How To Lead For Your Team’s Strengths

Here is a great question that came in during our recording of the EntreLeadership Podcast Q&A episode:

[blackbirdpie url=”!/BryanHartSpeaks/status/203491423062990848″]

For me, the most important step to focusing on a team members strengths, is to find out what they actually are. For example, I once hired a team member that came with tons of recommendations and years of experience.

A few months after putting him in the the seat, I began to see areas where he was falling apart. Over and over I had to go through and fix problems like this was a person new to the industry. Eventually I sat down and really poured over his DISC personality profile. There it was staring right at me.

I sat him down and asked him one simple question – You hate doing this job don’t you? He immediately broke down and agreed profusely. I then asked if he’s been in the industry all these years because he could do the job, instead of it being a passion. Once again, I hit a nerve.

At that point I decided that I would never hire another person that “could do” the job I had. I only wanted people who were crazy passionate AND could do the job. That combination creates a strength that’s needed.

On top of that I found the incredible StrenghtsFinder 2.0 to be invaluable. In Why You Must Discover Your Strengths, I interviewed the author Tom Rath. You will be amazed at how we as a society will spend more time focusing on our weaknesses, instead of our strengths.

Another great tool is Values or Motivators profile. It shows you what motivates people in life. Two of my highest are Altruistic and Economic. Which means I absolutely love helping people, and I also want to see a great return on every investment I make. Whether time or money.

When you use and understand tools like these, you’re able to build a much stronger team.

Question: What do you do to build an environment of team members working in their strengths? 



Walk through your challenges with one of our coaches for FREE and see the difference a shift in mindset can make. 


Get more out of your business, your team, and yourself than you thought possible. Sign up to get free leadership tips and advice today.

Check Our Podcast


Sign up for weekly curated insights and frameworks from coaches, leaders, and business owners that help you take your business to the next level.

Posted in

Meet Chris LoCurto


Chris has a heart for changing lives by helping people discover the life and business they really want.

Decades of personal and leadership development experience, as well as running multi-million dollar businesses, has made him an expert in life and business coaching. personality types, and communication styles.

Growing up in a small logging town near Lake Tahoe, California, Chris learned a strong work ethic at home from his full-time working mom. He began his leadership and training career in the corporate world, starting but at E'TRADE.

146 thoughts on “How To Lead For Your Team’s Strengths”

  1. Chris,
    This is a big help. Just going through the DISc with our team has helped us understand and listen a lot better. I am thinking about doing the strength finder for myself soon, and for my team shortly after that.
    Thank you!
    Ben Nelson

  2. That is awesome and a great question. What are some good interview questions or the first 4 you ask? I am trying to redo my hiring process and would enjoy some feedback. Have a great day, I will be sewing seeds all day!

    1. You need to build your questions around the personality and skills you would like to hire, so I’d start there by making a list of those items. After that, there are three types of questions: situational, factual, and behavioral. Factual questions are like: “have you ever had to deal with a mean customer.” Behavioral questions are like: “tell me about a time you had to deal with a mean customer.” Situational questions start with some narrative about how a customer is mean and upset and then asks what the interviewee would do in response. In my opinion, situational questions get the best character qualities out of people, but from an HR standpoint are the hardest to be consistent with unless you have some set grading scale for what you would expect as a response.

  3. It is so important for the whole team to be working in their strengths. I’ve seen leaders try to fit people into jobs, especially in the nonprofit world where you have to wear so many hats, but it’s like trying to put the square peg in the round hole. It frustrates everyone because the team member is having to work too hard and the team isn’t getting the results they need.

    We’re starting to use the DISC profile where I work and it’s making a huge difference. We’re even asking new volunteers to fill out a simplified version of the profile so we can make sure we have them working in their strengths too. Seeing results already.

      1. One of my team members has a handout with a list of words under each of the 4 categories, and you circle how many apply to you and then count up the results. It’s not as accurate as the online DISC, but effective enough for what we need it for.

    1. Frustrating is right! Being in the wrong position for your strengths is like running a race with your feet tied together! Love the idea of even having volunteers take a version of the DISC profile! Does getting volunteers in the right spot help retain volunteers better?

        1. And I bet it prevents burnout. When I worked with volunteers with had nothing like this in place. It was a royal pain. We had gossipers, back-stabbers and everything else in between and they took them because there was no one else to do the work. Not a good situation for anyone!!

    2. I came to my current church about two years ago. I had been a member for 4 years a while back. I spoke with the pastor about how I would be able to help serve in the church – where he needed help. He mentioned a couple areas that needed help, but quickly turned the question around and asked me what I would like to do. He said that he could put people where he wanted to, but he wanted people doing what they want to do – what they’re best at. People do better that what they like to do than what they have to do.

