Explore The Clifton StrengthsFinder Talent Theme – Competition

What Is The Clifton StrengthsFinder Talent Theme of Competition?

Often people will ask us, "What does it mean to have the Competition Strength?" First, know that StrengthsFinder will help you figure out your potential. We call them natural talents or natural patterns. We know you're here because you want to turn them into superpowers in your career, so here's the gist: People strong in the Competition theme measure their progress against the performance of others. They strive to win first place and revel in contests.

Gallup®, Clifton StrengthsFinder®, StrengthsFinder®, and each of the 34 Clifton StrengthsFinder theme names are trademarks of Gallup, Inc.

Competition - Learn From Others

These 10-15 minute "Theme Overview" videos give you a peek into the awesomeness of your talent theme. They also explore the idea that talent themes represent potential, yet if they are not invested in, they might show up looking raw and unproductive at work.
These "Talent Testimonials" videos are real people sharing their experiences with this talent theme. Although you may apply your talent in a different way at work, it's helpful to hear how others use the same natural patterns of thinking, feeling, or acting at work.

Your Strengths Will Strengthen Your Performance At Work

In the next section, you'll explore what fuels you up and what drains you. Just like gas (or petrol) in your car, you need to keep your personal tank full to be at your best. Each StrengthsFinder talent theme is energized and drained by different things. When you see the stick figure who looks strong, you can consider how these things fuel you up at work. They're your energy makers. When you see the stick figure who looks weak, consider if these things are draining you at work. They're your energy takers.

Competition Yucks

What's a Yuck?

It's a situation, condition, or behavior you might see at work that zaps your energy. Yucks are also things you see on your calendar or to do list that make you think, "yuck, if I never had to do that again I'd be thrilled."


Yuck Situations for Competition

  • Coming in 2nd place, because you feel like it's the first place loser.
  • When there's no measure of success so you have no idea how you compare to others.

Example yuck from client: "Our business unit had this 'best in class' mantra. They used those 3 words all the time and never gave us metrics or criteria for what made us better than the competition. It was maddening because 'best' actually meant nothing. I wanted to know: Are we faster? Is our quality higher? Are our people more caring? If you're not measuring anything, how do you know if you're good, better, best...or worst? When I asked what we're comparing against, they told me to just go with the 'spirit of it' and that was annoying."

Competition When Starved

What's a Starved Talent?

This section describes how you might be perceived when the shadow side of your talent is showing. It’s when you’re overusing, misapplying, or squashing down one of your natural talents rather than investing in it to turn it into a strength. We often see people starve, squash, or ignore their talent when they assume it is not valued in that role or company culture. 

Perceptions of Starved Competition

  • Sore loser
  • In-your-face winner

Competition - How To Insult It

What's An Insulted Talent?

Usually talents get offended or insulted by other people who have natural preferences that are different from yours. It also happens if they fail to see their actions have an impact on someone else (you!). You can also insult your own talents if you have a "troublemaker strength" that speaks loudly and overpowers this one.

Things That Will Insult Competition

  • Give everyone a participation trophy.
  • Demonstrate your fear of public scorecards by hiding from metrics or only discussing them in 1x1s.

If you're constantly demonstrating "fair is equal" keep a close eye on those who lead through Competition. The inability know if they're excelling will be extremely frustrating to them. They get satisfaction from getting high rewards for high achievement, so if everyone gets the "peanut butter spreading of rewards" your competitive team members will lose motivation.

Competition Yays

What's a Yay?

It's a situation at work that boosts up your energy or makes you feel productive. Yays are also things you see on your calendar or to do list that make you think, “yay, fill my days with this."


Yay Situations for Competition

  • Turning any mundane task into a game or challenge.
  • Winning - it's fun to win personally, and it also feels good to help other people win.

Example yay from client: "We had a contest to see who could make the most appointments one afternoon. The reward was getting tomorrow off to go see a movie. I crushed it. If I heard my teammate say they had landed 15, I'd change my goal to 30. Every time I heard a new number I doubled their number to get my new goal. That's the mental game I play with myself all day. It's motivating when other people help me step my game up. If no one can hang, it's boring. I like a stretch challenge. Winning those feels great."

Competition When Fed

What's a Fed Talent?

This section describes how you might be perceived when the best version of you shows up at work. It’s when you’ve invested in your natural talents to mature them into strengths. You can feed your talent by considering “how” you approach each “what” on the job. When you apply your talents to productive outcomes, you’re feeding them.

