A Summary of the Four Domains of Strength
Recently, our team revisited the idea of the four domains of Strength as applied to creating, building, and sustaining a healthy team culture. Ultimately, our work at Leadership Vision is centered around the idea of creating a healthy team culture and we thought it might be helpful to summarize these ideas again as you’re preparing to invest in your team in the coming new year.
In this episode, we briefly revisit our discussion about the domains of Strength and then prompt you with a few questions that may help improve the health of your team in the new year. Enjoy!
The Domains of Strength
If you are new to the concept of the domains of Strength, there are basically four different categories that have been used to group the themes of Strength together. Strengths that have a common way of forming relationships, influencing others, thinking things through, and getting things done.
On the individual level, we use these domains of Strength because they can really help people understand how the talents of each of their themes of Strength form that theme and ultimately their approach to work and life. At the team level, we’re finding the use of domains to be a critical element to establishing team health where everyone is responsible, meaning if you don’t have any themes and like the relating domain, for example, that doesn’t mean you get to treat everyone poorly and just ignore the complicated dynamics that are human relationships. Brian Schubring, our founder and CEO put it this way:
We are calling people to a cultural transformation that is going to involve every member of the team contributing to the building of a healthy culture. One of the things that we lean on in this whole lexicon of Strengths is this idea of the domains of Strengths. We believe that the domains of Strength help us understand how no matter what Strength you have, that Strength can contribute to how a team culture thinks critically, how they influence within the organization, how they get things done, and how they build relationships. What we really believe is that within this Strengths movement, there needs to be a shift on team health and team culture, first by asking how all the individuals of a team can contribute to healthy team culture, and then by asking Strengths-based questions.
The Executing Domain
People with Strengths in the executing domain are the hard workers and people who get things done. Those with achiever, arranger, belief, consistency, deliberative, discipline, focus, responsibility, or restorative may feel especially at home here. As you’ll hear, we don’t just look at a piece of paper to determine if a team is dominant in one of these four areas. We always begin with some curiosity and ask questions first. Linda Schubert describes what we listen for to determine if a group is dominant in the executing domain:
We would be looking for a group that really values making things happen, getting things in motion, or getting things accomplished. You can hear it in their vernacular. ‘This is what we do.’ ‘This is what we did.’ We might hear that people just have a need to implement a solution. If we’re walking around the dominant domain of the executing themes of Strength, we’re starting to notice that these are the people that catch ideas and then make them a reality. They actually make things happen.
What to Do with an Executing Domain Team
Maybe you’re thinking your team has a lot of people with a pension towards executing. That can be helpful information to know as you strive to build healthy team culture. Brian says that one of the best things you can do now is to ask your team what getting work done actually looks like.
Probably one of the most generative conversations you can have with them is to ask, what does getting work done look like on this team? and how is it being measured? How does it feel to be a part of this team where you’re accomplishing great things all the time? And what does it look like when things are done? How do you move on? Do you celebrate? How do you make changes? There are so many upsides to this conversation because once you begin to have the team feedback on how it is that they’re getting work done, you’re really going to understand how their relationships are growing and the potential challenges that that team faces on a weekly basis.
The Thinking Domain
The thinking domain is often referred to as strategic thinking. These are people with themes of analytical, context, futuristic, ideation, input, intellection, learner, or strategic. As Linda describes, they often spend their time thinking about what could be.
We often find that teams that have thinking as a dominant domain are constantly absorbing and analyzing information. They help teams make better decisions. What we find is that that teams that really think well are able to make better decisions, sometimes faster decisions, and teams with with thinking Strengths also stretch our thinking. They they give us a future. They help us imagine what could be.
What to Do with a Thinking Domain Team
if your team is primarily composed of thinking themes, ask them how they are thinking things through to make decisions. Ask them to share some of the elements of their thought process. Brian says that when talking about a team culture composed primarily of critical thinkers be careful of assumptions.
The assumption is you can think things through but you can still relate strongly. You can still get a lot of stuff done and you can still have great influence, but some of the keys are how we can maintain that alignment, have an attitude of openness and make sure that what we’re thinking about is being steered so that it is actionable and applicable to the most amount of people.
