Book review: Strengthscope® Handbook by James Brook and Dr Paul Brewerton

At the recent CIPD L&D Show, the Strengths Partnership team were out in full force, including one of the authors of this book (and co-creator of the tool), Dr Paul Brewerton. I think it’s fair to say that Strengthscope® is now firmly established as the UK’s leading assessment when it comes to helping teams and individuals identify and make the most of their strengths. This book will help consolidate that position – and extend it further.

Shameless plug: you can get your personalised Strengthscope® profile at my forthcoming event, ‘Strengths for peak performance’. Find out more.

When people get their Strengthscope® profile, it can really open their eyes to how they can use their strengths – and overuse them too. Historically, workplaces have focused more on weaknesses to be addressed rather than strengths to be optimised. This is understandable, given organisations’ natural desire to manage and minimise risk. Yet our greatest performance risks can be due to overuse of our standout strengths, as we can default to them in situations and ways that aren’t helpful.

This book would be useful to people who:

  • Lead teams
  • Want to develop their own skills and performance
  • Are considering a change of career
  • Want to have more energy
  • Manage others to perform at their best
  • Want to unlock their own and others’ potential
  • Explore the psychology and research that underpins Strengthscope®
  • Are already familiar with Strengthscope® and want to extend their knowledge

The book is set out in two parts:

Part 1, ‘Getting the very best from your strengths at work’ provides the background to Strengthscope® and its development, and the links between our strengths and values. It also covers the ‘power of a positive mindset’, how we can lapse into the ‘path of limitation’ and the shifts we must make to get on the ‘path of possibility’. Readers will learn how to find ‘positive stretch’ and achieve their aspirations. Performance risks are covered, whether ‘strengths in overdrive’, ‘limiting weaknesses’ or internal and/ or external blockers, with examples of how they can show up at work – and what to do to manage them. Finally, Part 1 looks at how strengths can be harnessed by teams and leaders.

Part 2, ‘Your strength-by-strength development guide’ does just that – for all 24 strengths covered by the Strengthscope® assessment. These are organised in four groups of strengths that are emotional, relational, execution and thinking. So when I look up one of my standout strengths, I can immediately see how it shows up as a weakness for those who don’t share it, and when I’m performing at my peak – or overdoing it in ways that aren’t helpful. The values that support the strength are given (and ring true to this reader). ‘Stories’ provide accounts of what someone may say when in the peak performance zone or overdrive of that particular strength. There are practical tips to strengthen performance, whether by stretching, watching out for overdrive triggers, or dealing with people who might drain our energy. Leadership situations and team roles are also covered. At the end of each strength section are ‘Resources to accelerate your learning’, such as books, movies, games, apps and videos.

The ‘Strengthscope® Handbook’ does a great job of providing both the background evidence and thinking that has gone into creating the Strength Partnership’s tool, and many practical ways we can make the best use of our strengths.

You may also find this post useful: Play to your strengths to promote your personal brand


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