Today I finally took the Strengths Finder test to identify where my strengths may lie. The questionnaire asks about 100 questions in which you identify statements in which you strongly agree with. It takes about 20 minutes to complete and at the end you are provided with a profile that describes your top 5 strengths out of a possible 34. All 34 strengths have been identified as core themes by the Gallup International Research & Education Centre from conducting 2 million interviews over a period of 30 years. These strengths are described in Now, Discover your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton.
After completing the Strengths Finder questionnaire my strengths were found to be the following.
- Individualisation: People strong in the Individualization theme are intrigued with the unique qualities of each person. They have a gift for figuring out how people who are different can work together productively.
- Arranger: People strong in the Arranger theme can organize, but they also have a flexibility that complements this ability. They like to figure out how all of the pieces and resources can be arranged for maximum productivity.
- Maximiser: People strong in the Maximizer theme focus on strengths as a way to stimulate personal and group excellence. They seek to transform something strong into something superb.
- Analytical: People strong in the Analytical theme search for reasons and causes. They have the ability to think about all the factors that might affect a situation.
- Woo: People strong in the Woo theme love the challenge of meeting new people and winning them over. They derive satisfaction from breaking the ice and making a connection with another person.
The authors claim that most organisations are built on two flawed assumptions about people:
- Each person can learn to be competent in almost anything.
- Each person’s greatest room for growth is in his or her areas of greatest weakness.
Think back to your organisation’s last performance review and try to remember the types of questions you were asked. No doubt you would have been asked to identify areas in which you need improvement. Essentially you are being asked to find a weakness that will lead you to an opportunity for self-improvement so that you can become a more well-rounded employee. The book Now, Discover your Strengths conveys that people have weaknesses for a reason, and that is because they may be more passionate and driven in other areas. Focusing on improving your weaknesses means taking time away from the things that you truly excel in, and therefore makes your work less enjoyable, and you become less productive as a result.
By focusing on your strengths you are focusing on things that you are truly interested in, and if you are doing things that you enjoy then you will spend more time and effort exploring your interests. This leads to more opportunities for growth as an individual. Developing individuals that specialise in specific skills adds to the diversification within your organisation, and enables teams to be formed from individuals with strengths that complement each other. Therefore individual weaknesses become less important within a team of individuals with diverse strengths. It is like diversifying your stock portfolio to reduce risk and make your investments more resilient through varying market cycles.