"Tell me your story"
People with Context in their top 5 Strengthsfinder results like to look back into the past to find answers for the future. They look back to understand the present. They desire to know why a certain process was introduced, how a certain rule came about, or what was done in the past to tackle a recurring issue. The genius of Context talents lies in the unique ability to understand how to build on past successes. They appreciate that the good seeds of “new” are often found in the old.
For people with Context, knowing the overall picture is important, especially when they are trying to understand the building blocks of the past. To the person with Context, it is important to lay new bricks on strong foundations that have already been built. It is also important not to make unnecessary changes that might tear down the good work done by predecessors. On a relational level, people with Context enjoy hearing the personal stories and experiences of individuals - and this helps them become better friends and partners, because they understand how the people they interact with came to be who they are.
In Strengths School™ Singapore, one of the student leadership programs we run is called Game of Life. Two of our key Facilitators creatively use their Context talents in the game to engage participants more effectively. One designs scenarios in the game that linked past and present Singapore traditions to make the game more relevant and dynamic. Another uses his Context talent to debrief participants by bringing them back to specific points in the game to draw out learning points. Participants' feedback about this Strengths-Based program have been excellent, and a key aspect of its success is how the Facilitators have managed to engage participants well.
How can a person with Context turn this talent into a Strength? Here are some suggestions:
1. CREATE SHARED MEMORIES
Communal culture develops around the stories of individuals. When team members have opportunities to share their life stories and experiences, the team begins to "do life" together, and grows from being friendly workers to becoming working friends. People with Context can play an important role in facilitating personal stories to be shared and heard between team members. When they intentionally engage people to share, while facilitating an open and safe environment to do so, they help create a communal culture and strengthen the relational bonds of the team. This idea of a communal culture is especially needed for societies (including Singapore) that are becoming more individualistic.
2. ADOPT A LEARNING MODEL
People with Context enjoy looking back into the past to try to make sense of the future. Using a model of learning can help sharpen this talent. A suggested model that might be helpful for those with Context is the "The Making-Of Model". According to this model*, the important question to ask is "How do I create a bridge between the past and the future?" This exercise helps in working out what was relevant in the past and what a person should take with him from the past into the future.
The model works by first defining a timeframe or a period that one is looking back at (e.g. college days, or a previous job). Once this period is defined, a person can draw a timeline of the key events that happen in this period. Once the timeline is drawn, the person can look back and identify the people involved, the goals at that time, the successes achieved, the obstacles overcome, the lessons learnt.
By looking back a specific time period to draw learning points, one can understand the nature of relationships that became a pillar of support for an individual. Questions that are asked include "Who was there during that period when I needed encouragement and support? How can I create such support systems that will help me to thrive?" One can also study the successes achieved and examine the factors that can be replicated for future successes. One can study the obstacles overcome in the past to draw inspiration and hope in overcoming present challenges. Such a model can yield very precious learning lessons.
3. SEEK COMPLEMENTARY PARTNERSHIP
Partner those with Futuristic
People with Futuristic dream about possibilities that can become realities. They are often able to envision things that have never been done in history being done in the near future. A partnership between those with Futuristic and those with Context creates valuable dialogues about how to continue building on strong foundations laid out by past leaders while trying new ideas and fresh ways of doing things.
Partner those with Analytical
People with Analytical see patterns in data and facts. They are able to be objective in their observations and use data to tell a story. Partnering with Analytical allows those with Context to have conversations aimed at uncovering potential blind spots. People with Context can be prone to holding on to past hurts and baggages without being aware of it. These past hurts, when held on to, often manifest in negative behaviors towards others that follow a certain pattern. Those with Analytical can observe these patterns and can provide timely feedback for positive change.
Partner those with Connectedness
People with Connectedness join the dots of life together. They can offer insight into how events in life and relationships between people happen for a larger purpose. By talking with people who have Connectedness, those with Context receive new perspectives which can help them make sense of the past and connect the past to the present. Through this partnership, past success stories can be better understood so that they can be replicated, and past life experiences can be understood in a new light so that future paths can be charted out. Relationships can also be strengthened when those with Context better understand how their individual friendships can connect to existing communities.
Concluding thoughts: Those with Context might sometimes be seen as a little slower to warm up because of the time needed to understand a person, a team, or an organization's background and past history. They might be brushed off in fast-paced work cultures especially in a country like Singapore. But one thing is for sure - once they have understood the past, they can be counted on to build upon the foundations others have developed, and ensure that good work continues.
*Source: The Decision Book by Mikael Krogerus and Roman Tschappeler
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.