What does it say on your name badge?

These days I walk around at work with an ID badge. It has my photo and name on it. All fairly standard, right? On the back of the badge, however, is a list of my Top 5 Strengths. These five items were established by the StrengthsFinder test. The assessment is designed to reveal your naturally recurring patterns of thought, feeling and behaviour.

I’m happy to have found an employer that believes that each person’s unique natural strengths provide the greatest opportunities for growth and development. I’ve always been a firm advocate for capitalising on the gifts I’m blessed with rather than constantly moaning about all the talents I know I lack. Actually the report helps me discover that this kind of thinking is typical in one of my most dominant themes:

“Maximizer – People strong 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.”

As I read through the more comprehensive description of the “Maximizer” theme, I finally realise why I got so upset at one of my former managers, who suggested I should lower my quality standards and not do things so thoroughly. “Excellence, not average, is your measure”, the report states. I am more than familiar with the often annoying internal drive towards perfection. If I was armed with the “Competition” theme as well, I’d have a pretty exhausting life.

Another theme in my Top 5 is something that my husband recognises immediately:

“Positivity – People strong 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.”

Although I do not consider myself exceedingly positive, I do seem to have more energy and optimism than your average Finn. The report urges me to avoid negative people. I think I have been very lucky to have come across people who find in the world the same kind of drama and humour that I do. People who smile. Others may call me happy-go-lucky or naive. I’m ok with that.

I have been a fan of Marcus Buckingham, one of the leading figures behind this strengths movement, for years. So, why am I still slightly uneasy about wearing my Top 5 Strengths on my employee badge?

I have a theme in my five most dominant themes that may explain it:

“Individualization – People strong 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.”

The report further describes that I am impatient with generalisations or types, because I don’t want to obscure what is special and distinct about each person. I rather focus on the differences between individuals. And that’s probably why I bought a t-shirt with the print: “Don’t put me in your box” a few years back.

T-shirt

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