STRENGTHS-based LEADERSHIP & How To Find Your Employee’s Strengths: 3 Methods

by Bob Whitesel Ph.D., 8/26/15.

My students investigate how to make ministry organizations more effective. And the first way (1) they do this is by looking for the strengths of their followers.

(1):  The Gallup Organization’s has found in their research that:

  • When an organization fails to focus on the individual employees strengths,he odds of that employee being engaged are only 1 in 11 (or a meager 9%).
  • But when leaders focus on discovering and developing the strength of their employees the odds of an employee being engage rises to a whopping 3 out of 4 (or 73%).
  • “So that means when leaders focus on and invest in their employees strengths, the odds of each person being engaged goes at eight fold” (Strengths-based Leadership, Tom Rathe and Barry Conchie, New York: Gallup press 2008).

Rathe and Conchie also found effective leaders (2) surround themselves with the right people and (3) understand their followers needs. For more on this see the New York Journal bestseller: Strengths-based Leadership by Rathe and Conchie.

3 Ways to Find Your Followers’ Strengths

Let me give a brief overview of how to discover your followers strengths. This begins by utilizing a survey or and or personal interviews.

A) The StrengthsFinder 2.0 questionnaire developed by Donald O. Clifton and the Gallup organization is a good way to do this.

B) Another way to find followers’ strengths is through one-on-one interviews. This is a bit trickier and requires developing this skill.  But an experienced leader can begin a dialogue with a follower by asking them:

“What do you enjoy doing in their recreational life the most?”

Then ask them,

“What do you enjoy doing at in your home life the most?”

Then ask them,

“What they like doing in their career life the most?”

The interviewer looks for common themes that run through all three of these. Write down what you perceive as their strengths and ask them to help you better describe these strengths.

C) You can also use the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.  Though it is a bit more complex in deployment and analysis, it is more precise and looks at how our personality defines the way we develop and use our strengths.  There is even a document mbti-strengthfinders-guide(1) that allows you to combine results of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator with the StrengthsFinder Survey.

So you can see, there are several ways to discover followers’ strengths. While the StrengthsFinder Survey may be the easiest (and most popular) model, there are other tools you can use to investigate deeper the calling, gifts and personality of those you are called to lead.

If you think of other tools for assessing followers’ strengths, just email them to me at (or post them if you are in one of my courses).