As one of the most prolific personality assessments in the world, StrengthFinder® is a tool that can help identify your decision-making process and unique perspective.
In this post, I will explain how to use this assessment for self-awareness, why the “Balcony and Basement” concept is important, and how often each talent occurs.
All About StrengthsFinder
The Clifton StrengthsFinder® (also known as StrengthsFinder®, StrengthsFinder® 2.0, and 34 Clifton StrengthsFinder®) is a personality assessment tool that has been taken by over 21 million people and explained in the eponymous book by Tom Rath. Read more about it at the official Gallup page.
The test consists of a series of 177 questions in which you rate yourself based on which of two statements describes you most accurately.
Questions can include statements like:
- “I pick out just the perfect gifts for my friends.” as opposed to “I give gifts most people would enjoy.”
- “I work quickly.” or “My work is slow and steady.”
- “I like to win first place.” or “I like to play the game.”
Each question has five numbers [1 2 3 4 5], which you select to best describe your preference for one statement or the other. A “1” would indicate that the left-hand phrase is very accurate, whereas as “5” signifies that the right-hand phrase is more accurate. To get the best results, it’s important to avoid using the “3” score, since too many ambiguous answers will skew the scoring.
Once you complete the assessment, you will receive a detailed PDF report showing your results.
The lowest-cost version is $20 and includes your “top 5” results out of the 34 possible (see more here). Or you can opt for the $89 version, which shows how you rate in all 34 talents… including your bottom five, which is super helpful to know.
Why Take the StrengthsFinder?
So why consider taking StrengthsFinder?
I’ll answer this question in more depth in a future post, but the short version is this:
StrengthsFinder gives you a common language to express why you think the way you do, and how your perspective is different from those of other people.
As a female who likes to analyze and dissect problems (my Myers-Briggs type is INTP), growing up I felt really out of place. Although it was easy for me to make friends, spending too much time with people wore me out. I felt like there was a barrier between my natural way of thinking, and how others perceived the world. I couldn’t understand why this was happening: Was there something wrong with me?
Once I took the StrengthsFinder assessment and started to dig deeper into my top 5 talents, the world finally started to make sense. I started to appreciate my natural talents and realized that the situations where I felt unheard or unappreciated often came from my own perception of the situation.
I also started to look for situations where my strengths could shine, instead of trying to fit in a box where they weren’t wanted.
Here are my top 5 StrengthsFinder talents:
As you will see later in this post, 3 of these top themes are in the Strategic Thinking category. Several of my Top 5 are quite uncommon (Focus is #29 most frequent out of 34, Activator is #28 out of 34, and Futuristic is #16 out of 34 in overall frequency).
As I continued to gather more information about how this resource could help me in my career (thanks to my Input strength), I met Andy Sokolovich, a Gallup certified StrengthsFinder coach who had just launched a podcast to interview people from around the world and talk about their strengths. He interviewed me (you can watch that episode here), and eventually invited me to join him as the co-host of his podcast.
We interviewed some amazing people from all over the world. Check out our episodes here.
Now that I am a business consultant, I use each of my talents every day to serve clients’ needs.
I also recommend that my clients take the StrengthsFinder assessment prior to beginning our work together.
This is for several reasons:
- it increases their self-understanding and appreciation for what they are doing well,
- it makes them aware of possible blind spots and areas of weakness,
- it gives us a common language from which we can communicate, and
- it helps me to understand their decision-making process.
Now that you understand the basics of the StrengthsFinder test, what can you to interpret the results?
Let’s look at the Leadership Domains, Balcony & Basement strengths, and the Frequency of each talent around the world.
1. The Leadership Domains
A “strength” starts out as a talent until it is developed. Out of the 34 talents, each can fit into one of four Leadership Domains.
There domains include:
- Relationship Building, and
- Strategic Thinking.
If you’ve already taken the StrengthsFinder assessment (and I highly suggest you do!), you can get more out of your results by analyzing where they fall in these four categories.
Knowing which Leadership categories are most dominant can be really useful in understanding how you perceive the world.
Here is a bit more about each category and which talents are included in each.
This is the Get-Things-Done category. If you have an Executing strength, you are likely to enjoy (or at least be really good at) solving problems, cleaning, sorting, arranging, tidying, and systematizing everything in sight.
