How could our StrengthsFinder themes be used in our vocations?
In the continuation of our series on "Using StrengthsFinder for Work," here's an interview with a professional counsellor in Singapore, whom I had the privilege to coach 1-to-1.
Chrystella Lo is a trained counsellor in a girls' home in Singapore. She desires to see young people being transformed and believes in giving hope to those who struggle to believe in themselves. In her free time, Chrystella actively mentors a group of young people and serves as a volunteer in a local church. She enjoys traveling to different countries to learn about different cultures. She also leads overseas expedition trips as part of her desire to reach out to the less fortunate. She has travelled to many countries, including China, East Timor, Malaysia and a few countries in the Middle East. Chrystella's top 5 StrengthsFinder themes are Harmony, Analytical, Relator, Developer and Connectedness.
Below is an interview with Chrystella Lo:
1) As a counsellor, how did you feel when you first saw your top 5?
C: Although I didn't fully understand the strengths descriptions initially, intuitively the words made sense and resonated with me. Seeing that I had 4 of my strengths in the Relationship Building domain affirmed my desire to work with people.
2) Out of these top 5 talents, which do you love and which do you feel drive people crazy? Why?
C: I think my Analytical talent theme drives people crazy because I like to ask questions to discover the root causes instead of simply listening and empathizing. Friends have told me that I tend to frown when they share something with me, and that's not because I'm judging them. I realized I have this expression when I'm thinking and analyzing what others are sharing with me. At the same time, I love my Analytical talent theme as well, because it helps me to be objective and to see both sides of the coin. I like it that this Analytical strength is balanced by my four other Relationship Building Strengths.
3) How do you feel you use your talents as a Counsellor? Share a few examples.
C: My top StrengthsFinder theme is Harmony, and that's important in the area of goal setting in counseling work. Both my client and I need to have a mutual goal, and this strength helps me to find that common ground when we set goals together. Sometimes, I do feel stuck if there are clear differences in goals. I also use my Analytical talent theme to search for root causes and recurring patterns in order to conceptualize cases. This empowers me to choose the best intervention. As a counsellor, my 'analysis' is continuously developing and there is much more to learn. My Relator gives me the fuel to want to know people very deeply. I do feel refreshed after the deep sharing that occurs during counselling sessions.
4) How do you think Strengthsfinder can help other counsellors or even your clients?
C: I think that the StrengthsFinder tool helps us to know ourselves better in a very functional and practical way. It helps us to realize why we are more naturally talented in certain tasks and why we naturally struggle in others. I do find that this tool is more than just a personality test. It helps us to understand how we can become more effective and successful in what we do.
As we instinctively use our talents and strengths in any situation, I think it would be helpful for other counsellors to gain an understanding of how they could use their talents and strengths more effectively in the counseling process. The StrengthsFinder tool can also help clients to grow in their self-esteem by discovering what they are naturally good at. To bring it further, when used effectively, the StrengthsFinder tool can help clients gain mastery over certain challenging tasks.
5) How has this unique combination of your top 5 talents helped you achieve something you were proud of? Share with us a peak experience.
C: There was a particularly successful case that I was privileged to manage. One key factor that led to its success is that all the different organizations (Ministry of Social and Family Development Singapore, Institute of Mental Health, the client's school, volunteers, and parents) I worked with were aligned in the goals and outcome and were all on the same page. I believe it was the successful collaboration that contributed to the resolution of this case. I felt that my Harmony and Connectedness were used and were greatly delighted. I was also able to develop a personal and genuine friendship with some of these work counterparts, which engaged my Relator. My Analytical theme was used throughout the process of working with this client, as we constantly had to conceptualize the case and adjust interventions based on its development. My Developer theme was naturally piqued in the whole process of seeing my client grow.
6) What did you discover about yourself after taking the StrengthsFinder assessment that you did not previously know?
C: I realized I had a good job fit and I enjoyed being a counsellor because all my strengths could be regularly engaged.
7) You went through a StrengthsFinder workshop conducted by Strengths School™. How has that session helped you?
C: I found that the face-to-face discussions in the StrengthsFinder workshop helped me to understand my talent themes much more than just reading a description of the theme on my StrengthsFinder report. The sharing and the fun learning in the workshop allowed me to pick up the intricate details attached to each talent theme. Both the StrengthsFinder workshop as well as the personal coaching sessions have helped me to understand my top 5 strengths that were unique to me and to my situation. My StrengthsFinder coach, Victor Seet, has also helped me gain valuable insights on how I can better apply my strengths in my specific work situation.
In addition, I think a big part of the StrengthsFinder workshop, besides facilitating a deeper understanding of ourselves, is focused on helping us to accept and own our strengths. I know of many people who felt dissatisfied with their top 5 strengths upon receiving the results. The workshops were able to change these peoples' perspectives by facilitating them towards owning their top 5. Personally, I do covet other strengths, especially the strengths in the Influencing domain. However, through discussions with my StrengthsFinder coach, I have gained an acceptance of my strengths and I am proud of what I have.
I would highly recommend those who struggle with understanding or accepting their strengths to attend a StrengthsFinder workshop conducted by Strengths School™ or a personal coaching session by one of their StrengthsFinder coaches!
Concluding thoughts from the Interviewer:
It is such a joy whenever I hear people share that they are able to use their strengths at work and feel empowered to do what they are naturally good at. I hope as you read this interview with Chrystella, you too can be personally encouraged and challenged to intentionally think about how you can use your strengths at work.