May 2012

Lead with Strength

It seems obvious that leaders should recognize and lead with their strengths, but it’s not always easy to truly know your strengths and more importantly, to use them fully. I frequently have my clients take the StrengthsFinder 2.0 assessment to identify their top five talent themes as part of my leadership development program. They always find it interesting and sometimes surprising but usually wonder specifically how to use and integrate their top five themes with their skills and knowledge.

Position for Strength in a Tough Business Environment

Earlier this month I facilitated a Strengths workshop with a group of IT executives within a large nationwide company that is (like many companies) struggling to achieve the results they desire. I was most impressed with the team's senior executive in his focus to build the individual and team strengths versus simply working on weaknesses, which is so often the center of attention during tough times. His commitment to building their strengths was evident in his desire to make sure that the workshop activities would drive the team to maximize their strengths moving forward.

From my perspective, the only reason to take the assessment or participate in a strengths workshop, is to create greater self-awareness for action moving forward. This workshop served as the starting point for some important next steps.

Strengths Workshop... and Important Next Steps

The executives participated in the StrenghsFinder 2.0 assessment prior to the workshop to determine their top five talent themes. During the workshop each executive shared their specific themes with the others, illustrating through examples, how each talent theme is demonstrated through their work and in their lives. This activity proved to be eye-opening for several, particularly when others on the team reinforced or noted additional examples that the executives didn’t recognize.

I provided them with a team matrix showing how their themes were spread across the leadership categories’ of execution, influencing, relationship building and strategic thinking. They spent time in small groups discussing how they could leverage specific strengths and mitigate areas where there were gaps. They focused on creating a conscious effort to recognize the strengths skill sets needed to implement projects where they have the flexibility to assign the best strengths fit as resources.

They are planning to incorporate a strengths “language” across the broader IT leadership organization to create a positive, energizing work environment as a powerful way to create success within the difficult current operating environment. Each leader will conduct their own strengths workshop with their respective teams, using strengths as a template for resourcing projects. It’s an exciting plan for this team.

Focus on Strengths to Build Positive Momentum

I’ve been connected to another company recently that uses a strengths assessment in their hiring process to fill specific gaps, and throughout their performance management process, aligning goals and outcomes to specific strengths.

It’s encouraging to see the strengths momentum being embraced in many diverse environments. I find that as I work with my clients from a strengths-based approach, their positive self-awareness allows them to maximize their true strengths, and more easily move toward their goals.

Get to Know Your Strengths...

While it’s important for everyone to know and be able to use their natural and learned strengths, it’s critical for leaders to understand their strengths more deeply if they are to lead most effectively. Here’s some steps to learn about and put your strengths to work:

  • Take an assessment – There are lots of assessments that can help you determine your talent themes. The StrengthsFinders 2.0 assessment (or the Strengths Based Leadership assessment) is easy to do through an on-line site ( that provides good reports and tools, including an action planning guide based on the assessment results.
  • Ask for feedback – Ask several trusted colleagues and friends to give you constructive feedback on what they see as your strengths, and what you do well.
  • Connect your feedback or assessment results to your skills and knowledge – Integrate your natural talents with your knowledge and skills to realize your true strengths
  • Understand the strengths on your team – Have your team go through a feedback process or strengths assessment to determine their key strengths, and help your team maximize their individual and team strengths to accomplish goals
  • Create a positive, strengths-based work environment – Leverage your strengths and your team strengths for a deeper level of engagement to help people be at their best to build strong, positive teams!
  • Hire a great coach to work with you!

“Most people think they know what they are good at. They are usually wrong…And yet, a person can perform only from strength.” - Peter Drucker

Struggling with leadership effectiveness or business change?

If you’re looking to enhance your leadership effectiveness and would like some help to get the results you’re looking to achieve, I’d love to talk with you. I help leaders to successfully navigate the challenges of making change to achieve the results they want. Visit my website for details, free resources and to schedule a complimentary consultation to move you forward!


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