Strengths Based Leadership: Great Leaders, Teams, and Why People Follow

  • by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie

    Greg Smith Review by Clear Creek ISD Superintendent Greg Smith
    Do you believe that the most effective leaders can forever alter the course of your life? If so, you will love Strengths Based Leadership: Great Leaders, Teams, and Why People Follow, by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie. Many of you might recognize Rath’s name because he authored the book, Strengths Finder 2.0.

    I highly recommend this book, not only because the authors cite great leaders who have maximized their strengths, but also because it keeps us from picking apart people and dwelling on their shortcomings. This concept has enabled me to work with my trustees and cabinet members in a balanced manner that gives dignity and honor to four critical domains. As new trustees are elected and cabinet members move on, we are able to know which strength is needed to replace the one that is no longer part of the team.

    This book grabs your attention right away in the introduction when Rath and Conchie illuminate their profound research on the following findings:

    1. The most effective leaders are always investing in strengths.
    2. The most effective leaders surround themselves with the right people and then maximize
      their team.
    3. The most effective leaders understand their followers’ needs.

    Readers are asked to complete a survey in the back of the book that identifies their top strengths out of the 34 indicators. Once team members complete the brief survey, it is important for you and your team to know exactly what your strengths mean and do not mean, so one can fully understand his or her leadership capacity.

    “Strengths Based Leadership” clearly reveals that if you spend your life trying to be good at everything, you will never be great at anything. Furthermore, although some leaders can get by being above average in some areas, those who strive to be competent in all areas become the least effective leaders, according to the authors.

    Perhaps the best part of this book is when the authors reveal the four domains that make up a high-functioning team — executing, influencing, relationship building, and strategic thinking. The authors found that it serves a team well to have a representation of strengths in each of these four domains. Individuals need not be well-rounded, but teams should be.

    Says Steven Ebell, Clear Creek ISD deputy superintendent of curriculum and instruction: “I found the book to be very valuable in that it is a very purposeful approach to working with other leaders from a position of what we have as a team, rather than what we might lack separately.”

    Clear Creek ISD board President Laura DuPont adds: “The book and entire exercise, including the discussions we held in a workshop setting, served to strengthen trust within our team, as well as between the team and cabinet.”

    The best leaders get to live on. Will you?