Clifton and Nelson (1992) suggested if society focused primarily on each person’s strengths and employed them in a job that capitalizes on their strengths more people, and businesses would be successful and efficient. If a company is to ascribe to this model, they must hire the right people; individuals with strengths that match the job for which they are hired. Clifton & Nelson (1992) agreed that our unique talents are significant to success. Each person brings unique talents and skills such as creativity, organization, or networking. Since so many jobs now require a combination of human resource skills, work experience, and technical competence, employees should be matched with jobs where the strengths can shine and be reinforced (Sullivan, 2012). Nonetheless, success in hiring a qualified applicant is irrelevant, if there is an absence of a qualified manager or leader who understands the importance of capitalizing on strengths.
Managers and leaders are responsible for not only leading others, but they should also possess the ability to identify and enrich the skills, and talents of their employees. Clifton and Nelson (1992) are quite correct in their observation that companies and individuals often focus on their weaknesses rather than their strengths. The purpose of the employee selection process is to find the individual whose strengths best match those required for an open position. A manager’s or leader’s ability to identify employee strengths is more advantageous than focusing on employee weaknesses.
The Flaws of Focusing on Weaknesses
The benefits of focusing on talents are enormous in comparison to the current focus on flaws. “The study of failure can give misleading clues about what to emphasize in improving performance” (Clifton & Nelson, 1992, p.14). The key is to be successful in developing weaknesses and adding onto the strength. Research conducted by Zenger & Folkman (2013), showed that leaders who worked on correcting their weaknesses never completely reached the top. Another in depth study conducted by SRI Gallup established that study of strengths would yield three conclusions: a further understanding of the difference between great and good, maximize production, and generate a new theory about people (Clifton & Nelson, 1992).
While Clifton and Nelson (1992) do not suggest that weaknesses should never be addressed, they make clear that employees should be praised for doing well and receive positive reinforcements to keep them focused on their strengths. It is easy to focus on shortcomings, but if an employee does not know the right way to execute their job, they will never succeed. An effective manager and leader should be knowledgeable of employee’s strengths and successes. Riddick (2011) indicated enhancement of confidence, self-esteem, and hope have a greater impact on success than unfair criticism, put downs, dismissiveness, or insensitivity. Therefore, managers and leaders should have a solution focused...