Exploring the blindspots of CliftonStrength Adaptabiity

a white jigsaw puzzle with two pieces in yellow with process and procedufre wrtten on tehm.
Do you have a name for that innate part of your character that enables you to live in the moment, respond to change, or simply be there for your friends when they need you? Have you ever thought about what frustrates you? And how can you take ownership of this and leverage to be your best?


CliftonStrengths is a powerful tool for individuals seeking to understand and leverage their unique talents. Adaptability®, one of the 34 strengths identified by the Gallup organization, brings numerous positive characteristics to the table. These ‘live in the moment’ traits are vital in an ever changing world. It also comes with its own set of blindspots that individuals must navigate to maximize its potential.


Understanding Adaptability®

Adaptability® is characterized by a flexible mindset and the ability to thrive in dynamic environments. Individuals strong in Adaptability® excel at adjusting to unforeseen circumstances, embracing change, and improvising when faced with challenges. They are often seen as calm under pressure and adept at navigating uncertainty. However, like any strength, Adaptability® has its limitations, which can hinder personal and professional growth if left unaddressed.

How may others perceive you?

Flexible and adaptive: Others may see you as someone who easily adapts to changes in plans, priorities, or circumstances. They may admire your ability to remain calm and composed, even in the face of uncertainty or unexpected challenges. 

Resourceful problem-solver: Your adaptability may be viewed as a valuable asset in problem-solving situations. Others may appreciate your creative approach to finding solutions and your willingness to explore alternative paths or perspectives.

Open-minded and willing to learn: Your openness to new ideas and experiences may be evident to others. They may see you as someone who embraces learning opportunities and is receptive to feedback, suggestions, and diverse viewpoints.

Team player: Your adaptability can contribute to a positive team dynamic by fostering collaboration and cooperation. Others may perceive you as someone who is easy to work with, adaptable to different working styles, and willing to pitch in wherever needed.

Effective in change management: In organizational settings, your adaptability may be recognized as a valuable asset in navigating change. Others may look to you for guidance or support during transitions, knowing that you can help them navigate uncertainty and embrace new ways of working.

Resilient and versatile: Your ability to bounce back from setbacks and adjust to new circumstances may be seen as a sign of resilience. Others may admire your versatility and your capacity to thrive in diverse environments or situations.

Balanced approach: While adaptability is your strength, others may also appreciate your ability to maintain a balance between flexibility and stability. They may see you as someone who knows when to adapt and when to hold firm, depending on the context or the importance of the situation.

If you have an upcoming review, new role, or job to apply for,

consider how you can demonstrate these characteristics from your past experiences.


Adapability’s blindspots



Blindspot 1: Resistance to structure

One common blindspot associated with Adaptability® is a resistance to structure. While being flexible and spontaneous is a strength, individuals with high Adaptability® may struggle in highly structured environments where routines and predictability are valued. They may find it challenging to adhere to strict deadlines (not set by themselves!) or follow predefined processes, which can lead to inefficiencies and missed opportunities for growth.

Blindspot 2: Difficulty with long-term planning

With Adaptability® you may find you have a tendency to focus on short-term solutions rather than long-term planning. While being agile and responsive to immediate needs is valuable, it’s essential to maintain a strategic outlook and consider the long-term implications of decisions and actions. This struggle with prioritization of long-term goals or difficulty with uncertainty, can feel like a lack of direction or purpose to others.

Blindspot 3: Overlooking personal boundaries

Another blindspot associated with Adaptability® is the tendency to overlook personal boundaries in favour of accommodating others’ needs or expectations. It’s likely you may prioritize harmony and flexibility in relationships, sometimes at the expense of your own well-being or values. Depending on your other top CliftonStrengths, you may struggle to assert yourself, or establish clear boundaries, and this may lead to feelings of resentment or burnout over time.

Navigating your blindspots


1 Establish clear priorities and boundaries:

Ø  Define your values: Take the time to identify your core values, priorities, and long-term goals. Understanding what matters most to you provides a foundation for making decisions aligned with your values and aspirations.

