4 Domains of Strength-Based Leadership

Used in conjunction with an online program called StrengthsFinder. StrengthsFinder was developed by a certain Dr. Donald O. Clifton. Gallup’s blurb on him says that StrengthsFinder was the culmination of some 50 years of Dr. Clifton’s lifelong work.

I haven’t read the book, but it appears that there are two of them out there.

Strengths Based Leadership: Great Leaders, Teams, and Why People Follow

For those interested in taking the StrengthsFinder assessment, Gallup’s Strengths Center will give you access to the assessment and a report of your top five strengths for $9.99 at the time of writing. There’s also a deluxe offering of sorts that is about nine times the price.

Achiever – People who are especially talented in the Achiever theme have a great deal of stamina and work hard. They take great satisfaction from being busy and productive.
Arranger – People who are especially talented in the Arranger theme can organize, but they also have a flexibility that complements this ability. They like to figure out how all of the pieces and resources can be arranged for maximum productivity.
Belief – People who are especially talented in the Belief theme have certain core values that are unchanging. Out of these values emerges a defined purpose for their life.
Consistency – People who are especially talented in the Consistency theme are keenly aware of the need to treat people the same. They try to treat everyone in the world with consistency by setting up clear rules and adhering to them.
Deliberative – People who are especially talented in the Deliberative theme are best described by the serious care they take in making decisions or choices. They anticipate the obstacles.
Discipline – People who are especially talented in the Discipline theme enjoy routine and structure. Their world is best described by the order they create.
Focus – People who are especially talented in the Focus theme can take a direction, follow through, and make the corrections necessary to stay on track. They prioritize, then act.
Responsibility – People who are especially talented in the Responsibility theme take psychological ownership of what they say they will do. They are committed to stable values such as honesty and loyalty.
Restorative – People who are especially talented in the Restorative theme are adept at dealing with problems. They are good at figuring out what is wrong and resolving it.

Activator – People who are especially talented in the Activator theme can make things happen by turning thoughts into action. They are often impatient.
Command – People who are especially talented in the Command theme have presence. They can take control of a situation and make decisions.
Communication – People who are especially talented in the Communication theme generally find it easy to put their thoughts into words. They are good conversationalists and presenters.
Competition – People who are especially talented in the Competition theme measure their progress against the performance of others. They strive to win first place and revel in contests.
Maximizer – People who are especially talented in the Maximizer theme focus on strengths as a way to stimulate personal and group excellence. They seek to transform something strong into something superb.
Self-Assurance – People who are especially talented in the Self-Assurance theme feel confident in their ability to manage their own lives. They possess an inner compass that gives them confidence that their decisions are right.
Significance – People who are especially talented in the Significance theme want to be very important in the eyes of others. They are independent and want to be recognized.
Woo – People who are especially talented in the Woo theme love the challenge of meeting new people and winning them over. They derive satisfaction from breaking the ice and making a connection with another person.

Relationship Building
Adaptability – People who are especially talented in the Adaptability theme prefer to “go with the flow.” They tend to be “now” people who take things as they come and discover the future one day at a time.
Developer – People who are especially talented in the Developer theme recognize and cultivate the potential in others. They spot the signs of each small improvement and derive satisfaction from these improvements.
Connectedness – People who are especially talented in the Connectedness theme have faith in the links between all things. They believe there are few coincidences and that almost every event has a reason.
Empathy – People who are especially talented in the Empathy theme can sense the feelings of other people by imagining themselves in others’ lives or others’ situations.
Harmony – People who are especially talented in the Harmony theme look for consensus. They don’t enjoy conflict; rather, they seek areas of agreement.
Includer – People who are especially talented in the Includer theme are accepting of others. They show awareness of those who feel left out, and make an effort to include them.
Individualization – People who are especially talented in the Individualization theme are intrigued with the unique qualities of each person. They have a gift for figuring out how people who are different can work together productively.
Positivity – People who are especially talented in the Positivity theme have an enthusiasm that is contagious. They are upbeat and can get others excited about what they are going to do.
Relator – People who are especially talented in the Relator theme enjoy close relationships with others. They find deep satisfaction in working hard with friends to achieve a goal.

Strategic Thinking
Analytical – People who are especially talented in the Analytical theme search for reasons and causes. They have the ability to think about all the factors that might affect a situation.
Context – People who are especially talented in the Context theme enjoy thinking about the past. They understand the present by researching its history.
Futuristic – People who are especially talented in the Futuristic theme are inspired by the future and what could be. They inspire others with their visions of the future.
Ideation – People who are especially talented in the Ideation theme are fascinated by ideas. They are able to find connections between seemingly disparate phenomena.
Input – People who are especially talented in the Input theme have a craving to know more. Often they like to collect and archive all kinds of information.
Intellection – People who are especially talented in the Intellection theme are characterized by their intellectual activity. They are introspective and appreciate intellectual discussions.
Learner – People who are especially talented in the Learner theme have a great desire to learn and want to continuously improve. In particular, the process of learning, rather than the outcome, excites them.
Strategic – People who are especially talented in the Strategic theme create alternative ways to proceed. Faced with any given scenario, they can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues.

