Leveraging Strengths and Building Team SpiritI was working with a highly energized financial services team who really connected with the power of strengths-based leadership. Part of our discussion centered on the story of a 7th grade teacher who had each student write down what they felt was the greatest strength of each of their peers (see “The Enduring Impact of Focusing on Strengths“). We then talked about the key questions/lessons that emerged from this example:

• What if the teacher had asked the kids to write down weaknesses and improvement suggestions?

• Why do most performance reviews focus on fixing weaknesses rather than leveraging strengths?

• What’s the lingering effect on motivation to improve and performance?

After the workshop one of the session’s organizers followed up with this e-mail:

“We have embraced your strengths based approach and have brought the concept back to staff, since your session with us. More specifically, we went out to each department and had each team member write one strength for each of their direct colleagues (similar to the touching story you mentioned).

I have received these from each group and have consolidated them. Should it be done in person or by email? Basically, how do we take this to the next level by not only boosting morale but also improving upon it?”

The kind of strengths discussion she’s asking about is best conducted in person. There are various ways it can be handled that depend on the dynamics of the group. If they make it part of a larger team development meeting, they could have each person read their list to the rest of the group and then have a group discussion on how the team can help that person leverage those strengths and/or how the team can use those strengths to increase the team’s effectiveness. This could follow or be linked to a team visioning exercise. Click here for an article on team/organizational visioning. Building Team Spirit has over a dozen past blog posts on this vital topic.

Learn more about strengths-based leadership (and coaching skills development) in my complimentary webinar 11 Keys to Building Extraordinary Leaders and Coaches.

For over three decades, Jim Clemmer’s keynote presentationsworkshops, management team retreatsseven bestselling booksarticles, and blog have helped hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. The Clemmer Group is the Canadian strategic partner of Zenger Folkman, an award-winning firm best known for its unique evidence-driven, strengths-based system for developing extraordinary leaders and demonstrating the performance impact they have on organizations.