Strengths-Based Leadership: Recognizing How to Maximize Talent

StrongThere’s nothing more disappointing than spending a day at work, wondering if anyone even noticed you were there.

It kind of makes you wonder….

  • If they did notice, do they know what you did?
  • Do they even realize how well you did it?
  • Do they know that, if you had your way, you’d be doing something different with your time?

These might sound like petty concerns, but they’re the real thoughts that run through some workers’ minds every day.

As businesses become concerned with enhancing their productivity and streamlining their processes, they can sometimes forget to take time to acknowledge the human beings who do the work.

Rather than making your business more efficient, this attitude torpedoes your chances of improving as a company.

Focus on Strengths

Why It’s Essential to Maximize Your Talent

All employees want to know that they make a difference, measure up, and are respected.

Every single one of us has an invisible sign flashing over our heads demanding “Validate me!”

People get nervous before their annual reviews because they hope that you see how hard they tried to meet the standards set forth for them – and how they could best be utilized.

See this powerful video called “Validation” to see what I mean…

Playing to Strengths vs. Minimizing Weaknesses

Playing to people’s strengths – rather than spending time minimizing their weaknesses – allows team members to have their personal needs met, while also meeting the needs of the company. Some companies are hesitant to take advantage of employees’ strengths because they think doing so will shift the focus away from the work to be done.

But think about this: avoiding the chance to leverage a strength doesn’t make it go away, or weaken it. Instead, it heightens people’s desire to use their abilities.

When you allow them to do this, it strengthens their loyalty, as well as your workplace atmosphere.

When employees see that their positive traits are deemed valuable by the company, they feel empowered. When they feel encouraged to live a work life congruent with their values, they come to believe they’re more than a number. And they should be.

In practical terms, it’s a benefit to your company.

People will achieve far more in their areas of strength than they ever will in things that they struggle to be “okay” at. Everyone on your team wants to contribute and serve a purpose bigger than themselves.

So why deny them – and your company – this opportunity for excellence?

How to Shift the Focus Toward Strengths

The key to properly utilizing strengths is the same as it is for demanding any kind of high performance: set expectations and measurable objectives. Setting expectations ensures that you’ll be pleased with the final product, and it also allows your employee to be proud of the work they’ve produced.

However, there’s a catch: you have to give your employees the autonomy to use their strengths to achieve the goals you’ve set.

Most leaders are used to specifying how a project should be completed, which deadlines should be met throughout the course of the project, and what the end product should look like. While it’s great that you have an idea of what you want to see, you’re missing some key points here:

  • You hired your team into their roles because they’re great at what they do. So as wonderful as your vision is, their vision might be even better.
  • You are hindering their ability to grow and develop as professionals.
  • Your team feels best about their work when they’ve had to make critical decisions along the way – not when they feel like they’re merely filling in blanks.
  • You are, by default, indirectly taking away their credit.

Yes, that’s right: you’re hurting their ability to feel confident in their work.

Be Wise, Maximize

The best leaders – the leaders who maximize their teams’ individual abilities – recognize their members’ contributions and share credit for the results. Leaders who strive to call on their staff to do what they do best are hypocrites when they fixate on who gets the credit. This type of behavior dampens your team’s spirit and weakens their ability to trust you.

As a leader, you should walk the walk; not just talk the talk.

Articulate for your team where you yourself are strongest. If your team hears you admit that you’re best at public speaking, but weaker at writing reports, they feel like they have something to offer you – and that you’ll be open to accepting their contributions.

They also think you are…, well…, human. And you have demonstrated one of leaderships’ greatest assets: humility.

We get so busy with the daily minutiae that we forget to acknowledge the untapped potential of the very people we work with. Take time out of your schedule to sit with your team members so you can observe their work and talk to them about what excites them the most.

As you get to know their strengths, you’ll be able to use them – and they’ll become the team’s strengths.

Are you giving your team the opportunity to use their strengths? Are you letting your team members excel in areas where you are weak? Do your leaders feel confident? Do you walk the walk as a leader? Lets connect and keep the conversation going. 


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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

James McPartland
 is the Chief Inspiration Officer of JMac Performance Group

He is an expert in Team Building, Corporate Wellness, and Transformational Change
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | FacebookWeb | 

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2 responses to “Strengths-Based Leadership: Recognizing How to Maximize Talent

  1. Pingback: Leadership updates for 03/16/2012·

  2. Pingback: “Administrivia” and beyond – HR hits back at the HR bashers | XpertHR - Employment Intelligence·

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