Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Coaching FAQ

What is professional coaching?

The International Coach Federation (ICF) defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential, which is particularly important in today’s uncertain and complex environment. Coaches honor the client as the expert in his or her life and work and believe every client is creative, resourceful and whole. Standing on this foundation, the coach’s responsibility is to:

  • Discover, clarify, and align with what the client wants to achieve
  • Encourage client self-discovery
  • Elicit client-generated solutions and strategies
  • Hold the client responsible and accountable
  • This process helps clients dramatically improve their outlook on work and life, while improving their leadership skills and unlocking their potential.


How can you determine if coaching is right for you?

To determine whether you or your company could benefit from coaching, start by summarizing what you would expect to accomplish in coaching. When an individual or business has a fairly clear idea of the desired outcome, a coaching partnership can be a useful tool for developing a strategy for how to achieve that outcome with greater ease.

Since coaching is a partnership, ask yourself whether collaboration, other viewpoints, and new perspectives are valued. Also, ask yourself whether you or your business is ready to devote the time and the energy to making real changes. If the answer is yes, then coaching may be a beneficial way to grow and develop.


How is coaching distinct from other service professions?

Professional coaching focuses on setting goals, creating outcomes and managing personal change. Sometimes it’s helpful to understand coaching by distinguishing it from other personal or organizational support professions.

  • Therapy: Therapy deals with healing pain, dysfunction and conflict within an individual or in relationships. The focus is often on resolving difficulties arising from the past that hamper an individual’s emotional functioning in the present, improving overall psychological functioning, and dealing with the present in more emotionally healthy ways. Coaching, on the other hand, supports personal and professional growth based on self-initiated change in pursuit of specific actionable outcomes. These outcomes are linked to personal or professional success. Coaching is future focused. While positive feelings/emotions may be a natural outcome of coaching, the primary focus is on creating actionable strategies for achieving specific goals in one’s work or personal life. The emphases in a coaching relationship are on action, accountability, and follow through.
  • Consulting: Individuals or organizations retain consultants for their expertise. While consulting approaches vary widely, the assumption is the consultant will diagnose problems and prescribe and, sometimes, implement solutions. With coaching, the assumption is that individuals or teams are capable of generating their own solutions, with the coach supplying supportive, discovery-based approaches and frameworks.
  • Mentoring: A mentor is an expert who provides wisdom and guidance based on his or her own experience. Mentoring may include advising, counseling and coaching. The coaching process does not include advising or counseling, and focuses instead on individuals or groups setting and reaching their own objectives.
  • Training: Training programs are based on objectives set out by the trainer or instructor. Though objectives are clarified in the coaching process, they are set by the individual or team being coached, with guidance provided by the coach. Training also assumes a linear learning path that coincides with an established curriculum. Coaching is less linear without a set curriculum.
  • Athletic Development: Though sports metaphors are often used, professional coaching is different from sports coaching. The athletic coach is often seen as an expert who guides and directs the behavior of individuals or teams based on his or her greater experience and knowledge. Professional coaches possess these qualities, but their experience and knowledge of the individual or team determines the direction. Additionally, professional coaching, unlike athletic development, does not focus on behaviors that are being executed poorly or incorrectly. Instead, the focus is on identifying opportunity for development based on individual strengths and capabilities.


What are some typical reasons someone might work with a coach?

An individual or team might choose to work with a coach for many reasons, including but not limited to the following:

  • Something urgent, compelling or exciting is at stake (a challenge, stretch goal or opportunity)
  • A gap exists in knowledge, skills, confidence or resources
  • A desire to accelerate results
  • A lack of clarity with choices to be made
  • Success has started to become problematic
  • Work and life are out of balance, creating unwanted consequences
  • Core strengths need to be identified, along with how best to leverage them



StrengthsFinder FAQ

What is the Clifton StrengthsFinder?

The Clifton StrengthsFinder is a Web-based assessment of normal personality from the perspective of Positive Psychology. It is the first assessment instrument of this type developed expressly for the Internet. Specifically, the Clifton StrengthsFinder measures the presence of talents in 34 general areas referred to as “themes.”

Talents – the ways in which we naturally think, feel, and behave as unique individuals – serve as the foundation of strengths development.

