Tips for Driving Small Business Success with Strengths-Based Leadership

The philosophies surrounding business leadership practices have changed dramatically over the past several decades. Years ago, it was common for a single owner to call the shots and dictate orders to his or her employees. Today, the research is undeniable, showing that the most successful companies are the ones with leaders who focus on taking care of the team so the team can take care of the business.

Small business ownership is less about running a company and more about leading a team.

One of today’s most respected business leadership approaches comes from a landmark study on leadership strengths that sought to better understand how successful business leaders lead. Tom Rath and Barry Conchie’s international bestseller StrengthsFinder 2.0 distills 30-years of their research on strengths-based leadership into one of the most thorough accounts of what it takes to successfully lead an organization.

StrengthsFinder 2.0 reveals the study’s discovery of three keys to effective leadership: knowing your strengths and investing in others’ strengths, getting people with the right strengths on your team, and understanding and meeting a set of basic needs of those who look to you for leadership.

“The data shows that organizations that work from a strength of their people are more profitable, productive, and have a higher level of employee engagement,” explains SCORE Mentor and Gallup Strengths coaching course graduate, Jan Makela.

Understanding your team’s strengths and what it takes to successfully lead with a strengths-based approach can help you and your team find greater success together. Makela offers these five strengths-based leadership tips that you can use as you lead your team.  

Tip #1: Focus on Your Dominant Strengths

Identify which top five strengths come most naturally to you. Then, focus on growing and improving those strengths so you’re constantly re-investing in what you do well.

Tip #2: Minimize Your Weaknesses

Learn to focus less on your weaknesses. You can minimize them by using your strengths to overcome and compensate for those areas of weakness.

Tip #3: Lean on Your Natural Talents

Your talents give you a unique and powerful edge. Maximize your natural abilities to reach your full potential and find success.

Tip #4: Do the Math: Skill + Knowledge + Experience = Strength

If you’re going to lead a team by recognizing and fostering their strengths, you need to know what a true strength looks like. Look for the traits that emerge from each person on your team when you pull together their skills, knowledge and experience.

Tip #5: Nurture Strengths Rather than Try to Fix Weaknesses

Never try to fix a weakness, even one of your own. It can’t be done. Improvements can be made, but never to the extent of transforming that weakness into a true strength. The better way to lead others is to focus and grow your strengths, minimize your weaknesses, and help others do the same.

Leading through strengths is not always the easiest path to success, but it almost always produces the best result.

“You grow people from their strengths not from their weaknesses,” says Makela, “So find out what your employees’ strengths are and what they do best. Given the opportunity to excel, they will exceed your expectations.”

Becoming a strong leader is a honed skill that requires ongoing effort. Having a mentor by your side, like a SCORE mentor, is a critical part of developing your leadership skills. Your SCORE mentor has the leadership experience to support you as you develop these skills and lead your team towards success. Contact a SCORE mentor today.

Since 1964, SCORE “Mentors to America’s Small Business” has helped more than 11 million aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners through mentoring and business workshops. More than 10,000 volunteer business mentors in over 250 chapters serve their communities through entrepreneur education dedicated to the formation, growth and success of small businesses. 

Funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, conclusions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.

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