Now, Discover Your Strengths is a self-help book written by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton, Ph.D. At the heart of the book is the internet based "Clifton Strengths Finder," an online personal assessment test which will outline the user's strengths. The authors advocate focusing on building strengths rather than focusing on weaknesses.
The theory behind the book is that each adult individual possesses a certain number of fixed universal personal-character attributes, defined by the authors as "Personal Themes" which in combination effect the individuals tendency to develop certain skills more easily and excel in certain fields while failing in others.
The authors claim that by identifying the individual strength of the members of the organization, its members can be utilized in more suiting positions, hence developing the required skills easily, helping to reduce turnover, improve employee morale and the organization's overall performance.
The Gallup Organization claims to have distilled the theory into practice by interviewing 1.7 million professionals from varying fields, have quantified the different "Personal Themes" of the subjects, and have come up with 34 distinct attributes:
Achiever - one with a constant drive for accomplishing tasks
Activator - one who acts to start things in motion
Adaptability - one who is especially adept at accommodating to changes in direction/plan
Analytical - one who requires data and/or proof to make sense of their circumstances
Arranger - one who enjoys orchestrating many tasks and variables to a successful outcome
Belief - one who strives to find some ultimate meaning behind everything they do
Command - one who steps up to positions of leadership without fear of confrontation
Communication - one who uses words to inspire action and education
Competition - one who thrives on comparison and competition to be successful
Connectedness - one who seeks to unite others through commonality
Consistency - one who believes in treating everyone the same to avoid unfair advantage
Context - one who is able to use the past to make better decisions in the present
Deliberative - one who proceeds with caution, seeking to always have a plan and know all of the details
Developer - one who sees the untapped potential in others
Discipline - one who seeks to make sense of the world by imposition of order
Empathy - one who is especially in tune with the emotions of others
Focus - one who requires a clear sense of direction to be successful
Futuristic - one who has a keen sense of using an eye towards the future to drive today's success
Harmony - one who seeks to avoid conflict and achieve success through consensus
Ideation - one who is adept at seeing underlying concepts that unite disparate ideas
Includer - one who instinctively works to include everyone
Individualization - one who draws upon the uniqueness of individuals to create successful teams
Input - one who is constantly collecting information or objects for future use
Intellection - one who enjoys thinking and thought-provoking conversation often for its own sake, and also can data compress complex concepts into simplified models
Learner - one who must constantly be challenged and learning new things to feel successful
Maximizer - one who seeks to take people and projects from great to excellent
Positivity - one who has a knack for bring the light-side to any situation
Relator - one who is most comfortable with fewer, deeper relationships
Responsibility - one who, inexplicably, must follow through on commitments
Restorative - one who thrives on solving difficult problems
Self-Assurance - one who stays true to their beliefs, judgments and is confident of his/her ability
Significance - one who seeks to be seen as significant by others
Strategic - one who is able to see a clear direction through the complexity of a situation
Woo - one who is able to easily persuade
The Gallup group also claims that each individual's success in a certain field is defined by a combination of five attributes (of the 34 they claim as quantifiable).
The "Clifton Strengths Finder" www.strengthsfinder.com is a web based questionnaire, which based on the answers claims to be able to define individual "Strengths". A single one time access is possible by entering an access code provided with the book.
Now, Discover Your Strengths, correlating to the "Strength Finder 1.0" Web application has been replaced by the Strengths Finder 2.0 book correlating to the "Strengths Finder 2.0" Web application.
"Stryker Group", one of the largest orthopedics conglomerates (www.stryker.com), have been testing their candidates via online "Strength Finder" based web questionnaires.
Leading personality psychologists[who?] have challenged the value of the "strength-based development" approach. They find the approach faulty from three different perspectives.
Strengths-only is not viable: They cite research that few have more than five strengths (defined as competencies where one is stronger than other managers) and that those five typically aren't in areas that are aligned with business needs. Just because one has strengths, they argue, doesn't mean that those strengths will allow someone to be effective.
Strengths can become weaknesses: Research from groups like the Center for Creative Leadership and numerous personality psychologists shows that leadership derailers—behaviors that negatively impact a leader's potential success—can be defined as overdone strengths. For example, attention to detail can become micro-management; ability to influence can become highly political behavior. Continuing to focus on your strengths, they argue, at a certain point will create negative consequences.
Weaknesses matter: We typically fail because of our weaknesses, not because we haven't focused enough on our strengths, they argue. By ignoring our "dark side" of personality and focusing only on our strengths we are guaranteeing our failure.
^Rath, Tom (2007). StrengthsFinder 2.0. New York: Gallup Press.