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

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

by Albert L. Winseman, D.Min.

Gallup's StrengthsFinder Includer definition: People exceptionally talented in the Includer theme accept others. They show awareness of those who feel left out and make an effort to include them.

"Teamwork makes the dream work!" This quote is music to the ears of those with Includer in their Top 5. For them, building a winning team means ensuring that everyone on the team feels valued and respected, and that their voice is heard -- this fosters collaboration.

They are always on the lookout for others they can bring into the team who can add value by providing a new perspective. Includers have a strong aversion to being left out -- whether it is themselves or others. Consequently, they look for outsiders and seek to make them insiders.

Because they hate feeling out of the loop, they ensure that others are up to speed and in the know. Strong Includers also tend to be very tolerant and accepting of a variety of perspectives, life experiences and belief systems. This can make them advocates for those who might be overlooked by majority points of view. Diversity is something to be not only celebrated, but also included. We are stronger together.

Includer: Helps and Hinders

When you coach those with Includer 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 Includer StrengthsFinder theme include:


  • You are a natural team builder. You include people and forge a sense of belonging and camaraderie that builds trust and boosts productivity.
  • You seek out others for their ideas and opinions. Because of this, others feel that you value and respect them -- creating a sense of ownership among the team.
  • For you, the best way forward isn't necessarily by building consensus, but rather by ensuring that everyone's voice is heard. In this way, you don't miss the best ideas that can lead to success.
  • Your naturally high capacity for the tolerance of diverse ideas and perspectives can make you a bridge builder, bringing together individuals and groups who wouldn't otherwise think to work together.


  • Your desire not to leave others out can lead you to cast the net too wide -- not everyone needs to have input on every decision.
  • In reaching out to others to ensure they are not left out, realize that some are perfectly fine with being excluded -- respect their decision, and don't take it personally.
  • Sometimes the important people in your life want time with just you. Be sensitive to their needs, and resist the urge to invite "the whole gang" when that might not be appropriate.
  • When working on a project, your natural bent toward inclusion can sometimes lead to "too many cooks in the kitchen." Recognize the times when efficiency and excellence may call for fewer opinions to be heard.

Includer: Self-Awareness, Self-Expression, Self-Regulation

In order to productively aim Includer -- or any -- CliftonStrengths 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 Includer talents by exploring the following:


  • The Power and Edge of Includer: Those with Includer among their Signature Themes draw the circle wider and have an aversion to anyone being left out. This creates in others a sense of belonging and being respected and valued.
  • The Vulnerabilities of Includer: With their desire to ensure others do not feel left out, those with strong Includer talents may have trouble realizing when the circle is big enough -- or is too big to drive efficient and effective decisions and outcomes.


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

  • Whom have you recently helped to become part of the team?
  • How do you connect with people of diverse backgrounds, beliefs and perspectives? How do you help them connect with each other?
  • What has been your greatest success -- at work or in your personal life? How did your Includer talents contribute to that success?
  • In what ways are you most effective at helping others feel included?


Self-regulation occurs when individuals know which of their talents to use in particular situations, or know which talents to combine to amplify or accelerate a specific talent, or to soften or moderate that talent. For example, sometimes those with strong Includer talents can slow a team down because they keep widening the circle and including more and more opinions in the decision-making process -- they don't know when to stop widening and start acting. 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 activate or clarify Includer:

Includer: Five Powerful Questions for Productive Aiming

  • How would you describe a great day at work? How do your Includer talents contribute to those best days? How can you have more of those days?
  • How do you deal with being left out?
  • What strategies do you employ to help those new to the group get to know others and feel included?
  • Which colleagues need to have their voices heard? How can you get them a seat at the table?
  • What is the greatest value your Includer 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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