What is Strengths Focused Leadership?
“By celebrating what’s right with the world, we find the energy to fix what’s wrong.”
So says award winning National Geographic photographer, and Stephen Covey co-author, Dewitt Jones. His years of capturing the beauty, splendour and potential of developing nations convinced him that this focus on their strengths could advance their cause much more than berating their deficiencies. But does this outlook hold true for the modern leader and their people?
Today’s leaders strive for top results for their team and their organisation in a tough economic climate. Naturally they want to have a team that loves to be at work, really makes a difference and creates something of real value for everyone involved. But no matter how hard everyone works and how much they achieve, sometimes employees seem stressed and de-motivated. And that means they are not achieving their optimum potential.
And so what do we do? We hold an appraisal to see what’s going wrong.
Conventional wisdom has held for many years that our weaknesses represent our greatest opportunities for development, and that we should focus on fixing weaknesses (our own and our teams) in order to increase our chances of success. However research over the past decade has challenged some of these assumptions.
Focusing on what people do well can deliver measurable business returns, both in terms of hard results such as increased revenues and reduced costs as well as having a positive impact on “lead‟ indicators of future success such as customer engagement, improved morale, discretionary effort and personal wellbeing (a major contributory factor in absenteeism rates).
Research has shown that those who use their strengths more are happier, more confident and have higher levels of self esteem and congruency. This results in people who have higher levels of energy, experience less stress, are more resourceful and resilient and are hence more likely to achieve goals, perform better at work, be more engaged and more effective at developing themselves.