In a previous article we saw a brief overview of the characteristics of Maximizers and some ways to manage their tendency to work excessively on a task in their strive towards excellent standards. In this article, we take a deeper dive into what Maximizer means, and what it looks like next to other talent themes.

Maximizers Focus on Excellence

Maximizer, in short, is a strong orientation towards and a commitment to excellence that leads to quality outcomes. If Maximizer is one of your top 5, it is likely that you discriminate and are highly aware of different levels of quality; what’s good, better, and best. You want to narrow your focus to do only what you do best. This focus facilitates the process of you becoming a subject matter expert, which you love.

Maximizers prioritize returns on investment. You only have so much time, money, and energy. Where will you get the best results from your efforts? You prefer to focus on transforming something good into great, instead of fixing weaknesses and problems. In terms of time and energy, you are very likely interested in working with or developing leaders in the field due to the potentially high returns you get from investing your time and energy in them. In terms of money, you want to make sure that what you spend your money on will last you a long time, and you are loyal to companies that have proven to have excellent products or services.

Maximizer Quote

All Maximizers are snobs at something. This simply means you are very selective – and you’re good selectors because you easily distinguish and categorize people and things based on quality. You tend to know who the most exemplary individuals in the organization are, and which brands have the best reputations. Excellence doesn’t necessarily imply luxury; it means the experience and value gained for the price paid. You have higher expectations of others and yourself. You deeply appreciate and are in awe of people’s strengths, for what they can bring to the table, and expect them to use their strengths.

Development of Maximizer

Some factors that contribute to the development of Maximizer in a person are familial expectations or receiving feedback about excelling at something. Maybe your parents held you to high standards for schoolwork, household chores, or family-based activities, and expected a re-do when not done ‘well’.

To give a sense of how Maximizer shows up in children, Gallup-certified coach Adriane Wilson says:

In my childhood, Maximizer showed up in sports. Like most young people, my parents enrolled me in many different kinds of sports…I had a stint in tennis, gymnastics, and I was seeing very quickly that I was very mediocre in those sports. I knew that I was going to a lot of practice, and I was putting a lot of time into it, but I could see that I was not going to excel in those sports. But… I figured out in gymnastics that I actually was pretty good at one particular bit called the vault. I can run fast down a runway, hit a vault, and get over it. Once I learnt that there was the long jump and triple jump in track and field, I said ‘Aha!’ Maybe I could be really good at that…I really wanted a great return on my investment in practising so much even as a kid. And fortunately I did make the transition to track and field and had some great successes as an individual and as part of a team.

Maximizer and Other Talent Themes

Differences between Maximizer and other themes:

  • Focus concentrates on a goal, but Maximizer concentrates on excellence.
  • Individualization perceives uniqueness, but Maximizer prefers and promotes human excellence.
  • Competition wants victory, but Maximizer wants quality. For instance, in a marathon, Competition aims to win, but Maximizer aims to hit a personal best. Maximizers compare themselves to a standard of excellence, but Competition compare themselves to other people.

Interactions between Maximizer and other themes:

  • Intellection & Maximizer: Love thinking and talking about something they’re experts in, as opposed to a topic they’re not knowledgeable about
  • Empathy & Maximizer: Empathy softens Maximizer in giving feedback
  • Responsibility & Maximizer: Very judging themes, in terms of what is best vs good, what is right vs wrong.
  • Deliberative & Maximizer: Making sure to do something very well so that they don’t have to redo.
  • Developer & Maximizer: These are cousin themes in nurturing people and moving people forward to be the best they can be.

Article is informed by Gallup Theme Thursday.


About Clare Sim

Clare is a strengths advocate and writer in positive psychology who strongly believes in maximizing the human potential. Her passion is in empowering and inspiring people to be the best versions of themselves both in and out of work. In her spare time, Clare enjoys baking, reading about relationship and leadership development, and tranquil moments with nature. Top 5 StrengthsFinder 2.0 Themes: Connectedness, Responsibility, Input, Harmony, Maximizer.