Tom Rath and Barry Conchie have just published Strengths Based Leadership: Great Leaders, Teams, and Why People Follow.
I was looking forward to this book for 2 reasons. I am a huge advocate of strength based leadership and I have always appreciated the contributions to employee engagement from Gallup’s Tom Rath.
If you have not taken the Strengthsfinder 2.0 inventory of strengths then the book is well worth purchasing just to get the code to allow you to take the inventory.
If you have read Strengthsfinder 2.0 or other books related to Gallup’s work on strengths, the book is disappointing as only about 40% of the book adds new content and most of the book rehashes Gallups 34 strengths themes and their application to leadership.
My expectations were raised when the authors declared the book was based on 20,000 in-depth interview with senior leaders, studies of more than one million work teams and 50 years of Gallup Polls about the world’s most admired leaders, and a study or 10,000 followers around the world. This level of research lead me to expect volumes of insights and strengths based leadership action.
I did not get the depth and breadth I had hoped for, but I did get a few insightful nuggets on strengths and employee engagement:
The most effective leaders
- are always investing in strengths.
- surround themselves with the right people and then maximize their team.
- understand their followers’ needs.
It was discouraging to read that only 30 to 32% of North Americans use their strengths every day.
I appreciated the quotation from Donald Clifton, Tom Rath’s grandfather and the grandfather of the strengths movement:
A leader needs to know his strengths as a carpenter knows his tools, or as a physician knows the instruments at her disposal. What great leaders have in common is that each truly knows his or her strengths — can can call on the right strength at the right time.
I also appreciated that when an organization’s leadership does not focus on strengths there is only a 9% chance of people being engaged in work but if an organization’s leadership focuses on strengths the level of engagement soars to 73%.
It was clever how Gallup situated the 34 strengths in the 4 domains of leadership: executing, influencing, relationship building, and strategic thinking.
It was insightful to focus on followers’ four basic needs of trust, compassion, stability, and hope. It was not surprising but it was disheartening to read that the chances of employees being engaged at work when they do not trust the company’s leaders are just 1 in 12.
Once again, if you have not taken the StrengthsFinder 2.0 inventory than I encourage you to purchase the book and develop greater awareness of your own strengths.
In many ways this book should have been a perfect fit for my twin passions of employee engagement and strengths based leadership yet the limited amount of new material and the rehashing of the 34 strengths left me wanting something much more robust than I received given the volumes of research available to the authors.
Grow strong along with me, the best is yet to be.