When it comes to communicating at work, you can have too much of a good thing.

When it comes to communicating at work, you can have too much of a good thing.

We have been helping individuals and teams improve their ways of working for the part 10 years. One of our most popular personality profiling tools is the Strength Deployment Inventory – now known as the SDI 2.0. What we like about using the SDI 2.0 is that it lets us discover our overdone strengths as well as our strengths i.e. when and where we need to temper our approaches.

What is the SDI 2.0?

The SDI 2.0 (previously known as the Strength Deployment Inventory) is a short questionnaire which is completed online, based on the work of Dr Elias Porter. The SDI identifies what motivations we have and how these influence our behaviours towards others. Its purpose is to help us improve our relationships at work and beyond.  This seems to be a very worthwhile cause.

In summary the SDI 2.0 measures:

  • Our motivational value system.
  • How our behaviour changes when we are challenged and come into conflict with others.
  • How we use our strengths at work to become more effective at what we do.
  • How we can overdo the strengths which can make us less productive and cause conflict with others.

This video provides more information about the SDI 2.0:

What is meant by having too much of a good thing?

At Beyond Theory we love using the SDI 2.0 with our clients because it fits so well with our philosophy. We believe that the vast majority of people come to work to do good, meaningful work. Their intentions are positive. However, sometimes things just don’t work out well because of their actions and the actions of others.

The SDI 2.0 talks about our strengths and which ones we can use to enable us to be successful. It shows us how not only to rely on our favourite strengths, but also to use those strengths we have but may not use enough.

However, the SDI 2.0 also helps us discover our overdone strengths. These are strengths that we think are helping but are having the opposite effect. Using an overdone strength can be counterproductive to what we are looking to achieve. Overdone strengths can cause confusion and, quite often, lead to unnecessary conflict.

Think about this. Have you ever got into your car in the morning and the music is way too loud? Well, the principle of overdone strengths is very similar. We just need to know when to turn the volume down.

Using our strengths is great. But using our strengths when they are not appreciated by others is damaging.

What are the strengths and overdone strengths as described by the SDI 2.0?

In terms of the SDI 2.0, strengths are the things that you bring to the party. They are the strengths that you use at work and how you prioritise these in your working relationships. The SDI 2.0 enables you to discover these strengths and the reason why you use them. Some may be used depending on a given situation and others you may be reluctant to use or even avoid using altogether.

There are 28 strengths in all:


Using the SDI 2.0 offers us choices in how we can use them. It gives you the opportunity to choose a different strength to be more effective.

For example, you may have Competitive as being favourite strength. However, you can choose another strength such as inclusive to give someone else the opportunity to shine.

What are the overdone strengths as described by the SDI 2.0?

The SDI 2.0 assessment tells us how using a strength too much can make us unproductive.  Sometimes we can overdo a particular strength by using it too much or for too long. Although our intention in using this strength is positive and purposeful, overdoing it can mean we become misunderstood and even cause conflict with others.

Being aware of the potential for us to use our overdone strengths provides us with more choices when we need to dial down the volume or even use a different strength altogether.

For example, the strength of Quick-To-Act can, when overdone and not appreciated by others, becomes perceived as Rash. This may cause others to see ourselves in a negative light. 

The following table indicates how strengths can be perceived by others when overdone:

Supportive becomes Self-SacrificingRisk-Taking becomes RecklessPersevering becomes StubbornOption-Orientated becomes Indecisive
Caring becomes SubmissiveCompetitive becomes AggressiveFair becomes ColdTolerant becomes Indifferent
Devoted becomes SubservientQuick-To-Act becomes RashPrincipled becomes UnbendingAdaptable becomes Compliant
Modest becomes Self-Effacing Forceful becomes DomineeringAnalytical becomes Obsessive Inclusive becomes Indiscriminate
Helpful becomes Smothering Persuasive becomes AbrasiveMethodical becomes RigidSociable becomes Intrusive
Loyal becomes BlindAmbitious becomes RuthlessReserved becomes DistantOpen-To-Change becomes Inconsistent
Trusting becomes Gullible Self-Confident becomes Arrogant Cautious becomes SuspiciousFlexible becomes Unpredictable

What can I do to manage my overdone strengths?

Just like any aspect of emotional intelligence, the first step is increasing self-awareness. This is what the SDI 2.0 assessment provides. The assessment highlights your strengths and your overdone strengths. You become aware of your blind spots.

But self-awareness on its own is not enough. The SDI 2.0 gives you the choice and options to act differently when things are not going as well as expected. Using the SDI 2.0 intelligently will enable you to use different strengths in different situations rather than relying on your favourite habits that you naturally use to get the outcome you are looking for.

Who is already using the SDI 2.0?

The Strength Deployment Inventory (SDI) has been with us for decades in a variety of iterations. However, over recent years it has gained world-wide popularity. The SDI 2.0 offers a serious upgrade in terms of online support as you will receive:

  • Online results immediately available on completion of the SDI 2.0 assessment.
  • Online platform where people can share and compare results (including their strengths and overdone strengths) along with communication tips on how to influence others.
  • A mobile app which provides the ability to connect, share and compare etc.
  • A plugin for Microsoft Outlook to enable you to create emails that are suitable to match the recipient's SDI profile. 

Many of our clients use the SDI 2.0 within their companies and organisations to improve ways of working and build those all-important relationships. We use the SDI 2.0 on our:

In simple terms, learning about the SDI 2.0 can help in any situation where relationships are important.

Paul Beesley
Director and senior consultant, Beyond Theory 

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