One of the great things about being a consultant is that you sometimes get great
training for free. So it was with the StrengthsFinder: A client team had done it
together, there were books left over, and a friendly admin slipped me one.
The StrengthsFinder is a genius strategy for book marketing: Each copy of the book
comes with a code stamped in the back that lets you take the StrengthsFinder test
and get access in perpetuity to your own results. That means one book per person.
But it’s worth the investment.
The #1 rule that Marcus Buckingham broke, when he began his writings on career
exploration, is the age-old notion that you should identify and work on your
weaknesses. I had been hearing that message since birth and it had been efficiently
reinforced in my school career.
Nonsense, says Buckingham. We all have strengths. We all have weaknesses. If we
focus on the weaknesses, we can become less weak in those areas, but chances are
we will never turn them into strengths. If we focus on our inherent strengths, on the
other hand, we can become as giants.
My favorite Buckingham anecdote is about someone he said was “born
without the empathy gene.” The typical 360 assessment would encourage that
person to practice empathy and concern and team-building—all of which would
come across as phony, because they would be. In fact, Buckingham notes, this guy is
a great leader because his vision is so clear and his enthusiasm is so contagious that
people want to go where he is going, and they don’t mind being personally invisible
on the journey.
The StrengthsFinder helps you identify your own strengths. Most important, it gives
really sound advice about how to leverage the strengths so they outweigh some
common corresponding weaknesses.