- Strengths-Based Leadership includes a code to take the StrengthsFinder inventory, the exact same one you take when you purchase StrengthsFinder 2.0.
- Strengths-Based Leadership teaches you how to lead with your strengths and how to lead others depending on their strengths. It also gives overviews of all the different strengths.
- Because of this, Strengths-Based Leadership offers the basic value of StrengthsFinder 2.0 plus insights into leadership. So, I recommend Strengths-Based Leadership to people over StrengthsFinder 2.0.
I just finished reading Strengths-Based Leadership for a class I have to take in June, and I must say that, though brief, the book provides some great insights into leadership. What made the book more interesting is that it confirmed some of my suspicions of my own leadership abilities.
The book is one of many based off of Gallup’s research in personal strengths, a popular business and management tool. The idea behind the “strengths movement” is to help people play towards their natural strengths, not their weaknesses. Gallup’s research shows that most people will always be bad at certain things. The key to effective work is to maximize your ability to use your strengths. Though it is not a distinctly Christian book, you can see how such an idea lines up with the conviction that God has created and gifted individuals in a unique way.
Whereas StrengthsFinder 2.0 helps individuals to discover and maximize their personal strengths, Strengths-Based Leadership takes it one step further and applies your strengths to leadership. The idea is to take Gallup’s StrengthsFinder assessment (a unique access code is provided in every book), discover your top five strengths, and then understand how those strengths influence your ability to lead. The discoveries of Gallup’s leadership research are quite interesting. A few tidbits:
- There is no ideal makeup of strengths in a leader. Rather, it is more important that people know themselves and surround themselves with people that have complementary, not similar, strengths.
- There are four main styles of leadership: executing, influencing, relationship building, and strategic thinking. Gallup categorizes the 34 possible strengths into these four styles of leadership. The more strengths you have in each category, the more likely you are to lead in that particular style (I’m a heavy strategic thinker according to the assessment).
- Great leaders understand their followers needs.
- People look for four main traits in a leader: trust, compassion, stability and hope.
Though the book is listed as over 250 pages long, only the first 95 pages are worth reading as you would a normal book. These pages contain brief chapters on broad trends and application of the leadership insights broken down into three sections: investing in your own strengths, maximizing your team, and understanding why people follow. Included is also an interesting section that highlights four highly influential leaders who lead in each of the four different leadership styles.
The rest of the book is mostly an explanation of how to lead using each of the thirty-four strengths. I found some of their suggestions to be a bit cheesy and almost obvious. If the idea is to lead from your strengths, you will likely be doing what they suggest in the first place because it comes naturally. The really helpful parts are the sections that tell you how to lead someone with a particular strength, since most people will have different strengths than you.
Though the book is filled with a bit of fluff, the price isn’t bad ($16.47 at Amazon.com) since it gives you access to their very helpful StrengthsFinder assessment. Some companies run their businesses and offices with huge emphasis on this assessment: requiring employees to take the assessment, posting people’s strengths on office doors, hiring people according to what strengths a department is lacking, etc. While I don’t think a church or ministry should go quite that far, there is some good insight to be gained from the strengths movement. This assessment does remind us that God has created and wired us differently and gives us a tool to name exactly how God has done that. I would suggest you pick up the book and apply it where it makes sense, but use it discerningly. Starting a strengths-based ministry would likely be taking it a bit too far.