The Power of the Clifton Strengths assessment.

Unlocking Potential: The Power of the Clifton Strengths assessment

Have you ever wondered what makes you really good at certain things but not others? Or how you can use those talents to do even better in life and work? Well, that’s where I come in – as a Strengths Coach, and with the help of the Clifton Strengths assessment, I help people figure out how they use their unique talents to be at their very best, every day.

My own introduction to the StrengthsFinder, as it used to be known, was back in 2010 when my manager tossed a book in my general direction and said these encouraging words; “Here you are Martin, you may as well do this as everyone else is”. (It’s not what they do, it’s how they make you feel, right?). The book was the StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath, and in the back there was a code to use online, to access my Strengths Finder questionnaire. Like “everyone else” I took the assessment, read the descriptions, pondered about it for a while and then, like everyone else, carried on with my day.

The role of the Strengths Coach had yet to be defined. 

Some years later I was invited to develop a programme for a team in a large and local pharmaceutical company. Knowing how reconnecting with my StrengthsFinder Assessment had helped me navigate a tricky period at work, I suggested we use the StrengthsFinder in the programme. The suggestion was accepted but I also thought there must be more you can do with it. It turned out I was right. Gallup had just launched the Strengths Finder Coaching certification course and so it was that in August of 2013 I went to the Gallup HQ in Washington DC to be one of the first certified coaches…in the world! (I know..Stop it)

So, what exactly is a Strengths Coach and where do we add value to individuals who wish to develop, learning more about who they are and how they do stuff, and to teams who aspire to be high performing teams? Well, think of me as a guide who helps you understand what you’re naturally good at. It’s like having a map that shows you the way to your own talents and strengths. The StrengthsFinder Assessment is like a flashlight that helps you see and truly understand your strengths more clearly.

Here’s why the StrengthsFinder is so useful:

You get to know yourself better: I remember a leader many years ago looking at me wondering how people really didn’t already know what they are good at. It’s not just about finding out what you’re good at – it’s about understanding yourself better. It’s very much more about the how you approach your work, or hobbies, or anything really. When you know your strengths, you can see how you fit into the world and how you can make a difference.

You discover how to get along better with others, even the people you thought were tricky to get along with. Imagine if everyone spoke the same language – that’s what it’s like when a team knows their strengths, using the language of the StrengthsFinder. We can understand each other better and work together more effectively and efficiently. It’s like having a secret code for great teamwork.

Performing teams shift to high performing teams, in a short time frame. Every team is like a puzzle, with each person bringing something different to the table. When we know each other’s strengths, and appreciate the qualities therein, we can put the pieces together to create something amazing.

Showing ups and being at our very best, every day, in a Strengths based culture. We all want to be our best selves, right? Well, knowing your strengths helps you do just that. It’s like having a superpower – you can use it to do awesome things and reach your goals.

Based firmly in positive psychology the Clifton Strengths assessment was the brain child of Don Clifton, who wondered: “What will happen when we think about what is right with people rather than fixating on what is wrong with them.” Reflecting on that and from my own experience, during my life in corporate organisations, it was clear to at least three of them that I was not particularly good at project planning. It’s really not HOW I do stuff as will become clear later. However, my managers at the time hadn’t seen this quote and so went about “fixing” me to become a great project planner. I went on three course over a period of many years, at considerable cost to the organisations in time and money, which ultimately took me from being dreadful at project planning to being really bad. OK, I made progress but just think about how much progress I would have made if all that attention and resources had been put into something I was already good at. If you follow the logic going from good to great is a much better ROI.

If you have seen the assessment you will know that there are 34 behavioural talents that may or may not be described as strengths…yet. The list is interesting and the focus tends to be on the Top5, oh, and the bottom one of course. Everyone wants to know what their lowest ranking talent is.

Now, let’s talk about some strengths: Here’s my Top5

Adaptability: Life is full of changes, and Adaptability helps you roll with the punches. It’s like being a superhero who can handle anything that comes your way.

Empathy: Ever heard the saying “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes”? That’s what Empathy is all about. It helps you understand how other people feel so you can be kinder and more compassionate.

Ideation: Ideas are like seeds – they can grow into something amazing. Ideation is all about coming up with new and exciting ideas. It’s like having a brainstorm in your brain all the time.

Learner: Life is like a big school, and Learner is the student who never stops learning. It’s curious and eager to find out new things. With Learner on your side, every day is a chance to learn something new.

Maximiser: Why settle for good when you can be great? That’s what Maximiser is all about. It helps you take things to the next level and be the best you can be.

I have to admit that when I first saw them, I wasn’t impressed. Through understanding them though I know these raw talents, now Strengths, have helped my navigate stressful situations, and many a coaching conversation, knowing that my adaptability allows me to flex or even pivot in the moment…with my ideation (by the way, there are no boxes). My empathy really helps me understand the client in front of me, without taking their problems home while. My Maximzer can sometimes challenge me as “it” always could be better. If I allow that side of Maximiser to flourish then this blog will never get competed! But it will.

I’ll leave you will another quote from Don Clifton: “Knowledge consists of the facts and lessons learned. Skills are the steps of an activity. These three – talents, knowledge, and skills – combine to create your strengths.”

So, are you ready to discover your strengths and unlock your full potential? Let’s go on this journey together and see where it takes us.