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The Learner Theme: How You Can Productively Aim Your CliftonStrengths Talent

The Learner Theme: How You Can Productively Aim Your CliftonStrengths Talent

by Albert L. Winseman, D.Min.

Gallup StrengthsFinder Learner definition: People exceptionally talented in the Learner theme have a great desire to learn and want to continuously improve. The process of learning, rather than the outcome, excites them.

To put it succinctly, those with Learner among their Top 5 or Signature Themes love to learn. While the result of the learning process is not to be dismissed, it is quite simply the joy of the learning journey that motivates Learners -- the process of learning is not the means to an end, but the end itself.

It isn't necessarily the usefulness of the information that excites those with Learner talents; that is more of a hallmark of Input. It's taking a class, signing up for a webinar series, reading a series of articles that delve deeply into a topic, getting an advanced degree -- these are activities that light up Learners. People high in the Learner StrengthsFinder theme are inquisitive, but this is not typically expressed in asking a lot of random questions about any or all topics. Rather, satisfying the inquisitive itch for a Learner typically takes the form of deep and thorough exploration through individual research online or in the library, taking a class, or spending regular time with a subject matter expert.

Learners can take pleasure in random learning opportunities like online classes, seminars, lecture series or workshops. But those with high Learner CliftonStrengths talents may also seek to become subject matter experts themselves, learning whatever they need to in order to achieve mastery. Lifelong learning comes naturally and is a primary motivator -- you're never too old to learn something new.

Learner: Helps and Hinders

When you coach those with Learner 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 Learner include:


  • You love to learn -- and you love to help others learn as well, which makes you a natural teacher. You individualize your approach so others can learn in the way that best suits them.
  • Your willingness to learn makes you open to change, and you learn all you can about the changes that will affect you and your team -- which makes you a great resource.
  • When others on your team are resistant to or fearful of change, you can break the information down for them and help them learn what they need to do to grow.
  • Your Learner talents may lead you to mastery of a particular subject area. Your expertise can help improve processes, troubleshoot problems or set a new, more productive course.


  • Because the process of learning excites you sometimes more than the subject matter itself, you might wander off into areas that are irrelevant to your and your team's performance.
  • Just because you love to learn, and you see knowledge as its own benefit, don't assume that is true for others. Some desire to learn only enough to get the job done.
  • Depending on your other themes, you may prefer to learn alone and can get lost in your world of learning. Bring others along -- share your learning.
  • Having mastery of a particular subject area does not necessarily make you the only expert in the room. Ask for and value the opinions and ideas of others.

Learner: Self-Awareness, Self-Expression, Self-Regulation

In order to productively aim Learner -- 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 Learner talents by exploring the following


  • The Power and Edge of Learner: Those with Learner among their Signature Themes find a deep satisfaction in putting the time and effort into learning a new skill, concept or methodology. This makes them valuable resources for their teams as they research, study and explore innovative new concepts that can help the team win.
  • The Vulnerabilities of Learner: Often, for those with strong Learner talents, learning is its own objective. Without proper focus, this can make learning, while enjoyable, irrelevant to the task at hand.


Coaches can assist clients in realizing and claiming the expression of Learner 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 you learning about at the moment? What most excites you about it?
  • How do you do learn best? How did you discover this?
  • What has been your greatest success -- either at work or in your personal life? How did your Learner talents contribute to that success?
  • With whom do you enjoy discussing ideas? What have you learned from these conversations?


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 Learner 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 amplify or activate Learner:

Learner: Five Powerful Questions for Productive Aiming

  • How would you describe a great day at work? How do your Learner talents contribute to those best days? How can you have more of those days?
  • What new learning would most benefit your team or your organization? Who do you need to partner with in order to have this opportunity considered and eventually implemented?
  • Who could benefit from your expertise? How will you tailor your teaching to their particular learning style?
  • Are there any products or parts of your organization that you would like to learn more about? How will you go about making that happen?
  • What is the greatest value your Learner 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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