Greetings from the Garthwait Leadership Center!
Let me start this month’s newsletter by asking you a question: If someone asked you what your core strengths are, what would you say?
What comes to mind for you? In my experience, most people struggle to answer this question, at least initially. I’m not sure exactly why this is. Maybe some of us don’t like to brag or we focus too much on our weaknesses instead. Maybe we’ve never had the opportunity to think deeply on it.
When developing your leadership capacity, this is an important question for three reasons:
- Answering this question generates self-awareness—a key to effective leadership
- Seeing the benefits of what you are good at builds confidence and self-efficacy
- Knowing your strengths and using them in your leadership practice increases engagement
Of course, this is an important question for leaders to ask of their teams too. Gallup’s research on strengths-based leadership studied more than 10,000 people from around the world to explore why they followed their leaders and the top finding was that the most effective leaders are always investing in the strengths of their teams.
At the GLC, we ask this questionto hundreds of students each year. It is core to our mission to help our emerging leaders discover their authentic self and how their unique talents can make a difference in the lives of those they serve.
One way we help them answer this question is to provide access to the Clifton Strengths assessment. This leadership development tool was developed by Gallup researchers to help individuals identify their natural talent. The online assessment takes approximately 30 minutes to complete and it provides 177 statements from which to choose (in 20 seconds!) based on how accurately each statement describes you.
The assessment generates a report of your five “signature themes,”which are drawn from a total of 34 groupings of human talent. For example, my top five themes are Includer, Developer, Connectedness, Learner, and Intellection. Further, Gallup suggests there are four domains of leadership strength (Executing, Influencing, Relationship-Building, and Strategic Thinking). So if you have two or more themes in one area, that is your strengths-based leadership style.
Of course, no one assessment can adequately measure the complexities and uniqueness of an individual, and there are challenges with this tool in particular. However, when I talk with students, colleagues, and alumni about the benefits of discovering their strengths, it is clear to me that knowing their strengths and how to use them generates a stronger sense of self and empowers them to lead others with authenticity. As you pursue your leadership practice, I encourage you to find ways to discover your strengths and also unearth the talents within your team.
Finally, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I would like to extend to you my deepest gratitude for being such a big part of the GLC community. Through the gifts of your time, talent, and treasure we have been able to deliver our leadership development programming to more than 400 students so far this semester through all of our offerings—from Ascent to our Group Facilitation Fellowship to the Leadership Certificate. Thank you!
Thank you for reading and I wish you well in your leadership practice.