The Final Piece of Hardwiring – Talents & Strengths

 I have long been fascinated by the concept of “talents” – those innate “gifts” that people have. I used to think that talent was mostly a creative, artistic ability as in playing an instrument well and seemingly effortlessly. Van Cliburn, Yo Yo Ma, Oscar Petersen, or Ella Fitzgerald for example. Or, think of world-class athletes such as Michael Jordon, Venus and Serena Williams , Phil Mickelson, or Derek Jeter. Although we know such skill is the product of lots of hard work, there also is the element of natural talent at work in each of these examples.

It turns out that we all have talents; things that we do that produce consistent near-perfect performance in a few key areas of our life. Decades of research by the Gallup Organization revealed that each of us have these innate gifts and that turning our talents into “strengths” is possible as we acquire knowledge and experience.

The Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment has become the gold standard for determining individual talents and we have made extensive use of it in working with our clients. Recent projects with teams as diverse as a group of physicans in a family medicine residency program, a team of dedicated individuals in a state government human services agency, and a staff of electronics engineers in a large truck component manufacturer have shown the value of looking at individual and team “strengths.”

The best current “take” on talents and strengths seems to be in Tom Rath’s book StrengthsFinder 2.0. Each copy of Rath’s book contains a one-time computer code for taking the assessment on the Gallup Organization’s web site. If you haven’t explored your own talents, pick up a copy from your local bookstore or order from our friends at Might be a great opportunity to order a copy of my new book too!

To order “The 8 Essential Skills for Supervisors & Managers” visit

What are your particular Talents?

Next Time: Skill 2 – Communicating for Results


  1. I’ve long been a fan and supporter of the Gallup Organization’s findings on talents and strengths. Yet I remain fascinated by success stories for people whose talent may not have been clear — Micheal Jordan not making the b-ball team in 10th grade, for example. And I just learned that Louis Pasteur (the man who first recognized germs and developed the vaccine, not to mention Pasteurization) had only “adequate” chemistry grades during his undergraduate studies. So what if your talents are hidden?

    • Good question, Gretchen, and thanks for the reminder about MJ early lack of success on the bball court. One of Jordon’s obvious talents is Competitiveness – he absolutely hated losing. I imagine in his case the early failure made him work harder.

      Most people seem to pay little attention to their talents; they’re too busy working on all the stuff on their plate! A major benefit of using a tool like the Clifton StrengthsFinder is it helps gets people to actually think about their talents and those of others. I’ve seen some remarkable “ah-ha’s” emerge from a discussion centered around talents and strengths. In addition to the increased self-knowledge, the resulting appreciation for the talents of their colleagues is pretty cool too!

Comments RSS TrackBack Identifier URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s