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Categorized | Ask Score

Tips for driving small business success with strengths-based leadership

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SCORE, Counselors to America’s Small Business

You may be familiar with Gallup’s international bestseller, “Strengthfinder 2.0,” which has been helping professionals not only identify their strengths in the workplace but also how to further develop them. Not surprising, Gallup scientists have also been studying leadership and how a strengths-based approach to management can fuel the success of businesses.

“The data shows that organizations that work from a strength of their people are more profitable, productive, and have a higher level of employee engagement,” explains SCORE Mentor Jan Makela, who recently completed a Gallup Strengths coaching course.

How might you approach managing your small business with a strengths-based approach?

Here are five simple, practical tips from Makela to get you started:

1. Know your own top five dominate strengths (i.e., the themes that are your natural strengths). Focus on growing and getting better at what you already do well.

2. Don’t focus on what are not your strengths. But learn how to minimize your weaknesses by using your strengths to overcome areas that are not naturally strengths for you. 

3. Realize your talents give you a unique and powerful edge. The wonderful thing about talents is that they hold great potential for us. It is through our talents that we tap into our greatest potential for success.

4. Learn to recognize the formula for a strength: 

5. Skill + Knowledge + Experience (also known as Talent Xs) = Strength

6. Don’t try to fix your own weaknesses—or those of others. It can’t be done. Prove it to yourself: Rewrite this sentence three times with your non-dominant hand. How does it look, and how easy was it to do? Compare it to your dominant hand. See the difference? Focus and grow your strengths. 

Transitioning your leadership style to one that recognizes and nurtures strengths may require a shift in thinking and some extra work in the beginning. But the more you practice it and see positive results, the more natural a part of your company’s culture it will become. 

“You grow people from their strengths not from their weaknesses,” says Makela, “So find out what your employees’ strengths are and what they do best. Given the opportunity to excel, they will exceed your expectations.”

Further advice on doing business from a strength-based approach is available from SCORE, a nonprofit association offering a wealth of information resources, training, and free counseling designed to help entrepreneurs nationwide build productive, profitable businesses. 

A SCORE Counselor can serve as a sounding board and will provide valuable unbiased feedback on how to improve things. The SCORE Counselor can also look at the business from the perspective of a bank or other investor, and raise questions you may have overlooked.

All SCORE counseling is offered as a free and confidential community service. There are 30 counselors in the Grand Rapids office of SCORE. Call 616-771-0305 for an appointment with a knowledgeable counselor or e-mail us at score@grandrapids.org.

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Ray Winnie
Kent County Credit Union

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