Development tools to improve performance

We know that Coaches and Team Leaders want to see progress in their engagements with clients and team members respectively. More specifically, they are looking for tangible progress towards desired outcomes AND best return on investment and energy.

Workplaces and individuals face a variety of options when choosing the best development tools to improve performance. From personality tests to leadership assessments, there is no shortage of tools to evaluate us.

We need to know more about the tools and their benefits to decide which to use.

In this article we will review briefly the Clifton Strengths Assessment and compare it with the Myers Briggs Personality Test (MBTI).

MBTI Overview

MBTI classifications of individuals are based on an adaptation of Carl Jung’s theory of conscious psychological type.

MBTI groups individuals into one of 16 personality types by measuring distinct polarities of preference:
• Extroversion or Introversion
• Sensing or Intuition
• Feeling or Thinking
• Judging or Perceiving

The middle two categories are considered “psychological functions”. That is how individuals naturally prefer to take in information (Sensing or Intuition). Also, the basis on which they evaluate that information (Feeling or Thinking).

The first and fourth categories are considered “orientations” that determine how the individual exhibits psychological functions. These categories indicate how individuals gain energy and focus attention (Extroversion or Introversion). Also, how they deal with the outside world (Judging or Perceiving).

The resulting four-letter Myers-Briggs personality type represents the individual’s preference of the two opposite poles in each category.


MBTI Test Design

The Myers-Briggs test asks a series of questions. The dynamic interactions between the preferences indicate basic personality types. This information provides insight into how individuals gain energy, process information and act upon their conclusions. For example, an “introverted thinking” type may spend much time internally processing ideas. An “extroverted thinking” type may also spend much time in the world of ideas. However, the latter “thinks out loud” to explore the ideas’ value and meaning.

Individuals can build skill and competency in the opposite of their MBTI type. However, they are most comfortable operating within their preferred orientation.

With the limited possibilities of outcomes with MBTI, the generalization of people with the same outcome yields distorted results. Meaning, with a large group, you will likely find individuals with the same results. That is 16 personality types based on the four pairs of opposing descriptors.

Clifton Strengths Review

The Clifton Strengths Assessment measures the presence of talent in 34 areas called themes. After an individual responds to 177 sets of paired statements, you receive a customized insight report. This outlines your five significant talent themes, as indicated by responses to the assessment. One’s signature themes are unique to the individual:

There are 278,256 combinations of five themes. When you consider the order of the five themes, the number jumps to more than 33 million different sets of signature themes. This means the likelihood of you finding someone with the same top 5 as you is one in 33 million.

The assessment offers an opportunity for talent discovery and a language through which individuals can express their unique talents. The precision provided by the depth and language of the tool moves beyond that of “people person” descriptors. For instance, when considering how an individual might interact with others, knowing “developer” is one of their significant themes means:
That person naturally recognizes and cultivates the potential in others and derives satisfaction from watching others grow.

The Clifton Strengths Themes

The 34 talent themes fall into one of four categories or domains of potential: Strategic Thinking, Executing, Influencing and Relationship Building

The themes are distributed within the four domains of potential:
Strategic Thinking: Analytical, Context, Futuristic, Ideation, Input, Intellection, Learner, Strategic

Executing: Achiever, Arranger, Belief, Consistency, Deliberative, Discipline, Focus, Responsibility, Restorative

Influencing: Activator, Command, Communication, Competition, Maximizer, Self-Assurance, Significance, Woo

Relationship Building: Adaptability, Connectedness, Developer, Empathy, Harmony, Includer, Individualization, Positivity, Relator

A little more about the Clifton strength assessment:

You can read more about the Clifton Strengths Assessment history and design by referring to the previous article:
“Development Tools To Improve Performance”

If you are interested in taking the assessment and working on the insight report provided join me at the next strength workshop. You will work in small groups to extract your innate talents and learn to use the ICE strength builder model. During this workshop we will work on one of your desired goals with this model.

You can learn more about the content of the workshop and be able to register on this page 

Comparison of the two tools

Both tools are accurate however the Clifton Strength Assessment provides a more precise approach to one’s uniqueness.
Gallup Senior Scientist Phil Stone, a psychology professor at Harvard, examined the relationship between Myers-Briggs and the Clifton Strengths assessment. Stone had 206 of his students’ complete assessments through both instruments. The study showed some expected correlations between the two assessments. For example, if Clifton Strengths Assessment shows Analytical, MBTI is likely to identify you as Thinking. If Empathy is in your Top 5 (Clifton Strengths), you are likely to be Feeling (MBTI). Likewise, if Discipline is in your Top 5 (Clifton Strengths), you’re probably also Judging (MBTI). Stone’s work depicts the accuracy of the two assessments for defining a person’s innate natural thoughts, feelings and behaviors.

In order to see the applicability of the two tools, imagine a house and the rooms within it. MBTI indicates the room in which an individual is most comfortable residing. The Clifton Strengths Assessment represents the furnishings, functional pieces, decorations and other details inside that room. This will help us understand the individual’s unique innate abilities.


Many organizations use both tools. Myers-Briggs types brings surface-level results not aimed at any performance development outcomes. It provides broad awareness but may lack applicability. Clifton Strengths Assessment provides detailed descriptors and context for performance development. It also builds a common language within an organization to shed light on what’s right with people. This is a great foundation for strength-based conversations with the aim of development and performance.