Strengths Coaching Blog

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Mastery Monday: Understanding Significance

By Albert L. Winseman, D.Min



According to a recent Washington Post article, the top three fears of US citizens are:

3.   Bugs, snakes, and other animals
2.   Heights
1.   Public Speaking

Given that the number fear is public speaking, it is little wonder that Significance is one of the least likely Clifton Strengths themes to appear in someone’s Top Five.  People high in Significance want to be public, to be seen, to be heard, to be noticed. Those with Significance in their Top Five are concerned with the influence they have now and the legacy they will leave to future generations. Their Significance theme drives them to do important work, take on projects that will make a difference, to step to the front when others shrink back. Seeking to be credible, professional, and successful drive those with Significance to work hard and make an impact on the world.  If we use the image of a race, a competitor with strong Significance talents will run faster when there are fans in the stand watching.  Significance craves feedback as a means to improve performance – being watched and evaluated are keys to success for Significance.  When he was in his 90s, Bob Hope was asked why he didn’t retire and go fishing. His response: “Simple. The fish don’t applaud.” That is Significance in a nutshell.

In this installment of Compare and Contrast, I explore the differences and similarities between Significance and Command, Self-Assurance, and Competition.


Significance and Command

Both Significance and Command talents are often associated with individuals with big personalities. Both Significance and Command can have a sense of presence about them; when individuals high in Significance and those high in Command enter a room, people take notice. Command wants to be in charge, Significance wants to be noticed. Those high in Command tend to exert control in situations that seem out of control; those high in Significance tend to gravitate toward an audience that will bring out their best. Significance is comfortable in the spotlight; Command is comfortable in the driver’s seat.  Those strong in Command talents will often use emotion to break the logjam; those strong in Significance talents will often stimulate positive emotions in others to garner support.

Significance and Self-Assurance

Significance and Self-Assurance are sometimes characterized as the two sides of the ego coin: Significance is the outward pull toward self-esteem, and Self-Assurance is the inward push toward self-esteem.  Those with high Self-Assurance don’t seek or necessarily want the positive reaction of others to their accomplishments; those with high Significance are driven to be successful because of the positive reaction of others to their accomplishments. There is a confidence that is associated with both themes; the confidence of those with high Self-Assurance is an inward motivation that drives decisions, while the confidence of those with high Significance comes from the enthusiastic response of others to what they have done.
Significance and Competition

If Significance runs faster when there are fans in the stands cheering, Competition runs faster when there is someone running just as fast in the next lane.  Both themes have an others component to them; those high in Significance perform in order to gain the feedback of others – and thus improve performance, while those high in Competition measure themselves against others – and thus improve performance.  Those with strong Competition talents are acutely aware of their competition and strive to win; those with strong Significance talents are acutely aware of who may be watching and strive to be noticed – especially by those who are significant to them. 



Be sure to catch up on Season One and Season Two of Theme Thursday-Significance to learn more!


Albert L. Winseman, D.Min., is a Senior Learning and Development Consultant at Gallup. Al brings deep expertise in employee and customer engagement, executive leadership and organizational dynamics to his consulting work with Gallup’s clients. He consults with senior leaders, executives and front-line managers to improve employee and customer engagement and to implement strategic initiatives that drive business growth.

Al's top 5 strengths are: Ideation | Futuristic | Maximizer | Strategic | Command

Register today for the 2017 CliftonStrengths Summit!

1 comment :

Unknown said...

Re: The last paragraph:
With Significance #3 and Competition #5 for me, I need both fans in the stands and opponents on the field to motivate me to excellence. A great challenge for a sole practitioner... While I have learned to embrace both of these (and my other top strengths), it can be a struggle to stay motivated on a day-to-day basis.
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