Now Discover Your Strengths


Author: Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton
Publisher: The Free Press
Edition: 2001
ISBN: 0-7432-0114-0

Buckingham and Clifton believe that most organisations are based on two flawed assumptions about people: each person can learn to be competent in almost anything; each person‟s greatest room for growth is in their areas of greatest weakness.

Buckingham and Clifton assert, “the best managers start with a radical assumption: Each person‟s greatest room for growth is in the area of their greatest strength.” What is being said here is that the most effective managers work to leverage their employees‟ strengths. At first glance this seems counterintuitive. After all, many organisations have spent thousands of dollars defining core competencies. And also have invested in the measuring and tracking of employee gaps and managing that process called “employee improvement plans” or “individual development plans” or whatever your organisation happens to call that thing that demonstrates that you have a learning organisation.

While having a process to track and measure the progress and learning of your organisation is very important, Buckingham and Clifton ask you to look at a different way to view core competencies. They suggest that you leverage your organisation to acknowledge, reward and leverage the strengths of the individuals making up your employee pool. The way they assess strength is not about personality or behaviour style. Instead it is themes of work focus. Their framework is that at very young ages (0-5) individuals determine the way in which they see the world, focus their energy, and determine to take action. These themes are established so early on that is it difficult if not impossible to change the framework of individuals. Therefore, you are more successful to align the work with the themes in a way that equals success for the individual contribution and the business success based on that contribution.

Here are the thirty-four themes outlined in Now Discover Your Strengths:

  1. Achiever 
  2. Activator
  3. Adaptability
  4. Analytical
  5. Arranger
  6. Belief
  7. Command
  8. Communication
  9. Competition
  10. Connectedness
  11. Context
  12. Deliberative
  13. Developer
  14. Discipline
  15. Empathy
  16. Fairness
  17. Focus
  18. Futuristic
  19. Harmony
  20. Ideation
  21. Inclusiveness
  22. Individualisation
  23. Input
  24. Intellection
  25. Learner
  26. Maximiser
  27. Positivity
  28. Relator
  29. Responsibility
  30. Restorative
  31. Self-assurance
  32. Significance
  33. Strategic
  34. Woo

The book offers definitions and descriptions of these themes. It also offers a code that allows you to take an online assessment to discover your own guiding themes/strengths according to the Gallop Organisation‟s methodology. 

Putting the strengths concept to work in an organisations is more difficult. The book‟s “Practical Guide” suggests that you need to profile at least 100 employees (50 top achievers and

50 poor achievers), build a database and seek to build a statistically significant trait patterns.