Leading with the Learner StrengthsFinder Talent

From unknown to understood

July 31, 2023
StrengthsFinder learner making notes

“I wonder how that works?”

It’s a question I ask almost every day. There is so much to discover and learn in the world. Why let things stay unknown? 

If you’re naturally curious and love the process of continually learning, then you might have the StrengthsFinder Learner talent.

Your Strengths Have AntiPatterns

Learner StrengthsFinder TL;DR

The learner StrengthsFinder talent means you’re a sponge for new ideas or skills. It’s the process of discovery that energizes you more than the desire for mastery. This reality means you likely focus more on breadth than depth, though both will fuel you to further learning.

The unknown doesn’t intimidate you. It invites you.

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.

Learner 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 learner in your StrengthsFinder top 5?

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

I love to learn. It's in my top 5 and drives a lot of how I grow and lead. As leaders, it feels like we always need to learn more. I've helped others establish a simple, agile system to help leaders organize and prioritize all their learning pursuits.

These are five strategies I’ve seen learner leaders use to grow and improve in their leadership.

  1. Prioritize learning opportunities.
  2. Explore different mediums.
  3. Set learning goals.
  4. Don’t oversaturate.
  5. Go First.

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.

Prioritize learning opportunities.

There is more to learn than there is time. It’s easy to get overloaded or spread yourself too thin when it comes to learning. 

Not only is there an infinite breadth of learning topics, but there’s also an exceptional depth. Almost any topic you or I are curious about, somebody has a Ph.D. work in it.  

You’re probably not wanting to go that far. I’ve seen leaders benefit from setting a general learning depth goal for a topic. Here are three levels of learning that you could use to gauge how deep you want to go on a given subject. 

  1. I Can talk about what I learned at a dinner party.
  2. I Can apply what I learned successfully to a specific activity.
  3. I can write about or teach others about the topic.

I’ve found choosing only 1-3 options to go beyond level 1 gives leaders a good balance of focus and variety. It's ok to collect things you want to learn but don't pursue them all at once. 

You’re a sponge for new ideas or skills. It’s the process of discovery that energizes you more than the desire for mastery.

It can still be hard to focus when so many exciting things are out there to discover. But not everything needs to go beyond level 1 depth of understanding.

There are many topics I’m curious about that I just want to dip my toe in the water on. I think of these as entertainment learning. I’m learning them for the sheer enjoyment of it.

Explore different mediums.

Our digital world provides a bewildering array of possible inputs to satiate your desire to learn. Some common ones include

  • Podcasts
  • YouTube
  • Books
  • Trainings
  • Online classes
  • Documentaries
  • Conferences.

Podcasts like 99% invisible or video courses like you’ll find on Masterclass are some of my go-to sources for entertainment learning.

Podcasts or audiobooks have the benefit of being able to learn one topic while doing something entirely different.

There is so much to discover and learn in the world.

We all learn through different means, and some topics are better caught than taught. 

Look for learning opportunities at work too. This could be joining a new project or pursuing a certification. 

Set learning goals

I like setting goals. They motivate me. But goals also help you have a clear finish line and closure with one topic, so you feel free to move on to another. 

When you set a learning goal, quantify it in either one of two ways:

  1. Length of time.
  2. Depth of mastery.

Length of time.

One approach to setting time-bound learning goals is to pick a topic for the month. You have the freedom to explore as much as you want in that topic for the month. And the next month, you pick a new topic and go wandering there.

Depth of mastery.

How much do you want to learn? Quantifying your desired outcome for learning helps you feel the accomplishment of completion and the freedom to move to something new. 

I’ll list my three levels of learning mastery from earlier.

  1. I can talk about what I learned at a dinner party.
  2. I can apply what I learned successfully to a specific activity.
  3. I can write about or teach others about the topic.

Another way to frame these could be:

  1. What do I want to know?
  2. What do I want to be able to do?
  3. What do I want to teach?

These levels are a tool to help you verbalize your learning expectations to yourself or others. 

Don’t oversaturate. 

It seems like new information is always at our fingertips, ready to be explored. But you need time to metabolize all the information you’re taking in.

Take time to be still. This pause allows your mind to process, order and connect what you’ve been feeding it. 

I like to call this leaving ideas on tumble drive low. Like laundry in my dryer, they mix around with each other for an infinite amount of time.

Consider how you have great insights while in the shower. This is because you’re brain finally has the space to process. I’ve started intentionally driving in my car with no music or podcasts, just so I can have the time to let ideas settle. 

You need time to metabolize all the information you’re taking in.

You also will benefit from taking time to practice what you’re learning. Many people learn by doing. This approach almost always takes more time but results in a more nuanced personal understanding. 

Go First.

The unknown doesn’t intimidate you. It invites you.

Volunteer to be the early adopter on your team to help everyone feel more comfortable with new ideas or changes.

Bring what you learn back to your team and give them the gift of confidence that comes from understanding.

As you learn to lead using your learner strength, you can move from unaware to competent

No more feeling stuck or not growing. You can level up your learning in all areas of life. Maybe you can even find a job where you get paid to learn. 

Action Plan

Many learners can struggle with an antipattern of being a know-it-all. 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.

Ready to level up your company? Get in touch today!