Know Your Strengths

Recently I took the CliftonStrengths assessment — about 170 questions designed to identify your top strengths so you can use them to be more effective. I had first heard about it in a conversation about community organizing, in terms of knowing what you bring to the table when getting involved with a new organization. But it had also come up at work, and I decided it would be at least interesting to see what I might learn from this assessment.

I worried a little about inadvertently gaming the system. I’m a good test-taker and, for example, I can’t take the MBTI anymore without knowing exactly what personality traits I’m indicating with each answer. (I’m solidly INFJ, by the way.) So I didn’t look too much at the possible strengths or how the assessment worked; I just sat down and for about 30 minutes answered each question as honestly (not aspirationally) as I could.

In the end I was given 5 strengths: Achiever, Responsibility, Intellection, Input, and Relator. At first glance, the first three seemed spot on and the last two seemed a bit iffy. I’m a Relator, as introverted as I am? But as I read their explanations all five made sense to me:

I also have a report with even more detail, and advice about how to make these strengths work even better for me. This is great timing, because I have been especially conscious lately of my first two strengths (and the challenges they bring) — traits that mean I work hard, strive to be the best, hold myself to high standards, and have trouble saying no or letting things be less-than-excellent once I feel ownership of them. I’m still thinking about what these strengths mean for me going forward, but I’m interested in challenging myself to make use of them in work, in volunteering, and throughout my life.

How about you? Do you have experience with CliftonStrengths or other similar assessments? I always try to maintain a healthy skepticism about letting classifications like this determine how I see myself and the world, so I’m curious how others make use of them.


4 thoughts on “Know Your Strengths”

  1. I love seeing this if only because it helps us relate better to each other. Thanks for sharing, Rachel.

    One other aspect of the StrengthsFinder classification is the category each strength lives in: strategic thinking, relationship building, influencing, and executing. I’ve found that extra layer of meaning helpful especially when considering “leadership” traits in myself and others.

    Knowing all of this, how can we best place ourselves in teams, projects, organizations? Both in work and in life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great point about considering the four categories. As I think about these strengths and reflect on my journey at Automattic, I am recognizing what I have to offer not in a lead role (which often involves influencing and building relationships) but as a lead’s “right hand.” That is, someone who can reliably assist with strategic thinking and executing on the things a lead may not have time to work on in detail.

      I’d love to chat with you more about that, and about your strengths.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love this assessment because it invites me to live from my strengths rather than supplement my weaknesses and it is especially useful in recruiting for teams and boards. My strengths are Relator, Connectedness, Futuristic, Maximizer and Strategic.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Indeed! As much as I admire strengths like Maximizer, recognizing the value I bring with my strengths helps me consider what role I can take to best serve a team or organization. (Also, those strengths make complete sense and you are making such good use of them!)


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