Leverage Strengths to Win the Breakthrough You Want

What situation in your business or personal life has you dismayed,terrified, and running with fear? What breakthrough do you want? The Israelites and Philistines were lined up for battle across from each other in the Valley of Elah as described in I Samuel 17.

A giant champion warrior named Goliath taunted Saul and the armies of the living God for 40 days.

Saul and his army were dismayed, terrified, and ran with great fear. V.11,24

This is the exact place God wants to show you how to win the breakthrough you want leveraging your God given strengths.

How did David leverage his strengths to win the battle against Goliath?

I Samuel 17:40 states David chose five smooth stones from the stream with his sling as he approached Goliath.

David’s five stones are like our top 5 strengths that can be leveraged to win against our Goliath.

What top five strengths from StrengthsFinder could we spot in David?

  1. Responsibility – 15, 17 David was found faithful taking care of his father’s sheep as well as delivering food for his brothers on the battle line.People with the responsibility talent take psychological ownership to get the daily grind done. They are servant leaders.
  2. Belief –26, 37, 45 reveal the strong value in God as the victorious champion and his passion to stand up for what he believes. David is not just confident in himself but in the character of who God is!
  3. Positivity –32-34 show how David saw the upside rather than the downside of danger in the battle. He encouraged his brothers and the armies of the living God with his success stories of killing the lion and the bear.

(Notice how Eliab, David’s oldest brother burned with anger and thought David was conceited and just wanted front row entertainment on the battle line. V.28)

Beware of thinking that people of positivity are just naive.

  1. Command – 29 shows how David is not afraid to speak up against his brother’s negative attitude or the crisis that confronts the Israelites. Though he was youthful and undersized he had a sense of strong presence in the face of conflict.Notice v.38-40 how Saul and others will many times try to force us to wear their armor; as a leader this is a fatal mistake to force others into an exact replica of ourselves. David said, “I cannot go in these, because I’m not used to them.”

Being authentic in his own strengths, David chose his tools that he was acquainted and experienced with – the Shepherds staff, pouch for his 5 smooth stones, and his sling.

  1. Strategic – 48-51 David quickly assesses his options and knows he cannot defeat Goliath in hand to hand combat. He chooses one stone, places it into his sling, running toward Goliath  increasing his leverage (likely up to speeds of 60-90 MPH), aiming his stone into the one place that Goliath is vulnerable.Intentionally David stuns Goliath enough that he falls forward and finishes the job cutting off Goliath’s head with Goliath’s sword.

    David maximized his strategic strength with knowledge, skill, and practice in the field as a Shepherd, killing the lion and bear.

Like David, God has designed us uniquely with talent for kingdom purpose.

It is our responsibility to multiply those talents into strengths that are leveraged intentionally for individual and community breakthroughs.

Bring GALLUP Certified Strengths Coach and Convene Resource Specialist Brent O’Bannon to your Forum Day or organization. Learn more at

My First Presentation

I still remember my first presentation as a professional consultant. I had only been on the job for a few weeks and we were doing a strategic planning project for a large energy company. I had done a key part of the analysis that needed to be shown to the client, so my manager asked me to give the presentation. Our consulting firm had a particular style for presentations, so my boss did quite a bit of editing and reformatting of my slides. No problem. I thought that I was ready ... until I gave the presentation. I stumbled through it. And I  realized afterwards that even though it was my analysis, it was my manager's presentation. I had never really "owned" the final version of the slides. Leaders are regularly faced with a version of this temptation to "fix" someone else's work, especially when the leader is also the owner. The risk is that in doing so, these leaders take “ownership” away from the staff members who have spent considerable time on the task or project up to that point. That can be demoralizing. But even worse than that, it can also lead to less than satisfactory results. Staff members may fall short when the work is given back to them because they don't understand the "improvements." Or the leader is forced to stay over-involved when he or she should be working on other things.

