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Tips for driving small business success with strengths-based leadership

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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:

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

  1. 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.”

Since 1964, SCORE “Mentors to America’s Small Business” has helped more than 10 million aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners through mentoring and business workshops. More than 11,000 volunteer business mentors in over 320 chapters serve their communities through entrepreneur education dedicated to the formation, growth and success of small businesses. For more information about starting or operating a small business, call 1-800-634-0245 for the SCORE chapter nearest you. Visit SCORE at www.score.org.

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