Leading with the Competition StrengthsFinder Talent

From participation to winning

July 31, 2023
competition winners stand

Are you always keeping score? Whether it’s a casual basketball game with your friends, how many emails you can write in an hour or which lane on the freeway is fastest, you always know who’s winning. 

Why are we playing if we’re not keeping score?

If you have the strengthsfinder competition talent, you want to excel and be the best. It may be beating others or yourself or the random goal you created in your mind. 

You don’t want to be stuck in a game you can’t win.

Your Strengths Have AntiPatterns

Competition StrengthsFinder TL;DR

The competition StrengthsFinder talent means you need to know if you’re winning. You might think, “why are we playing if we’re not keeping score?” 

You experience a constant drive to surpass the goal set or to be better than last time. This mindset can motivate you to get a lot done and even, when healthy, to find win-win opportunities.

If you want to grow as a leader, you will need to be able to reset when you fail.

The underlying question that drives these thoughts is, “does my contribution matter?”

If you’re already familiar with StrengthsFinder, you can skip over the next section.

What is StrengthsFinder?

SterengthsFinder, now CliftonStrengths, is an assessment based on strengths psychology. The fundamental premise is you will get farther by maxing out your strengths rather than trying to improve your weaknesses. 

I’ve seen numerous leaders grow as they identified their talents and turned them into well-developed strengths. But you don’t have to be a leader to benefit from StrengthsFinder, and you can apply it to more than just work. 

Understanding your strengths and weaknesses helps you better understand and live out your unique design.

Competition is just one of the 34 different strengths measured by StengthsFinder. When you take the assessment, you will get back your top 5 strengths. You can pay for an ordered list of all 34, but I wouldn’t recommend that the first time you take the assessment.

Focus is critical to developing your strengths. Keeping just your top 5 in view helps you make meaningful growth in the areas of your life with the highest leverage and impact. 

How do you lead well with competition in your StrengthsFinder top 5?

So you’ve taken the StrengthsFinder assessment, received your results and found competition in the list. Now you’re wondering how to grow or leverage this strength in your leadership. 

I love winning. I used to feel guilty about this strength because it seemed primarily self-serving. But I've discovered that winning doesn't have to be about me, and now I get to help other people and teams win.

These are three strategies I’ve seen leaders with the competition strength use to move their focus on winning from me to we.

  1. Play the next play. 
  2. Build your team.
  3. Begin a practice of play.

Learn to recognize behaviors when you're over-leveraging your strengths to the point that they become liabilities. And discover the path back to health.

Play the next play.

You won't always win. 

That’s not the news people with the strengthsfinder competition talent want to hear. But it’s reality, and reality is your friend.  

This term entered our home when my kids started playing basketball. It’s a fast-paced game, and when you make a mistake, you don’t really have time to dwell on it. You have to come down the court, reset and play the next play. 

Life is like that a lot of the time. We’ve got to let the past be the past and move on to the next thing. It doesn’t mean we can’t learn from our mistakes, but dwelling on them isn’t helpful.

You don’t want to be stuck in a game you can’t win.

If you want to grow as a leader, you will need to be able to reset when you fail, and you will need to help others on your team reset when they fail. You’ll be like the coach from the sideline saying, “it’s ok, you can do it, just play the next play.”

Build your team.

My most significant insight into my competition strength was when I realized how often I used competition language for my group. I would say things like, “if we can get work together to make [whatever we were currently focused on] happen, then we can really win at [whatever the bigger objective was].”

I was leading a team, and I wanted that team to win. Not so much so I could say my team won, but because I wanted them to experience winning. 

As a leader, you can leverage your competition strength by focusing on how to help your team grow and improve. View them as a coach would. When they win, you win. Look at how they can improve individually and collectively. 

By slowing down and being present, you can temper the drive your strengthsfinder competition talent can create.

Ask your team members about their individual goals and help them work toward success. Helping others win both develops your own competition talent and keeping your ego in check. 

Begin a practice of play.

There is a genuine danger that your competition talent can go into overdrive and become unhealthy, leading you to need to win at all costs and see the end as always justifying the means.

One effective strategy for keeping this drive in check is to play. Do something just for fun. No goals. No score.

For me, this looks like a creative activity without set output. Just sketching because I can, not because it helps me improve or contributes to another project.

By slowing down and being present, you can temper the drive your strengthsfinder competition talent can create. 

Next steps for StrengthsFinder competition leaders.

As you learn to lead using your competition strength, you can help yourself and your team move from participating to winning.

No more participation trophies here. And no more winning at all costs. 

You can be a leader who wants to excel but helps others win, looking for those win-win opportunities. 

Action Plan

Leaders with the strengthsfinder competition talent can struggle with an antipattern of winning at all costs. Learning the strengths antipatterns will allow you to continue growing as a healthy, intentional leader. 

You are on an extraordinary journey to living and leading from your strengths. You can explore the list below to learn about the rest of your top 5 strengths.

Frequently Asked Questions


So do I totally ignore my weaknesses and just focus on my strengths?

Strengths-based growth doesn’t encourage you to ignore your weaknesses but not to spend too much time trying to turn them into strengths. Instead, you may need to find team members or systems to fill in your gaps.

Learn more about how StrengthsFind influences your leadership.

There are strengths I think I have; why didn’t they didn’t show up in my top 5?

For some people, their strengths ranked 5, 6 or 7 are almost even. You could also be misattributing a skill or behavior to a specific strength.

Learn more about how StrengthsFind influences your leadership.

Should I pay to see all 34 strengths?

Seeing your other 29 strengths can help give you a fuller picture. But initially, someone should focus on further developing those top 5 strengths rather than trying to give attention across the list. Once you have a good grasp on what it looks like to lead from your top 5, it can be helpful to explore the rest of the list.

Learn more about how StrengthsFind influences your leadership.

What’s the difference between a talent and a strength?

A talent is your natural way of thinking or behaving. A strength is a talent developed over time through knowledge, skills and practice.

Learn more about how StrengthsFinder influences your leadership.

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