Thursday, June 18, 2015


Many people are familiar with the Strengths Finder assessment created by Gallup to help organizations identify and leverage the strengths of their employees. It is a wonderful instrument used for personal and team development by giving people language to describe or realize what innate strengths they are bringing to the table. It also helps folks realize when they are in positions or jobs that do not utilize their natural strengths. This tool is incredible for bringing about productivity in an organization because it helps to bring people back to WHY they do their jobs not WHAT their job is. When it is used well, it can reignite a sense of calling or purpose back into a career that might be dragging a little bit or even just starting.

Strengths Finder is not a tool used for selection. This isn’t meant to label anyone or box them in. It just uses 34 themes (categories) to describe what a person is innately good at. Typically, your top ten themes are the ones that are totally natural to you (whether you use them as a strength or not is another story) and are your go-to strengths. Then you have your secondary strengths which are the ones that you can pull out in the right situation and use them well. The final 5 are the ones that you will probably not ever use and really aren’t going to be able to develop into anything exceptional.
Strengths Finder came about essentially because one man (John Clifton) asked a question, “What would happen in an organization if we focused on people’s strengths rather than their weaknesses?”

What do you think happened?
Of course, it was a success!

The thing is, many assessments point out your flaws with the hope and inspiration to work on them. The fact of the matter is, that your weaknesses will not develop into exceptional gifts no matter how much you invest in them. They will become competent at best. If you are going to invest in your strengths, they can become excellent.
When we focus on our weaknesses and making our weaknesses better, then we are not giving our attention to the part of ourselves that can really develop into something great- our strengths.

I have had the great pleasure and opportunity to observe Train the Trainer workshops by an incredible organization called, Throwing Words. This group is committed to bringing relational productivity into the workplace. In other words, they passionately want to leverage people’s strengths for the benefit of the individual and the company. It works both ways. People are happy and at peace when they can have a job that uses their strengths and helps those strengths develop into exceptional gifts. Companies are happy and at peace because their employees are doing good work.

It isn’t just about life satisfaction. Strengths Finder has the numbers to prove their worth.  Organizations that use Strengths Finder and leverage employees strengths find that their employees are 6x’s more likely to engage on the job. Teams that focus on their strengths experience 12.5% greater productivity and teams that receive strengths feedback see 8.9% greater profitability. The numbers don’t lie and to date, 12 million people have taken this assessment (numbers from Train the Trainer workshop and Gallup).

I am not trying to sell this tool or advertise for Throwing Words (which I do think is an amazing group that can and will change the life of your company), I really just want to get you thinking about your strengths. Far too often we get stuck trying to experience the world from our basement rather than stepping out onto our balcony. We focus way too much time and energy on our weaknesses. What would change in your life if you focused on developing your strengths? What might change at your job if everyone was leveraging their strengths to do good work and collaborate together?

To me, this is world changing. After all, if something isn’t one of our strengths then we have to make it become a habit in order to incorporate it into our lives. How many habits have we created to fill the voids that we find surrounding our weaknesses? What if we let our strengths grow into and fill those spaces?

Do you know what your strengths are?

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