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34 Strengths and Shortfalls

34 strengths strengths Mar 01, 2020

A goal of the strengths journey is to turn your talents into strengths. While strengths hold great power, underdeveloped or overused talents may become limitations. And so a strength ends up becoming a shortfall. Here’s what I mean.

One of my top ten talent themes is communication. I can put thoughts into words, help ideas to be understood, and consider what will be valuable to the audience. When my communication theme is working this way, it’s very helpful.

However, when the same theme is underdeveloped or overused, it can fall short—become a shortfall. I may be too open or disclosing with the information I share, use insider jargon that isn’t helpful to the receiver, and communicate out before the time is appropriate.

When these types of things happen, my communication theme feels more like a limitation than a strength. That’s why talent development is a major part of the strengths journey. That's why I'm clear on each talent's strengths and shortfalls.

Unfortunately, many folks take a strengths assessment more out of curiosity or obligation (if assigned) rather than a desire to grow. They complete the test, get the results, think “oh that’s interesting,” and then file them away in the folder of lonely and neglected assessments never to be heard from again.

When this happens, the person thinks, “Yeah, I’ve done strengths” when they really haven’t. You don’t “do strengths” until you work on developing your talents into strengths and aim those strengths toward your work and life.

Not until you can explain to a four-year-old what your talent themes actually are, and the good they do in the world, can you say you’ve done strengths.

Not until you can describe how you’ve turned your talents into strengths and how you once used your talents this way, but then learned to use them this better way, can you say you’ve done strengths.

And not until you can identify which strengths would be best suited for your particular work, and then aim them toward that work, can you say you’ve done strengths.

“Doing strengths” takes intentional effort.

One of the practices I've adopted in addition to asking growth questions, is having a concise view of my strengths and shortfalls. For example, here are my #6-10 talent themes:

Talent Theme Strengths Shortfalls
Relator® Builds authentic connections, Works toward common goals, Helps others feel deeply known Goes too deep too quickly for some; Avoids risky social situations; Alienates people who aren’t in
Developer® Sees potential in people; Gives room to make mistakes; Inspires hope Fails to hold people accountable; Is too optimistic about potential; Forgets own boundaries
Communication® Puts thoughts into words; Helps ideas to be understood; Thinks about the audience Is too open or disclosing; Uses jargon not relevant; Communicates before it’s time
Activator® Puts thoughts into action; Mobilizes others when stalled; Gets results quickly May act impulsively; Avoids routine work; Acts too independently
Woo® Enjoys meeting strangers; Makes others feel welcome; Starts conversations easily Avoids being truly known by others; Sees people as trophies to win over; Comes across as inauthentic

To help in your strengths journey, I've created a list of strengths and shortfalls for the 34 talent themes. The idea is to understand the power that your strengths bring, and also how the talent, when underdeveloped or overused, may fall short of the good it can do.

May these examples help you gain clearer definition of your unique power. On the last page of the list, you can add your own strengths and shortfalls.

CliftonStrengths®, and each of the 34 CliftonStrengths theme names are trademarks of Gallup, Inc.


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