“The ageless essence of leadership is to create an alignment of strengths in ways that make a system’s weakness irrelevant.”– Peter Drucker (1909 – 2005)
Individuals perform best when they optimize their strengths and work in areas where they can utilize their strengths to reach their potential. Similarly, teams perform best when the team has a well balanced and complementary set of strengths.
It is human tendency to first notice the negative in everything. In fact, there are more negative words in the vocabulary than positive ones. When something takes its own course and doesn’t align with our thought process, we jump to negative conclusions. Likewise, it is also human nature to fix things. We tend to analyse everything and find gaps only to fix it our way.
Organizations tend to use this approach not only to accomplish projects but also to evaluate employees. However, this approach hinders the formation of strong and diverse teams. This approach also leads to managers demonstrating mediocrity instead of true leadership.
The golden rule of strengths-based leadership is that if managers and leaders stop trying to fix their employees and focus on their strengths, they can be empowered to take the business of the organization to a new standard.
It is imperative that organizations apply a “strengths-based leadership” approach and concentrate on building further strengths when selecting a candidate for a leadership role. Strengths based leadership is an approach that works by focusing on your strengths, and delegating task. Leaders can also use this approach to identify the strengths of their team members and encourage them to use those strengths in a way that benefits not only them, but the entire organization.
Often, leaders are seen as individuals who excel at everything and have very few weaknesses. However, leaders also are likely to be an expert in a specific area only, despite possessing an array of qualifications and skills. When one tries to become an expert in all areas, they may risk spreading themselves too thin and become ineffective as a result. Hence, it is essential to identify one’s strengths and weaknesses delegate tasks that others can do better.
Benefits of Strengths-Based leadership
Encouraging team members play a very important role in achieving success. Focusing on the strengths improves team engagement and contribution. A study by Gallup found that only one percent of employees become disengaged if their manager actively focuses on their strengths while 40 percent become disengaged if they are ignored.
Strengths based leadership approach can be utilized to develop an efficacious team. Through this approach, leaders can hire people based on their individual strengths, not because their skills and interests align with the leader’s own. Therefore, it can aid in developing a diverse team with a motley of strengths, skills, attitudes and cultural values.
Tapping on the strengths will invigorate creativity in leaders and make them more confident in delegating and passing on responsibility to the team members and emphasize less on making people “fit” for the job, which can lower creativity and innovation.
Several organizations have started embracing assessments like DISC Profile and StrengthsFinder that help identify team’s top strengths to allow management to tap into the strengths of the employees.
DISC vs. StrengthsFinder
The DISC assessment was originally a simple theoretical model to explain behavioral differences amongst people. Initially proposed by Dr. William Moulton Marston and the theoretical model was later developed by Walter V. Clarke after 30 years of its inception. The current assessment tool is called the DiSC Classic 2.0 and is produced by Wiley & Sons, Inc.
On the other hand, Clifton StrengthsFinder profiling tool was designed based on a 30-year study of the innate talents found in individuals. The assessment highlights underlying elements that bring individuals success in an array of areas – banking, medicine, law, education, nursing and so on. From there on, the underlying talents were sorted into 34 overachieving themes, now known as CliftonStrengths themes. The initial assessment was developed in 1998 and in 2007, Gallup released a new edition, built on the original assessment and language, labeled as StrengthsFinder 2.0.
The DISC Assessment measures an individual’s priorities and then translates them into behavioral tendencies. As a descriptive and prescriptive tool, DISC helps a person understand oneself and others better. In contrast, the Clifton Strengths profiling tool measures the presence of raw talent that can be applied to map talent and achieve success. The main purpose of this tool is a developmental tool to help individuals understand the innate talents within them that can help fulfill their desired goals, whether personal, interpersonal or work related.
Since both assessments are self-reported measurements, they require a certain degree of honesty to be accurate. For example, if an individual takes the DISC assessment and answers the complete opposite of what they actually believe, then the results won’t be an accurate reflection of their profile. However, barring such exceptional cases, both the assessments are widely regarded as a valid and reliable form o assessing one’s strengths.
Thus, when leaders understand who they are at their best and harness it in their work life, they can learn how to help their employees work to their full potential.