      1. True, but on the other side of things, when God wants you in a place where you are weak, He has a chance to show off! And then there is never a doubt that it is His strength. . . learned this working with some horrible teenagers a few years ago. He provided love for me to share with them, COMPLETELY unnatural for me!

        That’s in a church setting – I don’t know if that is a good plan for the workplace. . .

          1. I agree with both of you – I’ve been asked to do a few things at church that are so not me, and God has pushed me to say yes, and then worked through me – totally not by my own power. I think sometimes it might translate to the workplace too.

  4. Wow. So important! Your story hit a nerve for me. Every job I’ve had (including currently) is a job I have because I can do it, not b/c I have a passion for it! Talk about miserable!
    It is impossible to give your all in that situation, so you will save time, energy and resources getting the right person! It seems to go right back to the hiring process. Don’t get to the point where you gotta have someone so bad that ANYONE will do. You’ll regret it, and honestly, the person you hire will probably regret it sooner or later too.

      1. When you put it that way Josh, you helped me realize just how unreasonable I’m being! I’m sorry, I love my job! Haha 😉

          1. I figure by the time I add in my commute, I’m away from home close to 60-70 hours each week. Not fun. But when I am home, the peace and serenity are so worth the 2+ hours on the road each day.

          2. I’ve got 3 hours total commute every day, so 60 hours of my week are dedicated to work. My positive spin on it is that I get to blog, read and read and read and catch up on some other tasks. It’s ME time!

      1. Man, I gotta figure out what I’m passionate about first! That’s my major stumbling block. Second issue is finding a job or business that can meet my income w/o 30 hours of overtime a week

        1. Dude, still owe you that e-mail – but here’s what I’m thinking….
          1. Unless you totally get lucky, you’ll need to think about making a gradual shift between you J.O.B. and your dream. (Whatever that may be.) In other words, unless something pretty amazing happens -possible, but don’t count on it – you’ll need to plan for your escape while sitting in two saddles at the same time – JOB and Dream.

          AS you work your dream up, and you see the income start to come up from that, and you see that it’s regular and kind of predictable, you can start pulling back a bit on your JOB. Make sense?

          When I started my venture, I was working for someone else at the same time. It was hard. It was intense, but it was totally required to keep food on the table.

          2. Have you listened to anything by Rick Warren, John Maxwell or Simon Sinek about finding your why? They are great people to follow…and both have similar messages:
          – stop looking outside you to figure out your ‘why’
          – Look at your past experiences. Some are there for a reason: to help you notice who you should be, and what you should be doing.
          – look inside. What were you doing the last time you felt TOTALLY and COMPLETELY alive?
          – Did you ever do something that made you feel totally and completely alive AND get money for it?

          – If you can’t remember getting paid for it, look at that thing you love, and see if you can come up with a way to make it turn into a business.

          (Hunting CAN pay you money – maybe consider how you could give classes about rifle care, tracking, improving your shooting skills etc.) Or think about how you could become a guide for others who want to learn where to go.

          I’m rambling here, but I hope it makes sense…

  5. This is huge!

    Knowing innate wirings and giftings is so important to leading well. With the church leaders we work with we use Strengthsfinder, DiSC, MBTI, and the California Critical Thinking Skills Test to help figure out this stuff, and help them develop a healthy team.

      1. We start from the assumption that a great leader, especially in the church context, needs to be able to think critically. With that in mind, we use the CCTST to help our leaders get a sense of what they do well, and not so well… this helps them know where they need to strengthen their critical thinking ability, but it also helps them know who they need to be bringing alongside them as they lead within their context. We also use this as a reference when we talk about cultural exegesis and designing a church that truly serves their unique context.

        We are also looking to use the results as a part of a research project down the road looking at correlations between critical thinking skills and ministry success for church planters, revitalizers, and established church leaders (but that is still in the pre-infancy stage).

  6. Our team will be working on Strengths Finder pretty soon and I’ve shared the DISC profile with my coworkers. One of them said it was very helpful and she found some valuable information about herself.

    For me, the combination of DISC and Values/Motivators has been very enlightening and I can better focus my effort based on my strengths and motivators.

    It was interesting to me that I have a very low economic motivator, which means I’ll meet customer’s needs before my own. This makes me a bad candidate to be an entrepreneur, but I’d take a bullet (so to speak) for a great leader. I scored very high on the individualistic motivator, which helps me to be independent and self confident, so my supervisors can trust me to do the work and they know they don’t have to hold my hand.

