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The Maximizer Theme: How to Productively Aim Your CliftonStrengths Talent

The Maximizer Theme: How to Productively Aim Your CliftonStrengths Talent

by Albert L. Winseman, D.Min.

Gallup's CliftonStrengths Maximizer definition: People exceptionally talented in the Maximizer theme focus on strengths as a way to stimulate personal and group excellence. They seek to transform something strong into something superb.

In 1981, in response to the influx of higher-quality Japanese cars into the U.S. market, Ford Motor Company unveiled its new advertising slogan, "Quality Is Job 1." Those with the Maximizer CliftonStrengths theme in their Top 5 strengths or Signature Themes can resonate with this sentiment because it is vital to the way they live their lives.

A decade later, Toyota brand Lexus unveiled its new slogan, "The Relentless Pursuit of Perfection," which sums up the Maximizer perspective even more accurately -- because, while quality is important, perfection is the real goal. Maximizers want to take something great and make it superb. And the best way to do that, according to Maximizer thinking, is to focus on developing talents into strengths.

Maximizers are drawn to talent, because they know talent is the best and most efficient route to success. They not only want to develop their own talents, but they also are driven to develop the talents of others. They want to take A talent and turn it into A+ strength. They are choosy -- about the projects they take on, about the people they surround themselves with, about the hobbies or interests they pursue.

They want to spend time with others who value and strive for excellence as much as they do, and Maximizers don't derive energy from fixing what is broken; they want to build toward greatness. Because, in their view, to quote the '90s rapper Vanilla Ice, "anything less than the best is a felony."

Maximizer: Helps and Hinders

When you coach those with Maximizer 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 the Maximizer strength include:


  • You have a commitment to excellence -- your own, your team's, and your individual teammates'. You push not just to accomplish more, but to achieve the highest quality in all you do.
  • Sometimes people don't recognize their own star power. You see the best they can become and can inspire them to achieve it.
  • You are never satisfied with "good enough" and, as a result, you hold yourself and others to the highest standard. You require excellence -- not being average.
  • Your focus on excellence causes you to gravitate toward projects that are already working well -- and you see ways they can become even better, taking them to world-class performance.


  • You tend to evaluate rather than celebrate. Rather than celebrating the successful completion of a project, you look for ways it can be better next time. This can cause the members of your team to feel unappreciated.
  • You tend to be a perfectionist, which can lead to procrastination: Whatever you are working on, it can always use just one more tweak, one more enhancement, one more … . Give yourself time to perfect things or realize that your high standards will produce "good enough" that is close to excellent. And delivered on time.
  • Because you naturally focus on how things can be better, you don't tend to receive compliments well. As you're being recognized, your inner voice is listing all the ways it could have been better -- and more praiseworthy. Learn to say, "Thank you," and skip the reasons you don't deserve it.
  • Not only do you not receive compliments well, you have a tendency not to give them either. You don't look at what went wrong, but how it could have been done better. In your mind, this is not a criticism, but advice on how to elevate performance the next time. Praise can be a blind spot for you -- so be intentional about praising the performance of others and highlighting what they did well. This will help ensure the consistent, near-perfect performance you want to see from others.

Maximizer: Self-Awareness, Self-Expression, Self-Regulation

In order to productively aim Maximizer -- 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 Maximizer talents by exploring the following:


  • The Power and Edge of Maximizer: Those with the Maximizer CliftonStrengths talent theme among their Signature Themes are naturally attuned to excellence -- both in the projects and activities they take on and in what they see in individuals. This makes them valuable resources for their teams because they not only set the standard for team performance, but also recognize and draw out the unique contribution each person makes to the success of the team.
  • The Vulnerabilities of Maximizer: Because of their strong internal drive for superior performance, others can perceive and experience those with strong Maximizer talents as never being satisfied. This can lead others to feel they are not valued, appreciated or respected.


Coaches can assist clients in realizing and claiming the expression of Maximizer 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 are activities at which you naturally excel? In what skills, knowledge and experience are you investing in order to become world-class?
  • How have you helped your friends and colleagues know and act on their greatest talents?
  • What has been your greatest success -- either at work or in your personal life? How did your Maximizer talents contribute to that success?
  • Who do you work with who brings out your best?


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, sometimes those with strong Maximizer talents can slow a team down by going off on tangential issues that, while interesting, have little to do with the goals the team is charged with accomplishing. In situations like this, 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 accelerate or moderate Maximizer:

  • Themes that tend to accelerate Maximizer: Achiever, Activator, Belief, Significance, Competition, Self-Assurance
  • Themes that tend to moderate Maximizer: Includer, Developer, Harmony, Relator, Empathy, Consistency

Maximizer: Five Powerful Questions for Productive Aiming

  • How would you describe a great day at work? How do your Maximizer talents contribute to those best days? How can you have more of those days?
  • Who are star performers in your area of expertise? How can you connect with them and learn from them to take your performance to an even higher level?
  • Are there newer associates in your organization or company who have demonstrated high potential? How can you be a mentor to these individuals and help them achieve their full potential for excellence?
  • Are there any products or parts of your organization that could be taken to world-class with your guidance? How will you make that happen?
  • What is the greatest value your Maximizer talents contribute to your team? How have you communicated that to your manager or team leader?

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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