I don't want my opening illustration to be misunderstood. My manager's changes truly did improve the presentation. It communicated the right information in a much more meaningful way. Some of the fault belonged squarely on my shoulders for not spending more time practicing with the new slides so that I was comfortable with them. But the question remains for every leader: how can you accomplish your goals and meet your standards for excellence and at the same time, allow staff members to retain a sense of ownership?

4 Domains of Strengths Based Leadership and Teams

Imagine dog sledding in Canada for the very first time. You're holding onto the back of your sled for dear life as you whip around steep curves at lightning speed. Up ahead of you is a sharp turn and you notice that your sled is teetering on the edge of the mountain. You are riding the thin line between falling off the mountain and creating momentum behind your dogs. This was my wife and my experience when we went to Canmore, Canada a few years ago. We had a dog sledding adventure—a first for both of us. (I highly recommend the experience.)

Dog sledding in Canada taught us so many things about leadership, teamwork, and strengths. On our trip, we met a young man named Jereme, who I call “the dog whisperer” because of his expert knowledge of his dogs and how to communicate with them. He was our guide and he took the time to teach my wife and I all about his team.

During our dog sledding adventure with Jereme, I couldn't help but think about the four domains of leadership, each containing a sampling of the thirty four talent themes as outlined in Gallup's Strengths Based Leadership book.

Lead Dogs – Executing - Work Harder

“Follow me, Brent.” He said commandingly and Rhonda and I did just that as Jereme led us to meet the first two dogs on the team.

“These are my lead dogs,” he explained to us, “Lead dogs are not necessarily the smartest, and they're not necessarily the fastest, but they're the best listeners, and they follow commands well.”

Jereme emphasized that it was important to know your lead dogs names so you could communicate with them frequently. After all, they are the leaders of their team. The other dogs respect them and follow them because of their leadership strength.

Lead dogs in dog sledding are not so different from what Gallup calls executing leaders. These domain of strengths are all about production and working harder.

A leader with Arranger – Achiever may work tirelessly to create the perfect configuration of systems.

Point Dogs – Strategic - Think Smarter 

Jereme pointed to the next two dogs directly behind the lead dogs. “These are the point dogs. They have vision and help navigate the direction of the team towards the destination.” These dogs apply just enough pressure to steer the lead dogs.

Point dogs, like those of us in positions of strategic leadership, are the thinkers, the heady intellectuals who tend to strategize and point us towards the future. They help the team to think smarter.

Leaders with Context – Strategic talents are exceptional at reviewing the past and finding the best route to grow their organization.

Swing Dogs – Influencing - Motivate Faster 

“It's very interesting,” Jereme said about the next two dogs. “You take an old dog and a young dog, pair them together, and you have swing dogs.” The older dogs have been around the mountains for many years, trekked endless trails, and accrued their share of bumps and bruises along the way. Of course, they have lost a bit of their zest, their energy, their pep.

But then you pair this older dog with a younger dog who has loads of enthusiasm, energy, and ability but lacks experience and wisdom and they influence and bring out the best in each other so that the team accomplishes its goal. This pair of dogs helps the team handle change and sharp turns.

The swing dogs fall into the influencing domain. These are the leaders who use their strengths to influence, sell and motivate others faster.

An influencing leader may shine with Communication – WOO drawing in new clients with likeable entertaining stories.

Wheel Dogs – Relationship - Care Better 

“These are the strongest dogs and biggest hearted dogs,” Jereme pointed, “and they're called wheel dogs.” The wheels dogs just want to please the driver. Easily the strongest dogs on the team, they love to pull, they love to work, and they love to do their job usually with very little recognition.

The wheel dogs have relationship strengths. They are the people adept at social - emotional intelligence, relating with others, and showing empathy and love. They help teams care better.

Leaders are like stars. The have unique edgy points that make them standout differently than anyone else. Teams need to be well rounded. Incorporating all types of talent and strengths for greater effectiveness.

Dominant relationship oriented leaders with Relator – Developer will build long term loyalty and mentorship.

Would you and your organization like to better understand your strengths based leadership styles?

Bring GALLUP Certified Strengths Coach and Convene Resource Specialist, Brent O’Bannon to your Forum Day or organization. Learn more at