Perceptions of Fed Competition

  • Celebrates everyone's wins
  • High aspirations for self and others

Competition - How To Honor It

What's An Honored Talent?

Usually talents feel honored when other people acknowledge your needs and potential contributions. Talents feel honored when someone “extends an olive branch” to help you work at your best. You can also honor your own talents by investing in them, by choosing work that naturally calls on them, or by applying your strengths to performance on the job. 

Things That Will Honor Competition

  • Give them frequent opportunities to win or to help other people win.
  • Set them up to observe successful people so they can borrow winning strategies.

To unleash the A-game of someone who leads through the Competition talent, give the person the gift of being around other high performers. They will work work tirelessly for the gold medal, and they need a scorecard to know where they stand on the leaderboard at any given time. Give them the opportunity to work with other highly competitive people because they will invigorate each other.

Personal Brand - "How" Competition Operates At Work

Most people have a good handle on "What" they bring to the workplace. Resumes, CVs, and career development conversations are filled with lists of skills and job titles that show "what" you can do. Nearly everyone misses the "How".

Your Clifton StrengthsFinder talent themes help you communicate "How" you show up. It's how you think. It's how you feel. It's how you act. These are huge differences in each person that are differentiators on the job. Consider these adjectives you might want to consciously put into your personal branding efforts.

We recommend working a "How" description into the Summary section in your LinkedIn profile (if you don't yet use that section, don't worry, most people haven't paid attention to it until now). Of course, make up adjectives or phrases that describe you at your best. Try to avoid words like "motivated, self-starter" because they're so overused that you'll blend in with everyone else. Here are some ideas to spark your thinking:

  • Winner
  • Energetic
  • Selective
  • Intense
  • Driven
  • Scorekeeper
  • Striver
  • Measurer
  • Challenger
  • Scrappy
  • Gamer

How To Invest In Your Competition Talent On The Job

  • List the performance scores that can help you know where you stand every day. What scores should you pay attention to daily?
  • Identify an achieving person against whom you can measure your own achievement. If there is more than one, list all the people with whom you currently compete. Without measurement, how will you know if you won?
  • Take the time to celebrate your wins. In your world, there is no victory without celebration.
  • Seek competitive friends.
  • Try to turn ordinary tasks into competitive games. You will get more done this way.
  • When you win, take the time to investigate why you won. Counterintuitively, you can learn a great deal more from a victory than from a loss.
  • Design some mental strategies that can help you deal with a loss. Armed with these strategies, you will be able to move on to the next challenge much more quickly.

Tips For Managing Someone Who Leads Through The Competition Talent

  • Use competitive language with this person. For example, it is a win-lose world for this person, so from his perspective, achieving a goal is winning and missing a goal is losing. When you need to engage him in planning or problem solving, use the competitive word “outsmart.”
  • Measure him against other people, particularly other competitive people. You may decide to post the performance records of all your people, but remember that only your competitive people will get a kick out of this public comparison. Others may resent it and be mortified by the comparison.
  • Set up contests for him. Pit him against other competitors even if you have to find competitors in business units other than your own. Highly charged competitors want to compete with others who are very close to their skill level. Matching them against modest achievers will not motivate them.
  • Find places where he can win. If he loses repeatedly, he may stop playing. Remember, in the contests that matter to him, he doesn’t compete for the fun of competing. He competes to win.
  • Consider that one of the best ways to manage him is to hire another competitive person who produces more.
  • Talk about talents with him. Like all competitors he knows that it takes talent to be a winner. Name his talents. Tell him that he needs to marshal his talents to win. Do not “Peter Principle” this person by suggesting that “winning” means getting promoted. Help him focus on winning where his true talents lie.
  • When this person loses, he may need to mourn for a while. Let him. Then quickly move him into another opportunity to win.

What To Consider When Partnering With A Colleague Who Leads Through Competition

  • Ask this person to partner with you when your team needs a win. If there’s a measurable goal and a win/lose opportunity, those with the Competition talent theme are usually up for it.
  • When your team needs to come up with quantifiable scores, ratings, and rankings, ask this person for input. They do not enjoy games they cannot win at, so they’ll help you ensure you’re keeping things challenging yet not impossible.
  • Call on them when you need a quick boost in performance. With an incentive and a challenge, they’ll find innovative ways to break through the status quo.

Listen To The Lead Through Strengths Podcast