According to decades of Gallup data on leadership and studies of more than one million work teams, findings show that the most effective leaders invest in the individual strengths of their people.
In fact, findings show that when an organization’s leadership does not focus on individuals’ strengths, only 1 in 11 employees are engaged (9%). However, when an organizations’ leadership focuses on the strengths of its employees, engagement increases to 73%. This finding translates into significant productivity for any organization.
In higher education, this finding has even greater significance, since most of our costs are in the people we employ to deliver an extraordinary education to our students, whether it is in teaching, student services, information technology, facilities, or administration. But, you might ask: what difference can I make to invest in strengths?
In their book, Strengths Based Leadership, Tom Rath and Barry Conchie, outline Gallup’s findings and provide resources to help leaders invest in their employees’ strengths, maximize their team, and understand their followers’ needs.
I am particularly grateful to work with a smart, hard-working, collaborative team. Every day I am glad that we each have opportunities to play to our strengths and to contribute to this enterprise to deliver an extraordinary education to all Minnesota State Colleges and Universities students. To me, hiring the best people and investing in their strengths is the epitome of good stewardship.
I am a huge proponent of strengths based leadership and of strengths based work. I think, unfortunately, that higher education as a whole does a very poor job with this. I think there is a belief that our roles in the higher ed workplace are less fluid than many corporate structures, so we see this idea of “play to your strengths” as a “that sounds great, but it just wouldn’t work for me” type of concept. I happen to disagree and think this type of mentality severely limits our ability to stretch and grow, not just as individuals, but as organizations.
Thanks for your words of wisdom Michael! Glad that there are leaders in our system like you who invest in the strengths of their people.