At school the two approaches that irritated me the most, it seems, were flawed after all. One was the constant focus on ones weakness (attending PTAs was surely dreadful) and the other was trying to make you a more ’rounded’ person (Seems daft to me that you should give up on what makes you unique).
So I always tried to avoid becoming a square peg that had to fit a round hole. I instinctively felt that it made sense to find your strengths and invest in them. With some luck and grace, it would help you lead a fulfilling life at work and home.
Gallup too thought that this was a great idea and they backed it up with great research to launch the best-seller book and ‘self-assessment’ online test in 2001 when Marcus Buckingham and Donald O Clifton came up with, ‘Now, Discover Your Strengths’
The basic premise of the book is that people and organization will benefit and will be more engaged & energetic so long as they try to leverage on their strengths. Weaknesses cannot be ignored and you need strategies to manage them, but they shouldn’t usurp the pride of place that is to be given to ones ‘Strengths’.
And they defined a set of 34 strengths of which your ‘Top 5’ matter the most. Backing the premise is tons of anecdotal story and more of solid stats. The theory and unique online self assessment tool is an outcome of studying over 1.7 million working professionals. The tool has gone through rigorous testing that has proved it in terms of reliability (the themes throwing up your results without significant impact of other factors like mood,fatigue etc) and repeat performance (the likelihood of you getting the same Top 5 if you were to attempt a re-test after say 6 months).
How unique does that make you in terms of sharing ‘Top 5’ themes with others? Statistically over thirty-three million (3.3 Crore) iterative combinations are possible and that makes it fairly unique.
StrengthsFinder is an effective tool to discover your strengths and improve your self-awareness. It is a more nuanced tool than tests that put contrasting and simplistic labels on people. None of the themes are ‘good’ or ‘bad’ or even ‘opposites’. They just define you accurately in terms of your personality and potential behaviour paths. Once you read the book, you can understand how a combination of ‘Woo’ and ‘Intellection’ is possible although in layman terms these would appear to be conflicting traits i.e. extrovertism v/s introvertism that cannot describe the same person.
None of the themes are mandatory in any specific job roles or work areas – not every successful salesman needs to have ‘Competitive’ in his Top 5 just like not every teacher will have the ‘Developer’ theme.
The book gives us an interesting insight into ourselves and helps us manage our lives better. And once you are up the curve, it helps you manage and interact better with people as you learn to understand their personalities and the approaches that will optimize your engagement.
So get to learn your signature Top 5 and use it to improve your self-awareness and ability to interact with others. Sharing and guessing ‘Strengths’ of people who have taken similar assessments is a fun activity in itself and will help you sharpen your understanding of personalities in the ‘strengths’ framework. But people can throw up surprising signature themes that makes us appreciate the uniqueness inherent in every person we meet.
You can learn more by visiting their link http://www.strengthsfinder.com. The easiest way to gain access to the test is to purchase the book and use the ‘access code’ they provide for a single usage. You will then get further opportunities to read about Gallup’s work in the area of ‘strengths based organization’ that is their signature program.
Took the test today after nearly 5 years – 3 of my Top 5 remain on the list i.e. Deliberative, Analytical and Strategic. And guess in recent times, I have ‘learnt’ to be more responsible as well since ‘Learner’ and ‘Responsibility’ complete my top themes.