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Marcus Buckingham Assesses Himself

One of the country’s leaders of the “strengths movement” takes his own assessment tool (and is surprised at the results).
COLLABORATORS Marcus Buckingham
Marcus Buckingham assesses himself
photo by David Paul Ohmer

Marcus Buckingham recently published StandOut, a book about individual strengths. Books come with electronic keys for readers to use an online assessment tool themselves. The tool identifies nine “strength” roles (see the list below), and interprets an individual’s strongest combination of two of these roles. It goes on to suggest ways to build those strengths and apply them in a variety of contexts.

We asked Buckingham to take his own test, and tell us what it found.

“When I took it, I ended up with Stimulator/Creator, and when I clicked on the “Combine my top two strength roles,” out came the phrase, “You’re an enthusiast.” There’s a description there that says, if you’re an enthusiast, you’re the sort of person that will bring drama and excitement and energy to ideas, and that’s what you’re put here to do. When you lead, that’s what you lead with.

“The thing is, I have never used that word, leader, in the context of myself. In a way that’s a little bit cowardly. I’d always said, “Maybe I’m a thought leader in some sense, but I don’t like managing. Leave me alone to do my research and write my books and maybe do a speech or two. I’m not a leader.

“For the first time for me, it made me come up short and go, “No, idiot. If you are going to lead, you are going to lead because you raise people’s sights around the power of a particular idea or set of ideas. And you better use that responsibly, because otherwise you’re going to get people excited about ideas that you haven’t vetted properly. Don’t imagine you don’t do that, because that is what you do, so you better do it well, or you’re going to wind up hurting people.”

Buckingham’s list of “Nine Strength Roles:”

Advisor You are a practical, concrete thinker who is at your most powerful when reacting to and solving other people’s problems.

Connector You are a catalyst. Your power lies in your craving to bring two people or ideas together to make something bigger and better than it is now.

Creator You make sense of the world — pulling it apart, seeing a better configuration, and creating it.

Equalizer You are a levelheaded person whose power comes from keeping the world in balance, ethically and practically.

Influencer You engage people directly and convince them to act. Your power is your persuasion.

Pioneer You see the world as a friendly place where around every corner good things will happen. Your power comes from your optimism in the face of uncertainty.

Provider You sense other people’s feelings, and you feel compelled to recognize those feelings, give them a voice, and act on them.

Stimulator You are the host of other people’s emotions. You feel responsible for them, for turning them around, for elevating them.

Teacher You are thrilled by the potential you see in each person. Your power comes from learning how to unleash it.

(From StandOut: The Groundbreaking New Strengths Assessment from the Leader of the Strengths Revolution [Thomas Nelson, Inc.; 2011])

For our full interview with Buckingham, see “The Competitive Advantage of You.” The StandOut Tool, separate from the book, can be purchased for $15 at Buckingham’s website.

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