    Being aware of personality profiles, languages of appreciation, motivators and communication styles has helped me work with people on their terms, rather than try to fit them to my own style.

    I’ve been successful in having great relationships with people labeled “very difficult” which other team members tried to avoid at all costs.

    Bottom line, I think we all need to be validated and part of it is we know we’re hired to do a job where we will succeed. To me the three key elements to match a position with a candidate are:
    – Can they do it? (Skills)
    – Do they want to do it? (Motivation)
    – Would they do it even if they didn’t get paid for it? (Passion)

    Thanks for a great answer to a great question Chris!

    1. Girl, I’m gonna push back a little. You don’t have to be an economic to be an entrepreneur. It helps!! You’re strong enough as a leader to be an entrepreneur, I would suggest placing some key leaders on your team who happen to be economics. Make sense?

        1. And now that I read it again, I’d be an awesome entrepreneur because I’d meet the clients’ needs before my own. Hmmm, interesting. And also because I have awesome EntreLeadership teachers right here :0)

          1. Where is your head today Bret?

            Side note: I am FINALLY taking a half day off from work tomorrow to go to the zoo with my family. It’s been over 9 months without a week day off that I wasn’t sick or a holiday. Pretty excited.

            I’ll be sure to shout “SHOW ME THE MONKEYS!” as soon as I walk in.

          2. I truly have no idea. But wherever it is, it’s blue and silver and swooshy.

            Have fun tomorrow. I’ll be waterproofing my deck since the weather finally looks clear for about a week.

      1. Woah. Yeah when I read that @lilykreitinger:disqus I was going to say the exact same thing, but Chris said it.

        I can think of tons of wildly successful (financially and otherwise) entrepreneurs that were not economically motivated. In fact, they might have a higher success rate, because it’s all about the mission. They don’t give up when the lights get turned off or copier gets repo’d (OK, slow down EntreLeaders, I’m not suggesting they get a loan to get a copier…it just makes for a good mental picture).

        When it’s about the mission and not the money, financial hardships are less impactful and less likely to cause someone to give up.

        My two cents at least.

    2. Lily, I figured someone would point out the fact that you don’t have to do everything in order to succeed as an Entrepreneur. Chris already pointed that out, and I offer a heartfelt ‘Here, here!”

      I don’t have the pleasure to know you in person yet, but you sure seem like a strong leader as Chris said. You know how to rally people and organize them. That’s vital!

      You can hire the person who will charge for your services, and rent out an Italian mob squad to break legs if people don’t pay – ah…err…I mean you can get someone to help you set up the sales relationship with your client properly if you don’t feel that is part of your skill set.

      Again, echoing Chris – don’t let what you feel are your weak areas hold you back from stepping into entrepreneurship.

      I heard Dave Ramsey say this a few days ago his radio show: Today, if you want to be in business in America, you just have to decide to do it. And you’re in business.

      You make the decision, act on it, and you are in business. He didn’t say you have to be wearing all the hats a business person needs to wear. 😉

      In my case, I’m terrible at book keeping and doing invoices. Terrible is an understatement. I can do it….I have done it, but I know my wife is much better with numbers than I am. She just catches and sees things numerically WAAAAAYYY before I do.

      She’s also tougher when it comes to enforcing rules. And that’s why, as of this month, I’m no longer going to handle my company’s payroll. I’m delegating it.

      Reporting and data crunching – again, when I do this stuff I feel like my life is slowly being sucked out of me. Can I do the work? Yep. Do I have the skill? Yep. But I am in no way passionate about it. Hate it.

      Thankfully, I discovered that one of my oldest hires is ‘one of those guys’ who lives to crunch numbers and input data. Not only that, but he’s insanely creative about it. With just two weeks of work, he revolutionized our report systems – something that I had been busting my brain against for years.

      It wasn’t on purpose, but I had already hired the right person for the job – and discovered it later.

      The point: hire, and hire well to complement your areas of weakness so you can focus on your passion and strengths.

        1. Wurd! Saved me the time and work of finding the right person! The right person was already there. My problem was not being able to give up what I was doing — delegation is so freakin important!

          1. One “P” Ah Ah Ah Two “p’s” Ah Ah Ah, Three “p’s” Ah Ah Ah!! (envision Count Dracula’s voice…)

      1. Thanks Aaron! I really appreciate your comment. I look up to you as someone with a similar personality profile who is paving the way for the rest of us. Does this mean that you found someone to wrangle Google Docs for you? I think if I need some assistance, I would hire a microbusero to help collect payments. Now all I need is something to sell ;0)

        1. LOL – I’m super high S and C with high average I and very low D. I think it’s hilarious how the DISC report seems to describe me almost perfectly. (Weird feeling to see how you think and feel spit out on paper.)

