Frequently Asked Questions

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1. What exactly is the Clifton StrengthsFinder® 2.0 tool?

The Clifton StrengthsFinder® 2.0 is a profiling tool used to identify the presence of natural talent in an individual. The assessment itself consists of 177 questions and takes about 30 minutes to complete through the Gallup Strengths Center website. Once completed, the assessment reveals the user's Top 5 CliftonStrengths themes out of the full 34 available.

Backed by over 50 years of research by Gallup Incorporated, the CliftonStrengths tool was first conceived by Donald O. Clifton, often referred to as the Grandfather of Positive Psychology or Father of Strengths-Based Psychology. Today, his son and grandson, Jim Clifton and Jon Clifton, are continuing the Strengths Coaching movement.

 
In Martin Seligman’s words, ‘Psychology is half-baked, literally half-baked. We have baked the part about mental illness. We have baked the part about repair and damage. But the other side is unbaked. The side of strengths, the side of what we are good at, the side…of what makes life worth living. What will happen when we think about what is right with people rather than fixating on what is wrong with them?
— Donald O. Clifton, 1924-2003
 

2. What are the benefits of Clifton StrengthsFinder®?

Once an individual takes the assessment, they will discover their Top 5 talent themes. The combination of these dominant talent themes forms the basis for greater self-awareness, a higher sense of value for the uniqueness that each person brings, a greater ability to build stronger and more fulfilling relationships (family or otherwise), more direction and purpose in one's life, and a greater clarity in what brings one the most fulfilment.

Additional research reveals that people who know and intentionally apply their strengths every day are more likely to experience positive emotions (a sense of fulfilment, high energy, well-restedness, happiness) and less likely to experience negative ones (worry, stress, anxiety, anger, sadness).

 People who focus on strengths are 6x more likely to be engaged in their jobs and 3x as likely to have an excellent quality of life. Teams that focus on strengths also experience 14-29% greater profitability, 14-29% increase in employee engagement in their workplaces, and 26-72% lower turnover. (Source: Gallup)

People who focus on strengths are 6x more likely to be engaged in their jobs and 3x as likely to have an excellent quality of life. Teams that focus on strengths also experience 14-29% greater profitability, 14-29% increase in employee engagement in their workplaces, and 26-72% lower turnover. (Source: Gallup)

3. How do I find out what my Top 5 CliftonStrengths themes are?

  1. Purchase a Top 5 Strengths Access code (US$19.99) from the Gallup Strengths Center store.
  2. Once you have your access code (check your e-mail for the code), redeem it at the Gallup Strengths Center. It will ask you to create an account, after which you can take the 30-minute assessment.
  3. Make sure you have about 30 minutes of uninterrupted time to take the assessment. You only have 20 seconds to select your response for each one of the 177 statements. Try to respond with the first thing that comes to mind.
  4. Once you've completed the assessment, you should be able to see your Top 5 StrengthsFinder themes. You can download the Signature Themes report, Strengths Insight Report, and StrengthsFinder 2.0 e-book for further reading if you're interested!

4. How do I unlock my full 34 CliftonStrengths Themes?

  1. Make sure you've already taken the Top 5 Strengths assessment.
  2. Log in to your Gallup Strengths Center account.
  3. Purchase a Beyond Your Top 5 Strengths access code (US$39.99) from the Gallup Strengths Center store.
  4. Copy and paste the Full 34 Unlock Code into the Access Code Field, then click Continue.
  5. You will see an option to unlock your Full 34 CliftonStrengths results.

5. Is there a benefit to unlocking the full 34 versus just my top 5?

Great question — and one I am often asked! I generally recommend that people reveal and focus on their top 5 talent themes first, because their top 5 alone is already quite a huge chunk of information to digest, with many things that we could do to grow ourselves.

Each talent theme shown in our top 5 is an indication of something we’re already naturally good at, but all of these individual talent themes may be at differing levels of maturity. This means that they can be further developed with concrete, actionable steps — and that developing them would increase our sense of self-actualization and personal mastery.

For example, I personally have a list of “action items” stuck by the side of my computer to grow each of my talent themes into strengths (byproduct of my Learner and Achiever talent themes). The list for my top 5 talents alone is already pretty long, with each action item requiring conscious effort on my part. Now imagine if I did that for all of my dominant (top 12) and lesser (bottom 10) talent themes! The actionable list for these talent themes would be overwhelmingly long.

