CLO-cover-with-Randall-P-WhiteIn the 13 years since author Marcus Buckingham popularized the strengths movement in leadership development, we’ve seen varying degrees of acceptance among our clients and colleagues.

Late last year Forbes contributor Ekaterina Walter offered up the “Four Essentials of Strength-Based Leadership.”

“The simple truth is that if we stop trying to ‘fix’ our employees and rather focus on their strengths and their passions, we can create a fervent army of brand evangelists who, when empowered, could take our brand and our products to a whole new level.”

In August, the Executive Development Group partner Randy White published an alternative take on development that emphasizes the value of focusing on, and improving upon, weaknesses. His article, “Strength is Not Enough” in Chief Learning Officer challenges the strength-only approach as potentially shortchanging the organization and the individual:

…with this approach [strength-based] everyone’s passion could start to get in the way of management, collaboration, innovation and leadership…

“Strengths-only approaches are valid for certain situations, such as those in which people are pretty much where they plan to be in their careers. However, a single focus on strength is shortsighted for people who want to advance and for organizations that require succession plans.”

It’s a subject we’ve followed and written about for some time. Randy wrote the capstone article for the 2009 compilation, The Perils of Accentuating the Positive, edited by Robert B. Kaiser.