Thursday, December 27, 2007

Strengths Finder - So That's Who I Am!!...

At NSCC we are in the process of revamping our performance review processes. We are taking a positive spin on performance management and one way to do that is to identify strengths, not weaknesses. In order to do this this we are using Strengths Finder 2.0 from the Gallup organization.

Strengths Finder 2.0 is a set of 177 paired statements for which you have 20 seconds per pair to select on a Likert-like scale the one that most resembles who you think you are. After completing the questions, your answers are analyzed and the results are returned listing your top five strengths from a list of 34 themes.

The work behind the Strengths Finder approach was done by Dr. Donald O. Clifton. Here is a brief biography of Dr. Clifton from the Clifton Strengths Prize:

"Over a 50 year career, Dr. Donald O. Clifton established a movement in psychology that focuses on talents and strengths. This work earned Dr. Clifton recognition as the Father of Strengths-Based Psychology in an American Psychological Association Presidential Commendation. Dr. Clifton’s core philosophy was to have people focus on what was positive and right with themselves, and to build on their strengths to achieve their full potential."

I first took version 1.0 of the Strengths Finder (known as Strengths Quest) shortly after beginning my job as academic chair. Here are my top five strengths from that test:
  1. Learner
  2. Intellection
  3. Achiever
  4. Developer
  5. Arranger
The big surprise to me after taking this first version was how closely it was to whom I thought I was (each strength is described in details in supporting reports). Over the years I have done Myers-Briggs, DiSC, and others and always had some disagreement with the results. I did not have those same disagreements with Strength Quest.

I also asked several of my friends and colleagues what they thought of my results and almost unanimously they said that it was me - we had consensus :-).

As the College continues to roll out our new performance system, many of us will be taking workshop training in this new strengths-based approach. In preparation for this workshop, I took the StrengthsFinder 2.0 battery this past week, almost six months into my position as academic chair. Here are my top five strengths:
  1. Learner
  2. Intellection
  3. Input
  4. Achiever
  5. Responsibility
As you can see, three of five of my strengths have remained the same (Learner, Intellection, and Achiever), while two have changed - Input and Responsibility, which replaced Developer and Arranger. Input is about collecting and storing things, responsibility is about committing to what you do, achiever is about is about drive and arranger is about organizing and getting things done (these are all very brief paraphrased descriptions - to get the details buy the Strengths Finder 2.0 book). Now, all of these strengths describe me and I believe that I possess them all - they help me do the job that I do.

The question for me is why the changes from the first test? Were these my sixth and seventh strengths and I simply re-ordered them, or has six months as an academic chair given me a different "perspective" on my strengths and impacted their order. Hopefully this will become clearer as I go through the workshop and we adopt our new strengths-based positive attribute performance management system. What do you think? Hmmm...


Anonymous said...


I have done Myers Briggs too and I think the picture it gave of me was much more complete. The results of Clifton describe only some aspects, other strong ones are missing very, very much.

Ian H. MacLeod said...

I think you are right about the Strengths Finder not showing enough of your strengths - I think maybe the top seven or ten would be better - I've completed the questionnaire twice and different strengths made the top five each time (but three of the five were the same).

I've done Myers Brigg and I always find I disagree more with what it says about me than Strenghts Finder does. As well, the feedback I get from friends and colleagues when I share my Strengths Finder results with them is always closer to what I think.

All of these inventories are a guide to help you and others figure out who you are - none are perfect, some are undoubtedly "better" than others at finding who you might be.

Thanks very much for the commenta nd for reading my blog.