          Something to sell?! I think you’ve already got it girl! Your ‘Helping others find, keep and love their job.’ Maybe start doing some consulting work with people you connect with, and don’t be afraid to attach a price tag on it!

          As Nike says: just do it! See if it works. That’s how I got started. Was I scared? I think I invented a new, much deeper word for that. But my passion for what I do, and the need to provide for my fam, sorta drove me to ignore the fear. Funny how that works. 😉

          Finding someone to wrangle Google Docs – yes and no. No, in that we opted to dump that option. Yes – that was the person I found who had been working with us forever. Just never saw him in the role of data cruncher – but his eyes light up like Christmas tree lights when he talks about it….I love that guy!

      2. Part of the process of finding your team’s strengths is starting by finding your own. You’ve done a great job identifying at least one of your weaknesses that can be filled by someone else’s strengths!

        1. Totally Joshua! I guess the growth of the business slowed things down as far as hiring goes, but I think I should have moved a bit faster to hire to fill my weaknesses. And for sure, I KNOW I could have done a better job at delegating to others. Stuff ya learn as you go I guess.

      3. That has to make your life better – and how cool you already had the right person, just in the wrong seat. And maybe in hindsight, you should have done that sooner, but at least you’ve done it now!

  7. Each year I sit down with all of my team members individually and ask them simple questions about what they like and dislike about their jobs. I don’t do this at review time, though, because I don’t feel that I would get the most accurate answers. Then I am able to take their answers and compare to what their strongest areas of performance are and then build upon those strengths. I believe that if they have passion for a certain aspect it will either be a strength or will become a strength. Once I have done this will all my managers, I am able to reset each of their passions with their particular task in order to create a balanced team.

  8. I’ve worked for places that have pushed for people to “move up,” even if they did not want to. The person (or people) are doing their job well, and they seemingly enjoy it (at least more than they would enjoy a different “higher” position). The company’s idea was to move people up automatically when a position opens up, instead of finding where people’s strengths are.

    There is the idea of promoting someone beyond their competency; and this is similar to that. It may not be a real vertical move, but a person can be moved horizontally into a position that they don’t enjoy and/or are not very good at. All because it is the next step. Or because they are “low man on the totem pole.”

    I definitely understand promoting from within. I usually preferred to have a supervisor/manager that I know moved up the ranks. It shows that they know the job, can do the work (at least to some level of competency), and they can relate to what we are having to go through. This should be picked carefully, so that a good worker isn’t promoted to become a poor leader.

  9. I love Strength Finders. I’m looking at my 5 strengths hanging about my desk right now. I found it to be a great tool, but like DiSC and similar tools you need to keep revisiting them.

      1. I know! Isn’t it awful that doing the thing once is not enough? You have to keep coming back to it so you stay fresh with the results. And then the fun begins: aligning your life with what you see in those results.

        As Michael Hyatt points out in a podcast about creating alignment, people (that includes me) slip in and out of alignment all the time. It’s not a one time deal, it’s something I need to be consistent with every day. 🙂

        1. But reviewing doesn’t always just give you the same info… it can create “aha” moments–when you realize something/make a connection you were not aware of before.

          1. Absolutely – love those new aha moments. That’s part of why I read so many business books and revisit things like the EntreLeadership over and over again. New ways to implement pop out each time.

  10. Here’s yet another reason to slow down and be intentional in hiring.

    Everyone’s on best behavior during the interview process. Everyone wants to get hired and wants to put their best foot forward. But the more you slow that train down and give them a chance to relax, the more you give them a chance to express their real passions and get beyond the “Of course I’d love to do this job for you right now because I’m hungry and my kids need clothes” to find out what makes them really tick.

  11. LOVE this post. So true, and sometimes so hard to face. I personally have used the DISC which helps keep me focused. If the DISC is not part of my work culture, any thoughts on if would it be acceptable for me to try it with my team?

  12. Strength’s Finder was a great $15 investment! Not only did I get my list of top strenghts, but a report that tells me what kinds of jobs I will LIKE doing and which jobs I will LOVE doing. As I get into more management roles, I would absolutely only hire folks that WANT to do the job they’re interviewing for. Have also recommended it to friends that are playing the “What do I want to be when i grow up?” game… 🙂

  13. I’m reluctant to take any of those tests – what if I find out that I don’t like being self-employed or being an artist? Or that I am economically ill-equipped for what I do? (that would explain the often inadequate income) My eyes are shutting now, hands are over my ears – LALALALALALA. . .

