Often an entrepreneur has a great business idea, starts off with flourish and then, during the course of day-to-day commerce, begins to flounder, especially if there are employees. Good news: There is help available to regain solid footing.

Gallup’s international bestseller, Strengthfinder 2.0, has been helping professionals not only identify their strengths in the workplace but also providing guidance to further develop them. Not surprisingly, 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 utilizing the 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.

Ekaterina Walter, writing for Forbes.com, explains that StrengthsFinder is a test and a guide that helps identify your team’s top strengths and allows management to tap into the natural talents of its employees. “However,” she says, “the sad part is that in most companies this is usually a one-time exercise rather than a mentality. We come to the end of every year and we still pay more attention to areas of improvement than we should to strengths of our staff.”

She expounds on this, “The simple truth is that if we stop trying to 'fix' our employees and rather focus on their strengths and their passions, we can create a fervent army of brand evangelists who, when empowered, could take our brand and our products to a whole new level.”

Here are five simple, practical tips to get you started on capitalizing on your team’s strengths:

1. Learn and understand your own top five dominant 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 place your focus on what your strengths are not. But learn how to minimize your weaknesses by using your strengths to overcome areas that are not naturally strengths for you.

3. Realize that your talents give you a unique and powerful edge. The wonderful thing about talents is that they hold great potential. It is through our talents that we tap into our greatest possibility for success.

4. Learn to recognize the formula for a strength:

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

5. 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 it will become a natural part of your company’s culture.

“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.”

If you need advice to bring strength to your business team or to get your own SCORE mentor, call 928-778-7438, email scoreoffice@scorenaz.org or go to www.northernarizona.score.org.

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