The Influencing Domain
Activator, command, communication, competition, maximizer, self-assurance, significance, and woo are the themes of Strength that make up the influencing domain. These are folks who help a team reach a broader audience. Linda says that when we’re trying to figure out if a team is dominant in this domain, We look for these things:
We are noticing if this is a team that really does reach a broader audience or if they find ways to sell their team’s idea inside or outside of an organization. Sometimes when there is a situation that arises, people or teams in this domain have this dominant kind of Influence in a group. What’s important to know is that this domain comprises the least frequent of the 34 themes of Strength, which means sometimes it’s misunderstood. People with influence have a way of creating a belonging. They have a way of creating a purpose. They have a way of talking about and then kind of catalyzing movement.
What to Do with the Influencing Domain?
We don’t run across a lot of teams who are dominant in the influencing domain, but we have seen them and your team may be one. If so, Brian says it’s important to consider bias, boundaries, and blind spots when working with any team that has a high influencing culture.
With influencing culture, there is a strong bias on what influence actually looks like or what it feels like. Sometimes the more subtle ways of influence aren’t necessarily noticed. Boundaries are also important because sometimes teams have an influenced-based culture; they’re not quite sure where the boundaries should be…Healthy boundaries are very helpful to understanding how influence can be harnessed. And also blind spots again, with a strong influencing culture there tends to be some blind spots on the slow, developmental, incremental growth in exchange for destination retreats or spending lots of money or big bold changes.
The Relating Domain
Strengths in the relating domain are adaptability, connectedness, developer, empathy, harmony, includer, individualization, positivity, and relater. These aren’t just the touchy-feely themes of Strength, often these folks are also holding the team together in one way or another. Linda describes it like this:
When we try to understand a dominant domain of a group and we start to detect that it’s the relating domain, these are some of the things that we’re bumping into that we’re noticing, and that is the essential glue that holds a team together. It could be Flex tape. It could be duct tape. Gorilla glue, whatever it is. But there’s some way that this group acts that helps people stay connected and get connected and be connected through the storms of whatever a team has to face. People in this domain have this sense of care or compassion for others, for people, for the clients that this team is serving, or the whole organization that this team is impacting. We also find that if we are wandering into the neighborhood of a relating domain, or really provide the right professional development or learning opportunities, people in the relating domain and teams that function from the relating domain, It’s almost like they know needs and they find ways of bringing about connection.
What to Do with a Team of Relators?
Like any dominant domain, there can be obstacles to a team when their culture is primarily dominant in the relating domain. One of these struggles or challenges is that people that are dominant in the relating domain could be highly relational internally, but exclude outsiders. And that’s probably a problem for most organizations in one way or another so Brian wants to challenge us to pay attention to this:
Of the things I think that we should be paying attention to is not just what it’s like relationally within a team, but how does that team influence relationally to the organization? Because if you have a team culture that has high relating themes, those individuals of that team will also be highly relational when they engage other entities in the organization and work with other teams are going to bring that relational orientation with them. One of the things that we do through a lot of our curriculum is ask questions that lead an individual to how they’re relating outside of their context. Culture is carried with people as they venture into the other entities of their job and other requests that are made of them. They show up relationally.
What about your team? After hearing these brief descriptions, where do you think your team falls in these domains? Maybe you even know the Strengths composition of your team and you can see how you get work done, how you think things through, and how you influence and relate to others. What changes might you need to make as we enter the new year to help your team culture become healthier and ultimately move the mission of your organization forward?
We’d love to hear your answers. You can send them to me via email to firstname.lastname@example.org and perhaps we can do a live interview or chat more about your team culture and share some examples about your biases, your boundaries, your blind spots, and anything else that you’ve learned that could be holding you back and possibly even help more teams out there to achieve this.
About The Leadership Vision Podcast
The Leadership Vision Podcast is a weekly show sharing our expertise in the discovery, practice, and implementation of a strengths-based approach to people, teams, and culture. We believe that knowing your Strengths is only the beginning. Our highest potential exists in the ongoing exploration of our talents. Subscribe to the Leadership Vision Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.
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