Embedding Strengths-Based Leadership into Leadership Development Programs
Lee, Sylvia K.
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As leaders in business, education, health care, social work, agriculture, and many other fields direct their organizations within the context of constant and rapid change, their use of strengths-based leadership approaches can generate constructive organizational cultures and high levels of innovation, performance, and employee engagement. In contrast, continued use of the vastly more common deficit-based leadership tends to generate defensive organizational cultures and a focus on avoiding blame, maintaining the status quo, and minimizing risk, leading to low morale, low engagement, and mediocre performance. Strengths-based leadership approaches such as Appreciative Inquiry and Authentic Leadership provide leaders with practical ways to change beliefs and attitudes of themselves and others from a deficit paradigm to a strengths paradigm. Those who design and deliver leadership development programs have a moral imperative to help program participants build their strengths-based leadership knowledge and abilities, and can do so not only by teaching strengths-based leadership directly, but also by embedding strengths-based approaches into both program design and learning activities.