Through Gallup's research on the Clifton Strengthsfinder assessment, it has been found that for two persons to have the same top 5 strengths in the same order, the probability is about 1 in 33 million. The numbers speak a clear message: Every single person is unique and wired differently.
Gallup has also sorted the 34 Strengthsfinder themes into 4 distinct domains of leadership strength. The domains are: Executing, Influencing, Relationship Building and Strategic Thinking. The categories are designed to help leaders think better about how different individuals can contribute effectively to a team.
In Strengths School™ Singapore, after facilitating Strengthsfinder workshops for different organizations (both in Singapore and beyond) comprising thousands of individuals, we found that strengths from the Influencing domain of leadership tend to be more uncommon than strengths from the other domains. While each person is unique and different, we speak to one person who possesses a combination of strengths that is extremely rare in the world. Singaporean Joey Ong is the first individual known to Strengths School™ to have all her top 5 strengths from the Influencing domain. We did a short interview with her to find out what she thinks about her strengths:
1. HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE ONE OF THE RAREST HUMAN BEINGS?
It feels a little disconcerting, knowing that my combination of strengths may be so unique that I may not meet another who would be able to understand how I truly feel! I have always felt like I am a little more “extrovert” than the usual extrovert person, and have constantly tried to remind myself to take a step back and learn how to withdraw myself from situations sometimes. After taking Strengthsfinder, I started to view my extroverted-ness as something much more complex! I think being rare has its pros and cons! I’m just glad to be able to bring something new to the table that others might not be able to - and it is a privilege to provide greater capacity to whichever context or situation I’m in.
2) DO YOU AT TIMES FEEL VERY MISUNDERSTOOD?
Definitely! How did you know? I find myself unable to stop desiring for new friendships and connections. Even when I have the social support that I need, I feel the desire to create new bonds with the people around me! This sometimes makes the people close to me feel like I have abandoned them, or that I have moved on to new friends and neglected the old ones. It does make me feel a little sad and made me wonder why I do not have the ability to just have a few deep, close friendships that many others have. Knowing my strengths now, I realize that I have to be intentional in communicating my reasons and intentions to others! Making new connections is different from forging new deep friendships that I may already have - it does not mean that I’m a “fleeting“ person who cares little about my friends.
Other times, in my eagerness to get things going, I grow impatient in waiting for others to express themselves and communicate their ideas. By rushing them, I come across as dismissive and unwilling to listen - but the truth is, my intention was always to get them to say whatever is on their mind so that I may have the opportunity to rephrase and help them crystallize their thoughts into workable ideas. When I ask others, “What are you trying to say?" - it comes off as rude and bossy. I have since tried to be more patient. I now see value in allowing others to speak and for them to take time in crystallizing their thoughts. In doing so, they will feel like they are included in the ideas, and therefore it will be easier to get their buy-in on the actionables, making everything much more efficient in the longer term.
3) WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION WHEN YOU FIRST KNEW YOU HAD ALL INFLUENCING STRENGTHS IN YOUR TOP 5 STRENGTHSFINDER RESULTS? HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT IT?
I felt shocked of course! And a little terrified - “does this mean that I’m lacking in all the other areas?“ , “have I been neglecting the other aspects of my capacity to grow?” Reading my strengths made me realized that this is something I might need to address and receiving coaching in!
I never realized that my strengths were all connected in such a way. I’ve always known of the influence I had on others, and the commanding presence that may sometimes be intimidating, but I never realized that my ability to maximize and get things going were also influencing skills, and my ability to win people over were further perpetuated by my communication strength. It does make me feel like some sort of specialist - now I know that this is my area and I can continue to use it and build up my capacity! I’ve always felt like a generalist with interests and strengths in many different areas, almost like a “jack of all trades, master of none”. Knowing that I am such an “influencer” gave me a glimpse of hope in being a specialist eventually (hahah)!
4) WHICH OF YOUR TOP 5 ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF? WHY?
Maximizer! It makes me feel like an asset to every situation! It gives me so much pleasure to say, “let’s make this better”, and then suggest ways to improve a good idea, and see it become excellent! I’m proud of it because it allows me to interact with others and constantly be on a lookout for opportunities and strengths that aren’t developed or nurtured yet! When I meet someone who has an ability or talent in a particular area but is unaware of it, in my mind, I’m just thinking of the next opportunity or platform where I can allow that person to express and develop that talent! And when that comes to pass, it really makes me happy to see others find their strength.
5) WHICH OF YOUR TOP 5 GOT YOU MOST IN TROUBLE? ANY STORY TO SHARE?
ACTIVATOR. Always wanting to get things going does not always work out well! My impatience is often the cause of my downfall. My need to keep things moving and great dislike for stagnant discussions and ideas make me naturally offensive and aggressive in conversations that are not moving.
Once, I was super eager to book an Airbnb room for a trip out of Singapore so that we could move on and plan the itinerary and all the other fun stuff, I ended up paying much more than I needed if I'd just waited for a few more days! Apparently, there was going to be an offer, and my friend had a discount code that I could use! Well, since I already booked the place and paid much more, I offered to absorb the cost. It made me really upset that I wasted money just because I wanted things to get moving! I guess sometimes speed isn’t always the best - there needs to be time for consideration and to wait patiently for the best deal and outcome.
6) USING YOUR TOP 5, DESCRIBE THE KIND OF LEADER YOU THINK YOU ARE.
I would say that I’m the kind of leader that motivates and energizes the team, constantly moving things forward and never allowing a minute to go to waste. Sometimes I will come across rather demanding, but you can be assured that things will get done as close to perfection as possible! I will want to make sure that every person on the team is on the same page and believes in what we are doing, and is willing to put their whole heart into it. Once that is set, I will identify each person’s potential and make sure they have opportunity to use their capacity and grow in the process. I believe that as long as everyone has a same clear vision of the final product/output, is equally passionate, and believes in what we are doing, my role as a leader is simply to help crystallize ideas and ensure that one coherent story is communicated at the end of the day. I would say that as long as a person trusts me and my capacity to lead, the journey would be rather fruitful and enjoyable - and every meeting will definitely be fun!
7) WHO ARE SOME OF THE LEADERS YOU LOOK UP TO? AND WHY?
Paul in the Bible is definitely someone I look up to. First, he believes so truly and deeply in whatever he does. His passion is infectious and influential, eventually getting people on board who believe as strongly in what he is doing! I think that is really powerful beyond whatever physical capacity you have. Even when he was in jail, his influence was unstoppable - finding all ways and means to continue his work, through writing letters and sharing in prison itself. His ability to spot the potential in others and nudge them towards fulfilling their purpose through their strength and talent is something that I wish to do as well.
Concluding thoughts: Every one of us contribute differently to the society when we play to our strengths. While those who have strengths that dominate the influencing domains are often the ones more easily misunderstood by others, they are also the ones who will intuitively be the voice of hope and transformation and the voice that will make a difference wherever they go!
Written by Victor Seet
Activator • Communication • Strategic • Self-Assurance • Command
As a Gallup Certified Singapore Strengthsfinder coach, Victor is passionate about strengths engagement and now runs his own training company, Strengths School™ (strengthsschool.com), based in Singapore. He has been actively giving Strengthsfinder leadership and team building workshops to businesses and schools in Singapore as well as Hong Kong, China (Shanghai) and India.