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How You Can Productively Aim Your Significance Talents

How You Can Productively Aim Your Significance Talents

by Albert L. Winseman, D.Min.

"Fellow citizens, we cannot escape history. We, of this Congress and this administration, will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance, or insignificance, can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass, will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation." Abraham Lincoln wrote these words in his annual message to Congress in December 1862 -- one month before signing the Emancipation Proclamation.

This quote captures the essence of the Significance theme, and those with Significance as a dominant theme understand that nothing they do is unimportant -- no action is insignificant. As a result, they take action that will not only influence the present but also leave a lasting legacy. Their Significance theme drives them to do important work, to take on projects that will make a difference, to step to the front when others shrink back. Significance craves feedback, for from the feedback of others comes the drive for success and improvement. Seeking to be credible, professional and successful drives those with Significance to work hard and make an impact on the world.

Significance: Helps and Hinders

When you coach those with Significance in their Top 5, helping them claim both the "helps" and the "hinders" of the theme is critical to productive aiming. Some common helps and hinders of Significance include:


  • You want to make a difference. This drives you to make sure your work and your contributions count.
  • You know what it feels like to do the work and then have someone else take the credit. You make sure this doesn't happen for your team -- you shine a light on their accomplishments.
  • Your willingness to be in the public eye enables you to stand up and be recognized -- to take a stand when it matters and to be the voice for others who shy away from the spotlight.
  • Your desire to be seen as significant in others' eyes can lead you to be a powerful mentor -- investing in others and making a difference.


  • Self-centered Significance can sound like this: "Look at me -- see how great I am!" Use your Significance talents to focus the best of who you are toward team success.
  • Others can experience you as an egotistical braggart. Remember that if you are truly making a difference, you don't have to sing your own praises; your actions will do the singing for you.
  • If it's all about you, your tunnel-vision will cause you to miss the important contributions of others. Ensuring that others feel significant is one of the surest ways to be truly significant.
  • You like the spotlight, and that's OK. But don't dominate the limelight -- share it with others who have made a contribution.

Significance: Self-Awareness, Self-Expression, Self-Regulation

In order to productively aim Significance -- or any -- talents at a particular goal, an individual must have: 1) self-awareness about the theme's power, edge and vulnerabilities; 2) an understanding of how the theme finds expression in day-to-day thinking, feeling and behaving; and 3) knowledge of how to regulate the theme to maximize the potential positive outcomes that can be realized through intentionally applying a strengths-based approach. Coaches can help clients with strong Significance talents by exploring the following:


  • The Power and Edge of Significance: Those with Significance among their Signature Themes have an external pull that keeps them reaching and striving for excellence. When properly harnessed, this pull can lead the team to greater heights of achievement.
  • The Vulnerabilities of Significance: Because they want to be seen as significant in the eyes of others, sometimes those high in Significance feel the pain of rejection more keenly than others. They often find themselves unable to move on from the snub, blowing it out of proportion or taking it more personally than it was meant.


Coaches can assist clients in realizing and claiming the expression of Significance by helping them explore instances in the past when this theme was particularly useful. To facilitate this exploration, coaches can ask the following questions:

  • What makes a great day for you?
  • What is the best recognition you've ever received?
  • What has been your greatest success -- either at work or in your personal life? How did your Significance talents contribute to that success?
  • When was a time you made a difference? How did you know -- and how did others know?


Self-regulation occurs when individuals know which of their talents to use in particular situations, or know which talents to combine to amplify, accelerate, activate, soften or moderate that talent. For example, those with dominant Significance talents have a strong desire to be seen as important in others' eyes, which can lead to inordinately calling attention to themselves. In situations like these, a coach can help the client find other talents that might yield better results. Also, coaches can help clients explore different theme combinations. Below are some possible combinations that will either amplify or moderate Significance:

  • Themes that tend to amplify Significance: Command, Activator, Competition, Achiever, Communication, Focus
  • Themes that tend to moderate Significance: Belief, Empathy, Relator, Includer, Harmony, Developer

Significance: Five Powerful Questions for Productive Aiming

  • How would you describe a great day at work? How do your Significance talents contribute to those best days? How can you have more of those days?
  • When you do something great at work, whom do you want to know about it? How will you ensure that this happens?
  • What cause or mission are you drawn to that will change the world? How will you make a lasting contribution?
  • How do you recognize others? How do you help your team members feel valued, respected and appreciated for their contributions?
  • Who needs to become more confident in their abilities? How can you "lend" them your Significance and help them feel valued?

Learn more about using CliftonStrengths to help yourself and others succeed:


Al Winseman's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Ideation, Futuristic, Maximizer, Strategic and Command.

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