Ø  Set boundaries: Establish clear boundaries to protect your time, energy, and well-being. Don’t be afraid to be clear about, and communicate your boundaries assertively and respectfully, in both personal and professional settings. Recognize that saying “no” when necessary is essential for maintaining balance and preventing burnout.

2 Develop strategic planning skills:

Ø  Balance flexibility with structure: Embrace a strategic approach that combines adaptability with long-term planning. Dedicating time to set achievable goals, identify potential obstacles, and develop actionable plans, using your CliftonStrengths, a strengths goal setting worksheet, and also habit stacking (Read Atomic Habits) to build new habits. Strive to strike a balance between being responsive to immediate needs and maintaining focus on your own overarching objectives.

Ø  Anticipate change: Cultivate a proactive mindset by anticipating potential changes and preparing contingency plans. Stay informed about industry trends, market shifts, and emerging opportunities to adapt swiftly and capitalize on new possibilities.

3 Get to know who you are:

Ø  Reflect regularly: Take time for self-reflection (look up the Gibbs self-reflection model) to gain insight into your patterns of behaviour, responses to change, and areas for growth. Reflecting on past experiences can help you identify recurring blindspots and develop strategies to address them effectively.

Ø  Practice mindfulness: Cultivate mindfulness practices to stay present and grounded amidst uncertainty. Mindfulness techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, and journaling can help you manage stress, enhance self-awareness, and make conscious choices aligned with your values and goals. Whether these practices work for you will depend to some extent on your other Strengths and mindset.

Ø  Learn to be more curious: Develop empathy and emotional intelligence to understand the perspectives and needs of those around you. Strengthening your interpersonal skills allows you to navigate diverse personalities, collaborate effectively, and build mutually supportive relationships.

By implementing these strategies, you can begin to be more aware of your blindspots, notice when they pop up and interfere with your productivity and happiness.

a white jigsaw puzzle with two pieces in yellow with process and procedufre wrtten on them. 

Summary actions

These strategies are essential tools for leveraging Adaptability® effectively and achieving sustainable success in a rapidly changing world. The end result is to benefit from establishing a balance between flexibility and structure.

Additionally, seeking feedback from others who excel in structured environments can help identify areas for improvement and provide valuable insights into effective strategies for navigating them.

Setting aside regular intervals to reflect on overarching goals, identify potential obstacles, and develop actionable plans can help maintain focus and direction amidst uncertainty. Collaborating with others who excel in strategic planning can also provide valuable perspective and support in navigating long-term challenges.

Finally, developing your self-awareness perhaps through using the Johari window, alongside taking time to identify your personal values, priorities, and boundaries can provide clarity and confidence in asserting yourself in various situations.

Finding other strengths to partner with

Strategic®: find a partner with a natural ability to anticipate future trends, identify patterns, and develop long-term plans. Partnering with someone strong in Strategic® can provide you with valuable insights and direction, helping you channel your adaptability towards achieving strategic goals more effectively.

Positivity®: Positivity® brings optimism, enthusiasm, and resilience to challenging situations. Collaborating with individuals strong in Positivity® can uplift your spirits during times of change and uncertainty, fostering a more positive and supportive work environment.

Achiever®: identify a partner who thrives on setting and accomplishing goals. Pairing your Adaptability® with the drive and determination of someone strong in Achiever® can help you stay focused and motivated, ensuring that you translate your Adaptability® into tangible results and accomplishments.

Communication®: Strong communication skills are essential for conveying ideas, building relationships, and navigating change effectively. Partnering with individuals strong in Communication® can enhance your ability to articulate your thoughts, influence others, and foster collaboration amidst uncertainty.

Analytical®: finding a partner who excels at gathering and interpreting data to make informed decisions gives you facts and evidence. Collaborating with someone strong in Analytical® can provide you with valuable insights and evidence-based reasoning to support your adaptable approach, ensuring that your decisions are well-informed and grounded in data.

Learner®: Learners have a thirst for knowledge and continuous growth. Partnering with individuals strong in Learner® can inspire you to embrace change as an opportunity for personal and professional development, encouraging you to adapt and evolve in response to new challenges and opportunities.

