Leadership Strategies: Focus on Strengths

There’s no such thing as a perfect employee. Everyone has something to contribute, and hopefully you have a solid team of dedicated professionals you can count on. However, all employees have areas they could improve. As the leader of your team, what is your approach? Do you focus more on developing their strengths or helping them address weaknesses?

That’s the question posed in this month’s Harvard Business Review. New research evaluating decades of data in the American workplace has brought researchers to an interesting conclusion: focusing on employees’ strengths, rather than their weaknesses, resulted in increased sales, profit, and employee engagement. These were companies who assessed their workers to find their strengths, then provided ongoing coaching and positioned them to do the work they liked, which suited their strengths. It’s not surprising that this approach would produce happier, more motivated employees, but the research also shows that this strategy is good for the bottom line.

How exactly do these factors translate in financial terms? The research was evaluated in six categories: sales, profit, customer engagement, turnover, employee engagement, and safety. Businesses that implemented strengths-based management practices realized the following benefits:

  • 10%-19% increase in sales
  • 14%-29% increase in profit
  • 3%-7% increase in customer engagement
  • 9%-15% increase in engaged employees
  • 6- to 16-point decrease in turnover (in low-turnover organizations)
  • 26- to 72-point decrease in turnover (in high-turnover organizations)
  • 22%-59% decrease in safety incidents

These businesses were successful with this strategy because it was embraced from all levels of leadership, management, and the entire organization. When the whole company was engaged in these efforts, the greatest benefit was realized. For more information, see the full article.