Over a secure connection, the Clifton StrengthsFinder presents 180 items to the respondent. Each item consists of a pair of potential self-descriptors, such as “I read instructions carefully” versus “I like to jump right into things.” The descriptors are placed as if anchoring polar ends of a continuum. The respondent is then asked to choose from that pair the statement that best describes him or her, and also to what extent that chosen option is descriptive. The respondent is given 20 seconds to respond to a given pair of descriptors before the system moves on to the next pair. (Clifton StrengthsFinder developmental research showed that the 20-second limit resulted in a negligible item non-completion rate.)

Upon completing the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment, respondents receive a report displaying their top five (most dominant) themes. The respondent then has the opportunity to delve into those themes to discover his or her greatest talents. The Clifton StrengthsFinder and the top five themes report were designed in keeping with a major component of Gallup’s mission: help people learn about and build upon their greatest talents to create strengths that will enhance all aspects of their lives.


On what personality theory is the Clifton StrengthsFinder based?

Research leading to the development of the Clifton StrengthsFinder included more than 30 years of studying talents and strengths and how they relate to performance outcomes. The instrument is based on a general model of Positive Psychology.

Positive Psychology is a framework, or a paradigm, that encompasses an approach to psychology from the perspective of healthy, successful life functioning. Topics include optimism, positive emotions, spirituality, happiness, satisfaction, personal development, and well-being.

The perspective taken by Positive Psychology, Gallup’s strengths concept, and the Clifton StrengthsFinder differs from that of other theories and instruments developed to measure various psychological constructs. For that reason, Gallup has not sought to develop a table that would compare and contrast the Clifton StrengthsFinder approach to that of psychological assessments that theoretically measure other constructs by means of other theoretical starting points.


How Is the Clifton StrengthsFinder Different From a Selection Assessment?

Gallup uses both the Clifton StrengthsFinder and selection assessments to measure an individual’s talent at a theme (trait) level. However, the intended application of these assessments differs.

Clifton StrengthsFinder identifies the intensity of a defined set of themes that are determined to be descriptive of people in general. This assessment enables people to gain insight into who they are and how they respond to a variety of personal and professional situations in their day-to-day lives.

All other talent assessments, whether custom or part of Gallup’s core selection assessments, are keyed to excellent performance in a particular job or set of responsibilities within a role. They help predict an individual’s performance potential while also identifying the talent that enables him or her to respond to the demands a particular job. Talent assessments are specific to a role, the tasks within a job and performance outcomes. Both the Clifton StrengthsFinder and Gallup talent assessments measure talent and are organized by themes and dimensions, but they have two distinct aims.


Can the Clifton StrengthsFinder reveal whether I am in the right career?

The Clifton StrengthsFinder was designed for use in a purely developmental context. It is not designed to direct you into specific professions. Although certain themes do appear to be quite consistently dominant within certain professions, it would be wrong to say that a given profession requires dominant talents in certain themes. During Gallup’s research, they discovered many individuals who were excelling in the same profession but who had very different top five themes. The best way to use the Clifton StrengthsFinder to guide your career is to closely examine your top five themes — and other themes you may claim among your most dominant — and figure out how to best capitalize on your talents in those themes in whatever role or profession you select. (For a more detailed look and ideas about how the Clifton StrengthsFinder may help you guide your career, see Part II of the book StrengthsFinder 2.0.)

For the purposes of career planning and profiling, you may wish to look at the Strong’s Interest Inventory.


Can I retake the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment? Can taking the Clifton StrengthsFinder more than once affect my results?

Your first completion of the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment will yield the purest and most revealing results.

For this reason, each Clifton StrengthsFinder access code is valid for only one time through the assessment. Taking the Clifton StrengthsFinder more than once may actually skew the validity of the results. The Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment measures the presence of talents by presenting you with pairs of statements, and by then challenging you to make a top-of-mind choice between the two. The 20-second time limit and your unfamiliarity with the statements ensure your assessment’s accuracy by making it difficult to over-think your responses.


I've taken my StrengthsFinder assessment twice, and the results are different. What does this mean?

After taking your StrengthsFinder assessment, the system generates your theme sequence, i.e. orders all 34 themes from most to least dominant, for you.  If you had purchased the “Top 5 Strengths Access”, you would have received reports that revealed what your top 5 talent themes are.  However, a person generally has about 10-12 dominant talent themes – i.e. talent themes that describes you most, if not all, of the time.

By re-taking your StrengthsFinder Assessment, you may see your talent themes shift slightly. Chances are, the “new” talent themes you see in your second report fall within your the top 10-12 themes of your first assessment.

