Exploring the Thinking Domain of Strength
Often, it’s difficult to understand your own five signature themes of Strength, let alone the other 29. By organizing them into domains, you can master the understanding of one group, then move on to the next.
When you think about teams, it’s critical to understand that a team doesn’t necessarily have to be “balanced,” in that there needs to be a semi-equal distribution of themes from each domain. Rather, it is about understanding how individuals on the team are using their Strengths to contribute to each area of the organization.
According to Gallup, “leaders with great Thinking Strengths are the ones who keep us all focused on what could be.” The Thinking domain of Strength doesn’t only refer to individuals who are constantly working things out in their owns heads. Rather, people with these eight strengths are able to think into a creative way to solve problems, or devise a plan that may be an unusual take on the issue. Whether it’s thinking into a current problem, or dreaming about how to overcome tomorrow’s, the strategic thinking themes can take a thought or idea and look for the best way to move forward on it.
The Thinking Domain of Strength
Watch as I teach the Thinking Domain of Strength, and briefly explain what each of these themes mean. Or, keep reading the script below.
People with the StrengthsFinder theme of Analytical are often identified by one unique characteristic, they are always asking “why?” This constant questioning and asking may be heard or seen. One man I knew did not ask his questions out loud, but he did ask them non-verbally. He would raise an eyebrow, lift his shoulders, or shake his head in agreement or disagreement. Whether heard or seen, people with the Strength of Analytical are questioning to find out whether something is sound, safe and well thought through.
Essentially people with the strength of Analytical are questioning to test if things are thorough, sound, have the right data, and can be proven. They are not afraid to do the work themselves, digging deep to find the answers. I once heard it said this way, “I listen for the spaces between your ideas, and I ask “why” there are spaces.”
Most importantly Analytical is thinking deeply, seeking to achieve the facts and details needed to reach clarity, truth and meaning.
People with the StrengthsFinder theme of Context enjoy thinking about the past. You might ask, “why would people spend their energy thinking about the past?” They believe that in the past we learn valuable lessons that we can apply today. A woman told me once, with a bit of intensity, “I would never want to repeat the same mistakes of the past! Who would do that?!” She had a point. We have learned that people with Context are not afraid to search history for something useful today. Actually, they enjoy it.
One man told me, “I will do whatever I can to provide as much historical information so that others can make the best decisions.” This example of Context reflects the common practice of looking back and finding meaning, reason and proof that can inform us today.
Context provides others with historical and reflective thinking that contributes to our remembering of where we come from, why we believe what we do, and how we can create a lasting memory
People with the StrengthsFinder theme of Futuristic are happy and inspired when they are thinking about the future. By ‘future’ I do not mean tomorrow or next week – but months or even years from now. One man with the strength of Futuristic once said, “So that’s why I loved the Jetsons as a child!” What’s important about this statement is not the fascination with a cartoon, but this man actually enjoyed thinking about what the future could be. This characteristic, thinking about what could be, is what inspires others to think into the future as well.
One woman with the strength of Futuristic told me, “The great thing is that I can see the future so clearly, but what drives others crazy is that I have no idea how to get there.” Another individual said, “I need to be in a place where I can see the horizon.” Although thinking about the future is inspiring, it can also inform and direct present problem solving and decision making.
Futuristic provides a ‘forward lean’ to help others anticipate potential challenges and obstacles down the road.
People with the StrengthsFinder theme of Ideation love to think of ideas… new ideas, old ideas, your ideas, my ideas. The product of all this “idea thinking” is a lot of creativity and innovation. Beware, people with Ideation may have the funniest ideas you’ve ever heard, and the most brilliant! One member on our team always asks, “What about this…? Have you thought about this…? Or, we could try it this way…” For this strength, the generating of many ideas, or finding the one core idea, is the greatness of Ideation.
One man told me by way of illustrating his Ideation, “I really need to do my ‘ideating’ in a closet, quite literally.” I asked him what he meant, he replied, “If I do not have boundaries, my ideas spill everywhere.” Ideation likes to spin, turn and flex ideas over and over again, often resulting in an idea never before heard of. All with a sense of playfulness.
Ideation guides us to new insights, innovations and intellectual discoveries that were unknown before Ideation stepped in.
People with the StrengthsFinder theme of Input have this unique ability to store, remember and retrieve information. This does not begin with someone who wants to “know it all” but this collection of information begins with genuine curiosity. I actually has a woman defend herself by saying, “But I really do want to know it all!”
More often people are fascinated by facts, details, stories, trivia… anything that has unique and captivating information connected to is. And, most amazingly, people with Input are also able to share their information with you, whether you find it useful or not.
One college student exclaimed, “This explains why I am addicted to Jeopardy!” The source of information is unique to each person, but they usually have a place or things that hold information they find important.
Input stores information in a way that they can use, so when needed, they can sort, find and apply their information in useful ways to others.
People with the StrengthsFinder theme of Intellection are always thinking about something, and not just one thing deeply, but many, many things at the same time. When a man with the strength of Intellection was asked, “What are you thinking about?” He replied, “Pick a topic!” Meaning, Intellection is thinking deeply, and multiple topics are not uncommon. This ability results in deep learning, understanding and appreciation.
I heard someone with this strength say, “Although my thinking can be just about anything, having a deadline help me focus my Intellection to achieve my best.” Someone else with this strength said, “I simply cannot shut my brain off, it’s always thinking!” Having a deadline or boundaries to this type of complex thinking really helps achieve new outcomes and practical solutions.
Intellection is an in-depth thinking process that will provide direction, guidance and wisdom to other’s thinking, decision making and understanding.
People with the StrengthsFinder theme of Learner have this unique craving and fearlessness to learn new things. Although they may never achieve mastery at any one given topic, the person with Learner is really hoping to learn something they can immediately apply. I heard a women state with confidence, “My learner has one need – to eliminate my incompetence.” She saw each opportunity to learn something new as a chance to add to her skill set and experience.
A man told me, “I am a lifelong learner. Unfortunately that has not left a singularly focused career path.” People with the strength of Learner can be led through life by the direction of their learning. Others may learn as they go, picking up various skills as needed. Uniquely, they may also understand how others can learn.
Learner is something that is done every day, and learning is efficient and effective for self understanding and helping others learn for themselves.
People with the StrengthsFinder theme of Strategic enjoy making decisions. This decision making is done by looking at multiple scenarios and options, and deciding which is the best option, and deciding on that. A man I know once said, “I always need to make decisions. If I cannot make a decision on my own, I am more than willing to make a decision for you.” That may sound extreme, but people with the strength of Strategic enjoy both making decisions and being involved in the decisions happening around them.
I heard a woman say, “Making a decision is one of my most important values – whether it is the right or wrong decision is not that important… deciding is.” People with this strength can visualize what is beyond a present challenge, and choose a pathway of decisions to move around the challenge. This strength may also leave a discernable pattern in how, when and why decisions happen.
Strategic is a way of thinking about what decisions are the best decision, breaking through indecision by determining an efficient and effective way forward.
Your Thinking Themes
Do any of your StrengthsFinder themes fall into the Thinking Domain of Strength? How do they help you think through and solve interesting problems? If you do not have any of these themes, what ways do you help others think through problems or plans?