  14. What do I do to build an environment based on strengths…right now I am not using DISC or other testing materials. That will come as we can invest more money in the hiring process.

    For now, the best ‘free’ thing we have been doing is slowing the hiring process WAAY down, and dividing it between our leadership team of 3 people.

    Each of us takes a separate part of the process. The final stage is a live demonstration class with one of our current clients. (We hire teachers for corporate training programs.) To make the final hiring decision, we compare notes at all stages of our process including the opinions of our clients- and so far, this has cut down DRASTICALLY on poor hires. Most weed themselves out before even reaching stage 2.

    To summarize: s-l-o-w-e-r hiring with careful processes have helped us build a better team.

  15. Currently, my organization only utilizes the 8-hour DISC profile class either on a voluntary basis for those who want to GROW or on a mandatory basis for those who need to GO.

    I voluntarily took it a couple of years ago as a part of my QAP enrollment (Quality Achievement Program), and quickly realized that about a third of the class was there because they HAD to be, rather than WANTING to be!

    I tried to encourage my entire team to enroll, but only two did. Most saw it as a Jedi mind trick, or corrective action, rather than as an exciting opportunity for self-growth.

    I had four team members that were “required” to take the class enjoyed it thoroughly and wished that had done it sooner. That program should be a mandatory hiring step. At Lampo, for example, 300+ team members can’t be wrong!

      1. Yes, in this case, it’s more as if they just keep pushing people to the back of the bus. It makes the bus imbalanced after a while. Many are on the wrong bus. I think that’s the case in many organizations. Again, that’s one of the main reasons I think Lampo Group thrives!

  16. Q:
    What do you do to build an environment of team members working in their strengths?

    A: What I always liked to do was hire to the position, not ask a person what they really enjoy doing, and then demand perfection and get angry with them when they failed.

    Oh…nevermind, that doesn’t really help.

    Actually, truth is, this is an area where I am still learning.

  17. I love the DISC profile, but it’s so hard to find those that are “CRAZY” about the job. How do you determine is that “craziness” or just the interview sheen that everyone has?

    1. Great question Joshua! I think the best way to find ‘crazy about the job’ vs weed out the ‘plain crazy’ is taking your time in the interview process. As Dave Ramsey and @ChrisLoCurto:disqus repeat over and over again here (how I’ve learned how to hire better!) – you gotta take your current hiring process, and slow it waaaaayyyy down. That, and never hire when you’re hungry. 😉 Plan for and budget out your positions! You’ll save yourself time in the long run!

      1. That’s a saying we have, “Never hire out of pain” – everyone has their best face on in an interview even if it’s a lengthy process. I honestly think hiring is one of the greatest challenges to running a business. Selecting and Leading are much more difficult than finding profitable business.

        1. Agreed! Finding the right person must be something you’re willing to do well at. Right now, we’re facing this situation in our business. We’ve got a client ready to roll, a group of 6 adults ready to work with us, but no teacher. The opening was a sudden one, so they kind of caught us off guard, but we’ve been working hard to find the right person. So far, 3 weeks in, we’ve weeded out 3 candidates. 0 for 3.

          We’re taking our time, we’re communicating regularly with our client, and we’re only going to hire the right person for the job!

          The worst: that’s 3 weeks of lost income.
          But one thing I’ve learned: it’s way cheaper to hire right at the start, vs clamoring to replace a bad hire 6 months or a year down the road.

  18. Obviously, hiring correctly is a key for answering this question. But I think there’s also value in talking about team member strengths as an on-going conversation. Our team of managers meets weekly to discuss assignments and department issues. This is a great time to handle team strength issues.

  19. At my previous place of employment, we used the Myers-Briggs Personality Test. It provided some interesting insights into our strengths but also in how we related to each other. I think this type of discussion was very constructive – especially with a smaller team.

  20. Chris I love your daily articles! In discussing DISC tests that we’ve
    taken on-site I was wondering if you’ve shared yours with your
    followers? We have ours posted in our offices so we can better
    communicate with each other. It has also been a big factor when
    bringing on new teammates to ensure they are going to ROCK!

  21. I found the book “Strengths-based Leadership” by Tom Rath quite helpful, not only in terms of discovering one’s strengths, but also in terms of how to apply them to the context of leadership.

  22. That has to make your life better – and how cool you already had the perfect person, just in the wrong seat. And maybe in hindsight, you must have done that sooner, but at the very least you’ve done it now!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *