Are you using your strengths in the service of results and your organization every day?
Have you taken a strength inventory? Quick, what were your strengths?
Chances are you have not even taken this baby step in workplace strength development. And if you did, chances are that you got a list that is sitting in some binder or book rather than being integrated into what you do everyday at work.
Is your work strength based? I am not talking about lifting weights and bulging muscles. Rather, do you know what you are best at and do you bring your best to work everyday in a variety of ways?
Do you work at ensuring that all employees are using their strengths? How do you determine strengths? How do you go beyond listing strengths to living strengths and using them in the service of results, others and the organization?
Strength based leadership is a core foundation of this website. As we move into spring 2008, I will rekindle the strengths approach to encourage you to refresh your strengths development. When leadership is strength based and employees are operating from their strengths you will experience high levels of engagement and results.
I want to re-introduce the strength-based focus to work by offering some nuggets from earlier posts. I will do this over the next few weeks and then bring a fresh focus to strength based work. If you are intrigued by the nugget, I encourage you to click on the title as this will take you to the original article.
This was the very first post on strength based work, written on the day Peter Drucker died. Peter Drucker, one of the foremost management experts and writers, wrote a very important article on Managing Oneself. in the Harvard Business Review March-April. 1999: 65-70. The essence of managing oneself was to know our strengths and to fully develop a strength-based leadership approach. Here is a short strength burst from the article.
Drucker challenged each of us to ask ourselves: What are my strengths? How do I perform? What are my values? Where do I belong? What should my contribution be?
Don’t try to change yourself, Drucker cautioned. Instead, concentrate on improving the skills you have and accepting assignments that are tailored to your individual way of working. If you do that, you can transform yourself from an ordinary worker into an outstanding performer.
Marcus Buckingham said the right move for leaders is to see their talent management as chess not checkers. Don’t treat everyone the same and limit their work and career moves. Recognize the differences and strengths of each individual and maximize the contribution of each person’s strengths to the purposes of the organization.
Here is a quote from the Wharton business article about Buckingham: How to tell a good manager from a bad manager? According to Buckingham, it’s simple: Bad managers play checkers. Good managers play chess. The good manager knows that not all employees work the same way. They know if they are to achieve success, they must put their employees in a position where they will be able to use their strengths.
The foundation of Strength Based Leadership is the identification and application of strengths. There are numerous pathways to strength identification but one of my favorite tools is the VIA Signature Strength Inventory at http://www.authentichappiness.org/. There is no charge to complete the inventory and receive your results. I appreciate the solid psychological research behind the inventory and the sharp focus on your top 5 signature strengths out of a possible 24 strengths.
Here are a few statements about signature strengths from Martin Seligman’s classic book, Authentic Happiness.
Our life task is to deploy our signature strengths and virtues in the major realms of living: work, love, parenting, and finding purpose. Personal meaning is the attachment of your signature strengths to something larger than yourself.
At work, Seligman believed that re-crafting your job to deploy your strengths every day can change your career into a calling. Your work can be more satisfying than it is now by using your signature strengths at work more often.
Watch for future posts on achieving strength based approaches in the workplace.
Photo credit: 2005 Mar-Austin Type Tour-032 – Hyde Park Gym Muscle by http://flickr.com/photos/mrflip/8916916/
by David Zinger