Learning & Development

What Is Strengths-Based Management?

There are many ways to manage a team and develop and nurture employees. Strengths-based management (also known as strengths-based leadership) is one method by which leaders can evaluate the strengths of employees and continue to cultivate and develop them in ways that emphasize those strengths. This allows employees to perform to the best of their abilities.

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There are many reasons employers opt to utilize strengths-based management. Here are a few:

  • Working with people’s strengths can help them feel appreciated.
  • Focusing on strengths can help cultivate employees’ skills and allow them to perform at a higher level. In other words, developing skills employees already have will allow them to become experts.
  • It can help employees feel recognized for their unique abilities and show that the employer is investing in them in meaningful ways.
  • This approach can help with employee satisfaction and motivation levels, which can improve retention, as well.
  • Focusing on employee strengths can allow team members to better complement one another when working on projects, leading to less competition and more cooperation.
  • Many employers find that this type of leadership or management style can help positively influence the workplace culture.

This approach can maximize productivity by allowing employees to become experts at what they already have a natural inclination for. Instead of trying to fix weaknesses or areas where employees have less natural ability, a strengths-based approach focuses on taking what is already good and making it better. By doing this, the organization will have a skilled individual for each aspect of the job, allowing it to fill in weaknesses.

If strengths-based management is something you’re interested in implementing, here are some tips:

  • Work with employees individually to uncover their strengths and interests. These are the areas to cultivate. Some may be clear from the outset, but some may take some time and thought to figure out.
  • When possible, allow employees to change their career trajectory to best suit their abilities and interests.
  • Assess what other skills (or other strengths) are needed that the existing team doesn’t yet possess. Instead of trying to make the team learn them, hire people who excel in these areas. This allows members of the team to complement one another.
  • Of course, focusing on strengths doesn’t mean never learning new things. It simply means that the general focus of employee development and of task division or delegation will take into account team members’ strengths. A greater focus is placed on developing strengths rather than on what is lacking.
  • Be careful not to limit employees in terms of what type of development they’re offered. Building on strengths shouldn’t come at the expense of learning something employees have a desire to learn. It also shouldn’t mean that knowledge gaps don’t get addressed.

Has your organization considered using strengths-based management? What are your thoughts on this leadership and management style?

Bridget Miller is a business consultant with a specialized MBA in International Economics and Management, which provides a unique perspective on business challenges. She’s been working in the corporate world for over 15 years, with experience across multiple diverse departments including HR, sales, marketing, IT, commercial development, and training.