StrengthsFinder strengths The Clifton StrengthsFinder is a personal assessment, which is soaring in popularity in both the private and professional world. With its rise in recognition, more and more people are becoming knowledgeable of the benefits of knowing their strengths. Unfortunately, this also means many leaders have just enough knowledge to be dangerous. Over the years and through many conversations—some participated in, others just overheard—I have picked up on themes and variations of common misconceptions. Completing the assessment and knowing your Top 5 themes or someone else’s will only get you so far. Don’t limit yourself when you’re so close to throwing open the doors of success for you and your team. Be sure you know the truth behind these 5 most common misconceptions about your StrengthsFinder strengths.

1. StrengthsFinder Measures Strengths

No. StrengthsFinder measures talents. TalentFinder would be a more accurate name for the assessment. However, the Gallup organization decided on StrengthsFinder to communicate the ultimate goal of completing the assessment—the development of talents into strengths.

2. Talents, Themes and Strengths Are Synonyms

Nope. Each of these terms makes up the foundational vocabulary of StrengthsFinder. According to Gallup, a talent is a natural way of thinking, feeling or behaving. Themes are simply the official and unique name of each talent as chosen by Gallup to provide a common language for us all to use. A strength is the ability to apply a talent in such a way that consistently provides near-perfect performance.

3. My Top 5 Are Strengths

Wrong again. Your Top 5 are themes. They’re likely a mixed bag. Some are talents. Some strengths. They are all “tools” in your “toolbox,” but the question is: are you a novice or a master craftsman with each? Often, talents are unintentionally used, and in such a way which frequently only benefits ourselves. Strengths, however, are powerful tools that are used intentionally and precisely, often helping the team accomplish the mission. The difference is investment—skills, knowledge and practice mixed in with the talent. This has a multiplying effect on the talent, turning it into a powerful strength.

4. Knowing My Top 5 Is Enough

That’s sad. Truly understanding what your StrengthsFinder results reveal about your unique wiring can open up a world of success for you! There’s so much to understand. You should know your Top 5 themes and what each theme means—what it sounds like and looks like in action—but don’t stop there. You should know:
  • What type of theme it is—Executing, Influencing, Relationship Building, Strategic Thinking
  • How your Top 5 interact with or support each other
  • Where the blind spots are for each of your themes
  • Who you should team with because of their complementary strengths or domains
  • How your Top 5 will affect and be effected by other wiring like Myers-Briggs and DISC

5. This Is Interesting and All, but It Doesn’t Impact the Real World

Definitely false! The good folks at Gallup have done a lot of polling and research. (That’s kinda what they’re known for.) They share in StrengthsFinder 2.0 that “people who have the opportunity to focus on their strengths every day are six times as likely to be engaged in their jobs and more than three times as likely to report having an excellent quality of life in general.” In Strengths Based Leadership, we learn that when an organization focuses on individuals’ strengths, the odds of that employee being engaged are almost 3 out of every 4 (73%). When the organization does not, the odds plummet to a mere 1 in 11 (9%) employees being engaged. Unengaged employees cause a very negative impact on organizations.
(Chart from Strengths Based Leadership)

(Chart from Strengths Based Leadership)

                Understanding and developing your Top 5 themes into strengths is one of the most important investments you can make in yourself. If you are a manager or business owner, it is one of the most important investments you can make in your people. And when you accurately understand what your Top 5 says about you, you are ready for success because you know where to help and how to team up. What else have you wondered about with StrengthsFinder? Let me know in the comment section below!