The talents in this category include:
- Achiever (busy and productive; want to “check things off the list”)
- Arranger (know how to get maximum productivity with alignment and order)
- Belief (have unchanging core values and a strong sense of purpose)
- Consistency (define very clear rules; treat everyone equally)
- Deliberative (very cautious in making decisions; anticipate roadblocks)
- Discipline (enjoy routine, order, and structure)
- Focus (mental toughness to stay on task; want to prioritize, then act)
- Responsibility (take personal ownership and follow through on promises)
- Restorative (are skilled at understanding and solving problems)
Someone with talents in this category has the innate ability to rally others and convince them to do something. They are persuasive—either with a high level of enthusiasm and a “rah-rah” spirit, or using a quiet magnetism that makes people feel confident to follow their lead.
Influencing talents include:
- Activator (eager to get people engaged and turn ideas into action)
- Command (take charge of situations with decisiveness; have a strong presence)
- Communication (effortlessly put thoughts into words; great conversationalists)
- Competition (measure their performance by comparing their progress against others)
- Maximizer (look for ways to improve the chances of success by stimulating growth)
- Self-Assurance (have a level of confidence about their abilities and opinions)
- Significance (are eager for their work to be acknowledged and appreciated)
- Woo (enjoy meeting new people and “collect” them)
A person who has Relationship Building talents is able to deeply understand and bond with others. She or he can feel deeply and express their emotions easily. Although females statistically have these talents in higher frequency than males (see more about this below), the ability to relate to others is important regardless of your gender or title. Individuals with high Relationship Building abilities can create strong interpersonal bonds. They are the “glue” that holds a group together.
Here are the Relationship Building talents:
- Adaptability (able to quickly adjust to changes)
- Developer (wants to help others reach their potential)
- Connectedness (believes that nothing happens by chance, and all events are connected)
- Empathy (can place themselves in the mindset and emotions of others and feel their pain)
- Harmony (seeks to avoid conflict by creating a friction-free environment)
- Includer (wants to accept those “outside the circle” to join their group)
- Individualization (sees a person’s unique abilities and how they can work best with others)
- Positivity (maintains a bright outlook despite the circumstances)
- Relator (enjoy making deep, long-lasting friendships)
The Strategic Thinking talents are distinguished by a more cerebral, logical approach to problem-solving. Someone with strengths in Strategic Thinking tends to think (and feel) quite deeply about everything, although the way she or he expresses their ideas is colored by the other talents in their Top 5.
Talents in this grouping include:
- Analytical (consider which factors will affect the outcome of a situation)
- Context (appreciate how prior historical events apply to the current situation)
- Futuristic (inspires people with a vision of how the future could be)
- Ideation (able to generate new ideas; interested in the possibilities)
- Input (constantly collecting resources, books, materials, and information)
- Intellection (desires deep and thought-provoking discussions)
- Learner (continually hungry to and find opportunities for self-improvement)
- Strategic (can recognize a variety of ways to achieve a goal)
Find detailed descriptions of each theme at Gallup’s website.
2. Balcony and Basement
The “Balcony and Basement” idea was first presented by some certified Gallup StrengthsFinder coaches while I was a co-host on the Theme-Addicts podcast.
Basically, the idea is that for each of our strengths, we can develop a functional and “best-foot-forward” version (the Balcony). But we can also regress into a destructive side of that strength (the Basement).
The key is to find a good balance by enhancing the useful output from each of your talents, and minimizing the negative effects and perceptions.
Read more about finding balance: Yin and Yang Approaches to Management
You can read the original document here: Balcony & Basement
3. Frequency of StrengthsFinder Talents
Gallup StrengthsFinder has provided a report of the frequency across all strengths around the world. It’s called the Frequency of CliftonStrengths™ Talents.
The study was published in December 2018 and is the most comprehensive comparison of StrengthsFinder results ever conducted. (View the entire Gallup StrengthsFinder Theme Frequency report here).
