Five things about StrengthsFinder

Before I go any further with my posts covering the 34 StrengthsFinder talent themes, I think I should step back and provide some basics about this developmental tool in the form of answers to some frequently asked questions.  Here we go.

1. How did this all start?
The strengths movement was founded by educational psychologist Donald Clifton who asked the question "What would happen if we studied what is right with people".  In a span of 40 years, over two million professionals in a variety of jobs were interviewed and observed.  From these interviews and observations, consistent themes emerged related to how different people became successful in their roles.  These pathways to excellence were then culled into a set of 34 talent themes which the StrengthsFinder measures.  Today, over 18 million people have taken the StrengthsFinder assessment worldwide. 

2. What are the differences between talents, strengths & themes?
Most people who take the assessment think that their "Top 5" are their strengths - period.  In fact, StrengthsFinder does not measure strengths, it measures the presence of talents in 34 general areas or "themes".  So, your "Top 5" are actually your Signature Talent Themes.  The 177 question assessment includes multiple questions measuring talents related to each theme.  A talent theme is an umbrella housing multiple talents associated with that particular theme.  A talent is your capacity for excellence.  It is a recurring pattern of thoughts, feelings and behaviors that can be productively applied.  When your natural talents are developed through practice and advanced knowledge, they can become a strength.  So, from now on, we will refer to the StrengthFinder "Top 5" as talent themes vs. strengths.

Most people gain access to their "Top 5" Signature Talent Themes by taking the assessment.  These are the themes you use all of the time - your fingerprint.  For an added fee, you can unlock all 34 talent themes.  StrengthsFinder defines the rest of the themes as Dominant (use most of the time), Responsive (used occasionally in response to a particular situation) and Non-talent (themes that rarely show up).

3. How unique are the talent themes?  
Similar to a fingerprint, a person's themes are unique.  The odds of having the same 5 signature talent themes (Top 5) in the same order as someone else is 1 in 33 million!   StrengthsFinder levels the playing field. It validates each person for who they are. Talent themes reveal a way to see how all perspectives are true, all visions should be heard, and that we all have potential for meaningful influence.

4. What is the difference between StrengthsFinder and DISC?
Many organizations use both the DISC and StrengthsFinder tools for development.  DISC measures four dimensions of behavior; dominance, influence, steadiness and conscientious.  StrengthsFinder measures talent; skills, knowledge, abilities and attitudes.  These are then categorized into 34 signature talent themes.  While DISC measures behavior, StrengthsFinder provides insights on how people feel, think and behave.  StrengthsFinder helps organizations create a language through which individuals can express who they are, what they need, what they give and what they value.

5. What about weaknesses? 
StrengthsFinder describes a weakness as anything that gets in the way of your success.  Knowing where you are not - or cannot - apply talent is important.  These are typically tasks that you tend to avoid or find tedious.  You are likely aware that your performance is not perfect in these areas.  Many times, you can apply one of your top talent themes to improve your performance in these areas. Alternatively, you can find peers to rely on who possess talents in the areas where you struggle - pair up and perhaps you can help them as well. 

If you have any other questions about the StrengthsFinder movement, please connect with me via the comment box below.

Dan is currently serving 20 years to life as the Sr. Director of Destination Experiences at Universal Orlando Resort.  He prefers white-water rapids over data lakes and lists Ideation, Futuristic and Positivity amongst his signature talents.    Find him on Twitter @dpddonovan 



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