Want to discover the secret that will help you realize your organization’s full potential?
Yup, okay, then you’re in the right place, because in this post, we’re going to cover:
- The advantage of focusing on the good and taking a strengths-based approach.
- Why this positive, strengths-based approach to leadership produces extraordinary results.
- How to identify and leverage strengths for you and your employees so you can reach new levels of excellence.
A strengths-based approach simply means that instead of looking for what’s not going well and our weaknesses, we look at what is going well and our strengths. This does NOT mean that you’re going to ignore weaknesses, but it does mean that you’re going to give a whole lot more emphasis to the strengths.
Now, why would we do this? Well, the research shows that constantly scanning for the negative and honing in on weaknesses is natural, but it restricts our thinking, creativity, and the ability to identify options and opportunities. Instead, training our brains to look for the positive leads to faster and more creative cognitive processing and new ways to solve problems.
Think about it. Would you tell an Olympic athlete who runs the 100-meter sprint that her weakness is long-distance so she should spend more time working on that? Of course not! If you’re that athlete’s coach, you’re going to be focusing on building her speed and skill at the 100 meters, because that’s her strength.
It’s the same with employees. Instead of focusing on weakness, which is the usual approach in the workplace, it’s time to focus on strengths.
Don’t take my work for it. There’s a boatload of research showing that focusing on strengths is a direct pathway to achieving extraordinary performance.
But, how exactly do you focus on strengths?
First, you need to identify your own strengths and those of your employees. Now, you’re probably thinking, DUH, I already know my strengths. Eh, not so fast…
Did you know that most people actually don’t recognize most of their strengths because they come so easily to them? It’s as if your strengths are invisible to you, and so we can often just dismiss them and not realize they are strengths that can be leveraged.
So, we have to take just a little time to identify our strengths.
3 Ways to Identify Strengths
1. Clifton Strengths Assessment is designed to specifically assess strengths in the workplace. Based on the work of Dr. Don Clifton, considered the father of strengths-based work in organizations, the assessment identifies 34 themes of talent. Go to GallupStrengthsCenter.com to find your top five themes. There is a cost to take the test.
2. Reflected Best-Self Exercise, developed by professors at the University of Michigan, prompts employees to gather 10-20 short stories from colleagues, family, and friends which describe them at their best. A review and analysis of these storiesilluminates themes of perceptions, strengths and talents. You can initiate this exercise yourself or log on to reflectedbestselfexercise.com and pay for the automated version.
3. VIA Character Strengths assessment is my favorite because it shows your personal strengths that can be used in and out of the workplace. You can take the basic assessment for free at viacharacter.org or pay for a more detailed report. This assessment is rooted in serious science developed and tested over 20 years in the field of positive psychology. It identifies your personal ranking of 24 character strengths. These 24 character strengths are universally recognized and valued around the world, across all cultures. Everyone possesses all 24 of these character strengths in different combinations. When you know your special combination, you can use your top strengths to help you in all facets of your life.
How to Leverage Your Super-Power Strengths
Decades of research and hundreds of studies show that when people use their strengths, they are more engaged and productive, and they experience more job satisfaction, loyalty, and commitment which creates a flourishing organization operating at optimized levels of excellence.
There are two simple ways that you can start leveraging the strengths of you and your team:
1. Create a supportive environment where everyone is focused on strengths. Showcase top strengths in email signatures, at your desk, or other prominent places to help everyone recognize their strengths and improve communication and relationships by creating a better understanding of each person and their strengths.
2. Use Top Strengths in Different Ways. Pick one strength and use it in a different way every day for a week. Do this with all of your top strengths. This helps individuals to become more authentic, satisfied, and engaged in their work. This is the essence of positive leadership.
Now You Know…
You now hold the key to unleash your organization’s full potential by focusing on the good and taking a strengths-based approach to organizational development. You know where to find your strengths and how to begin leveraging them.
If you want a deeper discussion on this topic, check out my podcast episode, The Key to Unleashing Your Organization’s Potential.
Look out for my next post where we’ll take a look at how you can build positive relationships, improve communication between teams, and foster a sense of community and belonging.
Got questions or comments? As always, send them to me at [email protected].