I’ve always been interested in understanding strengths, both mine and with my clients, one reason I’m a psychologist.

Psychometrics can clearly be helpful, in particular using the Highlands Ability Battery to understand natural ability and talent, and the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, and other personality assessments to understand personality.

But we can also identify strengths in other ways, both in ourselves and others and this is known as strengths spotting. We notice that someone has a strength in something when we recognise a sense of energy and engagement, and see they are successful using that strength.

One of my strengths is organisation – I do it well and love to do it!


Identifying your strengths

There are several options including

StrengthsFinder – created by the Gallup organization there are 180 questions to measure your 34 signature themes.  It was developed specifically for organizational settings, so the strengths that are identified are directly applicable to work. To take the StrengthsFinder assessment you can purchase one of several books, including StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath and Now, Discover your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton, both provide a unique access code.

Realise2 – developed by the Centre for Applied Positive Psychology, CAPP.  The items in this survey assess a large number of strengths based on energy, performance, and use.  The Realise2 survey can be purchased at www.realise2.org.

Via Character – My preferred way to identify strengths is to find out how you rate yourself against 24 character strengths using this link: www.viacharacter.org/Survey/Account/Register

After you register you will find 120 questions which they estimate as taking about 15 minutes, you shouldn’t need to think! You then fill in some demographic data.

There are 24 signature strengths and these are shown in descending order. My top 5 are:

  1. Creativity – Thinking of novel and productive ways to conceptualize and do things; includes artistic achievement but is not limited to it.
  2. Love of learning – Mastering new skills, topics, and bodies of knowledge, whether on one’s own or formally; related to the strength of curiosity but goes beyond it to describe the tendency to add systematically to what one knows.
  3. Honesty – Speaking the truth but more broadly presenting oneself in a genuine way and acting in a sincere way; being without pretence; taking responsibility for one’s feelings and actions.
  4. Zest – Approaching life with excitement and energy; not doing things halfway or half-heartedly; living life as an adventure; feeling alive and activated.
  5. Perspective – Being able to provide wise counsel to others; having ways of looking at the world that make sense to oneself/others.

You have details on all 24 strengths and an option to buy more detailed reports

  • VIA ME REPORT – Learn how to put your strengths to good use – a great way to start your strengths journey, $20
  • VIA PRO REPORT – Gives you a deep exploration of your signature strengths – our most popular report, $40

You could take an assessment, but you could also take time reflecting on your strengths, what motivates you, what comes naturally to you and when are you energised.

Using your strengths spotting skills

Ask someone to talk about something they enjoy doing and notice not only what they say but also the energy and emotion behind what they say. You are likely to notice voice tone, body language and gestures too.

To enhance your observational skills you can

Practice observing people. When you are next with others focus on listening and looking to others. Pay attention to what you see – how do the strengths look like in action?

Listen to what they say

  • Are they more assertive?
  • Is there greater clarity to what they say?
  • Is there a change to how they speak – more animation?

Look for non-verbal cues

  • stronger eye contact
  • more smiling and laughing
  • greater use of hand gestures
  • voice tone – is there more emotion – joy, excitement?

When you notice other peoples strengths let them know, compliment them in person or follow up with a message being specific on what you have noticed. Give them some specific feedback and link it to a signature strength.

Recommended resources

There are plenty of resources to help you to do this available on line and in books. Here are links to some of my favourites.

Assess your strengths spotting skills


Alex Linley’s chapter on Strengths spotting:


Alex Linley’s Top Ten Strength spotting Tips

Some great tips here on what to do, you can try it out with your family this weekend!


Read a list of 24 character strengths here


I’m going to start using this with clients working through my career programmes. I’m also happy to include this within any coaching sessions as part of our understanding of who you are.

Published On: October 20th, 2016 / Categories: Assessments, Career Management /

Leave A Comment