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Understanding StrengthsFinder Domains - Executing

Personal | Education | 7 Minutes Read

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Gallup's research on the CliftonStrengths profiling tool shows that the odds of having the same top 5 themes in the same order as somebody else is about 1 in 33 million. This means that in your lifetime, you may never meet somebody else with the same top 5 talent themes as you, let alone have those themes be in the same order.

What's more, Gallup has sorted these StrengthsFinder themes into 4 main domains: Executing, Relationship Building, Influencing, and Strategic Thinking. These domains reveal the primary value-add of each individual based on their dominant domains, though these strengths are by no means limited to these domains (a common misconception held by many we've coached, by the way!)

Whenever we conduct StrengthsFinder team building workshops, we've found that it is incredibly rare for an individual to have all five of their top strengths fall under a single domain. We thus decided to identify these unique individuals and interview them.

Below is an interview with Vanessa (name changed to protect privacy), a teacher with all five of her top themes in the Executing domain.

1) How do you feel about having all your StrengthsFinder themes in one domain? What were your first thoughts? 

Initially I was quite upset. I felt like it meant something was greatly lacking in me because I didn't have strengths in any other domains. Also, I started wondering whether leaders needed to have strengths from all 4 domains in order to be an effective leader.

2) Can you name 2-3 tasks that you enjoy doing or tasks that you often do with a lot of flow? How do these tasks relate to your top 5? 

I really enjoy being able to follow precise instructions like in baking recipes or when I get to make something which eventually manifests in a very tangible product that people can enjoy. So baking is one. I also love planning an event/ceremony that is an enjoyable one for people. I think it definitely relates to the fact that my top strengths are executing in nature. Given that I also have the 'Achiever' strength, I think I get an added satisfaction from knowing that something has been completed. However, it's important to me that people enjoy the experience... perhaps that has to do with my 'Responsibility' theme. It doesn't satisfy me to know that a product has been created but if it's really done to the best standard, then my hope is that it will be enjoyed.

3) How do you feel you use your talents as a teacher? Share some examples.

My 'Discipline' strength means that I think in a very structured manner. Given that I teach Literature, which to some, may seem be more difficult when having to teach it in a more structured manner, it has allowed me instinctively create some structures which I think have helped my students. At least, that's what some students have shared with me.

4) From your top 5, which strength do you feel has been your strongest contributor at work? Why?

I think it has to be the 'Achiever' strength. Given the numerous duties that teachers have, it helps that completing tasks energises me. My colleagues are always teasing me for making 'To-Do' lists every morning but they really help me to prioritise which tasks can be completed that day and ensure that all the various deadlines are met. That way, I ensure that I end every day with some satisfaction knowing that I've had some 'tangible' achievements. Especially in a job like teaching where the real satisfaction that stems from seeing your students develop into mature, kind people may be a long time coming, if ever, it helps to be able to feel like you have done something worthwhile that day, even if it's something small.

However, I'm increasingly learning to differentiate between meaningful tasks and just random tasks. While I enjoy checking off a to-do list, too many days of just completing mindless and routine tasks can also become energy-draining in the long-run because it becomes purposeless after a while. I hope to be able to differentiate them better and ensure that there are always more meaningful tasks that are regularly scheduled so that I still feel fulfilled (I see my Discipline theme coming out...)

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5) Which of your top 5 do you feel drive people crazy at work? Why? 

I think it has to be 'Discipline'. When I read the description, it really connected with me and explained some of the misunderstandings that occur at work. My instinct is to create a timeline and to clarify the processes in anything that I do, but I think people frequently misinterpret that as a sign of inflexibility or being controlling. It took reading the description to really understand that what I need to communicate to people is that the timeline and process are often largely meant to help me become much clearer about my objectives. The description of the strength also helped me to articulate that fundamentally, I believed I was helping people by clarifying both my expectations in terms of when things are due and their processes. I suppose because I'm someone who appreciates that structure and clarity, I thought people would instinctively appreciate that too. Little did I know that this was what made people feel frustrated or boxed in. I suppose that's why they say that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, haha!

Jokes aside, when I first started encountering these problems, I was rather disheartened and confused. I suppose that's when my 'Restorative' strength started kicking in -- the problem-solver in me identified that the problem lay in what I communicated so I needed to improve what I was communicating at the start of each new project. I suppose the 'Discipline' strength eventually made me routinize this, which has helped. I hope.

6) Which of your Top 5 do you think your close friends identify most easily in you? Why?

I suppose it would be Responsibility. I think people know that if I agree to do something, they can probably forget about it and I'll get it done. In fact, there's a better chance that they'll forget about what they've asked me to do for them, rather than me forgetting! 

7) You redid your StrengthsFinder assessment. What were the results of the first and second and what were your reaction or thoughts? 

I was hoping that they would be different but they were surprisingly, the same 5! Just in a different order. I suppose that's why 'Consistency' is my 6th strength (I unlocked all 34 the first time).

Frankly, I was quite disappointed when I saw the same results. There's a part of me that still doesn't quite like that all 5 are Executing in nature and I had hoped to see some variety but I supposed I'll have to accept that this is an intrinsic part of who I am.

8) You recently attended a StrengthsFinder Couple Workshop. What were some key takeaways? 

Life is funny because opposites always seem to attract! Haha! Importantly, it's about understanding and having more meaningful conversations about these strengths before conflicts so that both parties understand how each other's minds work. I think this can help pre-empt quarrels or at least help to clarify them if they occur.

 

Interviewer's comments: While Vanessa's combination of strengths is quite rare, it is interesting to note how she engaged her strengths to teach Literature and to complete the numerous duties in her role as a teacher. Through this honest interview, Vanessa has shown that strengths can be powerful because they can be engaged productively in creative ways. It is admirable that she is honest to share how she felt initially about her strengths and took steps to embrace this aspect of her identity. I personally believe that this process of gaining acceptance of one's own strengths, which is fundamental to personal development, will result in a greater level of leadership capacity and propel an individual to greater heights! 

What do you think?

Have you ever encountered someone with all 5 of their top talent themes in the Executing domain? Does this article shed some light on the way they might think? Drop us a comment and let us know!

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Written by Victor Seet

As a Gallup-Certified StrengthsFinder coach, Victor is passionate about strengths engagement and now runs his own training company, Strengths School™ (strengthsschool.com). He has been actively giving StrengthsFinder leadership and team building workshops to businesses and schools in Singapore as well as Hong Kong, China (Shanghai) and India.

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