Most leadership development workshops provide short term inspiration that quickly dies out. That’s usually because participants are encouraged to focus their improvement efforts on weaker areas.
As outlined in my Double Learner Motivation with Strengths-Based Leadership webinar, focusing on strengths is much more effective and lasting. Direct reports, bosses, peers, and others assessing overall leadership skills 12 – 18 months later rated strengths-focused leaders 2 – 3 times higher than leaders who took the traditional route and focused on improving weaknesses.
A key step in strengths-based leadership development is choosing what strength to work on. We’ve found the intersection of these three vital areas leads to those higher rates of follow through and noticeable increases in leadership skill development:
This starts with identifying areas of leadership competence as identified by the leader’s direct reports, boss, peers, and others he or she works with. 360 feedback from others is critical since we’ve found time and again self-assessment is only half as accurate. We’re looking for those competencies or leadership skills that are perceived to be around the 75th percentile. This is a strength or good leadership skill that could be pushed to the 90th percentile.
Once a leader has had his or her leadership strengths identified by those he or she is leading, the next step is assessing the levels of their passion to work on and improve any one of these strengths. The higher their passion, the greater their energy levels to leverage a strength from good to great. This is critical in transforming the development effort from being a chore we take on with gritted teeth like we might do with a New Year’s resolution.
Finally, a leader needs to look for alignment of his or her strengths and passions with those most needed by the organization for his or her role. Again 360 feedback from others is vital. Raters are asked to identify four of the sixteen key leadership competencies or skills that are most important to the leader’s position.
A senior executive who recently went through our Extraordinary Leader process found this exercise particularly useful. It not only helped him decide what strength to develop, he used it in career coaching discussions with people in his organization.