StrengthsFinder 2.0

Recently I’ve been struggling to better describe what is important to me and how this impacts my work, improving my awareness of traits which I could learn to use as strengths could help me in this activity, so I turned to StrengthsFinder 2.0.

The StrengthsFinder 2.0 assessment activity has recommended to me many times over the last three years. ThoughtWorks use it as part of ThoughtWorks University. In order to take the assessment you need a copy of the book (which is a minor gripe), which has a code redeemable for access to the site. The assessment itself takes between 30 and 40 minutes and is made up of a series of questions where you choose a preference between two statements within 20 seconds.

The report has your 5 strengths with detailed descriptions that are personal to the individual and an action plan for improving them.

My strengths we’re identified as:

* Individualisation
* Input
* Empathy
* Arranger
* Connectedness

Here is my report which contains brief descriptions of each strength and the personalised insights. I have not included the action plan part of the report.

Before I looked at my results, I had a look at the list of the 34 themes. The humanist in me particularly liked developer, harmony, includer, relator and restorative. The thinker in me liked communication, context, deliberative, intellection and learner.

Initially, I was slightly disappointed that I didn’t see any of these. However when I took some time to look into them, I found that the combination of empathy, arranger and individualisation fits my approach to people and teams pretty well and input, arranger and connectedness expresses my way of thinking quite well too. Whilst it may be a little confirmation bias, the traits revealed may present a better representation of me than the ones I initially gravitated to. As an example, a developer wants everyone to experience success, which I do, yet individualisation seeks to observe the uniqueness in each person and draw out their strengths, which is an even better description of my approach.

It is important to remember that these are only the top 5 strengths, we all have more traits, this exercise draws focus to some of them. I’m hopeful that I have some of the other traits I value as well, yet I can build on these specific ones highlighted to me.

This exercise has left me feeling more comfortable and aware of my traits, whilst I don’t feel constrained by them, the groups I defined above have given me a useful frame to express some of my ideas.

Part of me wanted to publish my assessment to see if sharing it revealed any additional insights, so please post any thoughts as comments. I also wanted to show that (hopefully) it can be a safe (and beneficial) choice to share these kinds of assessments with the world. I leave it as an exercise for the reader to decide if they want to publish theirs? If you do, please link to it in a comment, as I’m fascinated by the potential combinations.

As a follow up experiment, I belief I might be particularly effected by mood when taking these types of tests, so I intend to take this assessment a couple more times in the future and compare the results, I’m hoping for some consistency, maybe with a few of my other preferred traits appearing.

15 thoughts on “StrengthsFinder 2.0

  1. MarkDalgarno (@MarkDalgarno)

    Strategic, Deliberative, Learner, Achiever & Input. Others who read my report said they felt it was a good representation of my strengths. We also used each others strengths to identify opportunities for helping each other.

    1. Marc Johnson Post author

      Hey Mark,

      Thanks for commenting. Interesting list of strengths, particularly interesting in combination of learner and input.

      Is there somewhere I can read about how you used the strengths as part a group for learning?

  2. David Koontz

    I’m a skeptic, where the research that this tool is anything more than a feel good horoscope experience?

    Allow me to enter two data point. My first assessment with SF gave a wonderful 5 top strengths, and 6 months later I took it again and got 1 of the original strength and 4 new top strengths. Is that a repeatable experiment? Yes you can repeat it. Is it an indication that the tool may be lacking consistency, yes. Have the author, publisher studied this aspect of the instrument? Ill bet they have, yet they don’t publish those studies. Or I’m I wrong?

    1. Marc Johnson Post author

      Hey David,

      Thanks for commenting. I’m curious as to the stability of these traits as well. Part of me would like them to publish, comparative ranking of my strengths, like the Belbin report does for team roles. At least then I could tell if it was just shifts in emphasis, rather than completely different. The author argues that the test is designed to identify traits which are more stable over time than strengths, I’ve not seen the evidence for this argument.

      It’s useful to know someone else has tried this experiment before.

      For now, its been a useful exercise for me, even if it only increases my awareness and confidence.

