Did you know that over 15.7 million Clifton StrengthsFinder Assessments assessments have been taken to date?  Given how young this tool is, this number is staggering.  Nevertheless, as powerful as the Strengths-Based approach is, many people may be engaging in self-sabotaging behaviors without knowing it.


One Misconception About Strengths

Some time back, I attended a sharing session about “State of the Art Leadership”, which had many good points on effective leadership (click here for the highlights reel).  At one point, the speaker – a professor from a well-known university – started highlighting some “myths” of leadership and my ears perked up when he said, “Strengths-based leadership works”.   What? That’s a myth?

Without much elaboration, he then stated that strengths-based leadership ignores weaknesses and is, therefore, less effective. He further emphasizes that strengths-based leadership isn’t just ineffective, it is dangerous.

The notion that a strengths-based approach ignores weaknesses has been addressed by Gallup, and those of us who are well-informed about it know that we do not ignore weaknesses, but learn to manage them well.

I wish to highlight at this point another worrying mindset that I have been hearing from the people I train – it’s critical to address before it causes more damage to those who have adopted it.


The Self-Sabotaging “Strengths” Mindset

This self-sabotaging mindset has these two elements:

  1. Using my strengths should be easy.
  2. If the task isn’t easy, I’m not using my strengths and therefore I shouldn’t be doing it.

I find this mindset disturbingly limiting for those who adopt it. Using our strengths always gives us the highest Return-on-Investment (ROI), but there needs to be an investment made in the first place. Strengths do not materialize out of thin air; they are often talents that are honed and polished over time, and that means going beyond your comfort zone.

Addressing the Self-Sabotaging Mindset

We must always remember that “There is no comfort in the growth zone, and no growth in the comfort zone”.

The Strengths-Based approach isn’t meant to be used as an excuse to avoid doing things that needs to be done. Instead, it is a guiding compass to maximize your effectiveness by allowing you to engage your talents in all that you do.


One Simple Strategy for Strengths Application

Here’s an approach that one of my clients told me is so simple and useful that he uses it all the time.  Ready?

For every task you need to do, even if you find challenging, look at your list of dominant talent themes and ask yourself, “Which of these talent themes can I use to accomplish this? How can I use it in this situation?”

That’s it! For this to be effective, you do need to have a clear understanding of what your talent themes are and how they function for you. If that’s something that you lack, schedule a complimentary coaching session with me and let’s have a chat.



About Alex Wong

Alex is a Strengths Enthusiast who is both a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach, and a Certified Strategic Strengths Coach. His passion is in helping people grow into the best versions of themselves by appreciating and growing their innate talents. In his spare time, Alex is a hobbyist magician and a volunteer at his church Sunday school. Top 5 StrengthsFinder 2.0 Themes: Empathy, Individualisation, Developer, Strategic, Learner