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Managing Your Strengths -20 years later


I am looking at “Managing Your Strengths” on my bookshelf and find it hard to believe that it has been 20 years since Allan Katcher and I wrote it. The book describes the Life Orientations™ (LIFO) Method that Allan had originated and developed with Stuart Atkins in the late 1960’s and 1970’s.


As organizational psychologists they were frustrated by the inability of managers to conduct value-added performance appraisals that provide constructive feedback to employees. They created LIFO™ to provide a methodology for giving non-threatening feedback and a vocabulary to aid conversations about improving interpersonal skills.


It was, and perhaps still is, a methodology that has flown below the radar of other more well-known tools. Having said that, when we wrote the book, it had already reached over 8 million people in 26 countries. By now more than 20,000 organizations have used LIFO™.

I was drawn to the LIFO™ Method because it:


-Starts from the values and goals of each individual and how they intend to achieve personal satisfaction

-Does not stereotype or label people

-Focuses on behaviors, not personalities

-Explains why a strength, if overused or used in an inappropriate situation, can become a weakness

-Describes 4 operating styles or orientations that while simply presented, offer deep insights into how to:

-Make use of one’s strengths

-Use the strengths of others to achieve common goals

-Minimize potentially inappropriate or ineffective behavior

-Get on well with people who have different behavioral styles

-Covers the connections between our intention to act in a certain way, the actual behavior we employ, and the impact of our actions

-Describes how our behaviors change when we are under stress

-Can be used in work situations and in one’s personal life. (I recall meeting a priest who was using it in his marriage counselling activities.)


Allan Katcher passed away in 2017. He was a soft-spoken man, but when he talked it was with wisdom born from experience and a keen mind. I learned a lot from him and was blessed to know and work with him. Twenty years has flown by very quickly.

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