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Explore The Clifton StrengthsFinder Talent Theme – Learner

What Is The Clifton StrengthsFinder Talent Theme of Learner?

Often people will ask us, "What does it mean to have the Learner 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 exceptionally talented in the Learner theme have a great desire to learn and want to continuously improve. The process of learning, rather than the outcome, excites them.

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

Learner - 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.
These "Strengths Stories" give you another chance to see, in a very specific way, how other people with similar talents show up in life. They give you examples of where they see it in use as a strength. And they share action items that can help you aim it to performance 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.

Learner 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 Learner

  • Experiencing a "know-it-all" who dominates meetings by asserting his correctness and is not open to curious exploration of new ideas.
  • Having a monotonous role or set of tasks.

Example yuck from client: "We acquired a company last year, so we're in the midst of major integration activities. Last month, I asked questions to understand the inner workings of a decision and my colleague basically told me to do the job and quit asking so many questions. This kills my Learner talent. I want to know how things work. I get curious so I can make connections and do my job better. To shut me off from knowledge is like putting me in handcuffs."

Learner 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 Learner 

  • Not prioritized
  • Focused on the irrelevant
  • Bored

Learner - 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 Learner

  • Assign them to long term maintenance of projects or products.
  • Let them stagnate and stop growing on the job.

Learner 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 Learner

  • Exploring many interests and being able to follow newly discovered paths.
  • Learning as many things as possible, and keeping variety levels high.

Example yay from client: "Earlier this week, I couldn't figure out why a page wouldn't render the way I designed. Rather than getting annoyed, I turned up the volume on my learner talent to study the code behind the scenes and understand what was going on. I'm not a software developer, but now I know something new that will help me communicate requirements with our team. It helped me on this immediate project, and it will be helpful in everyday work life."

Learner 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 Learner

  • Relishes learning itself
  • Curious
  • Team’s early adopter & tester

Learner - 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 Learner

  • Encourage and look for new experiences.
  • Invite them into projects that involve cutting edge technology and thinking.

Personal Brand - "How" Learner 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:

  • Curious
  • Explorer
  • Dynamic
  • Growth-Focused
  • Open-minded
  • Variety Seeker
  • Inquisitive
  • Early Adopters
  • Studious
  • Continuous Improver
  • Discoverer
  • Expert

How To Invest In Your Learner Talent On The Job

  • Seek roles that require some form of technical competence. You will enjoy the process of acquiring and maintaining this competence.
  • Refine how you learn. For example, you might learn best by teaching; if so, seek out opportunities to present to others. You might learn best through quiet reflection; if so, carve out this quiet time.
  • Find ways to track the progress of your learning. If there are distinct levels or stages of learning within the discipline or skill, take a moment to celebrate your progression from one level to the next. If no such levels exist, create them for yourself (e.g., reading five books on the subject, or making three presentations on the subject).
  • Honor your desire to learn. If you can’t fulfill this need at work, take advantage of the adult educational opportunities in your community. Discipline yourself to sign up for at least one new academic or adult learning course each year.
  • Be a catalyst for change. Others might be intimidated by new rules, new skills, or new circumstances. Your willingness to soak up this “newness” can calm their fears and spur them to engage. Take this responsibility seriously.

Tips For Managing Someone Who Leads Through The Learner Talent

  • Position this person in roles that require him to stay current in a fast-changing field. He will enjoy the challenge of maintaining his competency.
  • Regardless of his role, he will be eager to learn new facts, skills, or knowledge. Explore new ways for him to learn and remain motivated, lest he start hunting for a richer learning environment. For example, if he lacks opportunities to learn on the job, encourage him to take courses that interest him at the local college or association. Remember, he doesn’t necessarily need to be promoted; he just needs to be learning. It is the process of learning, not the result, that energizes him.
  • Help him track his learning progress by identifying milestones or levels that he has reached. Celebrate these milestones.
  • In the same vein encourage this person to become the “master of trade” or “resident expert” in his field. Arrange for him to take the relevant classes. Be sure to recognize his learning with the appropriate certificates and plaques.
  • Have this person work beside a master who will continuously push him to learn more.
  • Ask him to conduct internal discussion groups or presentations. There may be no better way to learn than to teach others.
  • Help him secure financial support to continue his education.


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

  • Ask this person to partner with you when you have an “out there” topic to study so that they can learn something new and interesting.
  • When you need to map out competencies for a role, they would be good at uncovering what a person in each role might need to know to be successful on the job.
  • Call on them when you need deep curiosity or variety in the role.

Turn Learner Into A Strength This Month By Making It Your Phone Lockscreen

Learner Talent Theme LockscreenClick on this thumbnail image of your StrengthsFinder talent theme to link to the full size image. Then save it to your phone or mobile device as your lock screen.

That way, you’ll be reminded of your plan to focus on that talent…oh…about 98 times per day when you unlock your phone. What a great way to keep your intention front-of-mind! This will help you remember to invest in this talent theme so you can take the untapped potential and turn the natural talent into a strength.

Who knew wallpaper images could be so valuable to your career?!

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

Listen To The Lead Through Strengths Podcast