Leaders Know Their Team's Strengths

Do you know the strengths of your teammates? By strengths, I mean the activities that your teammates are energized by and that they are good at. In the book Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath, he defined a strength as:

Talent X Investment = Strength

Talent is defined as "a natural way of thinking, feeling or behaving." Investment is defined as "time spent practicing, developing your skills and building your knowledge base." And a Strength is defined as "the ability to consistently provide nearly perfect performance."

Do you know what areas each of your team members consistently provide nearly perfect performance? Most people are most engaged in their areas of greatest strength. In the book, the authors quoted from Gallup studies about employee engagement. One study considered three different manager behaviors and the chances that those behaviors would motivate the team member to be actively disengaged from their job (not fully focused and energized by their activity).

If your manager primarily: The chances of your being actively disengaged are
Ignores You 40%
Focuses on your weaknesses 22%
Focuses on your strengths 1%

Your teammates and employees are most focused and engaged in their areas of greatest strength. And as their leader, your behavior makes a significant impact.

Strengths FinderOne item you can do to minimize the affect of employee disengagement is know and try to align your teammates' responsibilities around their strengths. One easy to implement plan for addressing this is to use Strengths Finder 2.0 for yourself and your team. (Larger companies may already have some other tools. For whatever you use, apply it across your entire team.) Strengths Finder 2.0 costs about $15 and takes about 15 minutes to read. In the book is a key that you use to take an online exam which takes about 30 minutes to complete. The output consists of two reports, one brief and one more detailed. The brief form talks about the individual's five primary strengths (or themes as the author sometimes calls them) out of a total of 34 possible choices. The detailed report also adds suggestions for how to work with people of other strengths. The individual strengths are explained in detail in the book as well along with some suggestions for working with someone who has that strength. The suggestions are helpful because it helps each team member understand their teammates better and how to better relate to your teammates' strengths.

So for a quick overview on a low budget, get some copies of the book, take the assessment and share the results with your team. In no time you will have a common language and everyone on your team will be a bit more engaged simply because you know and are trying to help engage them at their areas of greatest strength. This is an inexpensive, quick, effective way to create a common strengths-based language and understanding for you and your team.

I should point out that there are many more expensive and more extensive tools, if you have the time and budget. Also, the entire discussion on strengths is much less complex than a discussion on values or motivations. We're going to talk about a tool I can recommend in the area of values in my next post.

For strengths evaluations, have you used this tool or some others? What did you think? What other tools do you use or recommend?