Saturday, September 17, 2011

Book Review: Strengths-Based Leadership

Only strengths are useful for building - nothing is built on weakness. This is another of Peter Drucker's succinct messages to managers. Quit fooling around trying to eliminate people's weaknesses and begin building on their strengths. It is a vitally important message made all the more so because emerging leaders and managers often do not recognize their own strengths and spend tons of emotional energy trying to be something they're not. In the process, they lose credibility - much like the middle age father that tries to throw around teenage slang with his kids' friends.

If building on strengths is important for every leader and manager, then today's book review subject: Strengths-Based Leadership by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie is a blue print for the building's foundation.

Strengths-Based Leadership is another product of the Gallup groups extensive research of effective managers and leaders. On the basis of this research they identified three common practices of effective leaders:

1) Effective leaders recognize and build on strengths in themselves and others.
2) Effective leaders ensure they have people with the needed strengths in the right positions on teams.
3) Effective leaders are aware of team members' needs and ensure they are met.

On the surface, these may not seem like profound truths, but think about the normal employee performance appraisal - how often is it a conversation about how to leverage your strengths? Or about how you can help leverage the strengths of your team members?

The key to these practices is found in the Strengths-Based Leadership's identification of the many many strengths people possess. The book includes a code to access an online StrengthsFinder survey which identifies your top five leadership themes as well as a guide in how to effectively apply and lead from these strengths.

If you are not fully aware of your own leadership strengths, I recommend Strengths-Based Leadership as a good starting point to begin the process of self-discovery. Once you begin to value your own, it becomes easier to identify and value the strengths in others and know how to support them.

As a bonus for those interested (and some incentive to read the book), in the Strengths-Based Leadership model my top five are:

1) Learner
2) Intellection
3) Relator
4) Input
5) Achiever

Happy Reading!

David M. Dye

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David shares twenty years experience teaching, coaching, leading, and managing in youth service, education advocacy, city governance, and faith-based nonprofits. He currently serves as Chief Operating Officer for Colorado UpLift and enjoys helping others discover and realize their own potential.

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