Strengths-Based Development for Parenting and EducationAn 11 Keys to Building Extraordinary Leaders and Coaches webinar participant e-mailed me with this observation and question:

It’s amazing that for so long our organization has been concentrating on improving employee weaknesses and seemed to forget about helping them achieve greatness by focusing on what they are good at. I assume I can use this concept on my son as well, correct?  How do you think we (as parents) can employ this with our children?  I seem to focus on his weaknesses and forget about his strengths – can I assume I can see the same results as you have seen in the corporate world with my son?

This participant’s organization isn’t at all unique. “Performance improvement” in the vast majority of organizations is focused on weaknesses. That’s one of the big reasons we have employee engagement issues and very poor rates of change from our leadership development programs.

She’s on the right track about working with her son. The Positive Psychology movement has focused quite a bit on using strengths-based teaching and parenting to bring out the best in kids.


An academic researcher in the education field sent this e-mail:

“We are planning to conduct a study on building extraordinary coaching skills in schools across our country as learning organizations. We’re planning to root our study in the appreciative inquiry method embedded in a qualitative research paradigm. Please suggest some reading to support this.”

Building coaching skills in schools clearly has a strong impact on student learning and motivation. I recommended Zenger Folkman’s book The Extraordinary Coach: How the Best Leaders Help Others Grow. Since the researcher is interested in strengths-based and appreciative inquiry approaches I also recommend the rapidly growing body of research on Positive Psychology pioneered by Martin Seligman. His most recent book, Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well Being features a chapter on “Positive Education: Teaching Well-Being to Young People,” that outlines the global work he and his colleagues are doing in the educational field.

If the burgeoning and ground breaking field of strengths-based leadership development interests you, please join us in Zenger Folkman’s LinkedIn discussion group. If you’re not connected to me already, please go to my profile at and send me an invitation to connect.

For over three decades, Jim Clemmer’s keynote presentations, workshops, management team retreats, seven bestselling books, articles, 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.