How to become a better leader by understanding your strengths

How to become a better leader by understanding your strengths

How to become a better leader by understanding your strengths 1024 683 Kay Crayford

So, you’re a leader within your organisation. It’s likely you’ve made it this far through a combination of intelligence, ability, experience and achievement. And all of those are good things.

As careers progress into management and senior leadership roles, the most effective leaders shift from relying on their track record and their talents and move towards understanding and harnessing their strengths. A Gallup white paper found that “managers who use a strengths-focused leadership approach have an 89% higher incidence of above-average performance than those managers who don’t.” [1]

So what are strengths?

In recent years, copious column inches in leadership and business literature have been dedicated to strengths; ‘knowing your strengths’, ‘understand your strengths’, ‘vital strengths of leaders’.

A recent Forbes article defines strengths as specific characteristics or traits, which can be acquired (unlike talents, which are innate).

Within leadership thinking, strengths are personal qualities like self-awareness, situational awareness, negotiation skills. They also encompass character strengths like optimism, resilience, flexibility and integrity.

Trang Chu, author of the above Forbes article, states, “Successful leaders spend most of their time developing their strengths and applying them in the workplace while simultaneously managing their weaknesses.” [2]

Identifying your strengths

Of course, focusing on your strengths begins with identifying them. Taking the time to properly and honestly appraise your own strengths and weaknesses, will help you leverage these to be a successful leader – and help your team identify their own strengths too!

Honest feedback from friends, family and colleagues can be useful, provided it’s given in a productive and structured way.

Leadership development programmes, such as our one day masterclass, What Sort of People Manager Are You?, are the ideal way to begin identifying and maximising your strengths.

Building strong teams

Leaders who are attuned to recognising strengths, both their own and those of their teams, are far better equipped to build strong and healthy teams. 

A simple example: if all of your team are highly creative and optimistic, it could strengthen your team to bring in somebody with analytical and problem-solving strengths. This kind of thinking can bolster team strength and performance in any number of areas, but it begins with a willingness to take time to know yourself and your team more fully.

Which bring us to…

Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence (sometimes referred to as EQ) is helpful in interrogating your own strengths and weaknesses — and is also a vital leadership strength in itself. Since Daniel Goleman’s 1995 book announced to the world that an ability to understand and manage emotions greatly increases our chances of success, it has become a key tool for thriving leaders the world over. [3]

Simply, emotional intelligence is the ability to recognise emotions (both in yourself and others) and know how to positively manage them. 

Our one day course includes an overview of Understanding the importance of Emotional Intelligence in Business Leaders.

Be proactive

Success as a leader in any field requires an awareness of your strengths and the ability to pursue them proactively.

Our one day masterclass, What Sort of People Manager Are You?is the perfect place to start uncovering your leadership style, your unique strengths, as well as how to fortify them and recognise and build the strengths of others.

Kirsty Craig Associates are specialists in helping business leaders achieve results. Click here to find about more about the course.

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