Strengths-Based Leadership by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie (Gallup Press, 2008) reviewed by Steve Gladis, Ph.D.,
Overview: The Gallup folks have used their ability to research and analyze data to produce a book worthy of any team or organization reading it. The basic premises: People perform best when working in their strengths areas, and teams perform best when the team itself has a balanced, complementary set of strengths. The research behind this book is prodigious. Gallup conducted over 20,000 in-depth interviews, studied over one million work teams, considered over 50 years of data on the world’s most admired leaders, and studied over 10,000 followers for insights into leaders. Here’s what that data revealed. First, the most effective leaders are always investing in strengths. Employees who do not work in strengths areas are only 9% engaged in their jobs vs. 74% engagement levels for people who do work in their strengths. Further, engagement has been proven to substantially increase productivity for the company. Second, the most effective leaders surround themselves with the right people and then maximize their team. By nature we all have talents that can be developed into strengths. We also have definite weaknesses. And while no leader is perfectly well-rounded, effective teams must be. Gallup research has developed four domains of leadership strength: Execution (making things happen); Influence (selling ideas inside and out of the organization); Relationship Building (being the glue that holds teams together); and Strategic Thinking (focusing on the big picture and the future). Third, the most effective leaders understand their followers’ needs. The four needs of followers are: Trust (honesty, respect and integrity); Compassion (caring, friendship, happiness and love); Stability (security, strength, support and peace); and Hope (direction, faith and guidance). This book is a team “must-read.” The StrengthsFinder alone is high value; combine that with the research on teams and you have a bible for team development.