Did you ever attend an event where the keynote speaker, although renowned and accomplished in the field, was uninspiring? Even though he had achieved remarkable feats, eloquent speaking wasn’t necessarily one of his gifts. Or, did you hear about the calamity that befell a small but successful nonprofit that successfully sought and received a government grant? After much hard work obtaining the contract, they could not locate a staff member or volunteer who found joy organizing the project, keeping the details straight or mastering the rules on fund use. The nonprofit sent the money back. These two examples illustrate how: 1) people work best when their work uses their gifts and 2) organization success is built with a mixture of skills.

Leaders lead best when they help people to identify and build on their individual strengths. The following online inventories will help you identify people’s unique gifts.

The Tools

1. Keirsey Temperament Sorter
This scale is similar to the Myers-Briggs’ tool. In fact, a .75 correlation exists between the two instruments. The Keirsey deals with temperaments and the better known MBTI deals with traits. (Close enough for most folks!) Both tools divide people into sixteen categories. Are you an INTJ or an ESFP? How about your co-workers? This sorter can lead to a number of insights about how you and others work. The free Keirsey is at http://www.keirsey.com or order the MBTI for around $16 from http://www.cpp.com.

2. VIA Strength Scale
Still under development, the VIA Strength Scale provides an overview of your positive traits. The scale found at http://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/Default.aspx, takes 20-minutes to complete. After completion, users receive a list of their five most notable strengths and a one-sentence description about each. The Seligman Research Alliance, a nonprofit associated with the University of Pennsylvania, developed the scale.

3. Strengthfinder
From the best seller, Now Discover Your Strengths comes the StrengthFinder at http://www.strengthfinder.com. To develop this inventory, the Gallup Organization interviewed two million people. Test results provide a list of five strengths from a list of the “thirty-four most prevalent themes of human talent.” The writers, Buckingham and Clifton, suggest we find our brilliance by working within strengths and “managing around” weaknesses. To obtain a code to take the inventory buy the book or tape; one test per purchase.


Combined or alone, these inventories identify a list of an individual’s strong points. How can you use these inventories? 1. Take the inventory(s), 2. Seek roles where you will shine and 3. Invite coworkers to take the inventories and then discuss these questions: How do people use their best gifts here? How will a different or new role help you excel in your work? What strengths do we lack? Where can we find them? Do we have skills we aren’t using that can help us create or extend services or otherwise improve this organization? How do we mix different people to get the best work?

For more answers, check out this Nonprofit  CEO Library.

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