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

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

by Albert L. Winseman, D.Min.

Gallup StrengthsFinder Developer definition: People exceptionally talented in the Developer theme recognize and cultivate the potential in others. They spot the signs of each small improvement and derive satisfaction from evidence of progress.

Individuals with strong Developer talents not only see the potential in others, they want to invest in that potential and help it grow. Every individual is a work in progress, and Developers are driven to move that work further along. No growth is too small -- all growth is recognized and celebrated.

Those high in the Developer CliftonStrengths theme like to teach, coach, mentor, invest. Small increments add up to huge growth. Developers are fascinated with devising the best way to bring out the best in others and to help them achieve their full potential. Developers tend to be patient and make a commitment to human growth, the greatest strength as a teacher.

A friend of mine is fond of saying, "By the yard, it's hard; but inch by inch, it's a cinch!" That saying aptly applies to the perspective of those with Developer in their Top 5. Incremental progress is the best and most effective way to realize potential.

Developer: Helps and Hinders

When you coach those with Developer 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 Developer include:


  • You are genuinely interested in other people's progress. You see improvement opportunities they may not see for themselves.
  • You instinctively know that development takes time and personal investment. As such, you tend to be patient with others and encourage them to invest in themselves -- while you invest in them as well.
  • Development requires a safe space where people can experiment with ideas and actions, without fear of repercussions if they fail. You provide that for others; failure is part of the learning process, and the only mistake is the one from which nothing is learned.
  • You encourage growth through celebrating others' successes. No matter how incremental the growth, it is always worth celebrating.


  • Your delight in seeing incremental growth in the potential of low performers may lead you to ignore the accomplishments of the stars on your team. Remember that all individuals -- even the most talented performers -- have room for and the desire for growth and development.
  • If you lead a team, your natural tendency to focus on slow, incremental growth may lead you to invest too much time in those on your team whose talent is not a fit to their role. Remember: An investment in C talent can only yield -- at the most -- C+ results.
  • You may become so invested in others that you forget to invest in your own development. Remember to take time to foster your own growth. Find specific ways to turn your talents into strengths.
  • Some people are not interested in their own development and are satisfied with their performance -- even if you see the potential that they don't. Sometimes you will need to know when to focus your attention on those who will appreciate your growth-orientation.

Developer: Self-Awareness, Self-Expression, Self-Regulation

In order to productively aim Developer -- 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 come through intentionally applying a strengths-based approach. Coaches can help clients with strong Developer talents by exploring the following:


  • The Power and Edge of Developer: Those with Developer among their Signature Themes are patient, encouraging and others-focused. They encourage others to learn, grow and improve -- celebrating successes along the way.
  • The Vulnerabilities of Developer: Development takes time -- and the intrinsic patience and acceptance of slow growth that comes with Developer talents can slow things down and may lead to missed deadlines.


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

  • What is a recent success you've had as a mentor? What factors contributed to that success?
  • Who are your best partners at work? How do you help them reach their full potential?
  • When do you know it's time to cut your losses and walk away?
  • How do you define and measure success when you are working on a project?


Self-regulation occurs when individuals know which of their talents to use in particular situations, or know which talents to combine to either amplify or accelerate a specific talent, or to soften or moderate that talent. For example, sometimes those with strong Developer talents can get so focused on the process of investing in another person's growth that they lose sight of the outcomes. While helping others grow is admirable, sometimes Developers need to be reminded that there can be limits to how much one can grow -- if you start with grade C talent, about the most you can achieve through investment is a C+. 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 moderate Developer:

Developer: Five Powerful Questions for Productive Aiming

  • Who are you mentoring -- who has unrealized potential that, with your guidance and investment, can become a star?
  • How do you know you are achieving the right outcomes -- and is your focus on the process of others' personal and professional growth helping or hindering getting to the right outcomes?
  • How do you like to be recognized when you succeed? Do you know how the members of your team like to be recognized? How will you make that happen?
  • What are you most proud of in your life? How can you do more of what makes you proud?
  • How do you know when the best way to help others grow is to encourage them to find a different role? Who needs your help in discovering this truth?

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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