Strengths Based Leadership: Great Leaders, Teams, and Why People Follow
by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie, Gallup Press, 266 pages, $24.95, Hardcover, January 2009, ISBN 9781595620255
Gallup has been producing great strength-centric books for the past decade. It all started with Now, Discover Your Strengths
, released by Simon & Schuster in 2001, and the series continued with last year's bestselling Strengths Finder 2.0
Up until this point, these books have been focused on the individual, whether it was learning about and focusing on your own strengths, or managers leveraging the strengths of their reports. Strengths Based Leadership
shifts that focus and takes the step into the larger realm of teams, showing that they perform at their best when the group possesses a variety of strengths. Or, as the authors sum it up neatly, "Although individuals need not be well-rounded, teams should be."
Part One of the book refocuses on concentrating on your individual strengths as a leader, Part Two breaks those leadership strengths into four domains (Executing, Influencing, Relationship Building and Strategic Thinking), and Part Three takes on the crucial task of understanding why people follow.
The brilliance of Gallup is their ability to look at issues from simple, yet revolutionary angles. The strengths-based approach itself is a radical departure from the more traditional approach of self-improvement that focused on improving one's weaknesses to be more effective. Similarly, Gallup ignored traditional approaches to leadership books. Rather than doing a round of interviews with successful leaders to gather their insights and impart that wisdom to the rest of us, they went directly to those who are followers and asked them what makes a good leader. By going to those who follow, they discovered four key traits great leaders inspire: Trust, Compassion, Stability and Hope.
This is a book every leader should own, and like Gallup's other strengths books, it's not done with you even when you're done with it. You're invited to take the web-based "StrengthsFinder" test again to reinvest in your strengths, and to take a new leadership version that will help you form teams and lead others based on their strengths.