How to Use Your Team’s Strengths to Lead Your Social Enterprise

Posted by on May 25, 2012 in Entrepreneurship

I’ve been meeting with Dan and Cindy Mattson over the last several weeks, brainstorming ideas that would help social enterprises thrive. Dan and Cindy have backgrounds in youth development, a critical success factor for many social enterprises that address the challenges of youth. They also provide professional development and leadership coaching in non-profit and small business venues.

I interviewed Dan about his philosophy about leveraging strengths to help social enterprises succeed.

Here is some of the interview:

Paul : What do you think are some of the critical paths of thinking social entrepreneurs need, when it comes to thinking about putting together strong teams?

Dan: One of my favorite quotations is from Chris Lowney, author of Heroic Leadership: “With greater love than fear… Leaders face the world with a confident, healthy sense of themselves as endowed with talent, dignity, and the potential to lead.  They find exactly these same attributes in others and passionately commit to honoring and unlocking the potential they find in themselves and in others.  They create environments bound and energized by loyalty, affection, and mutual support.”

Paul: What are some practical actions leaders of social enterprises can take, to leverage the strengths of their team?

Dan: Strategic changes in your organization will require the evaluation of your team’s skills, talents and abilities.

As a fast growing number of non-profit and social enterprise organizations are challenged with the need to shift from ‘funded by others’ models towards self-sustaining and revenue-generating models, there also needs to be a human resource shift regarding the types of abilities, skills and talents required of the people & teams who make these organizations run.

By raising the level of awareness of your current team’s natural talents and specific skills you will increase your awareness of the needed talents and skills that will be helpful to experience success in implementing strategic change within your organization.

Paul: What kinds of changes in thinking do social entrepreneurs need to make, to make the most of the talents of their teams?

Dan: Here are three changes in mindset that will help social entrepreneurs succeed:

1. Natural talents and abilities are important because they each contribute in radically different ways.  This sounds obvious to say, but it couldn’t be truer and is much easier said than done!

The Gallup Organization (for example) identifies four quadrants of leadership for their 34 Strengths themes.

Relationship Building; Executing; Influencing; Strategic Thinking

New direction and strategies may require that you evaluate what of these quadrants are well represented and which will need to be addressed.

2. Assessing team talents, skills and abilities is personal and can’t be solved with one magic bullet.  Every team and situation is different and will require a unique and customized approach.

Know your team and be clear on your goals in order to identify the strengths and abilities that you will need to improve your results.

3. Make the evaluation of your team’s talents, skills and abilities a regular component of your strategic implementation plan.

Be sure to utilize the wealth of information and consulting that is available to help you to regularly evaluate your team in order to successfully leverage their talents, skills and abilities to accomplish your organization’s mission and vision.  Your team will thank you for it and your organization will achieve greater success.  What could be better!

Dan and Cindy Mattson are owners of Defining Point Consulting.

Together, they have over 40 years of experience working with leadership, youth and family:

Dan as a pastor to youth and family as well as a mentor and coach to leaders across the country

Cindy as an educator and licensed teacher in the state of Minnesota as well as an experienced leadership coach and professional development consultant

Combined experience of leadership, training/equipping and communication in non-profit and business organizations

Dan’s experience in small business as a production and project manager for over 10 years

Cindy’s certification with Myer’s Briggs and Strongs Interest Inventory along with her training and experience with emphasizing Strengths

Find them at

 Paul Hardt, Ed.D. is a regular contributor to His personal blog is
You can follow him on Twitter: @paulhardt
Look for his Facebook page: Successful Social Enterprises
Image Source: aaron.knox

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