The StrengthsFinder assessment is one of the most useful tools I have ever found.
If you’re not familiar with it, you can read all about it in my previous article, How to Apply the StrengthsFinder Assessment.
Today, I want to explain how this tool is especially useful for business owners.
Although it is primarily used for personal development, the Clifton StrengthsFinder® is a fantastic way to measure your abilities and blind spots as a leader, entrepreneur, and business owner.
I encourage all of my clients to take the assessment because:
- it increases their self-understanding and appreciation for their areas of competency,
- it makes them more aware of blind spots and areas of weakness,
- it provides a common language from which we can communicate, and
- it helps me understand how they make decisions.
[In case you were wondering, I am not a certified Gallup StrengthsFinder coach and am not being reimbursed in any way by promoting their products. I simply believe that the quality of this assessment is extremely high and highly recommend taking it for your own personal benefit.]
If you are a business owner or leader, here are 8 specific ways this assessment can add more value to your company:
1. StrengthsFinder helps you understand yourself
The first thing you’ll see after completing the questionnaire is a report with the findings of your top 5 talents. (Or opt for the $89 version, which shows how you rate in all 34 talents… including your bottom five, which is super helpful to know.)
Most likely, you will immediately observe some statements that sound familiar. If you review the report with your business partner, co-worker, or others in your circle of influence, they will add insights about how you make decisions and the way you see the world.
Taking this assessment will increase your level of self-awareness. It highlights the areas where you have a natural talent. By recognizing the ways in which you are strong and where you are weak, you’re able to objectively evaluate where to focus more energy on your business. This can help you avoid wasting precious time by trying to change yourself. That energy can instead go into activities that grow your business in a healthy way.
2. StrengthsFinder highlights areas of vulnerability
This assessment also reveals activities and decision-making areas where you may have blind spots. As an owner, it’s important to recognize the potential vulnerabilities that could be putting your business at risk. Personality traits are one area that can pose a threat if you’re not careful to make decisions from a balanced perspective.
Read more: Yin and Yang Approaches to Management
By acknowledging your areas of strength and weakness, you’ll have a strategic advantage by adjusting to your customers’ perceptions and position your services to meet their needs, fears, and expectations.
3. StrengthsFinder highlights the ways you provide value
A common mistake many owners make is to assume that customers are happy with their purchase unless they speak up. While negative feedback is not pleasant to hear, it can give you a valuable insight into what your customers consider to be important.
Knowing your top 5 results is just the first step. I always recommend looking at where your talents fit within the four Leadership domains:
- Relationship Building, and
- Strategic Thinking.
Once you know which categories are most frequent, you’ll get an idea of whether your natural talents are well balanced or not. (Check out my previous post for more details on this.)
For example, if you have 3 talents in the Executing category and 2 in the Relationship Building category, then Influencing and Strategic Thinking will be out of balance.
The more you can recognize which strengths are not in your top 5—which means you have trouble recognizing that perspective—this can be a fantastic opportunity to learn more about how your customers perceive the world. Most likely, clients and staff who are difficult to work with or who don’t “get” you have talents that are different than yours.
Knowing your strengths is also a wonderful way to recognize how you’re giving value to customers. What is your primary motivation? How do you communicate with them? Is that type of value something they want to receive… or is it what you want to give?
Finding answers to these questions is a journey of professional growth, and it can take years to gain awareness of how to best serve your target customers.
4. StrengthsFinder allows you to fully appreciate other people
In my last post, I talked about “basement strengths,” which are the destructive way in which our talents can cause harm rather than benefit others.
By studying your own response and identifying the reasons why you make decisions, you’ll be able to appreciate the talents that don’t come naturally to you.
For example, my lowest-rated strength (#34 on the list) is Context—which is the ability to acknowledge lessons from the past and apply them to current situations. It took me a lot of introspection and humility to admit that my natural reaction needed some adjustment. While I tend to move quickly in response to problems, I’ve learned that it’s valuable to slow down and study the context. We can learn so much from looking to the past.
Another benefit of taking this assessment is that you will start to see why “annoying people” are so irritating. You may even begin to appreciate their habits, because those are most likely the talents that are not as fully developed in you.
5. StrengthsFinder provides a common language
How do you communicate in another country? Unless you can convey meaning with someone else, there is no communication.
This tool provides a vocabulary to describe the way you experience the world. You can use the terms of your top 5 talents to express your point of view to staff, customers, and other stakeholders.
6. StrengthsFinder gives you the tools to make better decisions
Once you know the talents that come naturally, you’ll be able to reverse-engineer your choices.
For example, let’s say you tend to be very detail-oriented, organized, and punctual. You feel impatient when your customers are late to their scheduled appointment. Your StrengthsFinder top 5 results are Responsibility, Arranger, Consistency, Competition, and Relator. With 3 of those talents in the Executing category, it makes sense that you would want structure (Arranger) and clear follow-through on projects (Responsibility, Consistency). You might also feel very driven to outdo others (Competition) and to have a very close circle of trusted friends (Relator).
Someone with these talents is likely to be more rigid in her or his decision-making, expecting other people to fall in line and get things done at the same speed and effort. When taken to an extreme, this could lead to decisions that alienate employees and customers, so it’s important to recognize how your choices are coming across to others.
I recommend using a Post-Mortem Evaluation to deconstruct decisions, keeping in mind the way your talents are driving your thinking process.
For more on this, check out How to Do a Year In Review.
7. StrengthsFinder helps you design a balanced team
How can you tell if your organization’s group dynamics are in balance? One great way to tell is by looking at their StrengthsFinder results. If the entire group has talents in just one or two Leadership Domain (such as Executing and Relationship Building), then the other domains are likely to be weaker.
With an absence of strengths in all four domains, your business could experience unhealthy growth. For a few of my clients, this realization helped them to understand why they had so much trouble growing their business. Their team had strengths primarily in the Executing and Relationship Building category– and nearly none in Influencing (getting others excited to try things) or Strategic Thinking (seeing the whole picture).
You can overcome this problem by looking at your own own strength profile. Spend time doing the tasks that generate a profit and an environment that reflects your core philosophy. You could also consider which strengths are important for certain positions in your company, and add the StrengthsFinder assessment as part of your hiring or onboarding process.
A word of caution, though—no personality test is a “silver bullet.” It is dangerous to use any such test prescriptively. A personality test is not a barometer that can tell you whether or not to hire or eliminate someone based on the results alone. (And if you think this is absurd, it may surprise you that many companies reject perfectly good candidates simply because their personality doesn’t “fit” the organization.)
Make sure you consider other criteria as well. StrengthsFinder can add value to the hiring process, but it shouldn’t be the deciding factor.
8. StrengthsFinder allows you establish healthy limits
When I talk to solo practitioners about their challenges in running a healthcare practice, they share the same themes:
- a sense of duty and responsibility,
- a love for helping patients find relief, and
- a joy for the techniques and modality of providing that relief.
However, nearly every practitioner also experiences burnout: the emotional drain that comes from financial pressure and the daily grind of producing results.
In addition to all the other benefits listed above, I think StrengthsFinder can take a weight off the shoulders of an overwhelmed business owner. By recognizing the areas where you are gifted and naturally proficient—as well as those qualities that don’t come naturally—you will be able to create more balance as a business owner. Focus on what you do best, and outsource the tasks in which you have weaknesses. Setting limitations is the key behind a successful niche.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about this tool. If you have taken it already and want to share your results with me, feel free to contact me privately by sending a message here.
And if you want an expert opinion on what you can do to identify the root causes of toxicity in your company, check out my services.
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.