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The Input Theme: How to Productively Aim Your CliftonStrengths Talent

The Input Theme: How to Productively Aim Your CliftonStrengths Talent

by Albert L. Winseman, D.Min.

Gallup StrengthsFinder Input definition: People exceptionally talented in the Input StrengthsFinder theme have a need to collect and archive. They may accumulate information, ideas, artifacts or even relationships.

In the 1986 movie "Short Circuit," a military robot, Johnny Five, is struck by lightning and as a result is given consciousness. In one memorable scene, Johnny Five is wheeling frantically around his new surroundings examining everything he encounters, all the while crying out, "Input! I need input!" Those with the talent theme of Input among their Signature Themes can resonate with that sentiment -- they need input!

There is a natural inquisitiveness to the Input strength, a desire to know more, to ask questions, to find out the what, when, where, how and, especially, why. Their need to know more can be limited to a particular subject area -- but often that is not the case; they want to know more about everything they encounter. Input collects -- sometimes things, but often ideas or experiences.

Those with Input are archivers -- storers, sorters and organizers of information. There is a utilitarian nature to Input; ideas and even objects are saved because they may be useful, either now or in the future. Input wants to know more -- and wants you to know more too, often offering an article, a website, a book or a movie that you might find helpful, useful or entertaining. "Tell me more" is the mantra of Input.

Input: Helps and Hinders

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


  • Your natural ability to ask the right questions helps you discover important information that leads to better problem solving. You do your homework and provide insights that your team needs to succeed.
  • Your input needs an output -- as such, you have helpful information, research and resources to share with others.
  • When you are asked to research a topic, your associates can count on you to be thorough. Coupled with that thoroughness is an ability to sift through it all and find the most helpful information.
  • Your curiosity about and interest in a wide variety of subjects enable you to make connections with others from a wide variety of cultures, backgrounds and experiences. And if you don't know something about it, you ask questions to find out more -- demonstrating your interest in others.


  • Your inquisitiveness leads you to ask a lot of questions. Use your emotional intelligence to discern when your probing can become uncomfortable and even detrimental to a relationship.
  • Be careful of inundating others with too much information. "Information overload" can cause a loss of attention in others.
  • Avoid sending lengthy emails loaded with minutiae. Try to stick to the pertinent details that will keep your readers engaged.
  • If you are a team leader, others may perceive your "need to know" as micromanagement. Explain that your desire to be kept informed is unrelated to your trust in their abilities.

Input: Self-Awareness, Self-Expression, Self-Regulation

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


  • The Power and Edge of Input: Those with Input among their Signature Themes are curious, inquisitive and interested. This makes them valuable resources for their coworkers as they bring information and new perspectives that help the team make good decisions.
  • The Vulnerabilities of Input: With their desire for more information, one of the main vulnerabilities of those with strong Input talents is an inability to make a decision -- because there can always be more information. More information precipitates more questions, which brings new information, which generates new questions … and so on.


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

  • How many books are you reading right now? Are they all on the same subject or on different topics?
  • When did you last help someone with information or tools you provided? What was most helpful?
  • What has been your greatest success -- either at work or in your personal life? How did your Input talents contribute to that success?
  • Like a sponge, how do you know when to stop soaking up information and start squeezing it out? How do you know when your input should become an output?


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 Input talents can slow a team down with their information gathering, resulting in inefficiency and missed deadlines. 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 Input:

Input: Five Powerful Questions for Productive Aiming

  • How would you describe a great day at work? How do your Input talents contribute to those best days? How can you have more of those days?
  • What project, issue or situation is stuck or stalled because of a need for a new perspective or new information? How can you help?
  • What do you want to know the most about? How will you learn about this topic, and how can your research bring value to your team?
  • Who could benefit from your inquisitiveness -- and who can help you turn your research and discoveries into action? How will you approach creating this partnership?
  • What is the greatest value your Input 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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