No leader is perfect. Rather than focusing on your weaknesses, you can learn how to make the best use of your strengths to get where you want to go.

One of the books I consistently use when I teach leadership in the Fuller Seminary D Min program is Strengths Based Leadership by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie. It’s the newest edition of the book based on the classic StrengthsFinder Assessment—now renamed Clifton Strengths, after its inventor Don Clifton (1924-2003). 

Strengths Based Leadership

capitalize on your strengths

The genius of the assessment—as well as the leadership books built around it—is that by knowing and embracing your strengths as a leader you can capitalize on them.  For example, the book makes a point that Winston Churchill and Mahatma Gandhi were both great leaders, yet quite different from one another. There is no one profile of a leader, but rather a leader is one who makes use of his or her strengths to lead effectively. Essentially, use what you’ve got. 

Know your team

A corollary is then that you’ll need others on your team who can help you shore up the areas where you aren’t strong. For instance, a strong visionary leader may need an organizer to come along after them to put all the necessary follow up into place needed to bring the vision to reality. 

There is a great section in the book that breaks down the 34 strengths (or themes) into four domains: executing, influencing, relationships building, and strategic thinking. Ideally, a good team will have members representing strongly in each of those domains. 

Know your audience

Yet one of the best new features of this book is the addition of a section on why people follow. What needs do people have that good leaders meet? Rath and Conchie break down the four basic needs of followers, and then discuss how different kinds of leaders can meet those needs. I won’t give away any spoilers here, but this section along is well worth the price of the book. 

Know yourself

The core value of the book for anyone new to StrengthsFinder—is the ability to take the assessment itself and determine their own top five strengths. Knowing this information helps you utilize your strengths more effectively, determine who to work alongside on your team, and understand how you are uniquely positioned to meet followers’ needs.   

Five stars—highly recommended! 

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Effective leaders don’t come ready made. Sure some have a natural leadership ability but the best leaders hone and develop the skills needed to be effective. If you are running up against barriers in your ministry that aren’t specifically theological but are more about how to lead people and get along with them as you work together, The Leadership Difference is for you. LEARN MORE HERE.

Photo by samer daboul