LCU Program Encourages Strengths Based Leadership

By Jim Smilie

Imagine if workers were placed in positions based on their principal strengths. Rather than working to strengthen weaknesses, employers and employees focus on building on a person’s strengths and past success.

That is the goal of the Strengths Based Leadership program explained Meredith Rennier, Vice President of Student Life and Executive Director of Louisiana Christian University’s Center for Calling and Career.

“Our focus is on doing what God has called us to do,” Rennier said Tuesday afternoon during a program for the Rotary Club of Alexandria. “We all have a purpose and a plan, and the center is there to support that.”

The program uses StrengthsFinder to identify individual strengths. Rennier said the survey, comprised of 177 questions, takes about a half hour to complete. It is designed to measure an individual’s talents, their natural way of thinking and their behavioral tendencies. Based on the responses, the program ranks respondents based on 34 predetermined strengths with a focus on the individual’s top five strengths.

“If both you and your employer know these strengths and manage to them, you will have a wonderful career,” Rennier said. To help students get started on the right path, Rennier said all freshmen at LCU complete the assessment. “We do that so they can grow into a leader and focus on those strengths,” she said.

Rennier said research has shown the most effective leaders are always investing in their strengths, surround themselves with the right people and then maximize their team, and they understand their follower’s needs.

The Strengths Based Leadership program identifies four domains of leadership strength: Executing, influencing, relationship building and strategic thinking. Each of the 34 strengths measured by the StrengthFinders assessment fall under one of those four domains.

Rennier said more than 2 million people have taken the StrengthFinders assessment and that “no two people have the same top 5 skills.”

If employers know their employee’s primary strengths, they can then create teams that maximize productivity. Planning groups, for example, may include more team members with strategic thinking as a strength while a sales team would likely include more workers with influencing strengths.

“We all need each other to achieve success,” Rennier said, noting the program makes it easier to build effective teams and operations. “We encourage people to invest in your own talents and build your strengths,” she said.