StrengthsFinder 2.0: A book review by Bob Morris

StrengthsFinder 2.0
Tom Rath
Gallup Press (2007)

Note: One of my passions in life is to help promote and (yes) celebrate business books that are “classics,” those deserving far more attention than they currently receive. That is certainly true of StrengthsFinder 2.0.

“Mirror, mirror on the wall….”

You will probably find no head-snapping revelations in this book if you have already read Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman’s First, Break All the Rules and/or Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton’s Now, Discover Your Strengths (especially the latter). Nor does Tom Rath claim to offer any. Rather, this is a new and upgraded edition of the Gallup organization’s previous online test (StrengthsFinder 1.0) that enables those who take it to identify and measure their talents relative to “more than 5,000 new personalized Strengths Insights that we have discovered in recent years.”

In Rath’s two previously published books, How Full Is Your Bucket? co-authored with Donald O. Clifton and Vital Friends, he shares his own reactions to an abundance of research data that reveal the importance of two separate but related forces which have profound impact on the workplace: getting strengths in alignment with work to be done and then developing strengths even more with strategic delegation and close supervision.

What we have in this book, Strengths Finder 2.0, is a wealth of new research material that Rath examines with exceptional precision and uncommon eloquence. I strongly encourage each reader to take full advantage of the self-diagnostic opportunities that both Rath and the Gallup organization generously offer. Of course, once various exercises are completed, a significant challenge remains: to take effective and productive action to apply what has been learned. It is helpful to be aware of what Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton so aptly characterize as the “knowing-doing” and “doing-knowing” gaps. It is also helpful to recall Peter Drucker’s observation more than 40 years ago: “There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all.”

Presumably Rath agrees that, more often than not, the Yoda is right: “Do or do not. There is no try.”


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