CliftonStrengths V Extended DISC

CliftonStrengths V Extended DISC

Posted on 20 June 2023
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This week, a client asked me,"How Extended DISC compare with the Clifton Strengths Finder" (recently rebranded as CliftonStrengths)?

My simple answer is, "they don't compare".

They are different.

CliftonStrengths, is a stand-alone and specialist strengths-identifying tool. CliftonStrengths does not use DISC theory. 

DISC Reports comprehensively cover strengths and other work and role-based preferences, behavioural traits, characteristics, etc. 

Extended DISC is a lot smarter than that. It compares the respondent's natural style with the behaviour they feel they must demonstrate at work. Not just to check for job

Both products look at strengths but from very different perspectives. They are complementary tools rather than competitors.

 In the ED Report, you will see a section on strengths (the dot point list). These are a person's innate strengths based on their unconscious Profile II. They are natural activities to the person with this particular profile and take the least effort and energy. Strengths are also evident in the Extended DISC competency bar graphs.

CliftonsStrengths is not searching for natural and innate "strengths" based on the person's unconscious behavioural style. It uses the Positive Psychology definition of strengths from the conscious perspective of what makes the respondent feel strong, what they enjoy doing, and find fulfilling at work. What they look forward to doing, and when done, feel good and look forward to the next time they get that chance. What activities lead them to a state of "flow"?

Another notable difference is that Extended DISC was explicitly developed for the workplace (and, of course, has application in all interpersonal interactions and relationships). In contrast, CliftonStrengths takes a whole-of-life approach (which also has relevance in the workplace)—a subtle but essential difference. 

The two tools are very complimentary. I no longer use CliftonsStrengths, but I did for many years from when it first appeared, along with the positive psychology and strengths movement. I now use "Strengthhcope" because it has been developed for the workplace environment, which is my focus for Talent Tools. My mission is to improve people's workplace experience (which enhances people's life experience).

Extended DISC is my go-to tool, as it has many applications that make it cost-effective. When I need to go deeper into a specific area, I call on our Speciality Tools such as Strengthscope, PR6 Resilience Profile, Conflict Dynamics Profile, Entrepreneurial Mindset Profile®, EQ-i Emotional Intelligence, or another of our Talent Tools. ClifonStrengths is a speciality strengths-based tool with that single focus. Extened DISC details strengths, and I use this opportunity to introduce workplace wellbeing and positive psychology to the client.

Both are excellent at what they do, and they work well together. There is nothing in one that will contradict the other. We could map the 160 Extended DISC styles to the 34 Clifton Strengths themes! Who's got the time?

Strong correlations exist between the strengths identified by a respondent who completes both questionnaires.

When deciding which tool to use with a client, I think it's best to start at the end and work backwards - what outcome are you trying to achieve? When you can get clarity on that, it is easy to determine which tool/s are best suited to attain those desired outcome/s. Cost-effectiveness also comes into this, but that is another topic for another day.

Find out how to Make an impact with Strengths.

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Download our eBook "Authentic Leadership, the Strengths Way."

Organisations worldwide use a strengths-based approach to reveal people’s unique strengths to help build a more diverse, empowered, resilient and agile workplace.


By:Sharon Hudson, Director, Talent Tools