Strengths Finder

Clifton Strengths Finder Signature Themes

In 2008 as part of Standard Life’s performance management process I was assessed in accordance with the principles of the Clifton Strengths Finder with a view to strengths based development. My top 5 signature themes were identified as Strategic, Maximizer, Relator, Learner and Achiever. The following is an extract from the definitions provided by Gallup:

Strategic

The Strategic theme enables you to sort through the clutter and find the best route. It is not a skill that can be taught. It is a distinct way of thinking, a special perspective on the world at large. This perspective allows you to see patterns where others simply see complexity. Mindful of these patterns, you play out alternative scenarios, always asking, “What if this happened? Okay, well what if this happened?” This recurring question helps you see around the next corner. There you can evaluate accurately the potential obstacles. Guided by where you see each path leading, you start to make selections. You discard the paths that lead nowhere. You discard the paths that lead straight into resistance. You discard the paths that lead into a fog of confusion. You cull and make selections until you arrive at the chosen path — your strategy. Armed with your strategy, you strike forward. This is your Strategic theme at work: “What if?” Select. Strike.

Action Items for This Theme
Take the time to fully reflect or muse about a goal that you want to achieve until the related patterns and issues emerge for you. Remember that this musing time is essential to Strategic thinking.
You can see repercussions more clearly than others. Take advantage of this ability by planning your range of responses in detail. There is little point in knowing where events will lead if you are not ready when they do.
Talk with others about the alternative directions you see. Detailed conversations like this can help you become even better at anticipating.
Trust your intuitive insights as often as possible. Even though you might not be able to explain them rationally, your intuitions are created by a brain that instinctively anticipates and projects. Have confidence in these intuitions.
When the time comes, seize the moment and state your strategy with confidence.
Find a group that you think does important work and contribute your Strategic thinking. You can be a leader with your ideas.
Be ready to:
Learn how to describe what you see “down the road.” Others who do not possess a strong Strategic theme may not anticipate often or well. You will need to be very persuasive if you are to help them avoid future obstacles, or to exploit the opportunities you have seen.
Partner with someone with a strong Activator theme. With this person’s need for action and your need for anticipation, you can forge a powerful partnership.

Achiever

Your Achiever theme helps explain your drive. Achiever describes a constant need for achievement. You feel as if every day starts at zero. By the end of the day you must achieve something tangible in order to feel good about yourself. And by “every day” you mean every single day — workdays, weekends, vacations. No matter how much you may feel you deserve a day of rest, if the day passes without some form of achievement, no matter how small, you will feel dissatisfied. You have an internal fire burning inside you. It pushes you to do more, to achieve more. After each accomplishment is reached, the fire dwindles for a moment, but very soon it rekindles itself, forcing you toward the next accomplishment. Your relentless need for achievement might not be logical. It might not even be focused. But it will always be with you. As an Achiever you must learn to live with this whisper of discontent. It does have its benefits. It brings you the energy you need to work long hours without burning out. It is the jolt you can always count on to get you started on new tasks, new challenges. It is the power supply that causes you to set the pace and define the levels of productivity for your work group. It is the theme that keeps you moving.

Action Items for This Theme
Select jobs in which you have the leeway to work as hard as you want, and in which you are encouraged to measure your own productivity. You will feel stretched and alive in these environments.
You do not require much motivation from your supervisor. Take advantage of your self-motivation by setting challenging goals. Set a more stretching goal every time you finish a project.
Own the fact that you might work longer hours than most people, and that you might not need as much sleep as many other people do.
Choose to work with other hard workers. Share your goals with them so they can help you.
Accept that you might be discontented even when you achieve.
Be ready to:
Take a moment to appreciate your successes. You can look ahead tomorrow. Today, celebrate.
Partner with someone with a strong Discipline or Focus theme. This person can help you use your energy as efficiently as possible.
Count personal achievements in your scoring “system.” This will help you direct your Achiever theme toward family as well as work.

Maximizer

Excellence, not average, is your measure. Taking something from below average to slightly above average takes a great deal of effort and in your opinion is not very rewarding. Transforming something strong into something superb takes just as much effort but is much more thrilling. Strengths, whether yours or someone else’s, fascinate you. Like a diver after pearls, you search them out, watching for the telltale signs of a strength. A glimpse of untutored excellence, rapid learning, a skill mastered without recourse to steps — all these are clues that a strength may be in play. And having found a strength, you feel compelled to nurture it, refine it, and stretch it toward excellence. You polish the pearl until it shines. This natural sorting of strengths means that others see you as discriminating. You choose to spend time with people who appreciate your particular strengths. Likewise, you are attracted to others who seem to have found and cultivated their own strengths. You tend to avoid those who want to fix you and make you well rounded. You don’t want to spend your life bemoaning what you lack. Rather, you want to capitalize on the gifts with which you are blessed. It’s more fun. It’s more productive. And, counterintuitively, it is more demanding.