Empathy®: Empathy® fosters understanding, compassion, and connection with others. Cultivating empathy can enhance your interpersonal skills, enabling you to navigate change with sensitivity and consideration for the needs and feelings of those around you.

Arranger®: Arrangers excel at orchestrating complex tasks and resources to achieve desired outcomes. Collaborating with individuals strong in Arranger® can help you manage change more effectively by organizing resources, delegating responsibilities, and adapting plans as needed to navigate unforeseen challenges.

And finally

Overall, how others see your Adaptability® strength will likely be influenced by their own perspectives, experiences, and interactions with you. Your deepened awareness of  how Adaptability both helps and hinders you means you are more in control of influencing how others perceive and appreciate your contribution through this valuable strength.

Revisit your CliftonStrengths Top 5 (go to www.gallup.access.com/access and login in) . The new report launched in 2024 helps you think through how your top strengths influence each other. 


Adaptabiity® is a registered mark of Gallup. This link takes you to a series of podcasts on the theme. 

The views, interpretations, and thoughts expressed in this article are solely those of the author.

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Navigating Strengths: Unveiling Blindspots in CliftonStrengths, exploring Activator

An orange and turquoise swing seats. with text - to help out the Activator Talent


In the world of personal development and self-discovery, the CliftonStrengths assessment has become a powerful tool for individuals seeking to understand and leverage their unique talents. Activator, one of the 34 strengths identified by the Gallup organization, is characterized by a keen ability to turn thoughts into action. However, like any strength, Activator® comes with its own set of blindspots that individuals should be aware of to maximize its benefits.

With Activator® at Number 4, I am only too aware of times when it has not served me well. 

Understanding Activator

Before delving into the blindspots, let’s first explore what Activator® brings to the table. Individuals with high Activator® often possess a natural inclination to initiate, propel ideas into motion, and catalyze change. They thrive in environments where quick decisions and immediate action are required. Activators® are the driving force behind many successful projects, as they are adept at pushing through inertia and transforming ideas into reality.


Activator’s Blindspots


Blindspot 1: Impulsivity Over Deliberation

While the ability to act swiftly is a valuable trait, Activators® may fall prey to their impulsivity. The eagerness to jump into action without thorough consideration can lead to hasty decisions that may not be well thought out. It’s crucial for individuals with high Activator® to recognize the importance of balance, ensuring that they allow adequate time for careful deliberation, especially in situations where a more measured approach is required.

Blindspot 2: Insensitivity to Others’ Pacing

The sense of urgency and desire for immediate action that comes with Activator® can inadvertently overshadow the pacing preferences of others. Colleagues or team members who value a more deliberate and contemplative approach may feel overwhelmed or dismissed by the Activator’s rapid pace. It’s essential for individuals with Activator® to cultivate an awareness of varying work styles and learn to adapt their pace to accommodate collaborative efforts.

Blindspot 3: Neglecting Long-Term Strategy

Activators® excel in initiating tasks and projects, but their blindspot may lie in neglecting the long-term strategic perspective. The focus on immediate action may lead to a lack of planning for sustained success. To overcome this blindspot, Activators® should consciously set aside time for strategic thinking and consider the broader implications of their actions on future endeavours.

Blindspot 4: Burnout Due to Continuous Action

The perpetual need for action can lead Activators® down a path of constant busyness, potentially resulting in burnout. It’s essential for individuals with high Activator® to recognize the importance of self-care and balance their intense drive with periods of rest and rejuvenation. Incorporating moments of reflection and relaxation into their routines can help prevent burnout and ensure long-term well-being. From a recent workshop discussion, I was sharing a story about my new garden swing seat and how I’ve discovered that the motion of the swing stills my brain. There were 3 other high Activator® people present and they laughed loudly, sharing their same experience!

Blindspot 5: Resistance to Change

Paradoxically, Activators, despite being catalysts for change, may develop a blindspot when it comes to adapting to change themselves. The constant need for action can create resistance to altering their own established routines or processes. To overcome this blindspot, Activators® should actively embrace change and view it as an opportunity for growth rather than a disruption to their preferred pace.

