Coaching "Unusual" StrengthsFinder Profiles

Perfecting Self-Discovery with StrengthsFinder

At the beginning of every Strengths Discovery Workshop, after reading their StrengthsFinder reports, participants usually indicate the following:

  • 15% – “not like me”
  • 35% – “a little like me”
  • 30% – “quite like me”
  • 20% – “totally describes me”

By the end of the sessions however, with precise explanation & interview, most people will gravitate towards

  • 0% – “not like me”
  • 5% – “a little like me”
  • 35% – “quite like me”
  • 60% – “totally describes me”

I’ve discovered that the remaining 5% are uncertain, usually due to a combination of factors:

  1. Disruption during profiling (somewhat inevitable)
  2. Inherent issues with StrengthsFinder profile (although it already is, in my opinion, the best instrument available)
  3. “Unusual” profiles (varies with clients)
  4. Younger clients (who may lack the depth of social experience to relate to the descriptions)

Diagnosing “Unusual” Profiles

Although each of the 34 StrengthsFinder Talent Themes are distinct & independent, there exists some highly-unlikely pairs. Examples of these will be:

When some of these pairs occur in a single person’s profile, they may struggle to identify with either of the themes they are so contrasting (and yet they also show up at the same time.)

Examples of Unique Profiles

A recent client had trouble identifying with her command (#3) & harmony (#4) themes. It was only after a conversation she was able to identify that she is usually compromising when unless someone challenges her in a hostile situation. She said:

“I am usually quite agreeable (#harmony). However when someone behaves rudely in traffic and cuts into my lane when I am driving, I usually with pursue the person and make sure I give him/her a piece of my mind (#command)!”

Talk about contrast! Another example belongs to me:

“My Analytical (#5) contrasts with Belief (#8) & Connectedness (#10). I have always been a sceptic and will find myself always asking difficult questions to discover the root cause of issues, seeking proof & explanation (#analytical). Yet with my faith-based teenage development, I learnt to embrace the unknown, the unexplained (#connectedness) and stand firmly by principles & values (#belief) that undergird my decisions. So my faith (#connectedness, #belief) exists together with my doubt (#analytical).”

Similarly, the person with #restorative and #maximizer may be selective (for quality), yet somehow be willing to work with the broken/struggling. The person with #consistency and #strategic pushes for quick expedient solution yet is constrained by desire for fairness & equity.

Coaching Clients with Unique Profiles

unique talent theme strengthsfinder strengthstransform
It is imperative that a StrengthsFinder coach avoid taking a predictive (“I think you are like this”), prophetic (“see I told you”) or even prescriptive (“people with this theme behave like this”) approach to helping clients discover their strengths. Doing so will draw us dangerously close to “labelling” clients as a certain type (even though 34 types are pretty diverse).

I’ve learned to take a learning & inquisitive approach, always asking good questions and taking an attitude of “what else can I discover” about you? Using the theme descriptions as a starting point, I ask them to

  1. Point out the statements which best describes them.
  2. Ask them to elaborate how descriptions show up in their life

When there are doubts or uncertainly, I suggest how some other themes may modify their behaviour somewhat, yet always leaving room for them to disagree or to add on to my suggestion.
Here the coach becomes a learner, and continually develops in using the StrengthsFinder language to describe the amazing complexity in humankind!

Coach Development with StrengthsFinder

Unlikely pairs are some of the first things I look out for when preparing for workshops or coaching sessions. Being ready puts me into a position where I can help clients better. But many times, I also have to depend on quick thinking on my feet in order to respond to such cases.

I hope this has been helpful to you. If you are looking to dialogue further on other tips for coaching, or are interested in attending our continual coach development sessions with StrengthsTransform(TM), drop me a note and I will be delighted to connect with you!

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