manager strengths

The Right Manager Strengths: Do They Exist?


When we do workshops in companies about strengths-based leadership, we couldn’t help but notice how organizations choose who to promote to managerial roles. Most of the companies prefer to advance those who work the hardest and achieve great results in their current position. The assumption is – past performance equals your future performance. Looking at this assumption from a strengths-based perspective, you can guess that such an approach does not consider that different positions require different sets of strengths. But what if this perspective is neglected? How can you as a newly promoted manager adapt to the new role based on your manager strengths?

Imagine Mike – he has been a super-star employee in the engineering department of a large international corporation. Whatever the research task he was assigned to, he over-delivered thanks to his Problem Solver, Deliverer and Focus Expert strengths. He could sit for hours in the lab and dig into research papers, just to get to that silver bullet solution. It didn’t take too long for the higher level management to notice his outstanding performance. So when the time came to decide who will take the new team manager role, Mike was the #1 candidate. While being on the seventh heaven when promoted, 3 months later there was nothing left of Mike’s super-star performance. He felt frustrated as he couldn’t replicate what he thought a great manager should look like. This undermined his confidence, as he began to think he does not have the right talents for being a great manager.

Are there manager strengths that define a great manager? While the most successful managers do have a few things in common, their strengths aren’t universal. But why does Mike fail to succeed in his new manager role? It’s clear that the manager strengths were not taken into consideration during the promotion. But, leaving the latter behind, now his true challenge is capitalizing on what he is great at as a manager, instead of trying to be whom he is not.

If you, like Mike, would like to move over the assumption that you don’t have the right manager strengths to be a great manager, below are 5 steps to broaden your perspective.

Define success of your team.

Every team has different objectives – what is your team trying to achieve?  What are their needs on the path to success? What is driving performance towards the common objective?

Discover your strengths.

Whether you take a strengths test or not, think about the times you were at your best. What was the best way you handled difficult situations when you were in the same position as your team members? What are activities at work that energize you?

Leverage strengths for team success. Think about ways that your strengths can help the team to achieve success. If there were no rules or best practices, what would be your preferred way of managing the team? What are alternative ways you can satisfy team needs based on your strengths, without going into pain points?

Fill your blind spots.

It’s natural that your strengths would not cover all the needs of the team. In the end, no one can be great at everything. Instead of trying to be whom you’re not, fill in your blind spots by delegating within the team or bringing the expertise from outside. What are the strengths that would complement yours to benefit the team performance? Is there someone within the team you could empower to leverage complementing strengths more?

Clarify your strengths and style for team members.

Just like you had your own vision for what is a great manager, each team member has their own vision of what you should do. Speaking openly about your strengths and the corresponding approach to team management will put everyone on the same page. It will make you feel more relaxed being who you are, and also eliminate wrong expectations towards you as a manager.


Identifying one’s strengths is an essential step to becoming a better manager. Take the free HIGH5 strengths test here – – and broaden your perspective on how you can succeed in the current role & beyond.