Strengths-Based Leadership (Rath & Conchie)

Strengths Based Leadership book coverStrengths-Based Leadership, by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie, is a product of extensive Gallup research on the topic of leadership strengths, with the premise that “the path to great leadership starts with a deep understanding of the strengths you bring to the table.” (2008, p. 3)  This book comes with an access code for taking the strengths assessment, StrengthsFinder 2.0, from which you can receive a personalized strengths-based leadership guide that describes your own strengths and explains how they can help you maximize your leadership.

The book presents three key behaviors of effective leaders:

  1. Effective leaders are always investing in strengths; they focus on and invest in the individual strengths of themselves and their employees;
  2. Effective leaders surround themselves with the right people, and then maximize their team; they understand that, while the best leaders are not necessarily well-rounded, the best teams are;
  3. Effective leaders understand their followers’ needs; people follow leaders for very specific reasons, and the best leaders meet those needs.

The accumulation of research behind this book revealed four distinct domains of leadership strength:  executing, influencing, relationship-building, and strategic thinking.  The most effective teams are those with contributing strengths from all four of these domains.  Therefore it makes sense that effective leaders are intentional about identifying the strengths of those around them, and about surrounding themselves with a combination of strengths that allow the team to accomplish more than what could be done by any one individual.  The StrengthsFinder 2.0 assessment identifies your five predominant strengths and the domains in which they fall, and when the assessment is used by everyone on the team, it provides a map of the team’s strengths.

I was first exposed to Strengths-Based Leadership through a leadership conference several years ago.  I completed the assessment, and found the resulting description to be both accurate and helpful, and therefore found it beneficial for enhancing my leadership.  It was much more valuable for me, though, when I involved my team.  When I provided the assessment to the other members of my team and mapped the results, two things happened.  First, it confirmed and affirmed that my team was a very effective team, when it revealed that we were balanced and well-rounded, with strengths from each of the domains.  Second, by clearly identifying where our strengths were different, it made me more effective as a leader in delegating tasks and responsibilities to the appropriate team members.  The end result:  my good team became better.  For this reason, I think this particular tool can be quite valuable for you and your team.

Rath, T., & Conchie, B. (2008). Strengths-Based Leadership: Great Leaders, Teams, and Why People Follow. New York, NY: Gallup Press.


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