      1. Sonja

        Hi Marc, it’s great that you found doing the SF useful. What I found most profound about it was that it gave me a language for what I already knew. I was so taken with it that I decided to qualify as a SF coach. If possible I recommend 2 things: get your full 34 report from gallup, your top 5 really is just the tip of the iceberg. And find someone to coach you on your strengths, it makes a world of difference. Gallup doesn’t recommend doing the assessment more than once, it is possible to game it after you become familiar with the themes. There is a technical report that details the research done ito validity etc that I can send you if you’re interested to know more. Btw my top 5 is connenctedness, ideation, input, adaptability & intellection :)

        1. Marc Johnson Post author

          Hi Sonja,

          Thanks for the comment and for providing your top 5.

          I may risk taking the assessment multiple times (with a time gap between them). There is significant risk that I may game the test, some of that risk existed when I took the first assessment. Getting my full report may mitigate me doing this.

          Part of this is curiosity, I’m not looking for repeatability or to discredit the assessment, just gain more awareness.

          I’d be fascinated to see the research. Do you have some involvement with Gallup? I’m curious because I’d like to understand why the assessment linked to the book doesn’t seem to acknowledge that it is possible to get a full report?

          1. Sonja Blignaut

            Marc – here’s the link to the technical report

            I don’t have a formal affiliation to Gallup aside from being an accredited strengths coach in the network. What I can tell you is that before last year, it was very difficult to gain access to your full 34 report. Essentially you could only get it as part of a formal coaching process through an accredited executive level strengths coach. Last year, Gallup opened things up and now allows you to purchase your full 34 report online, independent of whether you’re being coached or not. I think that was probably the reason why it wasn’t really punted in the book. Many coaches are a bit unhappy about the new development as people has a general bent towards weakness fixing and having access to the full 34, they seem to naturally gravitate towards focusing on the bottom 10 -which is counter to the whole strengths philosophy.

          2. Marc Johnson Post author

            Thanks, Sonja for the additional information.

            That makes sense to me and I can see why coaches would be concerned about it undermining the philosophy. I’m now curious as to why Gallup opened it up, I doubt I will ever know.

            Personally, I’m glad they did as it allows me to see the full report. I hope I am disciplined enough to only pay attention to the next few strengths out of curiosity, rather than head for the lowest ranked traits.

            I also hope this comment appears in the right place and that you see it, as it appears I’m unable to nest replies any further.


  3. dianezw

    Glad you finally did Strengths Finder! :) My top 5 are Achiever, Input, Woo, Command, and Competitive. When I read the descriptions, I was stunned at how well they described me.

    Going through this really gave me a different perspective. It helped me to make sense of and accept behaviors that I used to view as faults. I hope you find it equally beneficial. Thanks for posting!

    1. Marc Johnson Post author

      Hey Diane,

      Thanks for commenting. I’m glad an increased awareness of them has led to increased acceptance and clarity, I think it will for me as well. The report resonates with me quite a lot, I think it will help me describe some of these things to colleagues.


  4. flowchainsensei

    I’m always intrigued to hear about others’ experience of the StrengthFinder thing. Along with e.g. Social Styles, Belbin, Keirsey Temperament Sorter, Meyers-Briggs, etc. I like to uses these things to help teams start to get to know each other better. Far too often I find teams where socialisation and relationship-building happens in a purely ad-hoc fashion. Whilst I like the “organic” feeling of such an approach, I have found from experience that helping it along with some more deliberate and explicit efforts pays dividends for all concerned.

    Here’s my own StrengthFinder results from some years back:

    I don’t place too much faith in its accuracy or repeatability, but I do find the psychological effects of having it – and sharing it – quite interesting.

    – Bob

    1. Marc Johnson Post author

      Hi Bob,

      Thanks for the comment. Now that I’ve taken a few of the tests, I may start encouraging people in teams I work with to take them as well.

      I’m primarily interested in increasing my own (and others) awareness and if that sparks debate then all the better.

      The psychology of having done it and sharing it are interesting to me, it has had some impact. I’m glad I shared it and that people have found the post interesting.


    2. Sonja Blignaut

      Hi Bob – I’ve been itching to try SF with an Agile team to see if it has any positive impact on their ability to self-organise. An interesting concept to play with, is to use the Full 34 report to facilitate a process to get a team to interdependence by exploring Confident (who you are, your strengths) Vulnerability (who you aren’t – the bottom 5 or 10).
      Would be interested to know if you’ve seen any significant impact in teams.


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