We believe that one of the biggest barriers to effective leadership is that it is so frequently interlaced with the concept of authority. While leadership and authority may have some similarities, the differences between them are clear. These differences should illuminate why it's so important to view them as distinct concepts. The list below outlines the differences between authority and leadership.
Our definition of Leadership: Leadership is the effective mobilization of social force to move individuals, groups and organizations toward fulfillment of their highest potential which results in thriving.
What then, is social force? Social force is an aspect of human society that can be harnessed and channeled to evoke changes the feelings, thoughts or behaviors in individuals or groups. It describes how humans influence each other. Leading, in our view, is the use of social force to foster thriving in individuals and communities.
Whether we are fully aware of it or not, we all have conditions for happiness—things that contribute to our sense that life is going the way we want it to go. Most of us can name some of our conditions for happiness, but there are also many that lie below the level of our conscious awareness. Even the most self-aware people have conditions of happiness that they aren’t truly aware of. Our themes help surface many of the conditions for our happiness.
Using my Top 5 themes, here are some conditions of happiness for me:
• Strategic: I am happy when I have options and am able to decide which path to take to best reach my goals. I am unhappy when my options are limited by external factors or other people. When I have the freedom to survey the options and find the one that makes most sense to my Strategic theme.
• Individualization: I am happy when I can speak directly to a person and use my Individualization theme to understand their unique situation or qualities....
Flow is that mental state when you are “in the zone.” You are energized and focused. Time seems to disappear. You make meaningful progress in that activity and, if someone were to ask how you felt during that activity, you would describe it as quite enjoyable. During flow, any of the factors that cause you to procrastinate are gone such as self-doubt or time pressure. In fact, traction may be one of the most defining elements of flow. You find your footing, make tangible progress and have an innate desire to keep going. You have a sense of personal control over the situation, and your talents, knowledge and skills come together.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced: Me-high Cheek-sent-me-high) in his book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience popularized the concept of flow in psychology.
Flow situations have three defining qualities:
1. You get immediate feedback on your progress. Not necessarily feedback from other people, but...
Memorizing your themes is a powerful beginning to unlocking the incredible value of your themes. Unless you memorize your themes, you won’t be able to observe them in your day-to-day life. If you don’t observe them, you can’t find ways to use them effectively.
One of the first things you can do after getting your StrengthsFinder results is to memorize your Top 5. We provide a way to make it easy. Below is a form you can use to get the ball rolling.
It all starts with creating your mnemonic and practicing it. Rehearse your mnemonic a few times and then it will stick. Give it a try.
One of our participants, Patricia Ford, made an amazing mnemonic. She included words and images that resonated with her. We encourage you to follow her example to fully engage in remembering your themes. Search or draw images that help you connect to your Top 5 themes. Print and post where you and others will see it daily. Take a picture and store it on your phone. Consider making it...
Edward "Chip" Anderson, Ph.D. was "known to many as the 'father' of the strengths movement in higher education" (Azusa Pacific University). He co-authored, along with Don Clifton, StrengthsQuest: Discover and Develop Your Strengths in Academics, Career, and Beyond. His commitment to helping people develop their talents was truly inspiring. During his lifetime, he wrote one of the best resources for discovering the potential in each theme: "The Genius and Beauty Found Within". One thing we particularly like about this paper is that he focuses on the positive aspects of each theme.
He had a passion for taking groups through all 34 themes so that they could gain an understanding about their unique abilities and about the thoughts, feelings, and behavior patterns of others. We encourage you to first read through your top 5 themes. Then, take time to read through the remaining themes.
I was inspired to create a list of things that engage and energize each theme. This idea came from a conversation I had with my brother. His #1 is Communication. While we were talking, I could tell he was in a low moment and feeling overwhelmed. He said he didn't want to talk about it (but I could tell he needed a shift in his energy) so I hacked into his themes without pushing. I merely laid out the bait and said "okay, we can talk about it later, but just give me a few highlights of what's going on." Within minutes his energy mounted as he articulated what was going on. When our call ended (an hour later) he was in a much different place--full of energy, optimism and resolve. It made me realize that with our themes, we often just need to lead them to water and they will drink on their own. Themes are abundant sources of energy if we can tap into them. So, this list is my attempt to articulate the water for each theme. This is just a first draft and I welcome insights to make the...
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