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4 Principles of Strengths-Based Leadership

Establishment of a Concept

Nearly ten years ago, the results of a breakthrough 30-year research project were revealed by Gallup, awakening a much-needed dialog on the subject of strengths in the workplace.  Since, over three million individuals have partaken in Gallup’s assessment of professional strengths, also known as StrengthFinder.  This concept has also generated the basis for numerous books on the matter, spawning an even greater awareness on the topic.

Strengths Based Leadership - professional team - smiling

While continuing to research the subject, Gallup scientists have been recently inspecting decades’ worth of information and data relating to leadership in the workplace.  Gallup’s goal was to discover exactly why workers may be drawn to a certain type of leader.

Practices in Management

“It is in human nature to look for negative in everything first,” wrote Ekaterina Walter of Forbes. This is also true when it comes to business. During yearly reviews, how often does management concentrate on employees’ weaknesses instead of their strengths? So as not to make the review completely negative, some managers do briefly highlight some good points to the employee, but the majority of the review is how best to improve on weaknesses.

The Strengths-based Leadership concept is based on concentrating on the stronger aspects of an employee and team. While the weaknesses are not ignored, they are not the focus. This approach has been very successful for some businesses including Facebook, who holds all-night meetings (called hackathons) where employees can gather and just speak about ideas. Many smart initiatives have originated with those meetings, resulting in chat, Timeline and video messaging, for example.

Theory in Practice

The concept of Strengths-based Leadership has four fundamental principles:

  1. Align, don’t fix. Strengths-based Leadership suggests not always assigning people specific tasks. Instead, it suggests asking “who wants to do this?” according to Forbes. This way, employers are more likely to find employees passionate about the tasks since it is something they are interested in, while allowing themselves the opportunity to learn more about varying strengths from other employees.
  1. Build diverse teams. When putting together teams, don’t concentrate on gathering people with all of the same interests. Congregate people of different backgrounds, genders, race and so forth. This way you will generate more creativity; and these differences can lead to even more ideas.
  1. Transparency is important. Employers, management and employees need to build and maintain a trust to be successful. Transparency is an important part of developing – and keeping – that trust. When employees trust their employers, they are more likely to be open about ideas they may have. They will also likely be more comfortable and passionate about their jobs.
  1. Don’t manage, empower. “As a leader you need to allow your teams to be naïve, curious, and bold,” Walter wrote. The idea is to allow teams the ability to dream, imagine and create. While some may see this as a risk, usually the results far outweigh the risks taken.


In addition to the three million working people who have taken Gallup’s StrengthsFinder assessment, many employers have also partaken in the same evaluation. The problem, according to Gallup, is that employers may only do this assessment once.  In reality, participating in this particular assessment should be an ongoing practice by employers, to ensure they obtain paramount results, as well as the best talents and strengths for their organization.

According to Strengths Based Leadership, written by Tom Rath, author and researcher of human behavioral roles in business, and Barry Conchie, renowned leadership consultant, understanding your strengths and supporting the strengths of others, as well as seeking out workers with the right type of strengths specific for your team and meeting the basic leadership needs of those who look to you for guidance, are three key ways of becoming a more effective and valuable leader to your staff.

Strengths Based Leadership - empowered business woman - happy

Encouraging people to meet their personal highest potential while discovering a fulfilling vocational path, is the true meaning of leadership.  In turn, you will generate a strong culture of positivity within your company, as well as an environment that promotes innovation, creativity, and loyalty.


By Fred Coon, CEO


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