In Strengths Based Leadership: Great Leaders, Teams, and Why People Follow, New York Times-bestselling author Tom Rath and leadership consultant Barry Conchie reveal the results of extensive Gallup research. Based on their analyses, three keys to effective leadership emerge:
- Know your strengths—and invest in others’ strengths.
- Hire people with the right strengths for your team.
- Understand and meet your followers’ four basic needs: trust, compassion, stability and hope.
1. The most effective leaders continuously invest in strengths. What is meant by strengths-based leadership? It means that the boss has to become aware of his or her own strengths and be able to recognize those of her people. The use feedback that emphasizes strengths and progress instead of what’s wrong.
When leaders fail to focus on individuals’ strengths, the odds of employee engagement drop to a dismal 1 in 11 (9%). But when leaders focus on employees’ strengths, the odds soar to almost 3 in 4 (73%).
That translates to an eightfold increase in the odds of engaging individuals in their work, leading to greatly increased organizational and personal gains. Employees enjoy greater self-confidence when they learn about their strengths (as opposed to focusing on their weaknesses).
Emphasizing what people do right boosts their overall engagement and productivity. I’ve seen this happen in the work I do coaching people. They learn their roles faster and more quickly adapt to variances. They not only produce more, but the quality of their work improves.
On the other hand, when there’s a focus on employees’ improvement needs, there’s rarely an enthusiastic response and inspired performance. People get discouraged at best, disgruntled at worse. This makes sense, but most bosses fail to implement sufficient positive reinforcement on strengths.
When people are encouraged to use their talents they learn a role faster and adapt to variance in the role more quickly. These individuals not only produce more, but they also produce at a higher quality. Gallup has found powerful links between top talent and crucial business outcomes, including higher productivity, sales and profitability, lower turnover and fewer unscheduled absences.