20/07/2016: What is Strength Based Leadership? | Genius, Power, Dreams

A new kind of leadership for the social generation.

What is Strength Based Leadership

Eight key aspects of strength based leadership:

  1. Knowing, Appreciating and Leveraging your own unique strengths.
  2. Knowing, appreciating and leveraging the strengths of leaders around you, those in your leadership team / circle.
  3. Knowing, appreciating and leveraging your organisations strengths.
  4. Working with potential and possibility in all situations in order to create positive movement forwards – creating movement.
  5. Managing, respecting and mitigating individual and organisational weaknesses.
  6. Deliberately embarking on an exploration of what is right with people, organisations and situations.
  7. It starts with you. and it ends with you, one person can make a difference, one person can stimulate a change.
  8. Using different people and perspectives to keep us on track and inclusive.

Knowing, Appreciating and Leveraging your own unique strengths

  • Knowing (from learning) requires deep exploration of strengths from multiple perspectives, experiential exploration (e.g. Genius Power Dreams), situational exploration (e.g. Strength Stories), robust strength assessment (e.g. Realise2, Strength Scope).
  • Appreciating and Leveraging must be integrated into real life, not the classroom, it’s. about trying things out in your usual working week, noticing and experiencing your strengths in action.

Knowing, appreciating and leveraging the strengths of leaders around you, those in your leadership team / circle

  • Sharing the experience of learning about your strengths with your leadership colleagues is one of the best ways of appreciating their strengths.
  • Leaders working in Action Learning Groups or Strength Groups, from the classroom into the workplace over a sustained period have been found to effectively secure their individual and group learning. Leaders that learn and experience together appear to hold each other to account for that learning and support each other to deeply appreciate and leverage strengths in the workplace.
  • The process of deep appreciation of one’s own strengths and the strengths of our colleagues appears to supress unconscious bias. This is perhaps because the process of appreciation is by its very nature an exploration of what’s right, rather than what’s wrong, hence our judgement seems to be suppressed and we focus more on potential and possibilities rather than weakness and deficiency.

Knowing, appreciating and leveraging your organisations strengths

  • Using a similar process to individual and team strength exploration one can also explore the unique strengths of an organisation, business or operational unit or team.
  • Required a very honest focus on the true unique strength at an organisation level, an understanding of how those strengths manifest themselves in the weekly and monthly rhythm of the organisation. Careful challenge is often required to get underneath the desired organisational strengths as articulated in a strategy or website and into the true unique strengths or the organisation.
  • Appreciating and leveraging unique organisational strength is about turning the organisation around to deliberately and consciously use those strengths, these become the fundamental capabilities of the organisation and the new foundation for growth and efficiency.

Working with potential and possibility in all situations in order to create positive movement forwards – creating movement

  • The way that we work every day as leaders, our ‘ways of working’, really define our ability to ‘walk the talk’, we can learn about our strengths and then know our strengths, we can learn and know about each other’s strengths and our organisations strengths but if we don’t demonstrate and leverage those strengths every day then our words and actions are not aligned and our people and our organisation will be equally out of line.
  • A focus on strengths is about unlocking potential, potential at an individual and organisational level. We have found that a relentless focus on potential and possibilities helps to create positive movement forward. The contrary also seems to be true, a focus on weaknesses, deficits and problems appears to cause stagnation and avoidance, the challenges don’t seem to get fixed and progress or movement forwards is often painfully slow.
  • Creating movement isn’t about getting everything right, it’s simply about movement, moving forwards creates equal opportunities to get things wrong, however, the focus on possibilities and positive movement can ensure learning occurs, that bravery and courage flourishes and creativity and solutions become the core individual and organisational capabilities.

Managing, respecting and mitigating individual and organisational weaknesses

  • A focus on strengths does not mean that we ignore weakness; a focus on strengths simply means that we focus on our strength; therefore we are not focused on our weaknesses but we do need to manage and respect our weaknesses.
  • Many people find it hard not to focus on their own weakness, this is perhaps because we’ve spent most of our lives hearing ‘feedback’ related to things we need to do better, things we’re not good at, perhaps things that stop us fitting in with what’s expected.
  • The process of understand and respecting weakness is an important one, those who still crave success in areas of natural weakness are often endlessly disappointed. Often the key is to mealy respect ones weaknesses, to know they are there, to perhaps understand why they are there, but not to obsess over them, to find positive strategies for managing or mitigating them. It’s often true that one person’s weakness is another person strength, that is often true in team that are expected to work together – the power is in making the connections so that others can support you in an area of weakness and you can support them in your area of strength. At all times, however, we must hold onto responsibility for our strengths and our weaknesses.
  • The above is also true when it comes to organisational weakness, here the power of partnerships or alliances comes in, we can partner or form alliances with other teams or organisations that have complementary strengths where we perhaps have weaknesses, the combination therefore is more powerful than the individual organisations alone.

Deliberately embarking on an exploration of what is right with people, organisations and situations

  • All too often we start with the problem, what’s wrong with the person or the situation, we drill down to gather data to further wallow in the problem. We then typically baseline that person or the situation, or indeed the organisation against another person, situation or organisation, thus creating a comparison against an ‘average’ benchmark. Then we’ll work on a programme of work to take us from the problem to the average benchmark. This rarely works.
  • Clearly people, situations and organisation are complex, without detailed experience and deep understanding of the people involved, the situation and organisation we can’t hope to imagine the right steps to move from the ‘problem’ to the ‘solution’, indeed how can we even presume to really understand the problem. Of course many will reveal a fantastical methodology for understanding everything and plotting a course based on experience of other situations, but they can never hope to truly understand the complex specifics of each situation, each unique combination of human beings and each organisational culture and sub culture.
  • Creating movement based on what’s right with people, organisations and situation is much simpler. All that’s needed is the curiosity and energy to explore what’s working, to understand why it’s working and critically what leaders were doing in those situations that created the environment for success. This knowledge is the unique key to unlocking wider change in the person, organisation and the situation.

It starts with you. and it ends with you, one person can make a difference, one person can stimulate a change

  • Often we forget the power, impact and influence we have as individuals and as individual leaders. We can feel at times that we need to wait for approval for a programme of work, for a mandate to change. All of those things are important, however, we should never underestimate the power of one person, the power trying things out within our own spheres of influence, our own areas of responsibility.
  • Movement isn’t about implementing the perfect solution; it’s just about moving forward, exploring, learning, making mistakes, refining and refocusing. As individuals we are all able to take small and import changes and make them happen now, today, immediately. We have the power to start a revolution of positive movement forwards, a strengths revolution.

Using different people and perspectives to keep us on track and inclusive

  • Reverse / Upward Mentoring schemes are an excellent way for leaders to connect with mentors, more junior to them and from different genders, ethnic backgrounds, or indeed from any sphere that is fundamentally different to them. With the power resting with the mentor, the leader can learn about life from a completely different perspective.
  • Over time the leader can use the mentor as a sounding board for advice and guidance building a better, more inclusive way of being a leader. If embarking on a development journey to explore and leverage strengths, the support of an upward mentor can really assist in ensuring the learning of the leader is secured in the reality of the organisation and not just left in the classroom as an interesting theory.

Event Details:

Time and Date: 20/07/2016 @ 16:00 – 19:00

Location: Collaboration Space at PwC, 7 More London Riverside London SE1 UK

Price: Free


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