Saturday, January 07, 2017


I recently took a personality test - StrengthsFinder from Gallup, developed by Donald O. Clifton, Ph.D.  I've taken many of these kinds of assessments through the years, but this was the first time I've taken this particular one.  The goal for StrengthsFinder is that by answering about 50 questions, they can determine my top 5 personality strengths.

The outcome was pretty fascinating.

Kevin had taken this same test about 3 weeks earlier at work and shared his results with me.  Not surprisingly, his results centered around being a strategic thinker, goal-oriented, being futuristic in thought.  So when my office asked me to take it, I was interested to see how we would compare.  My top 5 strengths in StrengthsFinder are:
  1. Consistency
  2. Context
  3. Intellection
  4. Discipline
  5. Harmony (this one is a surprise)
If you know me at all, you'll agree that these are probably the best 5 words in the English language to describe who I am.  Below I'm providing abridged versions of the theme descriptions, and bolded some things that stand out to me particularly.  Here's more of a peek inside me:

Balance is important to you. You are keenly aware of the need to treat people the same, no matter what their station in life, so you do not want to see the scales tipped too far in any one person’s favor. In your view this leads to selfishness and individualism. You believe that people function best in a consistent environment where the rules are clear and are applied to everyone equally. This is an environment where people know what is expected. It is predictable and evenhanded. It is fair. 
You look back. You look back because that is where the answers lie. You look back to understand the present. It is only by casting your mind back to an earlier time, a time when the plans were being drawn up, that the present regains its stability. The earlier time was a time of blueprints. As you look back, you begin to see these blueprints emerge. You you make better decisions because you sense the underlying structure. You become a better partner because you understand how your colleagues came to be who they are. And counterintuitively you become wiser about the future because you saw its seeds being sown in the past. Faced with new people and new situations, it will take you a little time to orient yourself, but you must give yourself this time. 
You like to think. You like mental activity. You like exercising the “muscles” of your brain, stretching them in multiple directions. This need for mental activity may be focused; for example, you may be trying to solve a problem or develop an idea or understand another person’s feelings. You are the kind of person who enjoys your time alone because it is your time for musing and reflection. 
Your world needs to be predictable. It needs to be ordered and planned. So you instinctively impose structure on your world. You set up routines. You focus on timelines and deadlines. You need precision. Faced with the inherent messiness of life, you want to feel in control. The routines, the timelines, the structure, all of these help create this feeling of control. Your dislike of surprises, your impatience with errors, your routines, and your detail orientation don’t need to be misinterpreted as controlling behaviors that box people in. Rather, these behaviors can be understood as your instinctive method for maintaining your progress and your productivity in the face of life’s many distractions.
The last strength, Harmony, makes complete sense in my professional life, but not necessarily in my personal life.  Professionally, I am at most times a mediator.  I am the middle man between front line staff and organization leadership.  I listen and advise as needed.  I don't make decisions in my profession; I make many suggestions on how to proceed, then trust the the best option is selected by the other party.  But personally, I LOVE a good debate and I am not shy about sharing my opinions.  Of course, StrengthsFinder is a professional tool.  So this is an interesting case where the professional me and the personal me are not the same person:

You look for areas of agreement. In your view there is little to be gained from conflict and friction, so you seek to hold them to a minimum. When you know that the people around you hold differing views, you try to find the common ground. You try to steer them away from confrontation and toward harmony. When others are sounding off about their goals, their claims, and their fervently held opinions, you hold your peace. When others strike out in a direction, you will willingly, in the service of harmony, modify your own objectives to merge with theirs (as long as their basic values do not clash with yours). When others start to argue about their pet theory or concept, you steer clear of the debate, preferring to talk about practical, down-to-earth matters on which you can all agree. In your view we are all in the same boat, and we need this boat to get where we are going. It is a good boat. There is no need to rock it just to show that you can.