August 16, 2005

Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton, Ph.D.

the title in red on a while backgroundMy boss's boss made him read this book. Then my boss offered his team the opportunity to have their very own copy. Predictably, when offered a free book I said, "sure, why not."

The basic premise of the book is that all the usual self improvement focus on repairing one's weaknesses is wrongheaded. The authors contend that your weaknesses are part of your nature and while they can be mitigated, they're not going away. Instead, they posit that one is better served by identifying one's strengths and honing them to a razor edge and applying them as appropriately as one can to life's challenges.

This all begs the question of what your strengths might be. The Gallup organization who are behind this book have analyzed the data from studies of over two million people and distilled them down to a set of 34 strengths. Not only that, they've devised a questionairre which will tell them what your top five strengths are. You'd think that when you (or your boss) pay $30 for a cheesy management book, the questionairre would be included in the purchase price and you'd be right. Sort of. Printed on the inside of the dust jacket of the book is a code number you can use to take the test exactly once at the gallup web site. Whatever. It's not my money. So I took the test and, lo, my five biggest strengths are apparently:

input, intellection, ideation, adaptability, and relator

Of course to find out what those really mean you have to read the sections expanding on their meaning in the book. There are some vague sketch explanations on the web page, but they're only marginally better than the words alone.

None of their findings comes as a particular shock to me, but they are interesting. I was disappointed to learn that the book doesn't focus much on the honing part of the equation, but more on a management view. It talks about how you should relate to and deploy an employee who posesses a particular strength. I guess this would be useful if I were or wanted to be a manager, but since I'm not and don't, not so much.

It's a quick read, but I wouldn't recommend you spring for the book/test unless your boss will pay for it.

Posted by jeffy at August 16, 2005 07:22 PM