Hello, and welcome back to Global Experiences blog series on Gallup’s Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment and the four different Strengths domains and 34 themes it measures! If you are joining us for the first time, please check out the first post on how knowing and applying your strengths can drastically enhance your career as well as our second post delving deeper into the theme of relationship-building strengths. This post will take a closer look at another domain, that of the Influencing strengths and the eight themes categorized as such.
Having a better understanding of the four strength domains as a whole can help you better see the value and relationship between the 34 individual strength themes. Remember, it is not expected or considered good or bad if your Top 5 strengths aren’t balanced in all four domains. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t have the strengths found in the other domains; it just means that your natural talents just might be more closely related. Successful teams function well when each member’s’ strengths are used to their fullest potential. So, knowing your strengths and the domain, or domains they reside in, can help you identify how best you can contribute. In short, having an understanding of your Top 5 strengths enables you leverage for your individual talents for the larger goals of your team, not to mention your own career well-being.
Would you describe yourself as having the “gift of gab”? Is it easy for you to strike up conversations with complete strangers? For instance, you might love going to networking or social events where you don’t know a soul, and feel accomplished by the number of business cards you receive or the number of new friends you just made. Or, perhaps you have been described as a very persuasive person. If any of this resonates with you, you very well might be an Influencer! Influencers are people who possess Strengths that allow them to communicate very well with others in a way that often motivates or convinces people into action. Influencers commonly become teachers, politicians, salespeople, or simply members of a team who are effective at helping the team reach a broader audience. Let’s delve deeper into a few of these influencing themes.
Whenever someone reads “Woo” on my business card (my Top 5 are showcased there as a conversation starter), I get a puzzled look and the question, “What does Woo mean, anyway?” By definition, the term woo means to “gain the love” or “seek the favor” of someone. In the case of the StrengthsFinder assessment, it also lends itself to a convenient acronym standing for Winning Others Over. Indeed, people who possess the Woo strength enjoy the challenge of meeting new people, connecting with them and developing instant rapport. They feed off of spontaneous interactions with others and have a knack for reading social cues and responding in a way that is likeable and interesting, thus drawing others closer to them. Some might describe people who have Woo as “social butterflies” who know how to “work a room”, but people who have Woo don’t see this strength in such a superficial manner.
While, individuals who have the Woo strength are typically outgoing and extroverted with high levels of social intelligence, they are also acutely aware of the larger mission at hand, either internal or external to their organization. As influencers, they use their talent for social integration not just to make friends, but to also motivate others toward an action or change. Sure, they might believe that “a stranger is simply a friend I haven’t met yet”, however, they know that it takes a village to get something accomplished. In this way, people with Woo are highly valuable members of a team or organization if you need to “sell” a big idea to others or reach a broad audience to accomplish a goal.
You can just imagine how useful Woo is when at a networking event or in a business development meeting. People who have Woo would love the thrill of cold calling potential new clients or giving a presentation to a room full of people. These types of professional activities that most might find incredibly intimidating, give Woo’s energy and deep satisfaction. They are valuable in so many professions - sales, event planning, politics, public relations, etc., and make excellent mobilizers and departmental representatives.
Woos often serve as the face of any organization, the first person that customers, clients or other stakeholders encounter. One specific example of Woo in action is a Global Experiences’ intern who worked for a community-based substance abuse clinic one summer in London. This intern had a positive, cheery demeanor that endeared new clients to her, and she was adept at reading each person’s mood, mirroring it, thus helping them feel more comfortable as they opened up to her about their personal issues. During her eight-week long internship at the clinic, she gained a strong reputation for being able to quickly develop rapport, which is an important therapeutic principle and a natural strength which makes her a good candidate for a career in psychology.
Are you the type of person who is hardly ever at a loss for words? Have you ever been told that you have a unique ability to paint a picture with words? You might also tend to get really excited when you come across a combination of words or a powerful phrase that resonates with you. If this sounds like you, it is likely you possess the Communication strength. People who are skilled communicators are exceptionally persuasive; this could be through many mediums, not just in writing or public speaking as art, music or other forms of personal style can be equally influential.
Communicators are motivated to capture the attention of others as they share their message, whether it is about an idea, an event, a product's features and benefits, a discovery, or a lesson. And like other influencers, their talent for expression is also accompanied by a mindfulness of the larger mission at hand and a keen perception of others’ feedback to their stories. They are aware of the short attention spans of others, and can skillfully adapt their voice to be more refined each time. This is what makes them very valuable to a team or organization looking to expand their reach with a community or target market.
As you can imagine, individuals with the Communication Strength are often found in the public eye, working in media or business, particularly in a setting where they are presenting to others. Sales and marketing is a natural fit for communicators as is teaching since they are not intimidated in front of a group. A classic example of the Communication strength in action is our position for Global Experiences Vice President of Global Operations. This exceptionally communicative role involves working with with every type of GE stakeholder imaginable including those overseas, such as our host employers in Shanghai, housing providers in Barcelona, the Italian government, as well as those stateside like students, faculty, parents, on so on. Clear communication in this role requires the ability to enthusiastically share the mission of GE to help young professionals find a career they love are large contributing factors to GE’s reputation as the leading provider of international internships and career development.
To conclude this segment on Influencing strengths, here is some food for thought. This is good rationale for convincing your supervisor of just how valuable you are. The five most common strengths are achiever, responsibility, learner, relator and strategic. None of these are Influencing strengths. The five least common strengths are command, self-assurance, significance, discipline and context. Three of these, command, self-assurance and significance, are additional Influencing strengths to add to the list of those we explored today! (The remaining three which complete the list of eight Influencing themes are competition, maximizer and activator.) You don’t have to be a statistical wizard to deduce that Influencers are truly special.
Don’t forget that simply having a better understanding of your strengths is not the only key to unlocking their power. You have to reflect on them regularly and learn to make career decisions that allow you to use your strengths on a daily basis. When we do what we do best, we are engaged and happy. This is career well-being. This is a strengths-based approach to success.
Do any of your StrengthsFinder themes fall into the Influencing Domain of Strength? How do they help you sell your ideas inside and outside of your organization? If you do not have any of these themes, what ways do you influence those around you?