Strengths-based leaders show the best of themselves because their passions and character drive their performance. Want to be one of those leaders? If you haven’t yet discovered your character strengths, complete the VIA Inventory of Strengths before you keep reading.
If you’ve discovered your character strengths , here is how to harness them to transform your leadership style from capable to inspiring.
Know what you want to be known for as leader. Create a written description of the leader and person you want to be at your best. How would someone with your strengths operate? When would they excel? How would you behave in various situations, such as under pressure or faced with a difficult project? How would you perform when leading a team or managing change? How would you react to challenges? How do you manage learning and self-improvement? How do your strengths show themselves?
I have found it useful to write a short description of myself as though I’m writing about someone else. It helps to keep me impartial and stops me playing down my strengths. At the end of the process, you should have a description of the person you are and the leader you want to be. Look for themes running through your description so you’re aware of how they appear to others.
Focus on your strengths
Have you ever noticed that you get what you focus on? We’ve been conditioned to look for our weaknesses and compensate for them. What that does is to keep us playing catchup. We prepare for the worst rather than the best. That means we’re never going to be ready to seize an opportunity when it appears or to show off our capabilities. Instead of focusing on your weaknesses, learn to think about your strengths. Reframe your point of view. Your strengths are vital to your performance so isn’t that where you mind should be? Focus on what you do best. It will be a change of mindset, so you will have to be aware of the way your brain is talking to you. The more you force it to look at your strengths and possibilities, the easier it will become to operate from that point of view. You’ll soon find that it feels natural to show your strengths to others as you lead.
Build on your strengths
Which strengths come most easily to you? Which are you known for? These are your signature strengths. Building on them will give you the most bang for your buck. Look for ways to learn more about the strengths and how to apply them. Coaching is an excellent tool to help you broaden your understanding and to see yourself honestly and clearly. Don’t overlook formal training or even mentoring to enhance those top strengths. Your intention should be to become an expert in those areas.
Redesign your leadership style.
You don’t have to model your style on the leaders you’ve known. You can define your own leadership style. Knowing your strengths allows you to lead to them, increasing your competency as well as your confidence. It also gives you the tools to express yourself, so people understand why you do things and the outcome you’re after. Knowing your strengths allows you to identify complementary strengths within your team. Are you great at strategy but not so good at detail? You probably have a gifted details person on your team. When you’re aware of your strengths, you start to look for balance within your team, which leads naturally into helping others discover their own strengths. What a powerful team you are creating. Step up to what you’re good at and manage your team members so they can use their own strengths, too.
Knowing your strengths and operating to them means you transform your leadership style. You will be respected for your competence and excellence but also inspire people with your confidence. When you work from your strengths, you are powerful and effective. Be the leader you are, not the leader you thought you had to be. Use your unique strengths and be proud of them.