Source: Rath, T, and Conchie, B. (2008). Strengths Based Leadership. Galllup Press; New York, NY.

On Strategic Planning for Career Development

David S. Haffner, CEO & President of Leggett & Platt, Inc., delivered a talk to a small group of MBA students at the University of Missouri. This talk took place on September 8th, 2011. Here are my notes from his discussion.

Interview Tips
– Research your target. Then confirm your research.
– That being said, do not overwhelm your interviewer with details.

– Compensation will be a large factor in your decision-making process.
– What about equity options? What is available with the company? Can you, as an employee, acquire equity at a discount? (discounted stock purchase plan)
– Does the company stock pay dividends?

The Career Progression of a Well-Qualified Entrant
(show graphic)

“Think at least one move ahead – preferably two”

Slow and steady? No – take on opportunity, but not too much at once

Be humble about your assets, be proud of your achievements

– “One of the things that I did …”

– Adding precision where we don’t know it in conversation can make things sound more convincing

What do you do after you get hired?
– Act with character and integrity
– Maintain your cool
– Keep work and play separated — remember that people are watching
– Seek feedback – play off the strengths, but don’t give up on weaknesses

How to build a successful pitch presentation

Get balls deep in the task. Don’t back out – your success depends on your persistence, willingness to learn, and your ability to engage the audience. Keep the feedback loops open. Start the conversation.

Dr. Jake Halliday, President & CEO of the Missouri Innovation Center:

  1. Need
  2. Ability to Compete
  3. Get to Market Strategy
  4. Nature of the Company
  5. The Team
  6. Deal Terms (ROI, exit, how will funds be used?)

Can your company’s product be “The Gold Standard”? Compare and contrast with competing products.

Leverage existing systems. Size of addressable market. Start with open source, then move to proprietary platforms. An idea that people can latch onto.

  1. Problem ie. Need (Pain in the Marketplace)
  2. Solution
  3. Value Proposition

Panelist 3:

What is it that you’re offering?

Why is there a need?

Why should you be the one that we back?

And why now? Generate a sense of immediacy.

Panelist 4:


Rational – Mind – interest, belief, and trust

Emotional – Speak to the heart – create interest, enthusiasm, and exicitement

What does the business do?

What needs are addressed?

What’s unique about the product?

What’s proprietary or protectable?

How to surpass competition?

Who will lead the company?

What’s the get to market strategy?

How much progress has been made to date?

When addressing the size of the market, go step by step. Larger market, subsegments. Drill down to hella granular detail.


Talk to them like they’re your friends

Stop writing academically. Write for people.

Resume Tips: Skills and Action Words

Resume writing is tough. This list of skills and action words should help make life a little easier.


  • administered
  • coordinated
  • designed
  • established
  • evaluated
  • interviewed
  • managed
  • organized
  • planned
  • oversaw


  • arranged
  • catalogued
  • compiled
  • dispatched
  • monitored
  • operated
  • prepared
  • processed
  • recorded
  • screened


  • addressed
  • authored
  • corresponded
  • directed
  • drafted
  • edited
  • influenced
  • interpreted
  • lectured
  • motivated


  • assessed
  • assisted
  • clarified
  • coached
  • educated
  • familiarized
  • guided
  • referred


  • acted
  • created
  • fashioned
  • illustrated
  • integrated
  • invented
  • performed
  • shaped


  • analyzed
  • applied
  • developed
  • established
  • formulated
  • instituted
  • supported
  • surveyed


  • allocated
  • analyzed
  • appraised
  • audited
  • balanced
  • budgeted
  • calculated
  • computed
  • forecasted


  • assigned
  • chaired
  • delegated
  • directed
  • improved
  • supervised
  • recommended
  • reviewed
  • scheduled


  • applied
  • arranged
  • coordinated
  • facilitated
  • handled
  • consolidated
  • planned
  • organized
  • systematized


  • generated
  • initiated
  • recruited
  • implemented
  • increased
  • distributed
  • participated
  • persuaded
  • promoted
  • publicized

Problem Solving

  • decided
  • evaluated
  • investigated
  • recommended
  • resolved
  • solved
  • surveyed
  • clarified


  • critiqued
  • examined
  • identified
  • inspected
  • interpreted
  • researched
  • summarized
  • surveyed


  • assembled
  • built
  • devised
  • developed
  • engineered
  • operated
  • reconciled
  • translated

Time Management

  • administered
  • developed
  • directed
  • generated
  • improved
  • initiated
  • increased
  • reduced


  • adapted
  • advised
  • assisted
  • communicated
  • explained
  • facilitated
  • informed
  • instructed