One of the most insightful questions that a prospective employer can ask is to tell me about your best self. Your best self can help you leverage your strengths to scale up revenue, profitability, and a richer lifestyle. You can think about and prepare for this question in many different ways, but other people who are interviewing for the same position are probably doing the same thing. As you are preparing for an interview whether it is a position in a corporate office, an academic institution or you are an entrepreneur reaching out to potential clients prepare to leverage using your top strengths to differentiate yourself. 

I encourage you to identify your most powerful strength, your default talent, those habits and patterns that come naturally to you and combine into a single powerful strengths anthem, which is the real you. The things you do when you are yourself. You know that you can be assured that using your strengths will not only give a great picture of who you are but also who you will be when you are hired for the job. With your strengths being a substantial part of the core of who you are, the person you present in your interview is the person you will be in the job.

If analytical® is one of your top 5 strengths give an example of how you have used that strength in a job. For instance, one of my clients at Workplace Training discovered that no one knew how much their services were costing the company. The cost of their training sessions had not changed in a few years. She took a look at the cost to her company for their training material and supplies for each session along with the depreciation on the equipment that they use in the sessions. She discovered that several of their sessions cost them 5-8% more than they charged for it. They raised their fees immediately. That alone increased their revenue by over $20,000.

 Knowing your greatest strength is more than memorizing a list of character traits. It’s rediscovering and monetizing who you are.  Many people have a significant lack of self-awareness and an application of strengths.  Most job seekers don’t spend enough time analyzing their strengths and thinking about which ones are most relevant for each position. Having been through the Clifton Strengths® you will know your strengths and how they serve you in life as well as knowing how they will serve you in your job. If you don’t feel you know your job-related strengths well enough to monetize them, stay with us over the next few months.  We will discuss each of the 34 strengths from Analytical® to WOO®.

If you haven’t taken the CliftonStrengths® assessment or you want to upgrade to see your ALL 34 strengths, please visit my website at https://brentobannon.com to purchase your own Clifton StrengthsFinder code.  Have something you would like to talk with me about then schedule your free Ask Brent Anything call and let’s talk strengths.

Please share one strength below and how you monetized that strength.

Over 25 years ago the Gallup organization set out to find out what differentiates an engaged employee from a disengaged employee. Gallup defines engaged employees as those who are involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace. Through their comprehensive research study they set out to answer questions like:

What do the most talented employees need from their workplace?

What do they need to thrive?

What do they need to stay engaged and to do their best work?

Through this research, Gallup has recognized 12 core elements — the Q12 — that link strongly to significant business outcomes. In the late 90s Gallup finalized their questioning and since then, it’s been administered to more than 25 million employees in 195 countries in 70 languages.

The interesting thing about the way Gallup crafted these questions is their ability to differentiate. The only items kept were those where the most engaged employees answered positively, and everyone else responded neutrally or negatively.

The extremes that the questions contain make it more difficult to answer with a “5” or “Strongly Agree.” In crafting these questions, Gallup used extremes on purpose to help distinguish between the most productive departments and the rest. If they had removed the extremes the questions would be weakened because it would have eliminated the variability of answers.

Gallup’s research shows that these 12 items can be used to measure the strength of a workplace. These items can capture the degree to which employees are getting their performance needs to be met. The 12 items Gallup identified are:

  1. Do you know what is expected of you at work?
  2. Do you have the materials and equipment to do your work right?
  3. At work, do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day?
  4. In the last seven days, have you received recognition or praise for doing good work?
  5. Does your supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about you as a person?
  6. Is there someone at work who encourages your development?
  7. At work, do your opinions seem to count?
  8. Does the mission/purpose of your company make you feel your job is important?
  9. Are your associates (fellow employees) committed to doing quality work?
  10. Do you have a best friend at work?
  11. In the last six months, has someone at work talked to you about your progress?
  12. In the last year, have you had opportunities to learn and grow?

I believe that the Q12 provides valuable information as we look to create an engaged culture in our own business or coach others to create an engaging culture in their business. Over the next few months, we will go through the questions to see how we can use the Q12 as a tool to create that culture. So some come along with us as we take this journey through the Gallup Q12. Not sure how to move forward on this challenge? Then schedule an Ask Brent Anything call and let’s talk strengths.


In his book, Go Put Your Strengths to Work, Marcus Buckingham suggests exploring one’s strengths using what he calls the SIGN method—success, instinct, growth, and need.

