Talents define how we do things, not what we can do or who we can be. This concept is one of the most important discoveries I’ve made in working with talents and strengths. My Activator talent helps me in making decisions and not worrying too much about the consequences. My Empathy talent allows me to tune in to the emotions of my interlocutor. But my talents do not define what I can and can’t do. Realizing this has helped me to shift how I perceive and analyze my talents. As a result, I can now build on my strengths in a much more mature way. One way to do this is by analyzing talent domains.
From time to time, I run workshops for strength-based teams. Many of you have asked me what we do during those workshops. I decided to answer this question in a post. Maybe you’ll find it useful, even if you don’t take part in such a workshop. You’ll be able to see what steps should be taken to help teams discover their strengths.
After taking the StrengthsFinder test you get a number of reports with descriptions of your Themes. Many people focus only on the Signature Themes Report. But there is one that is much more useful and that has much more personalized description of your themes. It’s called Strengths Insight Guide.
Your Themes are interdependent
You can’t analyze your Themes independently. They are interdependent. It’s smart to analyze your Talents in context of all your Talents. If you have Activator and Arranger you will act differently than the person that has Activator and Harmony.
In the former case you will be willing to start your initiatives and actions and you will know who you should engage into your activities. You will be able to manage many activities at a time. You won’t be afraid to start new ones even if you will know that they will cause some turbulence in the beginning.
In the later case you still will be willing to start new initiatives but this time you will want to make sure that what you do won’t cause unnecessary friction in the group you will work with. You will make sure that everyone are aligned with your ideas. You still want to start quickly and you will act quickly but that human angle will be important for you.
You can analyze all your Themes in that way. Every single pair from your Signature Themes will influence the way you do things.
Signature Themes Report vs Strengths Insight Guide
What is the difference between those two reports?
Signature Themes Report
This report contains general descriptions of the Themes. Every person that has Activator Theme will get the same description of that Theme, and even if the rest of the Top 5 is completely different. It’s useful to learn about the Themes itself. You will know how Activator is perceived by others. It allows to understand others with that Theme.
Description of Activator:
“When can we start?” This is a recurring question in your life. You are impatient for action. You may concede that analysis has its uses or that debate and discussion can occasionally yield some valuable insights, but deep down you know that only action is real. Only action can make things happen. Only action leads to performance. Once a decision is made, you cannot not act. Others may worry that “there are still some things we don’t know,” but this doesn’t seem to slow you. If the decision has been made to go across town, you know that the fastest way to get there is to go stoplight to stoplight. You are not going to sit around waiting until all the lights have turned green. Besides, in your view, action and thinking are not opposites. In fact, guided by your Activator theme, you believe that action is the best device for learning. You make a decision, you take action, you look at the result, and you learn. This learning informs your next action and your next. How can you grow if you have nothing to react to? Well, you believe you can’t. You must put yourself out there. You must take the next step. It is the only way to keep your thinking fresh and informed. The bottom line is this: You know you will be judged not by what you say, not by what you think, but by what you get done. This does not frighten you. It pleases you.
Strengths Insight Guide
Strengths Insight Guide shows your personalized description. Each Theme is described in context of other Signature themes. You share those descriptions only with people that have exactly the same Signature Themes as you have. Order is not important here. So a person with Activator, Strategic, Developer, Adaptability and Relator will have the same descriptions in that report as a person with Relator, Strategic, Developer, Activator and Adaptability.
Example of the different descriptions
You can see examples of the descriptions of Activator for two persons that share Activator Theme but have different Top 5s.
First person – Activator Strategic Developer Adaptability Relator
Instinctively, you want to be in charge. As soon as you have made up your mind, you are eager to get started. People who interfere with your progress probably irritate you. Because of your strengths, you sometimes make people feel special. Typically you point out the importance or usefulness of something they said. By nature, you naturally gravitate to situations where you can be your true self. You feel life is wonderful when people listen as you share stories about your successes, failures, talents, limitations, hopes, or fears. Chances are good that you are comfortable telling others stories about your personal habits, qualities, experiences, or background. Your forthcoming nature probably enables others to share their thoughts and feelings with you. It’s very likely that you may pay close attention to intelligent conversations. Perhaps you give credit to certain individuals who make key points that advance everyone’s understanding of a particular theory, concept, or idea. Sometimes you file away or make a mental note about specific information, knowing it might be useful one day.
