What Are Your Strengths?

strengthsfinder

Gallup introduced the first version of its online assessment, StrengthsFinder, in the 2001 management book Now, Discover Your Strengths. The book spent more than five years on the bestseller lists and ignited a global conversation, while StrengthsFinder helped millions to discover their top five talents.

In StrengthsFinder 2.0 Gallup unveiled the new and improved version of its popular assessment, language of 34 themes, and much more. Loaded with hundreds of strategies for applying your strengths, this Wall Street Journal, Business Week, and USA Today bestseller will change the way you look at yourself — and the world around you — forever.

The Strengths Finder is an online measure of personal talent that identifies areas where an individual’s greatest potential for building strengths exists. By identifying one’s top themes of talent, the Strengths Finder provides a starting point in the identification of specific personal talents, and the related supporting materials help individuals discover how to build upon their talents to develop strengths within their roles. The primary application of the Strengths Finder is as an evaluation that initiates a strengths-based development process in work and academic settings.

I took the Strengths Finder Assessment a couple of years ago, and of the strengths it identified as my top five, I agree with four of them, but one of them I wouldn’t have even thought to put into my top 10 (there are 34 strengths that the research has identified). Here are my top 5 strengths, with a brief description of what each one means:

  1. Learner: People who are especially talented in the Learner theme have a great desire to learn and want to continuously improve. In particular, the process of learning, rather than the outcome, excites them.
  2. Achiever: People who are especially talented in the Achiever theme have a great deal of stamina and work hard. They take great satisfaction from being busy and productive.
  3. Relator: People who are especially talented in the Relator theme enjoy close relationships with others. They find deep satisfaction in working hard with friends to achieve a goal. (This is probably the one that I would have never put in my top five.)
  4. Responsibility: People who are especially talented in the Responsibility theme take psychological ownership of what they say they will do. They are committed to stable values such as honesty and loyalty.
  5. Futuristic: People who are especially talented in the Futuristic theme are inspired by the future and what could be. They inspire others with their visions of the future.

Once your strengths have been identified, the assessment report offers 10 “Ideas for Action” for each of your top five strengths.

I want to share some of these “ideas for action” for each of my strengths to provide some evidence that the assessment seems to have captured my strengths fairly well, at least based on the types of actions associated with such strengths.

  • Learner Refine how you learn. For example, you might learn best by teaching; if so, seek out opportunities to present to others. You might learn best through quiet reflection; if so, find this quiet time. Is it any coincidence that I’m a teacher?
  • Achiever: You do not require much motivation from others. Take advantage of your self-motivation by setting challenging goals. Set a more demanding goal every time you finish a project. Select jobs that allow you to have the leeway to work as hard as you want and in which you are encouraged to measure your own productivity. You will feel challenged and alive in these environments. These two action items fit me to a tee. I enjoy setting my own goals, both career wise and health wise, and never really feel the need to be motivated by others. I think this blog is an example of something that gives me the opportunity to put in as much times as I feel is needed, and I can measure its success on my own terms.
  • Relator: Make time for family and close friends. You need to spend quality moments with those you love in order to “feed” your Relator talents. Schedule activities that allow you to get even closer to the people who keep you grounded and happy. Make an effort to socialize with your colleagues and team members outside of work. It can be as simple as lunch or coffee together. This will help you forge more connected relationships at work, which in turn can facilitate more effective teamwork and cooperation. As noted above I was surprised that this was one of my top five strengths. While I feel that I do make time for family and close friends, I really have not made much of an effort to socialize with my work colleagues. Hmmmm…..
  • Responsibility: Tell your manager that you work best when given the freedom to follow through on your commitments — that you don’t need to check in during a project, just at the end. You can be trusted to get it done. I think the nature of the work for a college teacher allows us to be fairly independent; creating our own syllabus, using our own teaching and evaluation methods, and being trusteed to do the right thing for the students.
  • Futuristic: Musing about the future comes naturally to you. Read articles about technology, science, and research to gain knowledge that will fuel your imagination. Be prepared to provide logical support for your futuristic thinking. Your exciting visions of future success will be best received when rooted in real possibility. I enjoy reading about what is on the horizon in the world of technology (robotics, drones, self-driving cars), as well as visualizing what the next stage of my life will entail. I also like to plan for that future, to make it become a reality.

As mentioned in a previous blog, I was fortunate to have a former student come and speak to my classes about the strengths assessment. Not only was she able to get her company to pay for the students to take the assessment, she gave an informative and entertaining presentation about what the results mean and how you can use them.

I had also written in a previous blog about the Myers Briggs test, where the results indicated I was an INTJ.

It seems as if the results of these two assessments are fairly consistent, which adds to their reliability and credibility.

Of course tests doesn’t determine who you are or what you can accomplish, but they can provide a starting point for some self-reflection and further research.

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Jim Borden

Accounting Prof. at Villanova; happily married for 30+ years; father of 3 outstanding young men; vegan; interests: fitness, creativity, education, blogging, social media.

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