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As part of our strengths development programs for individuals and teams, Sales Code offers coaching and facilitated team learning using Gallup’s CliftonStrengths assessment which is grounded in the pioneering work of educational psychologist Donald Clifton.
We use this assessment as a tool in coaching clients seeking to develop personally and/or professionally as well as with teams and organisations. Once clients take the assessment they have access to a personalised Gallup dashboard of resources including a Strengths Insight Report, an Action-Planning Guide, and a web-based Strengths Community. Sales Code also provides exclusive clients resources and tips for accessing Gallup’s vast library of strengths-related learning resources.
Gallup research continues to prove that individuals are able to consistently perform at a higher level when they invest time and effort in understanding and harnessing their natural talents rather than attempting to identify and correct their weaknesses.
According to Gallup, “talents are naturally occurring patterns of thought, behaviour, and feeling that can be productively applied.” When we invest in our talents by adding skills and knowledge, our talents become strengths. Talents come naturally, but strengths are earned. The key to achieving success through a strengths-based approach is identifying our natural talents and then consciously choosing to strengthen and utilise them. Weaknesses become things about ourselves we learn to manage, saving the best part of our energy and attention for building our strengths.
How does CliftonStrengths work?
CliftonStrengths (created and owned by the Gallup Corporation) is a Web-based assessment of normal personality from the perspective of Positive Psychology. It is the first assessment instrument of this type developed expressly for the Internet. Specifically, the CliftonStrengths measures the presence of talents in 34 general areas referred to as “themes.” Talents -- the ways in which we naturally think, feel, and behave as unique individuals serve as the foundation of strengths development. Over a secure connection, the CliftonStrengths presents 178 items to the respondent. Each item consists of a pair of potential self-descriptors, such as "I read instructions carefully" versus "I like to jump right into things."
The descriptors are placed as if anchoring polar ends of a continuum. The respondent is then asked to choose from that pair the statement that best describes him or her, and to what extent that chosen option is descriptive. The respondent gets 20 seconds to respond to a given pair of descriptors before the system moves on to the next pair. (CliftonStrengths developmental research showed that the 20-second limit resulted in a negligible item non-completion rate.) Upon completing the CliftonStrengths assessment, respondents receive a report displaying their top five (most dominant) themes. The respondent then has the opportunity to delve into those themes to discover his or her greatest talents.
The CliftonStrengths and the top five themes report was designed in keeping with a major component of Gallup's mission: help people learn about and build upon their greatest talents to create strengths that will enhance all aspects of their lives.
Research leading to the development of CliftonStrengths included more than 30 years of studying talents and strengths and how they relate to performance outcomes. The instrument is based on a general model of Positive Psychology. Positive Psychology is a framework, or a paradigm, that encompasses an approach to psychology from the perspective of healthy, successful life functioning. Topics include optimism, positive emotions, spirituality, happiness, satisfaction, personal development, and well-being. The perspective taken by Positive Psychology, Gallup’s strengths concept, and CliftonStrengths differs from that of other theories and instruments developed to measure various psychological constructs. For that reason, we have not sought to develop a table that would compare and contrast the CliftonStrengths approach to that of psychological assessments that theoretically measure other constructs by means of other theoretical starting points.
A strength is the ability to consistently provide near-perfect performance in a specific activity. The key to creating a strength is to identify your dominant talents - the ways in which you most naturally think, feel, and behave as a unique individual - then complement them by acquiring knowledge and skills pertinent to the activity.
Can you build a strength through practice alone, or does "consistent, near-perfect performance" require some natural talent?
Development of a strength in any activity requires talents, which are naturally recurring patterns of thought, feeling, or behaviour that can be productively applied. Knowledge and skill are key components of strength, but to possess true strength you must use the best of your natural self: your dominant talents.
Because talents are naturally enduring, it is unlikely that your top themes will change significantly over the course of your life. However, by shifting your focus and acquiring new skills and knowledge to capitalise on your greatest talents in different ways, you can develop new strengths.
No. Each theme is discrete. The Futuristic theme - a fascination with the future - is not the "opposite" of the Context theme -- a fascination with the past. Similarly, the Discipline theme - a desire for routine and structure - is not the opposite of the Adaptability theme - the ability to "go with the flow." Your powerful talents in one theme do not prevent you from being highly talented in any other theme.
CliftonStrengths was designed for use in a purely developmental context. It is not designed to direct you into specific professions. Although certain themes do appear to be quite consistently dominant within certain professions, it would be wrong to say that a given profession requires dominant talents in certain themes. During our research, we discovered many individuals who were excelling in the same profession but who had very different top five themes. The best way to use CliftonStrengths to guide your career is to closely examine your top five themes - and other themes you may claim among your most dominant - and figure out how to best capitalise on your talents in those themes in whatever role or profession you select. (For a more detailed look and ideas about how the CliftonStrengths may help you guide your career, see Part II of the book StrengthsFinder 2.0.)
Have demographic comparisons revealed any differences in CliftonStrengths results between races, sexes, nationalities, or age groups?
Some slight differences do exist, but on an individual level these differences are negligible. The most interesting and the most significant talent differences can be found between people, not peoples.