Development tools to improve performance

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.
People often ask me what assessment tool do you use with leaders and teams to support the coaching relationship and process and why? The brief answer is there is no one tool that is the best. It’s best to evaluate what each tool provides and whether it matches the outcomes you are looking for.
In my case, the focus is to partner with clients so they reach their developmental goals. We are looking for tangible progress towards desired outcomes AND best return on investment. From the last 20 years’ experience I have found the best tool to date is the strengths assessment to kick off the learning and development journey.

Some of the tools available

Here is a list of some assessment tools I have experienced and studied in the market place:
• Clifton strengths assessment
• Myers Briggs personality test
• Hogan assessment
• DISC assessment
• Enneagram test
• Insights discovery test
• Standout assessment
• VIA survey
• Kolbe Index
In this article, I will focus on the Gallup strengths assessment with a brief description of its background or history. There will be a comparison of similarities and differences between the above tools in future articles so keep your eye out for news from ICE going forward.

The Cliften Strengths Assessment

This was researched and developed by Dr. Don Clifton, who is often considered to be the “father of strengths psychology.” This all started six decades ago when he started researching at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln library. He was struck by the fact that all of the available psychology books were about what is wrong with people. Then he asked a powerful question: “What would happen if we studied what was right with people versus what’s wrong with people?”
Clifton and his colleagues started the Nebraska Human Resources Research Foundation, which served as a community service to students and a laboratory for graduate students to practice strengths-based psychology. It was there where he discovered that successful students, those who persisted to graduation, had notably different character traits than less successful ones. This finding informed other hypotheses he would eventually study.

From 1988 Clifton developed hundreds of predictive instruments that could identify top performers for specific jobs within an organization’s unique culture. These scientifically validated instruments were designed to place the best talent in the right position in a specific company. But there was something missing…

What about the individual?

The ability to identify great talent for an organization was not always helpful for the individual. So, in the mid-90s, Don Clifton developed an assessment to identify specific traits and a framework for developing those traits to benefit the individual. He labeled those traits “strengths.” The strengths development is based on the premise that companies, leaders and their team can achieve more by focusing on strengths rather than only on weaknesses.
Don Clifton’s journey to create the Clifton strengths assessment culminated near the turn of the century. He heeded the recommendations of Dr. Phil Stone, a Harvard psychology professor who suggested the assessment be designed for the coming digital age and employ a modified ipsative scoring algorithm, rather than normative scoring. The result was the initial version of the Clifton strengths assessment conducted in 1999, an objective measure of personal talent that could be administered online in less than an hour. In 2003 the American Psychological Association honored Don Clifton with a Presidential Commendation as the Father of Strengths-Based Psychology shortly before his death.

A new standard

Today, there are some 30 million individuals who have taken the strengths assessment and more than 90% of Fortune 500 companies having used the assessment to bring power of strengths-based development to their workplace culture. Every year, more organizations of all sizes give leaders and their teams the chance to become great at what they’re naturally good at

A little more about the Clifton strength assessment:

The tool is meant for development and coaching. It aims to measure the particular ways in which an individual tends to approach their work. The assessment does this by examining a person’s talents, which encompasses their personality and attitudes, as well as their knowledge, skills and abilities. The results can then be used for developmental purposes by providing a lens for understanding who that person is. It creates a language through which individuals can express who they are, what they need, what they give and what they value.
The timed assessment consists of 177 sets of paired statements in which the individual indicates the extent to which the statement describes them. Upon completion, the assessment ranks a person’s talent themes from 1 to 34, with 1 indicating your top strength potential and 34 your lowest. Each talent theme classifies a pattern of thinking, feeling and behaving that comes naturally to an individual. When these themes are understood and are put into meaningful action, they can create near-perfect behaviour, or strengths. As Dr. Clifton wisely said, “There is something you can do better than 10,000 other people, and we just need to find what that is.


The 34 talent themes fall into one of four categories or domains of potential that include:
Strategic Thinking – Executing – Influencing – Relationship Building
Overall, the assessment provides up to 278,256 combinations of Top 5 themes, and when you consider the ranking of your top five themes, there is a one in 33 million chance that you will find someone else with the same top five talent themes ranked in the same order. When you then consider the combination of themes for the top 10 significant themes and how your thirty-four talent themes are ranked, there is no one else quiet like you.

From the offices of Fortune 500 companies to the classrooms on thousands of school campuses, millions of people every year are discovering what Clifton set out to share. They know what is right with them, and they have the opportunity to use their Clifton Strengths assessment to maximize their infinite potential.

Coaching Through Strengths

Coaching education is centered around discovering more of the person’s potential and how they can apply that to grow and develop. Of course, during a coaching program, we learn to apply the skills and mindset to achieve this.
At ICE, all of our coaching education programs are designed so that you take this assessment and attend a strength workshop. This starts to increase self-awareness of participants to apply the coaching or leadership using their own style. You will discover the most significant unique talents and how to use the ICE strength builder model to aim them at your goals. In this workshop you work with other like-minded individuals to understand the strength philosophy and start creating a personal development plan.

Discovering your Potential

This workshop is then followed by further deep dive sessions in our follow-up module called “discover your potential”. The insights and learning will be applied powerfully in strengths-based coaching conversations at work and in your personal life.
For those who wish to learn and apply the International Coaching Federation, ICF, coaching competencies further you are invited to take the next module in the Associate Coach Training Program. This program is designed for those who want to enhance their leadership impact and see extraordinary progress in their personal lives too.

Team Coaching

If you have already completed a coach training program, you are invited to take the module in the Team Coaching Program where we focus on learning and applying the ICF team coaching competencies. This is designed for team leaders and coaches to enhance team performance providing them with the tools to create sustainable growth.
If you are interested in taking the next step join us on the next three hour strength workshop by contacting ICE via the link or contact us via email on or Whatsapp on +971 50 8554409