Questionnaire helps students identify their top five Strengths combination

Susan Brunkow uses a Strengths Grid to show students how to select people for different tasks based on Strengths on March 7, 2018. Brunkow is a Manhattan Community Member and Development Chairman for Lutheran Women in Missions. (Archive Photo by Andrew Kemp | Collegian Media Group)

Most students who come and go through campus at some point take the CliftonStrengths Assessment, a questionnaire to determine what people’s top five Strengths are. Some examples of these Strengths are empathy, connectedness, harmony, woo or adaptability.

Mike Finnegan, assistant professor with Staley School of Leadership Studies and campus lead for the Strengths Initiative, said this assessment can benefit students in unexpected ways by helping them take their talents and help them to invest time into those.

“Research shows that students who know their Strengths and play to their Strengths are most engaged in the work that they do and when setbacks or obstacles happen, they can rebound at a faster rate,” Finnegan said “For instance, people that know their strengths and play to their strengths, if a challenge happens, then they’re more resilient. We think about Strengths as an agency to help us be more resilient in our hopes, dreams and aspirations to reach goal attainment.”

Along with the impact the Strengths has on each individual, it provides the opportunity to develop and improve how they interact with others when they become familiar with it.

“Strengths provides us with a shared language to talk about talent and to talk about what’s right with people. I love Strengths because it’s asset-based as opposed to deficit-based,” Finnegan said. “The premise behind Strengths is let’s talk about what’s right with people, let’s talk about where people are thriving as opposed to what’s wrong with people. “

In order to have more conversation with the Strengths, Finnegan said he’s been intentional in initiating a peer-coaching service.

“We can reach out and encourage students to then sign up for a Strengths peer-coaching session so they can learn more in-depth about how to basically name, claim and aim their Strengths towards their goals, their hopes, their dreams and their aspirations,” Finnegan said.

Caroline Brock, senior in communication studies and a peer coach, said she enjoys each opportunity she has to connect with another student and walk them through their Strengths.

“Whether they’re super familiar with them or can’t even remember their top five, I’m there to help them get better acquainted with what they’re really good at and learn how to leverage their Strengths in every aspect of their life,” Brock said. “The conversations that come out of it are so rewarding and it gives me so much joy to watch the gears start turning and the confidence start building during each session.”

With each session, she said she is reminded that each individual’s Strengths are different.

“It’s amazing to me how unique every top five combo is and how they work specifically for each person,” Brock said. “It’s only helped confirm in my mind how truly special each student is and how much they have to offer the world. It’s such a privilege to help people realize their own worth.”

Students interested in scheduling a virtual peer-coaching session can email