5 Steps to Becoming a Strengths-based Leader

People sitting in a room

What are the characteristics of a good leader? Good leaders possess qualities such as assertiveness, empathy, adaptability, and intelligence. Leaders must be able to read situations and people and act in a way that will be effective for the people that rely on them for guidance.


Temple University Harrisburg offers a Strengths-based Leadership Certificate to help managers, supervisors, and advisors create a more empowering workplace. The certificate program is available in Harrisburg, West Chester, and on-demand for businesses, corporations, and non-profit organizations upon request.


No one ever said leading is simple, but there are many factors to becoming a better leader. Here are five steps to becoming a Strengths-based Leader.


1. Assess Your Approach to Leadership

Assessing your idea of what it means to be a leader is the first place to start. Some people view leaders as people who make the rules and keep people in line. Others believe that the role of leaders is to build the capacity of your team and involve them in decision making. Without an assessment of your own concept of leadership, it is impossible to improve your skills and abilities in your workplace.


A way to start assessing your view of leadership is to analyze how you respond to different situations. How do you react to crisis situations? What is your first reaction to a complaint by one of your staff? What do you value most when you think of staff performance?


Knowing how you respond and react to the many situations that will confront you will help you understand your approach to leading people. Knowing where your approaches fall on the spectrum between traditional and Strengths-based Leadership is critical to finding ways to be a more effective leader.


2. Develop Strengths-based Communication


Strengths-based Leadership places importance on effective communication with group members. Communication plays a key role in creating empowering workplaces and engaging employees.  Leaders who communicate empathy are seen as more effective and have better outcomes. Open communication styles and policies allow your colleagues to trust you and express themselves freely. A workplace where all employees feel they can contribute to conversations, projects, and policies is more empowered than a space where they don’t feel welcome.


Temple Harrisburg’s Leadership certificate allows managers and supervisors to directly apply the skills they’ve learned to the workplace and the interactions they have with their employees. The workshops teach how to ask powerful questions, to communicate through conflict and to turn complaints and discomfort into actionable statements of value.


Temple University Certified Strengths-based Leader Daniel Ofori-Addo is Director of Performance Management at  United Planning Organization in Washington, D.C. He is using the strengths-based leadership approach to empower his workplace.


“I find myself increasingly reflecting back the content and emotion in the communication I receive from others and asking them to confirm if that is what they meant to get across to me,” Ofori-Addo said. “In several instances, I find that I am giving my colleagues an opportunity to clarify something I either misunderstood or interpreted through my personal filter only.”


3. Understand Culture and Leadership

How has your culture and background shaped your beliefs and values? Considering your own cultural influences and your organizational culture will help you be more intentional about building relationships and influencing change. Culture is defined as the attitudes and behavior characteristic of a particular social group. In the workplace, culture is embedded in the everyday work ethic, environment, and personal interaction. Who you are as a leader and what beliefs and values drive your decision-making influence the culture of your team, department, and organization.


In any organization, it is important to discuss differences in values, beliefs, or norms and consider how these differences have impacted your work. By using strengths-based communication skills and reflecting on your own bias, you can help your team learn strategies for addressing issues that result from cultural and value differences. Building on the strengths of a diverse staff makes for a more engaged and healthy workplace.


4. Practice Giving and Receiving Feedback

In Temple Harrisburg’s Strengths-based Leadership Certificate program, leaders practice giving and receiving strengths-based feedback, discuss goal plans, and identify the benefits of measuring progress towards goals. Strengths-based leadership isn’t just about affirming the strengths of our team members but is also holding staff accountable and sharing constructive feedback.


A Strengths-based Leader knows how to hold both themselves and employees accountable using a strengths-based approach. Key considerations of providing strengths-based feedback include allowing the employee to first self-assess and then to provide feedback in the context of a relationship of trust. Strengths-based leaders develop relationships of trust with staff by understanding how individuals process feedback and using an approach of compassionate curiosity. 

Self-awareness is also necessary in developing Strengths-based Leadership and can set an example for those around us. Leaders who model self-reflection can create an effect where others are interested in bettering themselves as well. Understanding how you respond to feedback and creating opportunities to receive genuine input from others can have a huge impact on your relationships and your performance. 


5. Create Impactful Change and Collaboration

Leaders at any level in an organization have the ability to effect change that leads to a more empowering workplace. Careful consideration of how changes are implemented can help support staff buy in. To start, Strengths-based leaders involve their team and customers in the planning process and trust the input of the people closest to the situation. In our Strengths-based Leadership Certificate program, we introduce an Appreciative Inquiry process, which helps leaders engage others in discussion about leveraging strengths in order to grow as individuals, agencies, and communities.


Bonus: Attend Our Strengths-based Leadership Certificate Program


We said there were five, but we are providing this sixth one as a bonus. Becoming a better leader is a continual process — the work environment is constantly evolving and leaders must adapt.


Our Strengths-based Leadership Certificate Program has been designed to assist leaders at all levels to assess their own leadership approach, communicate effectively in all types of situations, understand the impact of culture on the workplace, measure performance and create impactful change for the organization. We know it is not easy. Come join us to learn how to be a Strengths-based Leader.


Read more about the Strengths-based Leadership Certificate Program.