Success—Ask yourself these questions: Have I had a level of success in this activity? Do people tell me that I’m skilled at this activity? Have I won any awards for this strength?

Instinct—How often do I practice this activity? Every day? Do I volunteer for this activity? Volunteering indicates that a strength is instinctual, a natural flow of your life.

Growth—Remember, it’s a myth to believe that we can be anything we want. But we can be more of who we already are. Growth is the ability to learn something quickly and easily without struggling.

Needs—We all have needs. A top strength in your life will meet a need. You can look at this in a number of ways, asking yourself: Am I excited or eager to do this particular activity? Do I have fun thinking about/doing this activity? Does this activity give me a sense of purpose? The needs component of this exercise is helpful when working with kids. It’s important to find out what excites each young person. If it jazzes them, you’ve likely identified a strength and with only a nudge in the right direction, you can expand on these strengths.

However, most of us are experts in noticing our weaknesses more so than our strengths, which is why it’s crucial to highlight the difference between the two.

Donald Clifton taught that managing our weaknesses allows our strengths to overpower them, ultimately making them irrelevant. Clifton stated, “Quickly admitting weak areas is an act of courage and growth.” He also taught that for every area of strength we are likely to have one thousand non strengths.

Weaknesses are like leaks in a sail boat. I use LEAK as an acronym to identify our major and minor weaknesses, which if not managed well will sink our boat.

      L – Loathe

      E – Escape

      A – Average

      K – Kink

Analytical is not among my top strengths. Analytical people are good with technology and numbers. Not me. In grade school, I loathed math class. In fact, I wanted to escape math. By the time I got to trigonometry, I needed all kinds of tutoring to increase my knowledge. Despite all my hard work, math was never a strength, I was barely average. Even to this day, if I need to quickly figure out a math problem, I automatically get a kink in my stomach.

Because talent and instinct are synonymous, avoiding a particular activity often points to an area of weakness. I learned some math and technology in school. However, I find these topics quite boring. The point is, if there’s a lack of growth and learning it indicates a weakness.

Fear not, there’s a way to deal with your weaknesses.

I’ve developed a system to PLUG our leaks.

      P – Plan

      L – Leave

      U – Unite

      G –Grow

Coaching clients often tell me, “I have so many weaknesses that I can’t see my strengths.” But we all have weaknesses. We’re not perfect. Nobody should expect themselves to have every tool in the toolbox. So, how do we deal with our weaknesses? How do we stop wasting our time on our weak areas?

First consciously PLAN to use a strength to boost performance in your weakness. In other words, volunteer and steer your life towards your strengths. Ask yourself: Which of my strengths could I use to get activities done more easily? How can I use my strengths to create a new role for myself at work or my volunteer organization? How can I offer up a strength at home or in my personal relationships? Plan a way to use your strengths to steer you away from your weaknesses.

Second, LEAVE your weakness behind 80 percent of the time. Stop doing activities associated with your weakness. At work, you can ask your supervisor about taking an area in which you are weak out of your job description. Of course, it’s a bit easier when you work for yourself. But, even big business is turning towards strengths psychology. If you feel locked into certain activities that are holding you back, remember—it doesn’t hurt to ask. The point is to stop spending time on your weaknesses.

Third, UNITE with others who have strengths you don’t. Ask yourself: Who could I partner with who has this strength? Who on my work team would be willing to utilize their strength to help stop my weakness? Who could teach me how to deal with my particular weakness? Sure, there are some activities we must do. In my case, I had to balance my checkbook. That said, my wife is great at balancing the checkbook, so I simply turned this task over to her.

Fourth, shift into your GROW perspective to tackle a weakness. I have one particular client who doesn’t have great relationship skills, and he finds it difficult to communicate with his wife. However, he is a Learner—he loves to educate himself. So, I challenged him by asking, “How could you use your Learner strength to acquire more social skills like empathy to learn how to relate to your spouse?”

The light bulb went off. “It’s about turning on a strength in an area where I’m weak, so I can learn,” he said.

For example, those with the strength of Harmony love to keep the peace and diffuse conflict. I encourage those with Harmony to look for other strengths that can help them cope with conflict like Communication. The key is to re-frame your old strengths in new ways.

This week I challenge you using LEAK as a strategy to identify your major and minor weaknesses.  Once you have identified them design an action plan to PLUG your leaks.  Post below your weakness and how you will face your weakness.

Not sure how to move forward on this challenge? Then schedule an Ask Brent Anything call and let’s talk strengths.