For that reason, I generally recommend that individuals reveal their top 5 first, grow these 5 into maturity (perhaps with personalized guidance from a certified StrengthsFinder coach), and then reveal their 34 if they’d like to further maximize their strengths.

That said -- if you already feel like you've invested enough into your Top 5 and you would like to reveal your Full 34 strengths, here are the benefits.

  • Your Top 5 talent themes provide only a glimpse of how you're hardwired. On a daily basis, we actually use our top 10-12 CliftonStrengths themes. For example, my Top 5 Strengths don't actually explain why I naturally detest clutter, and why I'm quite happy eating the same meal every day. However, one look at my #6 - #12 reveals the reason: I have Discipline at #8 (I love order and structure, and I naturally organize my workspace and home environment to eliminate clutter), and Consistency at #6 (the Consistency strength loves predictability - it doesn't get bored having the same meal day after day).
  • Your bottom 10 talent themes reveal your blind spots. If you're in a managerial position or you're married, this is particularly important because these blind spots often explain why we get into conflicts with our spouse or why we struggle to lead a particular employee. (Based on experience, it is very likely that your spouse or employee holds one or more talent themes that are in your blind spot!) Understanding these blind spots thus helps to increase your capacity to build a stronger relationship with your spouse, resolve conflicts, or lead your employee more effectively.

(By the way, if you’d like to find free online resources on how to grow each of your talent themes into strengths, check out my "Growing Your Talent Themes" series.)

6. Is there a free version of the Clifton StrengthsFinder® assessment?

There isn’t one that I’d trust. The Gallup Clifton StrengthsFinder test is backed up by research spanning over 15 million people worldwide and over five decades — no free test I’ve seen has matched that level of research thus far. Most of the ones I’ve seen online are also based off of old descriptors and outdated test questions, whereas the Clifton StrengthsFinder test is continually coming up with new data that supports or elaborates on their findings.

7. Do my strengths change over time?

For the most part, no. While our strengths do evolve and mature in their expressions over time, our innate talent themes do not change.

However, it is important to note here that the consistency of our innate wiring is within our Top 10 strengths (also known as our dominant talent themes). These dominant themes are what we regularly tap on in our everyday lives. Depending on your current stage in life, what you may see is a reshuffling of the order of your Top 10 themes. This is because different circumstances and the roles we play may pull up strengths that were in our #6 - #10, moving them to our Top 5.

For example, we recently coached an English teacher who was promoted to Head of Department. Her new role required her to manage her team members as well as continue teaching her students, so she found herself drawing on different strengths to fulfil her new responsibilities. When she took the test the second time and received her Top 5 Strengths profile, she discovered that her profile had changed. Curious, she decided to open up her full 34 Strengths profile from the first time she took the test, and discovered that the new strengths that appeared in her Top 5 were previously in her #6 - #10.

8. Is there a direct link between Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) traits and CliftonStrengths themes?

Not really. There are definitely certain correlations, but not a clear direct link. The two tests were founded on two very different philosophical and assessment approaches, so the way they measure and identify traits are very different.

You may sometimes see certain correlations, but because human beings are so complex, it’d be difficult to say that a certain StrengthsFinder theme will definitely mean a certain MBTI trait. The StrengthsFinder themes will also interact with each other and change the way it’s expressed in each individual, which is why people sometimes get different MBTI profiles when they retake the assessment.

For example, it’s common to believe that if you have the “Analytical” StrengthsFinder theme, you’d definitely have the “Thinking” MBTI preference. But what if you have both “Analytical” and “Empathy” in your Top 5 StrengthsFinder profile, and you’re both logical and emotionally expressive at the same time? Are you more accurately classified as “Thinking” or “Feeling” under MBTI?

As another example, a few clients I’ve coached had both “Relator” and “Woo” in their Top 5 StrengthsFinder profile. One client expressed that he was sometimes very confused as to whether he was introverted or extroverted: he loved meeting new people and making new friends, but his preferred way of spending time with his friends was to take them out on a chill, 1-to-1 fishing trip. He would often go out with his best friend on a quiet fishing trip, but feel internally conflicted when he met new friends along the way and had the urge to invite them along. His MBTI profile didn’t really explain why he could swing both ways, but his StrengthsFinder profile did.

You might see certain links — like how certain StrengthsFinder themes may mean a higher probability of having a certain MBTI trait — but these are meant as clues telling you what the person might be like, rather than a box telling you what the person is definitely like.

Note: This answer was originally posted on Quora.