Strengths Based Leadership: Great Leaders, Teams and Why People Follow

Book Review by Martha Beahm, Pinnacle Associate

Rath, Tom, and Barry Conchie. Strengths Based Leadership: Great Leaders, Teams, and Why People Follow. New York: Gallup, 2008. Print.

Have you every wondered what makes for a truly great leader? I have. I sometimes will watch and think about persons in leadership that I feel are excellent leaders. They are so diverse!

Reading Strengths Based Leadership shed some light on this topic, but not in a way I expected! Based on Donald Clifton’s StrengthFinders Assessment, put out by the Gallup Press, this book gives insight on how most people can be a strong leader simply by being fully aware of their strengths and developing them with intentionality.

A code to take the assessment online is included in the purchase of the book. This assessment will respond to you with the five top themes you have indicated as your strengths. Each strength explanations and suggestions to help you to consider how you would like to further develop and live out your particular strengths.

These 34 themes are listed under 4 domains of Leadership Strength: 1) Executing-strengths that have to do with making things happen. 2) Influencing-strengths that get a team to reach a broader audience. 3) Relationship Building-strengths that are the essential glue that hold a team together. 4) Strategic Thinking-strengths that are ones that keep us all focused on what could be.

I’ll use my own 5 strengths as an example for leadership. Presently, I am serving as an Interim Director of a Nonprofit Counseling Center. My strengths from Clifton’s StrengthFinder assessment include Maximizer (Influencing), Connectedness and Empathy (Relationship Building), and Ideation and Strategic (Strategic Thinking). I realized that as an Interim Director, I am a good leader for this role. However, without any primary strengths from the Executing domain, I would not consider the long-term Executive Director position. Once the team building and strategic planning are done, I would not enjoy the “getting things done” over the next years as much. There are other leaders that would thrive on that.

The insight that truly is enlightening to me this book is this: there is no one strength that will determine a person’s ability to be a great leader! The only thing in common every great leader has is that they are fully aware of their strengths, they develop them, and they surround themselves with team members that compliment the strengths to develop a well-rounded team.

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