If you haven’t given much thought to your management style, you should.
There are many different types of management styles, some highly effective and some… less so. In particular, strengths based leadership, where managers focus on strengths instead of weaknesses, enables employees to excel in their roles.
As defined by Psychlopaedia, strengths based leadership “builds on what’s strong, rather than what’s wrong”, allowing managers and employees alike to hone their skills in the particular areas where they are most proficient. Managers that are able to foster employee strengths and bring out the best in each member of their team are the type of managers (and organizations) that people want to work for.
Continue reading for a more in-depth look at other types of management styles and why strengths based leadership may be (or may not be) the right choice for your management style.
Types of management styles
Do you know what your management style is? The type of manager you are plays an integral role in the overall success of your team. The best management styles are those where employees feel they have a say in how their work gets done, as well as where they feel appreciated. In other words, employees feel both valued for their input and their output. To thrive and perform at their best employees need both a strong leader and someone who ensures that they feel valued and trusted.
Related Reading: 6 People Management Skills Every Superstar Manager Has
Here’s an overview of several different leadership and management styles:
- The autocratic management style: Colloquially known as micromanagers, autocratic leaders are leaders who control all aspects of work and the decision-making process. They don’t ask for advice or opinions from others on their team and have a high degree of hands-on management.
- The democratic management style: As the name might imply, democratic managers work collaboratively with their team to make decisions, considering everyone’s opinions. This style is known to be quite effective for employee engagement.
- The laissez-faire management style: French for ‘let it be’, this type of manager lets employees have free rein over how all their tasks and goals are achieved.
- The coaching management style: this style of management encourages employees to think critically and be solutions-orientated. Managers give employees the tools and knowledge to make their own informed decisions.
Related Reading: Macromanagement, or The Case for the Coaching Management Style
Different management styles will suit different teams (and individuals), and knowing your type will help you to better meet your employees’ needs.
Strengths based leadership overview
Strengths based leadership is based on a series of studies and interviews conducted by management consulting company Gallup on work teams, and the subsequent non-fiction book Strengths Based Leadership. The book brings together their data, as well as first-hand experiences of some of the top organizational leaders.
The core facet of strengths based leadership is the belief that people have great potential for growth when developing and focusing on their strengths. Strengths based management does not disregard weaknesses, but rather focuses on strengths while working to minimize weaknesses. It’s a more positive outlook on an employee’s skills.
As an article on Mind Tools points out, strengths based leadership “focuses on recognizing what you and your team excel at, and delegating tasks to those who are strong in areas where you are weak”. Strengths based leadership emphasizes a manager knowing their own strengths and using those strengths to foster the strengths of their employees while meeting the core needs of the organization.
Why strengths based leadership works
The strengths based approach motivates employees by clearly showing them that their managers trust in them and their abilities. Employees who feel confident in their skills and know that their managers trust them are more productive. According to Gallup, nearly 7 out of 10 employees agree that they are more productive when “their managers focus on their strengths or positive characteristics”.
Focusing on strengths encourages managers to not judge a book by its cover, as the saying goes. It encourages them to genuinely get to know their employees, and their skill sets, better. Relationship building and mutual understanding/respect are also essential to a strength focused style.
Strengths based management is also valuable because it encourages leaders to evaluate themselves along with their employees. This helps managers gain a better understanding of their own strengths (and lack thereof), and the ways that their employees can help in areas where the manager themselves may be limited.
Strengths based leadership also fosters an environment of honesty, where if managers are transparent about the areas they need to improve on, employees will feel encouraged to embrace both their strengths and weaknesses as well. This authenticity is essential to creating long-term, trusting professional relationships.
Why strengths based leadership might not work
There are some potential downsides to strengths based leadership, which is why it might not work for every employee or manager. Here are some negative factors to be mindful of:
- Focusing on strengths exclusively can limit growth. If you only allow team members to use their strengths, you (and they) might be missing out on areas where they could potentially excel.
- Team members might get bored in their role or feel pigeon-holed as the go-to person for this or that.
- You might end up with a skills gap. Depending on the competencies within your team, if everyone is focused on their strengths and not on growth, this may create areas of weakness or blindspots.
- Not everyone is aware of their strengths and weaknesses. A strengths-based approach might require extra work from both the manager and employees to hone in on individual skill sets.
However, generally speaking, strengths based leadership is an ideal way to encourage and motivate employees to do their best work, as well as to help your organization thrive.
Did you find this article interesting? Share with your network so they can learn more about strengths based leadership and maybe introduce it to their own teams.
Want some more information on types of management styles? Download our FREE ebook, What’s Your Type: A Guide to Management Styles to learn more about your management style, why it matters, and how you can improve it. You’ll also gain insight into how to be more adaptable as a manager, including what to ask your employees and how to respond to employee feedback.