Rationale- SfR


The process for creating a Strengths-focused-Relationship (SfR) was developed to be the basic unit, or primary building block, for organizations that want to bring people together and foster effective communication among members.

Theoretical and research support for this approach can be found in the chapter titled: “High Quality Connections,” by J.P. Stephens, E. Heaphy, & J.E. Dutton, in Handbook of Positive Organizational Development, Edited by K.S. Cameron & G. M. Spreitzer, Oxford University Press, and published in 2011.  (See excerpt in footnote # 1)

The primary benefits of a High Quality Connection (HQC), or a Strengths-focused-Relationship (SfR), include the development of trust, safety, and coordination when communicating in a positive relationship. There are four assumptions underlying the rationale for using the SfR to develop trust, safety and coordination in the connections or relationships. They are:

(1)There is no official listing of strengths that has consensus or scientific validation. In other words, there is no well-agreed-upon taxonomy of objective strengths.

(2)Every person can have strengths that are self-identified strengths and these subjective strengths have personal validity for that person.

(3) A person can listen to another’s description of his/her self-identified strengths and accept that representation of those strengths without questioning the validity of the characterizations.  All that is necessary is that the listener really tries to understand the self-identified strength as the sharer articulates that strength.

(4) A relationship that is grounded on both participants’ acceptance of each other’s self-identified strengths is likely to be positive and supportive as it develops.

A community of people is most connected when everyone in that community has a personal connection with every other person in the community.  If everyone in the community does not have a 1-on-1 connection with every other community member, the community can still function as a community if there is a critical mass of solid 1-on-1 connections. If the community has a high percentage of (1- on-1) relationships that are positive and accepting, that community is likely to be viable, supportive and flourishing.  It can be said that: Strengths-focused-Relationships are the basic unit that provides the glue and the lubrication for a supportive and effective community.


Footnote # 1: An excerpt from the chapter on High Quality Connections (HQCs):

“At a more collective level, there is also evidence that HQCs can have beneficial effects. For example, HQCs amongst members of organizational units are associated with greater levels of psychological safety and trust. Higher levels of psychological safety, in turn, contribute to greater unit-level learning from failures (Carmeli, Brueller, & Dutton, 2009; Carmeli & Gittell, 2009). Higher levels of interpersonal trust can spawn spirals of increasing cooperation and trustworthiness (Ferrin, Bligh, & Kohles, 2008). Finally, HQCs are also associated with improving organizational processes such as coordination (e.g., Gittell, 2003) and error detection (e.g., Vogus, 2004). Given the short-term nature of HQCs, their association with coordination and error detection may well be linked to the performance of temporary work teams, where individuals depend on each other but do not necessarily know each other well or share longer- term relationships (e.g. Weick, 1993).”