Strengths-Based Leadership: Effective tool to Minimize Stagnation

“An Article in TOI by Namrata Singh, dated 02 June 2018: Leadership Quality Stagnant for 6 Years”

The solution lies in adopting Strengths-Based Leadership approach. Strengths-Based Leadership concept has been described below.

Future has always been different”. Future is a factor of time and the time is always changing. The leaders and the led are required to adapt to the changing time— human behaviours and technological advancements are two essential elements of change.

Technological advancements have taken place in this world of ours since the existence of human beings. The technology has changed from the stone age to the current age of IOT, robotics, AI, social media etc but the core definition of leadership has remained the same ie

“The art of influencing and directing men/women in such a way as to obtain their willing obedience, confidence, respect and loyal cooperation in order to accomplish the mission”


A Project implies change and to some extent temporary in nature. Project Team is required to implement the change. The team may be abolished on completion of the project. But so is the case in life. Nothing is permanent. Everything is changing. Although the organization’s name may be permanent but it’s structure, roles and products keep changing as per the requirement of the time. So, the success of any team depends on human factor of the leader, his/her ability to lead, ability to behave appropriately, ability to treat with respect and dignity, ability to create trust, ability to treat people with compassion, ability to provide stability and ability to coach the team members according to their aspirations for the present excellence and future needs.

AI, IOT and Robotics will never rule the earth- these will facilitate humans to rule humans. Therefore, even in the age of automation, robotics, AI and IOT, humans will rule the earth. The roles will change. Adaptability of humans for the survival will become predominant. As long as humans exist, there will be need of a leader and followers. The behaviours of leaders and treatment given out to followers will continue to dominate this world of humans.

How you behave and how you treat?

These two words are two sides of a coin. Although, the flower girl of My Fair Lady says, “The difference between a lady and flower girl is not how she behaves but how she is treated” (Pygmalion by GB Shaw). These words are true and applicable on day to day life; personal or professional. The Gallup

Survey shows that 71% of the people who changed their jobs are due to the treatment meted to them by their supervisors.

The flip side of the coin is the behaviour of the leaders/supervisors. How should the leader behave? In one organization, the manager attended weekend workshop on leadership and for a few weeks following, he behaved like the character quoted during the weekend workshop on leadership. The manager behaved artificially and it changed as and when he attended another workshop on leadership. This brought misery to the entire team with reduced productivity and morale. Therefore, a leader/manager must know his/her strengths and behave naturally and in a consistent manner. Gallup gives a platform for a behaviour. Sathish, a retired Military Officer has Consistency as one of his signature themes.   A person with Consistency theme is more interested in group needs than individual wants. He will reduce variance and increase uniformity. He will bring rules and policies that promote cultural predictability. He will require standard operating procedures. He loves repeating things in exact same way. He hates unnecessary customization. He follows the principle that “what is right for one is right for all and what is wrong for one is wrong for all”. Even today after his retirement, he is the same. His behaviours are as per his strengths and known to all with whom he deals.

But how does he treat others? He believes that treating people with consistency promotes fairness. He applies rules equally, absolutely, and with no favoritism. Swapnil, A XII Standard girl who has Consistency as one of her signature themes, was taken by her father, Rajesh for the Aadhar Registration. There was a long queue. Rajesh knew the officials, so he jumped the queue and was given preferential treatment. He called Swapnil to come ahead, but Swapnil being a Consistent person, refused to come forward by jumping the queue. She stood her ground and got the chance after two hours for the Aadhar registration. This is the behaviour of a person with Consistency and she should be treated as such. Rajesh learnt a lesson and came to know another strength of her daughter.

The normal attitude in India is to jump the queue. If someone else jumps the queue when you are standing for hours, is generally not tolerated. Swapnil’s consistency saved his father from a great embarrassment. What your followers are looking for is the behaviour like Swapnil and Sathish and treatment consistent with their strengths and values.

