Using the Strengths Finder test to aid students in leadership building
The Clifton Strengths Finder Inventory is a 177-item survey in which one of two scenarios must be chosen by the participant in 20 seconds. The survey has been used at Elizabethtown College for 10 years as a way to empower students, faculty and staff to realize their life-calling and leadership skills. What started as a grassroots effort, became a more direct initiative in the past two years.
“The Clifton Strengths Inventory actually measures talent,” said Stacey Zimmerman, associate director of strengths coaching and ethical leadership development. “Talent is defined as your natural way of thinking, feeling or behaving. You start with talent; you add skills and knowledge. … The end result is a strength.”
“Our chaplain, our director of academic advising and other people both in student life and in the faculty, have used it themselves and found it to be helpful,” said Zimmerman.
According to American research company Gallup, this test is backed by 50 years of research and development. The psychology behind this evaluation is rooted in positive psychology and works around this question, noted Gallup: “What would happen if we study what is right with people.”
The Clifton Strengths Inventory actually measures talent.”
Many aspects of campus life have incorporated The Strengths Finder, including Called to Lead and the first-year seminar. When students take the Strengths Finder Inventory, they have sound research to give them insight into their top five themes of talent.
The Strengths Finder pulls from 34 themes that best categorize the person taking the inventory. Those strengths can include: ”developer”—a person who sees the potential in others, “empathy”—those who sense emotions of those around them, “restorative”—lovers of problem solving, “adaptability”—participants who live in the moment, and “connectedness”—believing things happen for a reason. Other strengths include arranger, maximizer, activator…
Members of the 2016 first-year class were the first to complete the Strengths Finder Inventory before coming to campus. They arrived at E-town more aware of their talents and potential. August orientation sessions focused on Strengths Finder. Peer mentors and residence assistants also were trained and ready to help the first-year students learn what their talents meant and how they could be used in their growth.