In some rare cases, people can experience a major shift in their reports if they had encountered a significant life-changing experience, such as a near-death experience.

I was in a good/bad mood when I took the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment. Did that affect my results? Should I retake the assessment?

Your mood has little effect on your Clifton StrengthsFinder results. We discovered this by asking the same people to take the Clifton StrengthsFinder twice, on separate occasions, months apart. Despite the fact that their moods were presumably different, each person’s results were remarkably consistent between the two administrations. Statisticians will be interested to know that Gallup found test-retest reliabilities of 0.60-0.80. This doesn’t mean that your mood will have no effect whatsoever on your responses to the statements. However, it does mean that the Clifton StrengthsFinder effectively cuts through your mood to reveal your most dominant patterns of thought, feeling, and behavior.


What is Gallup's position on strengths and weaknesses?

Without a great deal of hard work, talent alone is never enough. Without natural talent, a lot of hard work will yield little return. Therefore, when considering where to invest one’s time, energy, and attention, Gallup research indicates that the best place to start is in an area of strength. Yet by no means does any of our research suggest that people should ignore their weaknesses. To do so, especially in the workplace, is reckless.

Unfortunately, our (Gallup’s) research and scientific findings have been distorted. Some believe that Gallup’s approach to individual and organizational development consists solely of focusing on strengths.

All of Gallup’s development programs and consulting partnerships focus on helping individuals to build on their strengths and to determine how their weaknesses can best be managed. Our strengths-based consulting has also helped organizations increase productivity, drive performance, and improve areas with underperforming management or leadership. In no part of our business would we advise ignoring areas of weakness. The result would be detrimental to an organization’s bottom line – and likely an individual’s career.


What is included in the 'Top 5 Strengths Access'?

When you purchase the “Top 5 Strengths Access” from Gallup Strengths Center, you will get the following reports:

  1. Signature Themes Report
  2. Strengths Insight Report
  3. Strengths Insight & Action-Planning Guide
What is included in the 'All 34 Strengths Access'?

When you purchase the “All 34 Strengths Access” from Gallup Strengths Center, you will get the following reports:

  1. Signature Themes Report (Included in Top 5 Strengths Access)
  2. Strengths Insight Report (Included in Top 5 Strengths Access)
  3. Strengths Insight & Action-Planning Guide (Included in Top 5 Strengths Access)
  4. Theme Sequence Report
Should I get my full 34 Strengths report?

Compared to the “Top 5 Strengths Access”, the “Full 34 Strengths Access” gives you one additional report – The Theme Sequence Report.  The theme sequence report reveals what order of your full 34 talent themes are, accompanied by general short, bite-sized descriptions of each theme.

On it’s own, some people may find it challenging to appreciate the value of the theme sequence report. However, the report is extremely valuable in the hands of a experienced certified coach in helping you to increase self-awareness by understanding your uniqueness, and how to leverage on your talents to improve your work performance and significant relationships.

As you would require to make an additional investment of US$79 to get this report, I highly recommend that you consider engaging a coach to help you make the most out of it.

Click here to see what coaching can do for you!

I've received my StrengthsFinder results. Now what?

That’s great! Congratulations on starting your Strengths Journey.  Here are 4 simple things you can do:

  1. Go through your reports with a highlighter and highlight all words or phrases that resonate with you.  Reflect on what you have highlighted and see if you can link your successes and your motivations to it.
  2. Share your report with your friends and family.  People who know you well may be able to point out some of your blind-spots and help you glean greater insights from your report.
  3. Go through your Action-Planning Guide, select 1 item per talent theme to focus on for the coming week/month.  And when you are satisfied with it, replace it with another action item.
  4. Engage a strengths coach.  There’s really nothing like having a competent strengths coach to help you understand your talents, mitigate your weaknesses, and journey with you towards success.  Read more about the benefits of coaching here.
How do I share my StrengthsFinder Report with others?

Here are some ways to share your StrengthsFinder report with others:

  • Download the PDF Report and share it with your friends (Print / Email / Etc)
  • Share your StrengthsFinder report via the Gallup Strengths Center Website.
    • Log in to
    • Click on “My Strengths Community” at the top panel
    • Click on the Share Button
    • Enter your friend’s email address
    • For more information on how to navigate the Gallup Strengths Center website, please watch this short video
  • Download the StrengthsFinder App (iOS, Android) on your smartphone and share it with your friends
Is there a minimum age to take the StrengthsFinder assessment?

