What are work-based strengths?

Written on the 28 November 2014 by Paul Brewerton, Joint Managing Director, Strengths Partnership UK

“Strengths are the underlying qualities that energise you, contribute to your personal growth and lead to peak performance.”  (Brewerton and Brook, 2006)

How do we define strengths and how can they be used to maintain and enhance wellbeing and productivity at work?

Strengths are positive traits that are reflected in people’s thoughts, feelings and behaviours(1), helping individuals to maximise their potential and achieve optimal levels of performance.

Work-based strengths can exist in different degrees and can be studied and measured, just like individual differences.

The actual construct of character strengths has its origins in positive psychology. A growing body of research suggests that strengths are universally endorsed across different cultures all over the world, like Peterson had suggested (2006) and that they are linked with well-being and satisfaction with life(2).

What is the value of strengths and how can they be applied to help us live life to its fullest and perform at our best?

Research has demonstrated that by simply following our strengths we can generate optimism and confidence; develop an enhanced sense of vitality; build psychological resilience and generate positive emotions(3).

The strengths approach to the workplace is also related to many positive business outcomes such as increased employee engagement, well-being and increased performance and productivity(4).

Strengths reflect the unique contribution individuals bring to work. A strengths-based approach provides a more positive, solutions-based way of approaching work, guiding employees’ performance and careers in a more productive direction. A focus on strengths provides a powerful new framework for assessing and developing people through what energises and motivates them.

(1) Peterson & Seligman, 2004.
(2) Park et al., 2004; Linley et al, 2007.
(3) Clifton & Anderson, 2001; Peterson & Seligman, 2004.
(4) Harzer & Ruch, 2013; Gander et al., 2012; Stajkovic & Luthans, 1997; Money et all, 2008, Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000; Seligman, 2002; Seligman et all, 2005.


Author:Paul Brewerton, Joint Managing Director, Strengths Partnership UK