Leadership generally has a lot to do with the quality of the relationship. To the extent that we can form relationships and engage in people’s lives, we can lead. A strengths-based approach to leadership complements this relational style, as it focuses on people and the strengths they bring to the process. Remember that both leaders and followers have strengths that are vital in the relationship, since no one person has all of the strengths needed to make a vision become a reality!
Strengths-based leaders consciously work from their strengths rather than trying to be an imitation of someone else. In addition, they partner with others who have different talents and strengths. This complementary partnership makes the team much more productive than any single member.
A strengths-based approach to leadership invests in people and the strengths they bring to the process of leadership. Clifton and Anderson (2001) highlight steps that can assist you in becoming a person who leads through strengths:
1. Realize that you do not need to be in a formal leadership role to provide valuable leadership.
2. Lead with your strengths as you work in groups to help them accomplish your goals and their goals.
3. Identify your specific strengths in leadership.
4. Assume leadership roles that use your strengths or the talents you want to develop into strengths.
5. Pay close attention to others in the organization and try to identify their talents and strengths.
6. Encourage others in the organization by helping them to see the positive contributions they are making as they use their strengths productively.
7. Create opportunities for others to develop and apply strengths.
Think about the example Moses gives us in the Book of Exodus. God called Moses to lead the Israelite people out of Egypt. One of Moses’ strengths was that he was adept at recognizing potential challenges in a situation. He questioned things, and he seemed to have a great ability to think about what might go wrong. He was very caring and responsible, primarily committed to God! Moses was also self-aware enough to know that he did not have the gift of speaking under pressure. God, understanding Moses’ leadership strengths, brought Moses’ brother Aaron into the team. Aaron, who was “good with words,” was able to step up and be the front person, while Moses was able to tell him what to say. God also used Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, to provide counsel and guidance. Together, this team served God in ways that far surpassed the capabilities of any one person.
What are your most effective strengths in leading others?
What are the strengths of your team members?
Are there any people in your team whose natural talents can be developed into strengths?
Acknowledge that your strengths come from God (Psalms 18:32). Your strengths are gifts to us from God. As we offer them back to Him in service and in love, we honor His plans and purpose for our lives.
Understand and value your God-given strengths (1 Kings 2:1-4). We are each created uniquely and intentionally. Through using our strengths, we become part of a bigger story. We align ourselves with God’s redemptive purpose in this world.
Intentionally develop and apply your strengths to serve Him and others (2 Samuel 7:21). Our raw talents need to be nurtured through prayer, knowledge, skill, and service in order to develop into refined strengths. A strengths-based approach to leadership invests in people and the strengths each person brings to the process of leadership.
Examine motivations, desires, and goal-setting practices in light of Kingdom living (Romans 12:1). Strengths-based leaders consciously work from their strengths rather than trying to be an imitation of someone else. As women of faith, we must constantly remember to align ourselves and our motives with God’s will.
It is God Himself whom we serve and whom we follow. We do not rely on our own power, or knowledge, or wisdom alone to provide leadership. As we listen to God through the promptings of His Holy Spirit, we can acknowledge, appreciate, and develop the God-given strengths that enable us to live and serve effectively.
As you reflect on this unit:
What are your God-given strengths?
What experiences have reinforced your development of strengths?
How can you place your strengths under the lordship of Christ?
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society®.
“Developing Your Strengths” is published by the National Women’s Department at women.ag.org, 2020. Permission granted for personal use or within a teaching setting. Do not reproduce.