Building Leadership StrengthsAs I reflect on attending the Canadian Positive Psychology Association conference and Zenger Folkman’s Leadership Summit over the past two months, Jonathon’s Haidt’s advice from The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom, Jonathan Haidt rings true; “Work on your strengths, not your weaknesses… if it is a weakness you choose to work on, you probably won’t enjoy the process… life offers so many chances to use one tool instead of another…”

Both conferences featured leading edge research showing the exponential power of building on strengths. A one-day CPPA workshop with Ryan Niemiec, Education Director & Psychologist, at the VIA Institute on Character, on “Mindfulness-Based Strengths Practice for Practitioners,” added a new dimension to building our strengths. Ryan’s found that most mindfulness approaches start with a focus on what’s wrong. Starting with what’s right and authentic (the real me) can help us to mindfully make better use of our strengths.

Hearing how international partners and Clients like AT &T and Yale University are using Zenger Folkman’s strengths-based development reinforced the power of this approach. Going through ZF’s new Leadership Levers workshop as a participant and then becoming certified to deliver it, demonstrated the exponential power of combining strengths with personal passions and the organization’s needs to help a leader get the most out of both.

Tomorrow we publish my July blogs in the August issue of The Leader Letter. This issue features Harvard’s new research on authentic leadership. Building and using strengths allows us to be truer to our real nature. What defines a strength? Who decides what a strength is? Strengths cover a broad range of resources, interests, talents, skills, and values. Self-definitions and strengths assessments are a good starting point. Getting feedback from those we’re leading helps more clearly define leadership skills we can strengthen.

You can also learn how building herd immunity strengthens leadership development across the entire organization. Part of that strategy can include discovering and developing hidden reservoirs of talent. Leadership skills are best leveraged through developing key strengths that matter most to the leader and his or her organization.

Strength building is a vital element in the happiness equation emerging from research in positive psychology. Martin Seligman, the founder of this movement concludes, “Authentic happiness comes from identifying and cultivating your most fundamental strengths and using them every day in work, love, play, and parenting.”