Second person – Strategic Futuristic Activator Ideation Maximizer
Because of your strengths, you traditionally determine for yourself and others what should be done. After you have made up your mind, you typically waste little time moving forward with projects or assignments. By nature, you undertake projects on your own. This is apt to occur when individuals delay decisions, block approvals, or continue meeting without finalizing plans. You probably help them overcome their objections and quell their fears by starting to work. You simply intend to prove to them that the impossible is possible. Driven by your talents, you generate enthusiasm so people become as eager as you are to transform an idea into something tangible. You are energized, not paralyzed, by opportunities and possibilities. It’s very likely that you are comfortable telling others stories about your personal habits, qualities, experiences, or background. Your forthcoming nature probably enables others to share their thoughts and feelings with you. Instinctively, you typically feel good about the quality of your life when you can arouse your friends to produce results. You often motivate them with compliments. You also say, “Let’s start working.” You probably issue direct orders when the need arises.
You get a great insight with the Strengths Insight Guide. I know many people who read it and had goose bumps because these descriptions were so exact. They were about them. Use the opportunity you have after taking the test and read that report. I promise, you won’t regret it!
What would you say if someone told you to stop focusing on your weaknesses and instead work on your strengths? What would you say if someone showed you what your potential is and helped you to find out how to invest in it? I heard about that concept a couple of years ago and I have to admit it was a shock for me. I was used to working on the areas that I needed to improve or fix. Then one day I was told that it is far better to focus on what I do well and build on that.
“You cannot be anything you want to be – but you can be a lot more of who you already are.”
You have talents which are a natural way of thinking, feeling, or behaving. You can invest in your talents by practicing and developing your skills, and building your knowledge base. This is how you build a Strength. What is a Strength? According to Gallup, it is “the ability to consistently provide near-perfect performance.” How can you achieve near-perfect performance? Invest in your talents by adding knowledge and skills to amplify them. Why should you do this? For better performance, and to achieve better results. You can benefit from investing in your talents both in your personal and professional life.
Strength-based development is the result of more than 50 years of Dr. Clifton’s work and research. He and his team, based on years of studies, identified 34 Strengths. Each theme comprises many talents. Below, I listed a few sample descriptions of Strengths (these are my top three Strengths):
- Individualization: People strong in the Individualization theme are intrigued with the unique qualities of each person. They have a gift for figuring out how people who are different can work together productively.
- Arranger: People strong in the Arranger theme can organize, but they also have a flexibility that complements this ability. They like to figure out how all of the pieces and resources of a project can be arranged for maximum productivity.
- Learner: People strong in the Learner theme have a great desire to learn and want to continuously improve. In particular, the process of learning, rather than the outcome, excites them.
You can find the full list under this link.
Gallup has prepared an assessment which consists of 177 sets of paired statements. After taking it, you will get a list of your top five or a full list of 34 strengths (there is a difference in price between these assessments).
My ambition is to write more about Strengths here. I will describe them and explain how they can play together. Some time ago, I decided to participate in a week-long training where I learned how to work with Gallup Strengths. Along with more than 20 other people from all over the world, I listened to experienced Gallup coaches and practiced helping others discover their strengths. We learned how to show other people which strengths they have and how those strengths can help them in everyday life. There are tons of things I want to share with you about what I’ve learned. I’ll do that in the coming blog posts. I want to leave you with one thought, though: There aren’t better or worse combinations of strengths. Don’t focus on your lesser strengths. The most important thing to do is to invest in your top strengths. This is where your potential is, and this is where you will have the most opportunities for success!
If you are interested in more details, please contact me. I’m passionate about this! I can help you discover your strengths and figure out how to work with them in order to grow. You can also expect many more posts about Gallup Strengths right here on this blog. So stay tuned!