Three Types of Strengths Work—Which Are You Best At?

I’ve worked with hundreds of workplace teams around the topic of CliftonStrengths®. If you haven’t heard of CliftonStrengths, it’s a system for bringing out the best in people. The main application is in the workplace, but there are advantages to using it in your personal life as well. Throughout my career, I’ve seen three types of strengths work. Which are you best at?

Introducing Strengths

The first type of work is introducing strengths. Not everyone has heard of CliftonStrengths. Our family has been in our new town of Charlottesville, VA, just a few months. I’m meeting a lot of new people, and what continues to surprise me is how FEW of them have heard of CliftonStrengths.

Usually, conversations go like this:

Them: So, what do you do?

Me: I help employees do what they do best at work.

Them: How do you do that?

Me: I start with an assessment called CliftonStrengths. Have you heard of it?

Them: No, I haven’t.

Me: Oh, maybe you know it by its previous name, StrengthsFinder.

Them: Nope.

Me: But you’ve heard of Gallup, right?

Them: Umm, don’t they do presidential polls? How do they help employees?

I’ve had this conversation with so many people lately—a sales manager, an emergency room doctor, a CEO, a Chief Revenue Officer, a neurosurgeon, a marketing director—that needed to be introduced to CliftonStrengths.

Introducing strengths is a matter of making known the system of CliftonStrengths to people who have not previously had it in their lives. Because they’ve been getting along without it, introducing strengths requires some influencing power.

This can be done by sharing:

  • Stories and anecdotes
  • Statistics and case studies
  • Impactful quotations
  • Benefits and advantages

How are you at introducing strengths to people?

Integrating Strengths

Once strengths have been introduced, it’s time for integrating strengths into their lives. If you’ve done a good job of introducing strengths so they understand the value, then they’ll be more willing to add something new. Remember, change is hard and there was a time when strengths weren’t a part of your life either.

Integrating means helping people make room for strengths in their lives. They must start to see how their lives will improve because of strengths and see where strengths can be included. They must move from being strangers to being practitioners, practicing strengths even if no one is looking.

In my experience, you can help people integrate strengths when they:

  • Understand the background and basics of CliftonStrengths
  • Feel a sense of ownership and affection for their strengths*
  • Apply their strengths to near-term work
  • Are part of a team operating by strengths

How are you at helping people to integrate strengths?

Ongoing Strengths

The third type of work is ongoing strengths. This has to do with the continuous application of strengths in their lives. Often people walk away from a training event with great enthusiasm and intention for keeping strengths going, but the effort is short-lived. It gets choked by the demands and duties of work.

Regardless of how strong the introducing and integrating work were, if there’s not a plan for how strengths will continue, then it’s unlikely strengths will be ongoing. Strengths will be like a trendy personality survey or crash diet fad. It is sad when this happens because strengths bring so many benefits to the individual and workplace.

To make strengths ongoing, a strengths program must be:

  • Given focus
  • Rewarded
  • Socialized
  • Publicized
  • Kept fun and fresh

How are you at keeping strengths ongoing?


*For simplicity, we’re using the term “strengths," where in some cases, we could also be using "talents." However, strengths and talents are different from each other.

CliftonStrengths® and Gallup® are registered trademarks of the Gallup Organization.

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