I recently took a strengths test. It was recommended to me by my boss -- and, in fact, all of my marketing coworkers took the test as well. We had a meeting to discuss our strengths, and weaknesses, and what they mean for the department.
Here's how the test worked: when taking the test, I was asked to rank statements on a Likert Scale (0-9, disagree to agree). The statements included phrases like "I enjoy meeting new people," "I enjoy starting ice breaker conversations," and "I like to find solutions for problems." At the end of the test, it ranks 34 characteristics on a scale with a score (out of 100).
My top ten (including my score) were:
- Structurer (100)
- Information Excavator (100)
- Thinker (100)
- Fixer (98)
- Solutions Finder (96)
- Historian (93)
- Believing (91)
- Student (91)
- Prudent (89)
- Visionary (89)
Some of these were really surprising to me. I was not surprised that Structurer was one of my top strengths -- I follow patterns and regiment my life to an almost insane degree. I desire structure and routine. I like doing the same things everyday, eating the same things, watching the same TV shows. I like repetition. Information Excavator and Thinker didn't surprise me either; both traits recall a curiosity and a love of research, which is something I definitely love and find myself very good at.
I was surprised by Fixer and Solutions Finder in my top 5. I do not often think of myself as someone with very good problem solving skills, but I do spend a lot of time researching how to fix my problems, fix problems I experience in my work, or improve anything I'm working on. In some ways, it make sense.
However, when it came down to it, the traits I ended up paying the most attention to are those I scored the least in. My lowest scoring trains were Charismatic (40), Flexibility (40), Motivator (38), Confidence (38), and Foreman/Commanding (36). Basically, I don't like meeting new people, I am not flexible, I am not upbeat, I lack confidence in my talent and abilities, and I cannot lead people.
Wow, that says a lot doesn't it!
All of those traits are important for some jobs and in general, are skills that are good to have. There are things I know are not my strengths. But looking at these traits, I realize something: I may be a good problem solver and researcher, but my lack of confidence, and inflexibility, make it difficult for me to implement and lead people towards my ideas.
That's kind of a bummer, of course, when I really think about it: I have many positive traits, but if confidence ranks as one of my greatest weaknesses, it seems to invalidate my abilities otherwise.
It's possible to learn a lot about yourself by identifying your strengths. You can determine what kind of leader you are and how to properly focus your energy. However, I learned the most by evaluating my weaknesses and deciding how to make them strengths instead.
With a test like this, it's very easy to get bogged down by what it says about you: oh, I'm not very confident. Aren't I the worst? It's difficult to fight that impulse, to let the test tell you that that is inherently how you are. However, strengths and weaknesses are flexible and they have the ability to change. You shouldn't feel constricted by learning your weaknesses -- you should feel empowered to change.
If you'd like to take this test, you can here.