We all want to be successful. No matter what field we are in – athletics, academics, social work, or finances – we feel good when we meet goals and contribute to the wins of our overall organization.
Anyone in charge of building a team knows that feeling. The only caveat is that team leaders have to get exceptional work done through other people. And, if you have ever spent time as a project manager or a similar position, you know the following statement to be true: building a high performing team is both an art and a science.
It is scientific in the way that a team leader can use research-based techniques to create an environment in which team members excel. But, at the same time, building a high performing team is an art form.
Tom Rath, in his book Strengths-Based Leadership, wrote that effective team leaders “surround themselves with the right people and build on each person’s strength.” Unfortunately, in many cases, team members are promoted to levels of leadership because they showed competence in one area of the organization. They may not be able to carry on an adult conversation, but they are great with computers! “Rarely are people recruited,” Rath said, “because their strengths are the best compliment to those of the existing team members.”
As Gallup certified strengths-based coaches, we believe that strengths-based leadership is the most effective way to build high performing teams. Unlike some of the more scientific approaches, this requires an artist’s touch. So, to help you get started, here are three key elements involved in the art of building high performing teams, also known as strengths-based leadership.
Understand That One Size Does Not Fit All
One person’s strength is not always the best type of strength for every scenario. The art of strengths-based leadership lies in a team leader’s ability to lead situationally. That means that when one type of problem might best be solved by a leader whose strength it is to “woo” a crowd – or another type of issue might be best managed by an “achiever” who values spreadsheets, organization, and clearly defined goals – the team leader puts a team together that is suited for the project at hand.
Another aspect of this artform is this: If you’re leading from your strengths, you don’t have to be in charge of every project. Instead, you develop into the kind of leader who recognizes the types of strengths you need to have in the people around you – NOT just the types of strengths you like being around – and begin to build a team based on those needs.
You know as well as we do that the problems facing non-profits and associations are constantly changing. So, if you can think like an artist, as someone who sees each new project like a new canvas, you will be able to see each project or problem as a new opportunity for different people’s strengths to shine.
Understand the Principles of Strengths-based Leadership
We’ll assume you’re bought into all of this already. You’ve stuck with us over the last three blog posts, you are excited to learn more about building a high performing team, and you want to want to develop your inner-artist.
And we’ll also assume that because you’re a learner, you’ve already found ten other articles about strengths-based leadership that are full of as much overwhelming information as you could ever ask for.
In the next section, we’ll talk more about how our team can help you become the leader you want to be and how we can point you to the best and most current resources. For now, here are the four main principles of strengths-based leadership:
- Let people assign themselves a task. Your intuition might tell you to delegate tasks based on people’s strengths. Instead, the art of strengths-based leadership is creating an environment where people’s passions and strengths come out.
- Diversity is good. You want a team built for performance and that correlates with more variety.
- Trust is the foundation. Be honest about your own strengths and weaknesses. Model the kind of openness you want to see in your team members.
- Empower your team members to take risks. By allowing individuals to take risks, you are affirming their strengths and growing their own confidence in the way they are wired.
Understand How to Implement the Artform
We mentioned earlier that we are Gallup certified strengths-based coaches which means we are passionate (to say the least) about helping you become a leader who (1) learns the art of leading with and toward people’s strengths and (2) builds a high-performing team as a result.
So, what are your next steps?
We’re glad you asked!
Here’s how you can begin learning the art of building a high-performing team:
- Take the Gallup StrengthsFinder Assessment with your team members. Each team member will receive a detailed report of their strengths and how they show up in everyday life and in the workplace.
- Coach each team member through action steps. Help each individual come up with 1 or ways they will begin leading from their strengths.
- Share your results with each other. One way to build trust on your team is to provide a space for each team member to open up about their strengths.
- Reach out to Achurch Consulting and ask us how a certified coach can help you through this process. We can help you maximize your time, resources, and help you facilitate conversations with your team members that can have an amazing on your organization. We’d love to hear from you!