What are the Best Strengths to Have in CliftonStrengths | Gallup StrengthsFinder?
One of the most common questions people ask about the Gallup CliftonStrengths assessment (formerly known as StrengthsFinder) is: “What are the Best Strengths to Have?” And by this, they mean: “What are the Best Results to get?”
As a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach, I’ve gotten that question numerous times over the years, and the intent behind the question varies depending on the person asking. So in this article, I’d like to address that question from a few different angles.
When someone asks me: “What are the Best Strengths to Have?”, I dig a little deeper to understand where the question is coming from. See, Best means different things to different people.
- Do they mean: “What Results will make you the most Successful?”
- Do they mean: “What Results are best for a particular Job or Career?”
- Or, do they mean: “What are the most common (or least common) CliftonStrengths Results?” (That is, do they want to be like or be different from other people?)
I've also created a video of the content in this article. Whereas this written version goes a little more in depth, here's the video version for those who prefer that format:
Time: 9:32 minutes
What your CliftonStrengths Results mean for you
First, let’s look at what your CliftonStrengths Results tell you. Your results aren’t comparing you to anyone else. There’s no grading scale.
Technically, your results are identifying your predominant Talent Themes, not your Strengths. I address this in Mistake 1 of my article: The 6 Most Common Mistakes People Make about CliftonStrengths.
Your results (or Talent Themes) are simply identifying your naturally recurring patterns of thought, feeling, or behavior that can be productively applied (as defined by Gallup).
No matter what your results are, your Top 5 Talent Themes identify you as 1-in-33.4 million. So, who’s the Best amongst those 33 million? As you can imagine, Best is a relative term:
- Is it the most popular person?
- The most persuasive?
- The most creative?
- The smartest?
- The wisest?
- The fastest?
- The strongest?
- The most dependable?
- The most nurturing?
Each of these qualities is Best at different times. Your CliftonStrengths Results (above all else) highlight your Individuality. There is no generic Best. Your results, combined with your specific experiences, your interests, your beliefs, and your desires make you unlike anyone else. So, what can Best mean if there’s no fair way to compare you to anyone else?
What Strengths are Best for a Job or Career?
Now you might wonder: “What about the Best Results for a particular Job or Career?” There are millions of jobs and careers that exist in the world. Plus, over time and with the advancement of social needs, research, and technology, there are new jobs and careers being created every single day.
There’s no way to map a list of ideal CliftonStrengths Results combinations per job. There are too many jobs, too many possible combinations, and any list would be incomplete. Besides, what criteria would someone use to define the best at any role?
Example: The Best Teacher
For example, think about the five best teachers you’ve ever had. What criteria did you use to determine that those were your five best teachers?
- Was it their ability to connect with you?
- Was it the way they presented the material?
- Was it the way they engaged with students?
- Was it how they made you feel about learning?
There are so many factors that can make someone the best teacher. I imagine you had different reasons for why you chose each one. If they each took the CliftonStrengths assessment, I guarantee you that each of those five teachers would have different CliftonStrengths Results. Each one of them has their own unique approach, perspective, and priorities – all influenced by their individual patterns of Thinking, Feeling, and Behaving.
The most Successful people aren’t distracted by meeting someone else’s definition of Best. They meet the objectives of their role in their own way – leaning into their natural Talents and Strengths. Ultimately, Success in a job or career has more to do with someone finding (or creating) the Right Fit for who they are – not trying to change themselves to meet some external definition of Best.
The Perception of Best changes over Time
There are those who believe that certain jobs or careers require specific Talents and Strengths. For example, they may believe that having the Analytical Talent Theme is a prerequisite to being in a technical role. But that’s not how CliftonStrengths is intended to be used. CliftonStrengths values your Individuality and doesn’t define what you can or can’t do.
If you’re looking at a role in a specific environment or organization, and that organization has identified that they’re trying to fill a gap which your natural Talents don’t satisfy, that’s one thing. But if you’re limiting yourself from going after an opportunity you want because you feel that your Talents and Strengths wouldn’t be seen or valued in that role, I challenge your Thinking.
Your CliftonStrengths results do not define you, and they do not limit you. Two people with different Talents and Strengths can achieve the same outcomes. They’ll simply use different approaches to get there. And that variety is where Creativity, Innovation, Disruption, and Progress come from.
If the same kinds of people are limiting themselves to the same kinds of opportunities, then we, as a society and Humanity as a whole, will remain stagnant. Having the same Talents and Strengths in the same types of roles will result in the same qualities, same priorities, same gaps, and same weaknesses. The qualities of what is considered Best change over time.
There is no one best way to be anything – including being the best manager or the best leader. Different places, different events, and different times call for different kinds of people. Your Individuality is the key to your Success and what you’re Best at.
The Most Common Strengths in CliftonStrengths (or StrengthsFinder)
Another variation on the question of the Best Strengths to Have is: “What are the Most Common Strengths (or Most Common Results) that people get in CliftonStrengths (or StrengthsFinder)?” Now, common doesn’t translate to best - especially as we’ve already addressed that best is highly dependent on context at the moment. However, I understand that this is also a common question.
People want to understand how their results compare to others (even though that’s the complete opposite of the intent behind using CliftonStrengths). CliftonStrengths is about valuing and embracing your Individuality.
Gallup occasionally publishes a Talent Theme Frequency report. This report summarizes Gallup’s cumulative records on everyone who's taken the CliftonStrengths (or StrengthsFinder) assessment worldwide.
Based on the last version I’ve seen (published in September 2019), the five Most Common Talent Themes worldwide are:
This list includes the results for the first 21.75 million test takers worldwide. At the time of writing this article, over 30 million people have taken the assessment. To my knowledge, no updated Talent Theme Frequency report has yet to be publicly published.
The Least Common Strengths in CliftonStrengths (or StrengthsFinder)
Based on the same Talent Theme Frequency report (published September 2019), the five Least Common Talent Themes worldwide are:
- Self-Assurance (being the least common overall, at 34)
- Command (33)
- Significance (32)
- Discipline (31)
- Context (30)
Both of these lists are based on the cumulative results of the first 21.75 million StrengthsFinder test takers worldwide. Since it’s been a few years since Gallup has publicly published a global Talent Theme Frequency report, it’s possible that some of these Most or Least Common Themes could have shifted over time.
Ultimately, Gallup CliftonStrengths wasn’t designed to compare you to others, and it wasn’t designed to define what you can or can’t do. It was created to identify what’s innately best about you. It values your Individuality and highlights your natural patterns that contribute to your success.
All 34 Talent Themes have their pluses and minuses. No matter what your results are, you still have to take the time and effort to develop those Talents into Strengths. Best is a relative term. Whatever your particular CliftonStrengths results combination is, it’s unique to you and it’s up to you to make them the best.