Navigating your blindspots

An orange and turquoise swing seats. with text - to help out the Activator Talent

Navigating the blindspots associated with Activator® requires a thoughtful and intentional approach. Here are three key strategies to help you navigate your Activator® blindspots effectively:

1.    Cultivate Mindful Decision-Making:

Pause and Reflect: Recognize the value of taking a moment to pause and reflect before jumping into action. Embrace a conscious decision-making process that involves considering the potential consequences and implications of your actions. This practice allows you to harness the power of Activator® while avoiding impulsive decisions that may lead to unintended outcomes.

Consult Others: Seek input from colleagues, friends, or mentors before making significant decisions. This collaborative approach not only provides diverse perspectives but also ensures that you take into account the preferences and concerns of others. By involving others in the decision-making process, you mitigate the risk of overlooking crucial details and enhance the overall quality of your choices.

2.    Embrace Strategic Planning:

Allocate Time for Strategy: Intentionally set aside dedicated time for strategic thinking and planning. Create a balance between your natural inclination for immediate action and the long-term vision of your goals. Establish a routine that includes regular moments for evaluating the broader implications of your actions, identifying potential challenges, and crafting strategic plans to navigate them effectively.

Prioritize and Sequence Tasks: Recognize that not every task requires immediate attention. Develop the ability to prioritize tasks based on their significance and urgency. By sequencing your actions strategically, you ensure that your energy is directed towards tasks that align with your long-term objectives, reducing the likelihood of burnout and enhancing overall productivity.

3.    Build Adaptive Communication Skills:

Understand Others’ Pacing: Develop a heightened awareness of the varied work styles and pacing preferences of your team members or collaborators. Tailor your communication and approach to accommodate different perspectives. This adaptability fosters a more inclusive and harmonious working environment, preventing potential tension caused by an overly assertive or rapid approach.

Communicate Change Effectively: Actively work on embracing change and communicate your enthusiasm for it. Clearly articulate the benefits of the proposed changes and address concerns that others may have. This proactive communication style helps build trust and collaboration, mitigating resistance to change and ensuring a smoother transition for everyone involved.

By incorporating these strategies into your daily routine and mindset, you can navigate the blindspots associated with Activator® more effectively. Cultivating mindfulness, embracing strategic planning, and developing adaptive communication skills will not only enhance the positive impact of your Activator® strength but also contribute to your overall success and well-being.


Activator® is a powerful strength that propels individuals into action and drives results. However, like all strengths, it comes with its own set of blindspots that individuals must navigate to harness its full potential. By cultivating self-awareness, embracing balance, and recognizing the impact of their actions on both themselves and others, individuals with high Activator® can transform their blindspots into opportunities for continued growth and success in their personal and professional lives.

And finally, revisit your CliftonStrengths Top 5 (go to www.gallup.access.com/access and login in) . The new report launched in 2024 helps you think through how your top strengths influence each other. 




Activator® is a registered mark of Gallup. This link takes you to a series of podcasts on the theme. 

The views, interpretations, and thoughts expressed in this article are solely those of the author.

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How can your team perform better?

High perforning team. images illustrating communication, shared goals and trust

Three areas and one tool to focus on

What is a high performing team?

A high-performing team (HPT) is often described as a group of individuals who work together efficiently, effectively, and cohesively, towards a common goal. This type of team is characterized by mutual respect, trust, and an unwavering commitment to success.

While research shows that a team with a diversity of thought leads to greater innovation and creativity, it can also raise conflict and friction. I wanted to dive into this a bit deeper and explore the characteristics of high-performing teams and how they can be cultivated.

While much has been written, it seems there are three core areas to focus attention on to raise performance: clear communication, shared vision and alignment around goals, and trust.

