Strength-Based Poetry …

Do not think of your faults, still less of others’ faults; look for what is good and strong, and try to imitate it. Your faults will drop off, like dead leaves, when their time comes.

John Ruskin

The strength-based approach and its cousin, Appreciative Inquiry, both come from the same perspective:  

We become more effective more easily and quickly by focusing on our strengths, and not on our weaknesses.

I am particularly fond of the application to leadership development, as outlined by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie in Strength Based Leadership.       

In general, I agree …

However, I have several questions for us to ponder this bright and crisp fall morning:

1)  Is focusing on strengths always the best approach?

Situations may exist when you have to focus on the weaknesses,  perhaps during an organizational crisis or when the bleeding simply has to be stopped first.  How do you know when this is necessary?

2)  How does a strength-based approach fit with your corporate culture?

Some cultures welcome an approach which focuses on things which are going well, while other cultures would resist this.  How does your culture treat this?

3)  When you focus on strengths, what do you do about weaknesses or failures?

You can ignore your weaknesses, downplay them, or rationalize them away.  What options have I missed?

DISCLAIMER:  Before someone has a fainting spell, let me reaffirm that I believe strength-based approaches ARE the most effective approach for either personal or professional growth and development.  

I just want us to think it through, and not simply climb on the bandwagon and start singing the praises.

In case anyone is interested:

My StrengthsFinder 2.0 Top Five are:  Learner, Intellection, EmpathyIndividualization  and Input.

My Strength Based Leadership Report profile includes the strength of Connectedness  in the Relationship Building theme and the strengths of  InputIntellection, Strategic, and Learner  in the Strategic Thinking theme.

No surprises, but much to consider.  I’ll write more about this another time.

Thinking in terms of what I do well and letting go of what I do not in the Heartland ….