SharpAlice Business Book Summary & Review:

This week we summarize and review the bookStrengths Based Leadership: Great Leaders, Teams, and Why People Follow” by renowned leadership consultant Barry Conchie and New York Times best-selling author Tom Rath. In the book the authors reveal the findings from decades of Gallup data on the topic of leadership. Based on these discoveries they then share the three keys to effective leaderships.

At the end of the book, you are provided with a unique access code to take a leadership version of the Gallup’s StrengthFinder questionnaire online. This then provides you with a personalized leadership strengths profile and personalized guide on how to effectively lead based on your strengths.

Reading the book (it’s a quick read) and filling out the questionnaire online (takes about 35 mins) will really help you gain a deeper understanding of the strengths you bring to the table and how to use them as well as how to recruit your team to complement them. We really like how actionable the book is.

[textbox icon=”fa-star” heading=”Chapter 1 and 2: Investing In Your Strengths, and Maximizing Your Team” icon_background_color=”#7f32ff” heading_color=”#000000″]Four domains of leadership strength
Based on decades of leadership research, the authors explain that the Gallup researchers have identified that there are four distinct domains of leadership strength: Executing, Influencing, relationship Building and Strategic Thinking.

Strength-based leadership and leadership teams
After reading the first paragraph many of us may have immediately measured up our own strengths and decided we still need to work on becoming better at one or more of those 4. Unfortunately this does nothing to strengthen our self-confidence, as it is hard for us to build self-confidence when we are focused on our weaknesses instead of our strengths.

Moreover, as we measured ourselves up against those strengths, many of us have self-concepts that are miles away from reality. We simply don’t know our own strengths and weaknesses.

And as it turns out this is where we can learn a thing or two from the best leaders amongst us: Based on decades of leadership research, Gallup researchers identified that the best leaders

  • have exceptional clarity about who they are and who they are not
  • focus on reinvesting in their strengths and do not waste their time and energy into trying to be good enough at everything across all these four domains of leadership strength .
  • recruit a leadership team with complementary strengths to create round out their own strengths

The rest of this chapter provides highly illustrative case studies of real-life leaders such as Founder and CEO of teach For America, Wendy Kopp and Standard Chartered Bank Chairman Mervyn Davies. Each case study serves to illustrate a leader with a superior strength in one of the four domains of leadership strength – Executing, Influencing, relationship Building and Strategic Thinking. The case studies show how each of these leaders achieved great success by building on their own strengths and leveraging those of others to complement them.
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[textbox icon=”fa-star” heading=”Chapter 3: Understanding Why People Follow” icon_background_color=”#7f32ff” heading_color=”#000000″]You are only a leader if people follow you. So if you want to lead, it is critical to know what the people around you need and expect from you. Based on research amongst thousands of people, Gallup researchers have boiled this down to four specific traits that people need and expect from a leader:

  • Trust, the authors underscore, might be the “do or die” foundation for leading. In fact, one of the Gallup polls revealed that the chances of employees being engaged at work when they do not trust the company’s leaders are just 1 in 12. In stark contrast, the chances of employees being engaged at work are better than 1 in 2 if they trust the organization’s leadership – a more than sixfold increase.
  • Compassion is perhaps not a trait often associated with leadership, but the researchers found that it is key. At an organizational level this means creating an organization with a heart through thoughtful people practices and programs. At the level of day-to-day leadership this is about showing real care for your employees and establishing close relationships.
  • Stability is another fundamental need that people look for in leaders. Followers want a leader who will provide a solid foundation. In the workplace, while it’s critical for organizations to evolve, change and grow over time, they must also offer employees stability and confidence.
  • Hope is the fourth and last corner stone of effective leadership. When hope is absent, people lose confidence, disengage, and often feel helpless. Hope is created through providing clear guidance, direction and creating real faith in the future outcomes of current actions.

The premise of the strength-based leadership model is that each leader needs to apply their specific strengths, as discussed in chapter 1 and 2, in specific ways to build trust, show compassion, provide stability and create hope.[/textbox]

[textbox icon=”fa-star” heading=”Chapter 4: Additional resources” icon_background_color=”#7f32ff” heading_color=”#000000″]Now it gets really exciting as each copy of the book comes with a unique access code for you to gain access online to a leadership version of the Gallup’s StrengthFinder questionnaire. After taking the questionnaire you receive:

  • An immediate summary of your strengths, categorized by domain of leadership strength.
  • A detailed description of your strengths profile
  • A detailed personalized guide on how to to use each of these strengths to build trust, show compassion, provide stability and create hope.

So this makes it even more worthwhile to purchase the book. One of our own team members just filled out the questionnaire online and their leadership strength profile was as follows:

  1. Learner (Explanation: This is a sub-theme of the Strategic Thinking strength domain. People strong in the Learner theme have a great desire to learn and want to continually improve. In particular, the process of learning, rather than the outcome excites them.
  2. Activator (Explanation: This is a sub-theme of the Influencing strength domain. People strong in the Activator theme can make things happen by turning thoughts into action. They are often impatient)
  3. Achiever (Explanation: This is a sub-theme of the Executing strength domain. People strong in the Achiever theme have a great deal of stamina and work hard. They take great satisfaction from being busy and productive)
  4. Input (Explanation: This is a sub-theme of the Strategic Thinking strength domain. People strong in the Input theme have a craving to know more. Often they like to collect and archive all kinds of information)
  5. Positivity (Explanation: This is a sub-theme of the Building Relationships strength domain. People strong in the Positivity theme have an enthusiasm that is contagious. They are upbeat and can get others excited about what they are going to do)
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[textbox icon=”fa-star” heading=”Link to the book” icon_background_color=”#7f32ff”]Click on this link:”Strengths Based Leadership: Great Leaders, Teams, and Why People Follow“[/textbox]