Trust, Compassion, Stability and Hope

A Gallup Survey on why do people follow revealed that people do not care for the usual stuff like vision, purpose, wisdom, humor, humility etc. What made them follow the leader are Trust, Compassion, Stability and Hope.

Trust comes with honesty. Trust begets from genuineness. Trust sprouts from behaviour and it grows the way leader treats the led. Truthfulness and geniuses cannot be faked. “One must never make a show of false emotions to one’s men. The ordinary soldier has a surprisingly good nose for what is true and what false” said Field Marshall Erwin Rommel, German General Staff. What Rommel said in 1944, while fighting in the deserts of Africa is applicable even today in all fields of life; professional or otherwise. Genuine show of emotions will result in trust. Honesty, integrity and respect are main contributors in building trust. Trust also increases speed and efficiency in the work place. Trust established between two people make things happen faster. As Kofi Annan, (ex- Secretary General of the UN) explained, “if you don’t have relationship, you start from zero each time.”

Compared with people at low-trust companies, people at high-trust companies report: 74% less stress, 106% more energy at work, 50% higher productivity, 13% fewer sick days, 76% more engagement, 29% more satisfaction with their lives, 40% less burnout.     By Paul J Zak, HBR Jan-Feb 17 Issue

 Compassion means caring, friendship, happiness and love for the people. Rajeev, a senior employee of a technical MNC was blessed with a son. His office was two hours of travel time from his place where he lived. The company had another office just a few minutes away from his home. When his wife delivered a baby boy, it was difficult for her to take care of the child alone. Rajeev requested his supervisor to allow him to work from home or to work from the nearby office. He copied the mail to one step higher than his supervisor. His request was turned down his immediate supervisor but was accepted by the hierarchy whom he had copied the mail. Such attitude of the supervisor will neither promote compassion in the organization nor improve the relationship. The leader should not care for the business and performance only but show compassion to the personal needs of the employees also. This will be facilitated only if the leader understands the needs of the individuals. These individuals make the team interdependent and efficient.

  Stability means solid foundation. It means security, strengths, support and peace. If an employee’s job is threatened every day, it will defy stability and greater productivity. The employee must continue getting his/her bread butter, home, life of his family and children—— Roti, Kapda and Makan. Transparency helps in creating stability. Performance of the company and future of the company generates stability.

Hope implies besides ensuring excellence today, the leader must meet future aspirations of the employees. It means direction, faith and guidance. Such expectations of the employees can only be met by a leader who is a coach and not a bossy manager. Harshna is an enterprise opened by Khurram Mir in Srinagar and he is running this in-spite of prevailing violence. Khurram Mir is an Agricultural Entrepreneur. His business is to buy and store apples and provide space to apple growers to store apples. While recruiting his staff he tells them that they would never be required to work at Harshana for more than two years. “my standard instruction is – after two years, if you do not leave me and start your own business, then I have failed” -extract from chapter—Business Models in the World’s Most Dangerous Place in his book “Recasting India” by Hindol Sengupta. Khurram Mir, like a true leader not only ensures excellence for his employees but within two years, prepares them to become independent. He gives hope.


Behaviour, Treatment,

Trust, Compassion, Stability and Hope


#SatysSparks #Gallup  #Jumbotail  #MFAR  #Strengths  #Leadership  #Dvizira  #TOI


  1. GB Shaw, Book “Pygmalion”. A Public Domain Book, E-Book Kindle Edition, Published in 1912.
  2. Tom Rath and Barry Conchie, Book “Strengths Based Leadership”, Gallup Press, New York, 2008
  3. John H. Fleming, Ph.D. and Jim Asplund. Book “Human Sigma” Gallup Press, New York, 2007
  4. Rodd Wagner and Gale Muller, PhD, Book “Power of 2” Gallup Press, New York, 2009
  5. Hindol Sengupta, Recasting India, E – Book, Kindle Edition
  6. Paul J Zak, Article “The Neuroscience of Trust”, HBR Jan-Feb 2017