slow down and take notice. Pay attention to feedback from others. Ask individuals directly about their strengths in a low-pressure environment—at lunch, for example. You can also invest in assessment tests like StrengthsFinder or the book, “Strengths Based Leadership.”
The Corporate Leadership Council found that performance increases when employees believe everyone brings something important to the team. I highly recommend organizing a team outing or meeting to learn about each others’ strengths. This can be as simple as asking everyone to anonymously write down one strength for each person and then discussing it as a group. Join in to identify your own strengths, which is equally important.
Empower your team to use those strengths.
Motivate and empower employees to use the strengths you've identified together. Interestingly, the Corporate Leadership Council found that emphasizing performance strengths has a stronger impact than emphasizing personality strengths—though they’re both important.
Organize teams and projects according to strengths.
Create project teams based on complementary strengths. Assign tasks according to strengths, or ask the team who wants to take on specific ones. Remember your own strengths and delegate the rest.
When it comes to performance reviews, identify individual goals based on employee strengths. If your company offers access to individual training, recommend to your team members that they take advantage. Create an open culture where employees can be honest about their aspirations. To cultivate that culture, open up about your own.
Keep the feedback flowing.
When everyone is able to do what they’re best at, they are happier and more productive. Just don’t forget to check in. Ask team members which strengths they’d like to use more and which strengths they overuse and would like to dial down.
Don’t pigeonhole your team members—they’ll get bored. Remember that you hired them for a reason. Challenge and stretch them so they’re constantly learning and growing, too.
If you’re interested in learning more about this topic, or if you’re ready to bring these skills to your organization, we recommend looking into our Building Trusting Relationships workshop. It’s a one-day version of our Leading with Presence workshop that focuses on sharing and listening for strengths and values. Read about it here, or get in touch today to learn more.