Using StrengthsFinder for Work - Interview with a Counsellor

StrengthsFinder for Work - interveiw with a counsellor in Singapore (by Victor Seet)

In Strengths School™, one of the key areas of focus is in helping people discover how to apply their strengths, both in their professional and personal lives. This article is a continuation of the series on "Using StrengthsFinder for Work". It is an interview done with a Professional Counsellor in Singapore, whom I have the privilege to coach in a 1 on 1 setting. We had some very fruitful conversations regarding her StrengthsFinder results and I had the opportunity to hear her different experiences. 

Chrystella Lo is a trained professional in a girl's home in Singapore. She desires to see young people being transformed and believes in giving hope to those who struggles to believe in themselves. In her free time, Chrystella actively mentors a group of young people and serves as a volunteer in a local church. She enjoys traveling to different countries to learn about different cultures. She also leads overseas expedition trips as part of her desire to reach out to the less fortunate. She has travelled to many countries that include China, East Timor, Malaysia and some countries in the Middle East. Chrystella's top 5 StrengthsFinder themes are HarmonyAnalyticalRelatorDeveloper and Connectedness.

Below is an interview with Chrystella Lo:

1) As a counsellor, how do you feel when you first saw your top 5? 

C: Although I didn't fully understand the strengths descriptions initially, intuitively the words made sense and resonated with me. Seeing that I had 4 of my strengths in the relationship building domain affirmed my desire to work with people. 

2) Out of these top 5 talents, which do you love and which do you feel drive people crazy? Why? 

C: I think my Analytical talent theme drives people crazy because I like to ask questions to discover the root causes instead of simply listening and empathizing. Friends have told me that I tend to frown when they share something with me, and that's not because I'm judging them. I realized I have this expression when I'm thinking and analyzing what others are sharing with me. At the same time, I love my Analytical talent theme as well, because it helps me to be objective and to see both sides of the coin. I like it that this Analytical strength is balanced by my four other Relationship Building Strengths. 

3) How do you feel you use your talents as a Counsellor?  Share some examples.

C: My top StrengthsFinder theme is Harmony, and that's important in the area of goal setting in counseling work. Both my client and I need to have a mutual goal and that this strength helps me to find that common ground when we set goals together. Sometimes, I do feel stuck if there are clear differences in goals. I also use my Analytical talent theme to search for root causes and recurring patterns in order to conceptualize cases. This empowers me to choose the best intervention. As a counsellor, my 'analysis' is continuously developing and there is much more to learn. My Relator gives me the fuel to want to know people very deeply. I do feel refreshed after the deep sharing that occurs during counselling sessions. 

4) How do you think Strengthsfinder can help other counsellors or even your clients?

C: I think that the StrengthsFinder tool helps us to know ourselves better in a very functional and practical way. It helps us to realize why we are more naturally talented in certain tasks and why we naturally struggle in others. I do find that this tool is more than just a personality test. It helps us to understand how we can become more effective and successful in what we do. 

As we instinctively use our talents and strengths in any situation, I think it will be helpful for other counsellors to gain understanding on how they can use their talents and strengths more effectively in the counseling process. The StrengthsFinder tool can also help clients to grow in their self-esteem by discovering what they are naturally good at. To bring it further, when used effectively, the StrengthsFinder tool can help clients gain mastery over certain challenging tasks.  

5) How has this unique combination of your top 5 talents help you achieve something you were proud of? Share with us a peak experience.

C: There was a particularly successful case that I was privileged to manage. One key factor of the success is that all the different organizations (Ministry of Social and Family Development Singapore, Institute of Mental Health, the client's school, volunteers, and parents) I worked with were aligned in the goals and outcome and were all on the same page. I believe it was the successful collaboration that contributed to the success of this case. I felt that my Harmony and Connectedness were used and were greatly delighted. I was also able to develop a personal and genuine friendship with some of these work counterparts and that engaged my Relator. My Analytical theme was used throughout the process of working with this client, as we constantly had to conceptualize the case and adjust interventions based on it's development. My Developer theme was naturally peaked in the whole process of seeing my client grow.

6) What did you discover about yourself after taking the StrengthsFinder assessment that you did not previously know?

C: I realized I had a good job-fit and I enjoyed being a counsellor because all my strengths could be regularly engaged. 

7) You went through the StrengthsFinder workshop that I conducted. How has that session helped you?

C: I found that the face-to-face discussions in the StrengthsFinder workshop helped me to understand my talent themes much more than just reading a description of the theme on my StrengthsFinder report. The sharing and the fun learning in the workshop allowed me to pick up the intricate details attached to each talent theme. Both the StrengthsFinder workshop as well as your personal coaching have helped me to understand my top 5 strengths that were unique to me and to my situation. You have helped me gain very valuable insights on how I can better apply my strengths in my specific work situation. 

In addition, I think a big part of the StrengthsFinder workshop, besides the understanding, is helping us to accept and own our strengths. I know of many people who felt dissatisfied with their top 5 strengths upon receiving the results. The workshops were able to change these peoples' perspectives by facilitating them towards owning their top 5. Personally I do covet other strengths, especially the strengths in the Influencing domain. However, through discussing with you, I think I have gained acceptance of my strengths and I am proud of what I have. Thank you Victor!

I would highly recommend those who struggle with understanding or accepting their strengths to attend a StrengthsFinder workshop conducted by Strengths School™ Singapore or a personal coaching session with Victor.

Concluding thoughts from the Interviewer:

It is such a joy whenever I hear people share that they are able to use their strengths at work and feel empowered to do what they are naturally good at. I hope as you read this interview with Chrystella, you too can be personally encouraged and challenged to intentionally think about how you can use your strengths at work. 

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). 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.