1. Clear Communication

High performing teams are made up of individuals able to communicate clearly and effectively with one another. They listen actively, ask questions, and provide constructive feedback. As a team lead you could start by establishing (and role modelling) clear communication norms and protocols within the team, so team members are able to communicate their thoughts and ideas in a safe and supportive environment. To work this needs self-awareness as well as an awareness of others.  A two-pronged approach, we use CliftonStrengths, and explore cultural awareness using a cultural orientation framework, (see The Culture Map by Erin Meyer, or Coaching Across Cultures: New Tools for Leveraging National, Corporate and Professional Differences by Phillipe Rosinski) being careful to flag up the dangers of cultural stereotyping.

Central to communication are mature listening skills. And tuning into your own internal Listening Villain, and your own need for detail, and whether you like to think aloud or quietly for example, can affect how you are perceived and come across within your team. For example, some people learn by asking questions and it is their capacity to formulate questions to gather and process information that is their greatest strength. Yet in some places, this can be perceived as the questioner not understanding the issue at hand. In some cultures, students grow up having been taught not to challenge, or question, someone in a more senior position.  And so may remain silent when they don’t understand. Another’s silence might be because they are in deep reflection, examining contributions from others in minute detail. But this might be perceived as being disinterested in the problem, or even not understanding. When the fact is, they are totally engaged and absorbed.

Growing a team that can use coaching style questions, and develop a coaching habit, can facilitate deeper listening. And oftentimes, that means simply being quiet yourself.

2. Trust

Trust is the bedrock of any high performing team. Without trust, individuals are unable to work together effectively, take risks, or innovate. Trust is built over time through consistent behaviours and actions. Leaders can foster trust by creating a psychologically safe space and mutual understanding of what each person brings, but also needs to be their best. Much is written about trust and leadership (see Gallup’s Strengths-based leadership). One of the frameworks we like, and use is Lencioni who expressed trust in the form of this equation:

Trustworthiness = (Credibility + Reliability + Intimacy) ÷ Self-Orientation.

Credibility is related to what people say: the extent to which they demonstrate knowledge and understanding about their subject, speak with conviction and make us feel confident that they are in command of their subject matter and competent in applying their expertise.

Reliability is related to what people do: the extent to which they follow through on promises, meet deadlines, deliver against targets, achieve agreed quality standards and go the extra mile to ensure that they have completed their undertakings.

Intimacy is related to the safety and security we feel in a relationship: the extent to which confidentiality is maintained, the confidence we have in opening up more personal aspects of ourselves and our emotional concerns and the belief that our values will be respected.

These are explained as additive factors, that can all be torpedoed by the denominator, Self-orientation.

Self-orientation refers to a person’s focus. In particular, whether the other person’s focus is primarily on themselves or others. 

Facilitated discussions – either face to face or online – can help teams come to understand each others’ orientations and be aware of what is driving apparent self-interest. Again, CliftonStrengths can help with this dialogue.


“Trust is the bedrock of any high performing team. Without trust, individuals are unable to work together effectively, take risks, or innovate.” – Lencioni

3. Shared Vision and alignment around shared Goals

High performing teams are characterized by a shared sense of purpose. Each person on the team understands how their role contributes to the broader mission. Clarity around goals and objectives, and personal alignment with these goals helps create a sense of accountability and motivation to achieve success as a team. Having space, and a language, that enables each person to interrogate the vison and goals from their own perspective adds creativity and deepens the understanding of how they can contribute to meeting the goal.

Again, CliftonStrengths, a deep understanding of all the 34 themes, helps us appreciate how we each need the others to meet these shared goals. Equally, knowing areas of the team where there may be gaps, helps focus attention on possible blind spots.

“High-performing teams are made up of individuals who are not just committed to their own success, but to the success of their teammates as well.”

– Simon Sinek

CliftonStrengths - the number one tool to choose?

So where to start? We always start with Clifton Strengths. One of the challenges all teams face is people’s past experiences where blame and suspicion, perhaps with justification, have been the default positions for many who feel let down by organisations and people in whom they have invested their trust. For some people once trust is violated it can never be reinstated. While for others, understanding more about the incident that broke our trust or caused hurt. can help heal burning resentment and fury. Using CliftonStrengths alongside other tools and insights gained through facilitated deeper discussions and analysis promotesbetter conversations that helps grow personal alignment to goals and deepening trust.

