Leadership Strengths: Finding Your Highest and Best Use

By Kristen Harris

In real estate, there's a concept called "highest and best use." When appraising a piece of vacant land or property, under this concept the value must be based on the most reasonable, probable, and legal use that is physically possible appropriately supported and financially feasible. For example, if a property is currently an industrial site but would have more value when redeveloped with residential buildings, that higher use is how the property value is determined. (With apologies to real estate experts–I know there are many factors that must be considered, making it more complex than this simple explanation.)

Have you ever thought about your own highest and best use? Are you being appraised and utilized at your top potential value? One way to think about this is to know your strengths and look for opportunities to use them in your work. If you're a leader or manager of others there is also tremendous value in knowing how to leverage the strengths of your team members.

The CliftonStrengths (formerly StrengthsFinder) philosophy is one of the key tools we use at Portfolio Creative to better understand new team members and each other. If you want to know more about this tool, check out our previous article Be Your Best: Using Your Strengths at Work

Once our new team member has taken the assessment and we know their strengths, what do we do with that information? One thing we look at is how their strengths fall into the Four Domains of Leadership Strength. According to Gallup's research, each strength sorts into one of four domains: Strategic Thinking, Executing, Influencing and Relationship Building. 

These domains equate to how you absorb and analyze information or situations, make things happen, influence others, or build and nurture relationships. Every strength fits into one of these categories, and there is no good or bad category (remember, they are all strengths.) 

Knowing which categories a person's strengths fall into provides a clearer view of their overall balance. For example, three of my five top strengths fall under Relationship Building, one is under Strategic Thinking, and one is Influencing. By contrast, my business partner Catherine Lang-Cline has two strengths under Strategic Thinking, two in Executing, and one in Relationship Building. See how we complement each other? I'm strong where she is not, and vice versa. Together we're better. Now apply that to a whole team of people and you can see the power of this concept. 

Some people are heavily weighted in one or two categories (we have one person with four of their top five strengths in the Strategic Thinking category.) Others are more evenly spread across the categories, with top strengths in three or even all four categories. It doesn't matter how the strengths break down, but it's helpful to know if someone is heavily weighted in one or two categories or more evenly balanced.

Once you understand how individual strengths are categorized, you can also apply the concept to a whole team. We look at strengths categories for the entire Portfolio Creative team, and by each departmental team. Our team leaders can see the strengths of each individual on their team, their team's overall strengths, and gaps, and the strengths found on other teams.

Here a few ways we can utilize this information. If we're working on something that requires a lot of Strategic Thinking, we can reference our chart and pull together the people heavy in those strengths. A team leader can look at how the strengths of their team members are spread across the four categories, see where they are heavy and light, and pair up team members or put people in positions that best use everyone's abilities. Across the company, we can see where strengths fall, and pair up individuals or entire teams to complement each other. 

By understanding and leveraging the individual strengths of yourself and others on your team, everyone has the opportunity to work at their highest and best use.