Strengths – setting the scene

This sets the scene for a series of blogs about a strengths-focused approach to people and team development, offering evidence and case-studies of working with strengths to achieve positive results.

We offer an explanation of four dimensions of strengths and the opportunities for optimising strengths throughout the employee life-cycle.

Our strengths energise and motivate us – for me, they are things that get me out each day from under my duvet. By appreciating our strengths and harnessing them with our skills we can be positive and productive. The four dimensions of strengths are:

  1. Emotional strengths: the strengths that are about how we handle our internal world and how we respond to what is going on around us.
  2. Relational strengths: a range of strengths focused on how we engage with others.
  3. Thinking strengths: those strengths that help us think through different situations and work towards decisions.
  4. Execution strengths: all about the ‘doing’ and strengths that enable us to deliver outcomes.

By keeping our strengths in mind we actively link them to our skill and expertise to deliver outstanding results. We can ask ourselves: in this challenging situation or when having to make a difficult decision, which of my strengths will help me achieve the best outcome?

Equally, we can recognise a strength overdone that may work against us or a limiting weakness that may well ‘trip us up.’

Lets have a look at some practical examples

1. Using a strength positively: A team leader had to tell her team that there would be no additional resources to handle increasing demands on their services. She drew on her resilience to:-

  • Maintain a positive manner when telling them and to encourage their ideas for handing the increasing work pressures;
  • Handle the negativity of one particular team member, ensuring that the individual did not allow their feelings to detract from their performance.

2. Strength in overdrive: the Project Leader was very keen to encourage collaboration between some of the partner divisions in delivering the project. He over-used his collaboration strength. With hindsight he realised that too much time was spent encouraging other divisions to become involved – time and resources that could have been put to better use as it was clear early on that the divisions would not collaborate on this project.

3. Limiting weakness: any weakness that stops on achieving a desired outcome. We need to have the self-awareness and support to identify the potential impact of weakness and draw on other strengths to overcome. For example, a lack of self-confidence may prevent us engage positively with our customers.

 Strengths and the employee life-cycle: evidence demonstrates that at all aspects of the life-cycle a strengths-focus adds value. Below is a very brief overview and then future blogs will provide discussion and examples.

  • Selection and recruitment: an opportunity to understand people’s energy and what motivates them. Alongside their skills and knowledge this can provide a rich picture of each person.
  • Induction: the first 100-days can be vital and focusing on strengths can contribute to a person’s ability to deliver results and have a positive impact in the workplace.
  • Talent development: strengths can be used to shape stretching goals and so offer the person the opportunity to test themselves and demonstrate their potential.
  • Performance management: working with strengths and limiting weaknesses can improve performance. Research shows that as a result of a strengths approach[1] 73% had improved overall work performance and results.

Look out for our future blogs that will explore a strengths-focus in more depth. Meanwhile, if you would like to experience this approach please invite us in to talk to you and to have a taster event with a team or a group of staff – we promise you will enjoy it, find it stimulating and interesting.

We are always please to hear your views and experiences.

Mary and John



[1] Using Strengthscope

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