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CliftonStrengths[1], formerly known as StrengthsFinder[1:1], is a personality and talent assessment developed by Don Clifton and Gallup. It is based on a model of positive psychology, defining a total of 34 themes and ranking them for an individual, identifying areas of skill, experience, or interest.

The assessment is timed and asks the respondent to answer a series of Likert-style questions based on how strongly various statements describe themselves. When the assessment is complete, a report will be available that ranks the strengths of the respondent. While it is possible to get a full report of all 34, there is also an option that will only report the Top 5 themes with the option to unlock the others at a later time.

More information on the CliftonStrengths assessment can be found on their website.

These are my own Top 5 themes:

  1. Connectedness
  2. Restorative
  3. Learner
  4. Empathy
  5. Deliberative

As useful as CliftonStrengths can be as a tool for self-discovery and for finding opportunities of focus in one’s own path, it can also be an interesting tool to use in a team to get to know one another better. Having a team bring in their Top 5 themes from a previous taking of the assessment (or having them take it for the first time), and sharing them with the group, and then going around the room to comment on how they see those themes manifest in the way they see their fellow team members work can help bring an understanding of how everyone approaches certain situations. It is interesting to see which themes end up being in common with multiple team members and which themes are completely unique to some people and help complement the strengths that others have.

Because CliftonStrengths results are just a starting point for a conversation about we think and work, this system should never be used to make hiring decisions or any other significant method of classifying and grouping people. People can interpret the assessment questions differently and the themes themselves can cover a broad enough area to mean different things to different people. As with any personality test, the results can help put a name to certain patterns and feelings but could never possibly fully encompass the worth that a person has and the contributions that a person can perform in a given situation.

It is said that, once the assessment has been taken by someone once, it does not need to be taken again, because the assessment targets the intrinsic interests and values in the respondent. That being said, I did retake it myself 7 years after my initial taking (the results above reflect my most recent results). When I first took the assessment, I had just graduated from college and I was early into my first full-time role as a software developer. In the years to follow, my appetite for learning technical skills (Learner, which is still #3 for me now, was previously #1) was giving way to an interest in sociotechnical systems and the bigger picture of how to write software that has higher quality with a consideration for ethics and accessibility. I had gone into and out of management. I learned about pair programming and had been mob programming for over a year. I even had become more spiritual and learned so many more things about myself and why I think and feel the way I do. So while it is recommended that people trust and believe that the results they get one year will still represent them years in the future, I knew that there had to be changes that reflect the journey I had taken since first taking the assessment.


  1. CliftonStrengths, StrengthsFinders, and the names of all 34 strengths are registered trademarks of Gallup, Inc. ↩︎ ↩︎