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Strengths based teams

strengths based teams

In today’s workplace, collaboration is more important than ever. Companies and organizations rely on teams to accomplish goals, solve problems, and innovate. While many still use Tuckman’s ‘form, norm, storm, and perform’ to describe the stages of team formation, others have added ‘reform’. Not…

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Creating Confidence and Credibility as a Future Leader Starts Now

Inclusive Leadership blog

Leadership is not a position; it’s a mindset. Anyone can be a leader, regardless of their job title or seniority level. However, being an effective leader requires more than just the willingness to lead. It demands a combination of skills, traits, and behaviours that inspire, motivate, and guide others towards a common goal.

If you aspire to become a leader, it’s essential to start building your leadership skills today. The earlier you start, the better equipped you’ll be to take on leadership roles in the future. In this webinar, we’ll explore some critical insights into what makes a good leader, what we mean by an inclusive leader, and how a strengths-based approach can provide a solid foundation for your leadership journey.

What Makes a Good Leader?

Leadership is a multifaceted concept that can mean different things to different people. However, most people agree that a good leader possesses some essential traits that distinguish them from the rest. Here are some of the key traits that make a good leader.


A good leader has a clear vision of where they want to go and how to get there. They can communicate their vision to others and inspire them to follow. How does your vision form, and in what time frame?


A good leader understands the needs and feelings of others and can put themselves in their shoes. They are compassionate, caring, and respectful towards others.


A good leader can make tough decisions quickly and confidently. They analyse the situation, consider the options, and choose the best course of action. What forms the basis of your decisionmaking? DO you analyse all teh risks before ou commit, gatherin gas much data as possible? or do you perhpas talk and explore with others? 


A good leader can communicate effectively with others. They listen actively, speak clearly, and convey their ideas with confidence and clarity. HOw much do you talk, compared ot how much you listen? And what techniques do you employ to help you listen more deeply?


A good leader is honest, reliable, and dependable. They keep their promises, act with integrity, and earn the trust of others. Some people trust easily and implicitily, while others build trust mroe slowly. Do you differentiate and appreicate how others come to trust?

What is an Inclusive Leader?

Inclusive leadership is the ability to create a safe and inclusive environment where everyone feels valued and respected, regardless of their background. Inclusive leaders understand that diversity is a strength and can leverage it to foster innovation, creativity, and high performance.

Inclusive leaders recognize the importance of listening to diverse perspectives and involving everyone in decision-making. They encourage open communication, feedback, and constructive criticism. They also promote a culture of respect, fairness, and equity. The space created by inclusive leaders is a space in which people feel safe to be themselves.

While some people have an instinctive way of feeling others’ pain or joy, some don’t. Recgonising  your empathetic tendencies helps develop an appreciation of  the unique challenges and experiences of minority or marginalised groups. And as a leader you can cretae opportunities for people in these groups to grow and develop.

How Does a Strengths-Based Approach Provide a Solid Foundation?

A strengths-based approach to leadership focuses on building on individuals’ strengths and talents to foster personal and professional growth. Instead of fixing weaknesses, this approach emphasizes identifying and leveraging strengths to maximize potential.

By identifying your unique strengths and talents, you can develop a sense of confidence and self-awareness that can help you navigate the challenges of leadership. You can also use your strengths to build strong relationships, inspire others, and achieve your goals.
Moreover, a strengths-based approach can help you develop a growth mindset that encourages continuous learning and improvement. You can identify areas where you need to develop new skills or knowledge and seek opportunities to learn and grow. And above all, it shines a light on your blindspots and a sensitivty to how others might perceive you and your intentions.

Becoming a leader requires more than just ambition: it demands a willingness to learn, grow, and develop. By understanding what makes a good leader, what we mean by an inclusive leader, and how a strengths-based approach can provide a solid foundation, you can start building your leadership skills today.

Remember that leadership is not a destination; it’s a journey. It’s an ongoing process of self-discovery, learning, and growth. With dedication, commitment, and a willingness to learn, you can become an effective and inclusive leader who inspires. Be open, listen and appreicate how others can be useful in their unique way.

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