Action Items for This Theme
Seek roles in which you are helping other people succeed. In coaching, managing, mentoring, or teaching roles, your focus on strengths will prove particularly beneficial to others. For example, because most people find it difficult to describe what they do best, start by arming them with vivid descriptions.
Devise ways to measure your performance and the performance of your colleagues. These measures will help you spot strengths, because the best way to identify a strength is to look for sustained levels of excellent performance.
Once you have identified your own strengths, stay focused on them. Refine your skills. Acquire new knowledge. Practice. Keep working toward mastery in a few areas.
Develop a plan to use your strengths outside of work. In doing so, consider how your strengths relate to the mission in your life, and how they might benefit your family or the community.
Study success. Deliberately spend time with people who have discovered their strengths. The more you understand how marshaling strengths leads to success, the more likely you will be to create success in your own life.
Be ready to:
Make your weaknesses irrelevant. For example, find a partner, devise a support system, or use one of your stronger themes to compensate for one of your weaker ones.
Explain to others why you spend more time building on strengths rather than fixing weaknesses. Initially, they might confuse what you are doing with complacency.

Relator

Relator describes your attitude toward your relationships. In simple terms, the Relator theme pulls you toward people you already know. You do not necessarily shy away from meeting new people — in fact, you may have other themes that cause you to enjoy the thrill of turning strangers into friends — but you do derive a great deal of pleasure and strength from being around your close friends. You are comfortable with intimacy. Once the initial connection has been made, you deliberately encourage a deepening of the relationship. You want to understand their feelings, their goals, their fears, and their dreams; and you want them to understand yours. You know that this kind of closeness implies a certain amount of risk — you might be taken advantage of — but you are willing to accept that risk. For you a relationship has value only if it is genuine. And the only way to know that is to entrust yourself to the other person. The more you share with each other, the more you risk together. The more you risk together, the more each of you proves your caring is genuine. These are your steps toward real friendship, and you take them willingly.

Action Items for This Theme
Find a workplace in which friendships are encouraged. You will not do well in an overly formal organization. In a job interview, ask about work styles and company culture.
Deliberately learn as much as you can about the people that you meet. You like knowing about people, and other people like being known. In this way, you will be a catalyst for trusting relationships.
Show people that you trust them and they will be more likely to trust others. You can be an important role model in this area.
Let it be known that you are more interested in the character and personality of others than in their status or job title. This is one of your strengths and can serve as model for others.
Let your caring show. For example, find people in your company to mentor, or help your colleagues to know each other better, or extend your relationships “beyond the office.”
No matter how busy you are, stay in contact with your friends. They are your fuel.
Be ready to:
Be honest with your friends. True caring means helping the other person be successful and fulfilled. Thus, giving honest feedback or encouraging your friend to move out of a role in which he or she is struggling is a caring act.
Forgive a close friend. When someone lets you down, you take it seriously, and might become skittish about renewing the relationship. Honor this reluctance, but don’t let it stop you from extending trust again.

Learner

You love to learn. The subject matter that interests you most will be determined by your other themes and experiences, but whatever the subject, you will always be drawn to the process of learning. The process, more than the content or the result, is especially exciting for you. You are energized by the steady and deliberate journey from ignorance to competence. The thrill of the first few facts, the early efforts to recite or practice what you have learned, the growing confidence of a skill mastered — this is the process that entices you. Your excitement leads you to engage in adult learning experiences — yoga or piano lessons or graduate classes. It enables you to thrive in dynamic work environments where you are asked to take on short project assignments and are expected to learn a lot about the new subject matter in a short period of time and then move on to the next one. This Learner theme does not necessarily mean that you seek to become the subject matter expert, or that you are striving for the respect that accompanies a professional or academic credential. The outcome of the learning is less significant than the “getting there.”

Action Items for This Theme
Seek roles that require some form of technical competence. You will enjoy the process of acquiring and maintaining this competence.
As far as possible, shift your career toward a field with constantly changing technologies or regulations. You will be energized by the challenge of keeping up.
Because you are not threatened by unfamiliar information, you might excel in a consulting role (either internal or external), in which you are paid to go into new situations and pick up new competencies or languages very quickly.
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, carve out this quiet time.
Find ways to track the progress of your learning. If there are distinct levels or stages of learning within the discipline or skill, take a moment to celebrate your progression from one level to the next. If no such levels exist, create them for yourself (e.g., reading five books on the subject, or making three presentations on the subject).
Be ready to:
Honor your desire to learn. If you can’t fulfill this need at work, take advantage of the adult educational opportunities in your community. Discipline yourself to sign up for at least one new academic or adult learning course each year.
Be a catalyst for change. Others might be intimidated by new rules, new skills, or new circumstances. Your willingness to soak up this “newness” can calm their fears and spur them to engage. Take this responsibility seriously.
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