Strengths Explained

StrengthsFinder® is one assessment that gives feedback on our natural talents. Talents when properly used become strengths. This and other assessments came out of the ground breaking notion of focusing on what people naturally do well rather than concentrating on fixing weaknesses. Dr. Donald O. Clifton was struck by his inability to find articles and studies on what people do well. While there were reams of paper dedicated to human frailties, almost nothing focused on the positive. Dr. Clifton made the positive his life's work

Gallup® continues Dr. Clifton's work. The Four Domains of Strength shows  34 themes within their domain. Strengths may come in any combination. People may find that their strengths group in one or two domains or they may spread among all domains. This is a description; there is no right or wrong, better or worse. Talents are. It's what we make of them that matters.

People working from strengths report a higher quality of life. They look forward to going to work. They are more engaged, more productive and therefore the business has a better bottom line.


From Talents to Strengths

A natural talent is a wonderful starting point. Just as a child might have a natural talent for drawing, it takes practice, encouragement, learning, growing and getting feedback to develop that talent into art, architecture, design, graphics or engineering schematics. Whether the child chooses fine art or engineering will depend upon how the talent for drawing combines with other talents.

It is exactly the same with the 34 talent themes. Two people who have "Achiever" in common may express it differently based on their other four top themes AND the order of preference for those themes. Having the natural talent theme called "Achiever" is a title for grouping behaviors, such as finishing what you start and setting a fast pace for getting work done. Achievers may love lists and crossing things off them.

However, when the person with this theme invests in leveraging it at the right time, in the right way to achieve consistent near-perfect performance then it becomes a strength. Mindfully using talent is the way to success.

There are three mindful behaviors that can be applied. Balance, Regulation and Repurposing, consistently practiced, assist in achieving success. Balance comes in because every strength has a need. Someone with Self-Assurance will need to have it balanced with the need for autonomy. Without latitude to make decisions and follow one's own path, Self-Assurance may express itself in unhelpful ways.

Regulation is volume control. When is the right time to dial up "Achiever" and when is the right time to dial it back? Regulation is the skill of assessing the situation and the people in it, then using just the right amount of strength.

Repurposing helps us in situations that call on lesser talents. For example, presenting in a meeting seems a natural for someone who has Communication or Command or Self-Assurance. It may seem less suited for Individualization or Relator or Deliberative. However, perhaps Individualization can be repurposed to focus on knowing each person in the audience and including information that relates to each specific person, thus using a different strength to make the situation more natural and comfortable.