Here are some Strengths Assessments and their recommended age groups:

  • StrengthsFinder – Age 18 and above
  • StrengthsQuest – Age 15-18
  • StrengthsExplorer – Age 10-14
I would like to bring StrengthsFinder to my team. How do I go about doing it?

Gallup’s research has shown that people who focus on their strengths are 6 times as likely to be engaged in their jobs, and managers who focus on the strengths of their team can bring active dis-engagment to practically nothing! I’m excited for the impact that this will have for you and your team!

If you are one of the key decision makers in your organisation, please contact me for a no-obligation discussion on how we can do this for your organisation.

Whether you are a key decision maker or not, here are some simple steps you can take:

  • Share your own StrengthsFinder report with your colleagues and ask for their feedback.  This will generate interest around the profiling tool, and also create curiosity in your colleagues on what their own talents might be.
  • Recommend that your team members take the StrengthsFinder assessment. At US$15 each, the StrengthsFinder assessment is an extremely inexpensive tool for the team.  If your company is willing to bear the cost of the assessment, great! Otherwise, it’s a perfectly sound investment each individual can make in their own self development!  After all, it’s only the cost of around 2 Starbucks coffee!
  • Organise a StrengthsFinder workshop for your team.  Some people are able to use the reports on their own to create stronger teams, but some others misinterpret what Strengths-Based Development is all about, and are confused over how to really implement strengths effectively in their teams.  There’s nothing like having an experienced and certified trainer to help the team understand their talents and strengths, and also to foster greater teamwork and productivity through that understanding.


Strong Interest Inventory FAQ

What is the Strong Interest Inventory?

The Strong Interest Inventory® assessment is one of the world’s most widely respected and frequently used career planning tools. It has helped both academic and business organizations develop the brightest talent and has guided thousands of individuals—from high school and college students to midcareer workers seeking a change—in their search for a rich and fulfilling career.

The Strong Interest Inventory assessment is a trusted tool because it is:

  • Empirically based
  • Underpinned by rigorous science and research
  • Regularly updated to reflect changes in today’s world of work
  • Backed by excellent support and guidance through CPP’s global distributor network

Watch a short video on the SII here:

What is the Strong Interest Inventory useful for?

The Strong Interest Inventory assessment is ideal for a wide range of applications, including the following:

  • Choosing a college major — helps students uncover their career interests and identify which areas of study are appropriate or required for a particular field
  • Career exploration — opens up the world of work to first-time career seekers and those considering career transition by identifying their interests and demonstrating how they relate to various occupations and careers
  • Career development — helps heighten individuals’ self-awareness and provide deeper understanding of individual strengths and blind spots, including work style and risk-taking orientation
  • Employee engagement — helps employees align their interests with areas of responsibility in their job that reflect those interests
  • Reintegration — helps individuals navigate the reintroduction process after a period of disconnection
What are the features of the Strong Interest Inventory?
  • General Occupational Themes from Holland’s RIASEC framework (Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional) that map out broad interest patterns to describe work activities, potential competencies, self-concept and values, work environments, and hobbies
  • Specific information about your areas of interest via 30 Basic Interest Scales
  • Comparison of your interest patterns to those of satisfied workers within the occupation via 260 Occupational Scales
  • Description of your preferred style of working, learning, leading, risk taking, and team participation via 5 Personal Style Scales
  • Norm group representative of ethnic, racial, and demographic workforce diversity
Is there a sample report available?

Yes they are! Here they are for those who would like to see what you will be getting:

Not sure which profile to choose?

I strongly recommend the “Strong Profile, College + Strong Interpretive” for those who are exploring their undergrad course of study, and the “Strong Interpretive Report” for those who are exploring career options or career development.

I took the Strong on my first day in an outplacement program. Will this affect my results?

Your response to the Strong items may be affected by your mood or strong feelings about losing your job. If your results don’t seem to fit you, it would be advisable to take the Strong again, after you have dealt with your feelings about your job loss.

How likely am I to come out with the same Themes if I take the Strong again?

The Strong is the most widely used and researched interest inventory in the world. Research has shown that once interest stabilises  in our early twenties, our codes tend to stay pretty much the same. Profiles with consistent Basic Interest Scales (BISs) and Occupational Scales (OSs) are most likely to be repeated over time.

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