One of the most common questions I am asked in consultations is this: Can my Top 5 themes from StrengthsFinder change over time?

A simple Google search of this question quickly returned the following answer from the Clifton StrengthsFinder FAQs:

Because talents are naturally enduring, it is unlikely that your top themes will change significantly over the course of your life. However, by shifting your focus and acquiring new skills and knowledge to capitalize on your greatest talents in different ways, you can develop new strengths.

This answer confirms what our consultants have experienced over and over again. As a help to you, we have narrowed down the top three reasons a person might experience a shift in their signature themes over time.

But before we get into the nitty-gritty, it is important to take a moment to define what we are and are not talking about in response to this common question. In all of my years of consulting, I have never met a person whose entire Top 5 themes have completely changed. Major shifts like this just don't happen if you answer the assessment questions honestly.

However, there are the occasional shifts that do take place. It is not entirely unheard of for a participant to have two or three new themes show up in their Top 5 when they retake the StrengthsFinder assessment several years later. Upon further investigation during the participant's consultation, one or more of the following three factors usually surfaces as a contributing factor.

1. Change in Job

Discovering New Strengths - StrengthsFinderThe most common reason we see shifts in a person's Top 5 comes back to a significant change in job responsibilities--especially those which include a large learning curve. It makes complete sense when you think about it. If strengths = talent X investment, and your new job role over the past couple of years has required you to invest in some weaker talents, it should not be surprising that a theme in the 6 through 10 range might become strong enough to move up into the 1 through 5 position. The opposite is also true. If your new role no longer requires you to rely so heavily on a talent that was previously seen in the 1 through 5 position, you are no longer investing in it quite as much. The natural result is often that the talent slips a little further down the list.

2. Change in Life Stage

This one most often shows up in men who have recently married or just become new fathers. It often includes the addition of some Relationship Building strengths where there were not any in the Top 5 before. The correlation is obvious. Suddenly, life includes all kinds of additional relationships, which must be successfully navigated, grown and developed. And it doesn't stop at the old adage: Happy wife, happy life. Now there is an additional set of parents, possibly grandparents and siblings to relate to--maybe even a new child, nieces or nephews. The relational cup is running over and a wise man will take it seriously and learn to build successful relationships creating a cohesive family unit.

3. Change in Focus

This is more of a catch-all, but it most often relates to the pursuit of a focused degree or intense training program. We see this type of shift when someone is participating in some type of intense leadership training. Strategic Thinking or perhaps Relationship Building or Influencing abilities may be added. If there is a lot of production that is involved, we may see some Executing themes enter into the mix, as well.

Even with these major life changes, the shift in themes tends to be minor. Most likely, the newly emerging themes were previously hanging out in the 6 through 10 position. And the recently departing themes have likely taken their place still close to the surface.

If you have recently experienced a shift in your Top 5, take some time to reflect on several important questions:

  • Which themes left?
  • Which themes appeared?
  • What major changes have I experienced from my first StrengthsFinder assessment to this?
  • Are there any correlations that could explain the shift?
  • With this new Top 5, which ones are strengths and which ones are talents?
  • What do I need to do to invest in the talents and turn them into strengths?

While major shifts in a person's Top 5 themes are highly unlikely, some of the minor shifts or re-ordering within the Top 10 occasionally takes place. Have you been wondering about a possible change in your Top 5? You can purchase a new code at

Have you experienced a shift in your Top 5? Tell us about it in the comment section below!