Strengths-Based Leadership

Strengths-Based Leadership: Looking at what's working well already!

Looking at it, the Sunny Side Up!

Whether partner, parents, grandparents, or good friends: there are people who always see the good in us. Sometimes we find that a little strange. But they are only doing what we ourselves often find quite difficult to manage:  they recognize, appreciate, and cultivate our natural strengths. Instead of highlighting what maybe is not running so smoothly (yet).  Find out how a  strengths based leadership approach  can let you and your team profit from looking at the world with a pair of Sunny Side Up glasses!

And what exactly is a Strength based leadership approach?

We often tend to look for faults, both in ourselves and in our fellow human beings. Strengths based leadership takes a different approach. It builds on what is good, not on what is not working. Research and evidence-based best practices show: A strengths based mindset motivates leaders and their teams and promotes a healthy and positive workplace culture.

The concept’s originators, long-time Gallup employees Tom Rath and Barry Conchie, make the same point in their 2009 book of the same name. Their comprehensive analysis of around 20,000 interviews with managers and employees as well as studies with more than one million teams from all over the world show: The best leaders leverage their individual talents and those of their teams in a targeted way.

Bringing out the best in all of us

Strengths based leadership enables leaders to bring out the best in themselves and others by identifying and leveraging key character strengths. A Gallup survey shows that only one percent of employees are dissatisfied when their managers actively focus on their strengths. Conversely, a full 40 per cent are frustrated when their key competencies are ignored. And teams in which everyone is seen for their individual strengths, reap even more benefits:

  • Reduce unrealistic expectations: Strengths based leadership takes pressure off the individual by promoting awareness that not everyone can or needs to be good at everything. This minimizes unhealthy perfectionism, emotional exhaustion and even the risk of burnout.
  • Increase motivation: Those who work on tasks that match their own talents and interests are more productive, committed and enjoy their work more.
  • Eliminate roadblocks: A bunch of strategists will have a hard time putting a concept into action. It’s the mix of different characters that makes the difference. If you know the strengths of individual employees, you can flexibly put together highly functional teams.  

Promote team spirit: People who know their strengths and those of their colleagues learn to rely on their team. This promotes collaboration, appreciation and at the same time prevents ego trips.

Putting strengths into context 

Two sides to every coin. Where there is light, there is shade. With every action there is an opposite action.

It doesn’t matter how you say it, it all means the same thing. What makes us great can also lead to our downfall. So if we overuse a strength and  don’t put it into context, it can become a derailment factor. This can be disadvantageous for us and of course also at  team level. Especially when leaders use the strengths-based approach in an isolated way. 

If employees are only encouraged and allowed to focus on their strengths, it can in the long run block their development. That is why it is important to challenge ourselves and our teams and break through the boundaries of our comfort zone every now and then. This way we can promote growth and tap into new knowledge and competencies.  In doing so, we are allowed to harness  our strengths again. For example, by asking ourselves: How can I use my talents to strengthen my underdeveloped areas?

Time to shine: Getting to know your strengths

There are several ways leaders can begin to work with a strengths based mindset. The first step always being the ability to recognize individual talents in the first place. Surprisingly, very few people know where their true strengths lie. This is sometimes due to the fact that we take our really outstanding qualities for granted. 

A good starting point to change this is the online assessment CliftonStrengths 2.0 by Gallup (formerly StrengthsFinder). Combined with a professional strengths coaching, the assessment will help you and your team to identify your top skills and shape long-term collaboration to bring out individual strengths to the fullest. 

Are you interested in next steps, or would you like to gain insights into your strengths and individual style? Then reach out to us at




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