Gallup StrengthsFinder Frequency Data
|Talent Frequency (All)||Talent Frequency – Females||Talent Frequency – Males|
|20,002,953 respondents||9,447,125 respondents||7,307,429 respondents|
|1. Achiever 6,244,621||1. Achiever 2,932,919||1. Achiever 2,223,721|
|2. Learner 5,596,555||2. Responsibility 2,831,336||2. Learner 2,015,151|
|3. Responsibility 5,564,207||3. Relator 2,536,900||3. Relator 1,865,458|
|4. Relator 5,451,508||4. Learner 2,514,564||4. Strategic 1,800,730|
|5. Strategic 4,370,628||5. Empathy 2,405,752||5. Responsibility 1,784,721|
|6. Harmony 3,914,293||6. Input 2,105,341||6. Analytical 1,522,894|
|7. Input 3,911,497||7. Harmony 2,065,124||7. Restorative 1,417,610|
|8. Restorative 3,806,585||8. Developer 2,020,352||8. Ideation 1,306,206|
|9. Empathy 3,749,011||9. Restorative 1,910,204||9. Harmony 1,287,654|
|10. Adaptability 3,348,616||10. Positivity 1,882,893||10. Adaptability 1,258,850|
|11. Positivity 3,309,151||11. Strategic 1,758,524||11. Competition 1,195,209|
|12. Developer 3,244,133||12. Individualization 1,628,116||12. Individualization 1,147,451|
|13. Individualization 3,186,769||13. Adaptability 1,613,170||13. Futuristic 1,137,326|
|14. Ideation 2,697,236||14. Communication 1,328,827||14. Input 1,111,475|
|15. Analytical 2,681,892||15. Consistency 1,255,684||15. Positivity 1,022,779|
|16. Futuristic 2,596,383||16. Connectedness 1,232,746||16. Deliberative 996,995|
|17. Communication 2,579,005||17. Intellection 1,218,907||17. Context 949,372|
|18. Arranger 2,575,242||18. Includer 1,200,682||18. Maximizer 940,349|
|19. Maximizer 2,566,792||19. Futuristic 1,184,744||19. Arranger 901,020|
|20. Intellection 2,470,907||20. Woo 1,165,737||20. Intellection 881,508|
|21. Includer 2,388,969||21. Arranger 1,132956||21. Empathy 879,233|
|22. Connectedness 2,357,052||22. Belief 1,084,739||22. Communication 865,549|
|23. Consistency 2,355,944||23. Maximizer 1,017,415||23. Includer 837,996|
|24. Woo 2,346,531||24. Discipline 934,741||24. Developer 827,941|
|25. Deliberative 2,255,727||25. Deliberative 921,997||25. Consistency 824,308|
|26. Belief 2,181,070||26. Ideation 910,107||26. Belief 823,705|
|27. Competition 2,142,122||27. Activator 846,373||27. Connectedness 739,056|
|28. Activator 1,920,953||28. Analytical 734,786||28. Woo 735,300|
|29. Focus 1,881,671||29. Focus 663,596||29. Focus 707,439|
|30. Context 1,772,255||30. Competition 614,690||30. Activator 695,311|
|31. Discipline 1,485,926||31. Context 568,518||31. Significance 564,504|
|32. Significance 1,239,377||32. Significance 471,378||32. Command 451,089|
|33. Command 917,303||33. Command 305,332||33. Self-Assurance 435,162|
|34. Self-Assurance 904,834||34. Self-Assurance 236,475||34. Discipline 384,073|
© 2000, 2006-2012 Gallup, Inc. Source: Gallup StrengthsFinder Theme Frequency report
Observations of the Frequency Report
Most Common Strengths
Among all 20 million times participants took the StrengthsFinder test, the top 10 most frequent talents were:
For female respondents, the order is slightly different:
The males who responded, their top talents were:
Observations About Top 10 Most Frequent
I noticed that:
- Ideation, and
are very frequent for males, but not for females.
I also noticed that
- Developer, and
are very frequent for females, but not for males.
Least Common Strengths
The talents that were on the bottom 3 in frequency include:
Observations About 3 Least Frequent
When looking at the 10 least frequent talents, I noticed that:
- The 3 least-frequent talents (Significance, Command, and Self-Assurance) are in the Influence category of Leadership Domains.
- Discipline is the least frequent talent for males, but it is #24 (in the middle) for females.
- Context is the 4th least frequent talent for females, but it is #17 (in the middle) for males.
I hope you enjoyed finding out more about this incredible tool. I am not a certified Gallup StrengthsFinder coach and am not being reimbursed in any way by promoting their products. However, I think the quality of their assessment is very high and recommend that you discover your top 5 talents.
If you want to deepen your understanding of the results, look for a Gallup certified coach (here is the official directory). And if you need help marketing yourself as a healthcare practice owner, check out my services.
You can also read why the StrengthsFinder assessment is especially helpful for business owners: 8 Reasons to Take the StrengthsFinder Assessment if You’re a Business Owner
Interested in hearing how you can reverse a toxic workplace? Find out more here.
Grace LaConte is a business consultant, writer, workplace equity strategist, and the founder of LaConte Consulting. Her risk management tools are used around the globe, and she has successfully reversed toxic work environments for clients in the healthcare and non-profit fields. Grace specializes in lactation law compliance & policy development, reducing staff turnover after maternity leave, and creating a participatory work culture.