How to Understand the Four Domains of Strength
Is it better to be a well rounded person, or be part of a well rounded team? Should you know a little about a lot, or a lot about a little? The answer certainly depends on the situation, but following the philosophy of strengths, there are a few things you do uniquely and exceptionally better than others. Likewise, others do things better than you. Naturally, you need to play your part. Leaning on that will set you up for your greatest success.
Often when we’re working with clients, someone in the group will have a majority (or all) of their strengths in one domain. Inevitably, they will ask, “Is that bad?” or “Does this mean I can’t do [fill in the domain type]?“
At LVC, we believe that you should be focused on your strengths. Instead of focusing on what you’re lacking, use the four domains of strength to avoid possible blind spots, both personally and professionally.
Before we get into that, a brief explanation of the four domains of talent.
What are The Four Domains of Strength?
While each person has their own unique strengths, Gallup found that the most successful teams have a diverse array of strengths. So, Gallup initiated their most thorough review of this research to date. From this dataset, four distinct domains of strength emerged: Executing, Influencing, Relationship Building and Strategic Thinking. According to their latest research, the 34 Clifton StrengthsFinder themes naturally cluster into these four domains of strength.
What we have found is that it’s not crucial for an individual or team to have an equal distribution of strengths from each domain. Rather, LVC helps teams understand how to leverage what they have to accomplish their goals. We focus on understanding the behaviors behind the talents that make of the themes of strength. This sheds light on how an individual or team is using their themes.
The LVC team was working with a high capacity executive team who had a solid majority of their themes in the influencing domain. On paper, you might jump to the conclusion that they weren’t getting anything done, making quick, erratic decisions or plowing people over in the process.
Quite the opposite! They were selling the ideas both internally and externally, making things happen, and taking care of their people in the process. But how?
After spending time with them, doing 1 to 1 conversations and the Learning Community 360, we (our team and theirs) realized that most of the team was using all of their strengths, not just the ones in their dominant domain. We also learned how a few team members were not, and provided insight on how they could be more effective.
The Four Domains
To better understand and explain the four domains of strength, here is a brief rundown. While you could argue some themes should be moved around, this is a helpful way to better understand how each strength – at a general level – helps individuals and teams see a bigger picture in accomplish their goals.
These nine themes are the hardest working of the bunch. They tend to get things done, with speed, precision, and accuracy. They put in the hard work now, so that when it’s time to move, they are ready. Putting ideas into action is the strength of this domain.
These eight themes enable individuals or groups to sell the big ideas. They are able to take charge, speak up and be heard. They are extremely helpful when you need to reach a broader audience, or meet a bigger goal. This can happen both internally with the team, or to external constituents. They tend to influence forward.
Relationship Building Themes
While certainly not the only themes that deal with people (because they’re all about people), these nine themes have an innate ability to take the human component into the equation. They look at how individuals fit into the bigger pictures, and can create pathways for them to thrive. They make strong relational connections that bind a group together around a cause, idea or each other.
Strategic Thinking Themes
When a plan needs to be made, or a new idea created for solving a problem, these eight themes can help accomplish that. 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.
How to Avoid Blind Spots
As mentioned above, focusing on your strengths and leveraging those of others will lead to your greatest success. While someone with no relationship building themes is certainly capable of having meaningful and fulfilling relationships, using the four domains will bring awareness to their need to partner with those who have strong relationship building themes when people and relationships are of primary concern.
Awareness of the areas that are not your greatest strength, and knowledge of team members who do have a strength in that area, will enable you to partner in generative ways.
Which domains do your strengths dominate? Are you well balanced, or heavy in one? What ways have you found to utilize all four domains to make the best decisions for you and your team (whatever that team may look like)?