How to Use Your Strengths to Become a Better Leader

Among popular leadership theories, the strengths-based approach is an intuitive method that can supercharge your productivity, yet many people overlook its importance.

The tool was founded on the idea that when our work focuses on our strengths, we are more likely to be engaged in the job, and more successful in our field. It’s a relatively straightforward concept—we enjoy doing things that we are good at and receiving praise and recognition for our accomplishments reinforces that enjoyment.

Finding the right leadership style for the context of your job function can be a complicated process. Beginning with a strengths-based approach is especially helpful for building a foundation for the type of leader you would like to become. Focusing on our strengths encourages confidence by leveraging the scientific stimulus/reward theory, and helps you better assess the key capabilities of your team.

According to the strength-based leadership approach, there are three important aspects to becoming an effective leader:

  1. Discover and Develop Your Own Strengths: Are there projects you work on and you lose track of time? When you get lost in your work, this is also called “the zone,” periods of increased engagement when “complex tasks are performed with effortless grace.” If you were to create a Venn diagram, the zone is where your passion, interests and skills intersect. To discover what you naturally do best try the CliftonStrengths assessment
  2. Invest in Others Strengths: To galvanize and empower your team to meet performance objectives, assess individual strengths and assign tasks based on capability and interest level. This requires creating a candid culture where being honest about weaknesses are encouraged. Remember, asking for help is a strength! If one team member excels in analytical thinking, pair them with a teammate that takes a complementary, more intuitive approach.
  3. Manage Your Weaknesses: Throughout your career you will most likely have to address certain weaknesses in order to accomplish personal and company goals. You may not always be able to align your strengths to every tasks on your to-do list. When we rely too heavily on our strengths, we risk hindering our learning and adaptability. According to Harvard Business Review contributor and business psychologist Thomas Chammorro-Premuzic, the answer is striking a balance. Focus on your strengths, while keeping an eye on any weaknesses that may threaten your productivity and ability to get in the “zone.”

Although strengths-based leadership has gained a devoted following, as you develop your personal leadership style, apply the principles of the theory that resonates with you the most. When you combine approaches you ensure adaptability, and empower your journey towards truly transformational leadership.