By Tom Rath
Never heard of StrengthFinders before? Neither had I until our management handed a copy of the book to each of the supervisors and asked them to read it and take the strengths test. The premise of this psychology theory is that focusing on a person’s strengths is much more productive and efficacious than always pointing out what they have done wrong. I would agree with that. I think we have all completed the test and the book at work, but so far I haven’t seen much improvement in the maximizing one’s strengths and not focusing on what is wrong. Well, change does take time.
Don Clifton is considered to be the Father of Strengths Psychology and he invented the test. This test is not true and false or necessarily multiple choice as in A, B, C, D. That doesn’t mean the test was easy. The exam consists of choosing between two character traits in a single question. For example, “Do you prefer working in a team or working on your own?” Each question has a Likert scale with strongly agree on each end, then somewhat agree, and in the center neutral. The thing that was hard was choosing between two strengths that one individual has. Am I more responsible than I am a learner, etc.? Daphne had to help me decide some of the answers because they were so close as to how I see myself. To add to the fun, you may only use 20 seconds to answer each question or the test will move to the next item.
After taking the test, which is conducted by the Gallup folks, you are provided with a list of your top 5 strengths or themes. The experts have identified 34 themes (skills) such as Achiever, Activator, Arranger, Developer, Discipline, Intellection, Maximizer, and Relator to name a few. At work, we compared our results with each other. I had one in common with another supervisor and no one else had any of my other strengths. I also didn’t believe I wasn’t an Achiever or Arranger. I am very competitive with myself and am always trying to improve and reach goals. I also like putting things together and planning. I am very disciplined. However, some of my 5 top themes were odd: Learner (True. I love to learn.), Intellection (Yes, I do like to use my brain.), Restorative (What in the world is that?), Responsibility (Yes. This fits, and the only trait I had in common with someone else.), and Input (Huh?).
I was disappointed, because I was sure I fit into other categories, ones I thought were more important and popular until I read what Restorative and Input mean. You can pretty much guess what Responsibility, Intellection, and Learner mean. Restorative people love to solve problems. They like to take things that are broken, not just items, but processes, etc., and breathe life back into them, return them to their former glory. Restoratives are energized by challenges.
Input – Inquisitive and a collector of things, facts, ideas, as well as baseball cards, etc. I am a collector of quotes and books. We love to add information or collectible items to our “archives.” We love collecting info because we never know when it will come in handy. Because there are so many wonderful things in the world, we find the world exciting.
I am definitely all of the above. So even if I am the only one who had these themes in our group, they are good traits. The details above are brief explanations. The book not only explains the themes, but gives real life examples of people who have these strengths as well as ways in which we can put our strengths into action.
If you are interested in finding your strengths whether for your own knowledge or to apply in work and life situations, you will find this book and its accompanying test very interesting. Remember, all 34 themes are strengths and there is not a bad one in the bunch. The book can be passed along to family and friends to read, but if taking the test is desired, a new copy will need to be purchased as the book gives an individual key to access the test. The code can’t be used by anone else.
Life is good. And I firmly believe we all have strengths that make us the wonderful people we are. Happy Reading!