Several years ago, I read the interesting Strengthsfinder book. Rather than focusing on personality, it spoke of understanding your signature strengths and the benefits of a strengths-based focus in your life. Since they, they released the Strengthsfinder 2.0 book and, more recently, the Strengths-Based Leadership book.

The latest book describes using your signature strengths in the context of a leadership position. They classify the 34 signature strengths into four categories including Executing, Influencing, Relationship Building and Strategic Thinking. The book is very quick to read with a few stories talking about different leadership styles with different strengths at play, as well as almost half the book talking about the different strengths and tips on how to lead teams with it.

One aspect I found particularly interesting was the section where they talked about their study on why people follow. Their studies came up with four key areas that a good leader provides to any of its followers:

  • Trust – Out of the four, this one seemed the most obvious to me. People have to have trust in you to lead and it is important to maintain your integrity and keep your word. It’s hard to follow someone if you can’t trust them.
  • Compassion – Also an unsurprising basic need they describe where leaders need to have empathy and show that they care for their followers. Great leadership develop their people and demonstrate care for their followers.
  • Stability – Probably less obvious that the first two basic needs, the book describes stability along with words like security, strength, and support. My take on this basic need is that followers don’t see great leaders as ones that nurture chaotic environments.
  • Hope – This basic need is not one I would have named first, but it makes a lot of sense. I’ve seen a lot of software teams stifled because their leadership emotes so many negative emotions about their situation. It’s a bit hard to follow a vision if even the leader doesn’t believe in it. Their study also discovered that although this is a key need for followers, leaders did not spend enough time deliberately creating more hope and optimism in the future (something I am definitely taking away as part of this book).

I can definitely recommend this book as a non-nonsense book that gets into relevant matter very quickly. I think the book is relatively pricey for the amount of material it contains, but I’m guessing some of the fee goes towards maintaining the website and the code you use for uncovering your signature strengths.