Effective Leadership Using Strengths Finder

The blog today is focusing on “Effective Leadership Using Strengths Finder” to help you work and understand with members on your project team.  When I get a project assigned to me I do not get to choose the members on my team but rather need to find out how to “Get It Done” with the team that is assigned to the project.


In my work as a project manager and manager I find it very valuable to be able to understand my own skills and talents as well as those of the people on my project teams or the team members that I am managing.  More than a decade ago I took the strengths finder assessment and I continue to use it today.  The entry today is based on my own experience as well as some references from the book “Strengths Finder 2.0” by Tom Rath.

For me one of the keys to leading a team is developing a relationship with the team. It is human nature that I naturally like the people that are like me.  I am by nature more introverted than extroverted.  To compensate for my introverted skills I have developed my more natural strengths like listening and taking an interest in the team member as an individual.  Over the years I have had some people that just got on my nerves.  You know the feeling of when they start to talk the hair on the back of your neck stands up.  Obviously, we need to move past that as a leader and figure out how to work with that individual.

Performing Teams Have A Blend of Various Strengths

It is easy to manage and lead the people that are like us because we anticipate their next thoughts or understand them and know what is needed to help them.  However, sometimes there is a person that (not all the time) in certain situations raises the hair on my neck.  The key to success is to know your team well enough to know when the person will add the most value to the project based on that person’s strengths.  Another key is to counter the strengths of the members so they counter each other.  On projects where everyone is the same I have found they lack innovation and creativity.  They tend to settle on the first idea/solution.  The key to a high performing team is to have a variety of thinkers and team members that can build upon the teams’ ideas or challenge the teams’ ideas/assumptions.

Handling Urgency & Getting to a Performing Team Quickly

Today we are all faced with the sense of urgency to get projects (especially the technology based ones that I manage) completed quickly.  Our company needs to either stay ahead of the competition or catch up to the competition.  We all know that when you start a team the team goes through stages of development (forming, storming, norming, performing, adjourning). https://keepyourselfrelevant.com/stages-of-team-development-defined/

There is more and more pressure to get to that performing stage to allow the project to “Get It Done”.

Strengths Finder Helps Me Get My Team To Performing Stage

I have been using a tool in the form of a book named Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath.  The main principle of the book is that each person has 5 strengths.   The book identifies 34 strengths.  The book identifies steps that you can use to take action on your strengths.  This portion of the book is focused on how to build on your strengths.

The book also identifies some steps to take into account when working with a person that has a specific strength.   This is where I find the most value in utilizing this book to help me figure out how to lead or with work a person with that strength.  That is the shorter term usage.  In order to build my relationship with the person I review the action items on what that person would do to build on their strength.  This helps me build a rapport with that person.

Let me give you a couple of examples:

  • A person that has a strength of COMMAND has these characteristics:  Open, direct, clear, and opinionated.  In some settings this type of person may intimidate the project team.   So here are some examples of how to utilize this strength
    • If I know the person has COMMAND as a strength then I will use them after I have a Vision and share that vision with the person.  That person then will help me tell the team how to accomplish the vision. 
    • Another example would be to use this person to help explain the facts of the situation and have that person help you remove the emotions from the situation.
    • If the team is stuck this person can help you get the project moving again.
    • Conversely to help counter COMMAND strength team this person with someone that has EMPATHY as a strength as the person with empathy will help the command person assess the emotion of the decision/event/circumstance.
  • A person that has a strength of DELIBERATE has these characteristics:  Careful, Vigilant, and private.  So here are some examples of how to utilize this strength
    • If I know the person has DELIBERATE as a strength then I will use to help me assess the risks of the project.
    • This person would also be good at helping you think through a decision.
    • This person works well with a COMMAND person.
    • This person would be added to a team that is impulsive.
    • If the team is stuck this person can help you get the project moving again.


These are just two examples of how to get your work with an individual’s strength and allow your team to have a blend of strengths.  You will want to spend some time at the beginning of your project to understand your team and figure out what your blend is among the team.  My experience is the teams with the most diverse talent have been the most successful.  Even if that means my job is more challenging, the payoff is worth it.