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The Achiever Theme: How to Productively Aim Your CliftonStrengths Talent

The Achiever Theme: How to Productively Aim Your CliftonStrengths Talent

by Albert L. Winseman, D.Min.

Gallup StrengthsFinder Achiever definition: People exceptionally talented in the Achiever theme work hard and possess a great deal of stamina. They take immense satisfaction in being busy and productive.

Get it done. Get it off my plate. Check it off my list.

If you have strong Achiever talents, these phrases very likely not only resonate with you, they energize you. Achiever is a productivity theme and is the No. 1 occurring theme among both men and women in our CliftonStrengths database of nearly 18 million individuals worldwide.

Achievers are restless until something -- anything -- is accomplished each and every day. People high in the Achiever StrengthsFinder theme not only possess the stamina to work hard and be productive, they are driven to work hard and be productive -- it's a need that must be fulfilled.

This drive is a hallmark characteristic of those with strong Achiever talents, but doesn't necessarily tend to be the completion of long-term projects -- that is more descriptive of Focus. Achiever completion tends to be more short-term: The more things I can complete in a day, the more satisfied and fulfilled I become.

Achiever: Helps and Hinders

When coaching those with Achiever in their Top 5, helping them claim both the "helps and hinders" of the theme is critical to helping them be more productive in life. Some common helps and hinders of Achiever include:


  • You likely have an innate intensity and drive that enables you to get a lot done and set the pace for your team.
  • You are dependable -- others can count on you to get the job done and reach your goals.
  • Breaking a large project down into manageable tasks likely comes naturally to you. As such, you can help others see big jobs as less daunting.
  • You have stamina -- not only do you like to work hard, you derive a lot of energy from working hard; the harder you work, the more capacity you find you have.


  • Your Achiever talents push you, so you might tend to push others -- sometimes too hard.
  • Because you work hard, you may become frustrated with those whom you perceive as not working as hard as you do; as such, peers may see you as too demanding, inflexible and judgmental of others.
  • Your confidence in your ability to get things done may cause you to jump in and get started on a project before understanding all the details, nuances and demands of the project -- and that can get you into trouble.
  • With your focus on task completion, you might overlook or underestimate the value of people and relationships. If you are a manager or team leader, you may need to remind yourself that managing is not only about getting work done through people, but as importantly it's about getting people done through work.

Achiever: Self-Awareness, Self-Expression, Self-Regulation

In order to productively aim Achiever and accomplish your goals, 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 Achiever talents by exploring the following:


  • The Power and Edge of Achiever: There is a certain dependability found in Achiever -- they can be counted on to get the job done. Achievers set the pace, bring energy to projects and drive projects forward, making sure the work is completed.
  • The Vulnerabilities of Achiever: Because they derive satisfaction in completing tasks and moving on to the next one, those high in Achiever talents often need to be reminded to "push the pause button" and celebrate accomplishments. Their drive can sometimes be seen by others as demanding and unrelenting, with a tendency to focus on tasks at the expense of people.


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

  • Tell me about your best day at work. What made it a great day? (listen for expression of Achiever)
  • What accomplishments have you been most proud of in the last week?
  • What is your "brand" in your organization? What are you known for?
  • When looking for a partner for a project, what qualities do you value most?


Self-Regulation occurs when individuals know which of their talents to use in particular situations, or know which talents to combine to either sharpen or accelerate a specific talent, or to soften that talent. For example, sometimes the answer to most problems for Achievers is "just work harder." While that may work much of the time, there are times when "just working harder" is not going to get the desired results. It is then that 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 soften Achiever:

Achiever: Five Powerful Questions for Productive Aiming

  • How do you measure and/or keep track of what you've accomplished each day?
  • What is the biggest obstacle to fulfilling your life's ambition? How could you break that challenge down into daily tasks?
  • What do you want your legacy to be? What are you doing to achieve it?
  • Who helps you know that you're on the right track?
  • How do you celebrate your successes, and with whom do you celebrate them?

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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