Context® Theme (CliftonStrengths®, formerly StrengthsFinder®)

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Context® Theme CliftonStrengths® StrengthsFinder®
Image Credit: shutterstock/Kalinovskiy+Evgeniy

Gallup CliftonStrengths® is an assessment of personality, rooted in the theory of positive psychology. Research indicates that people who know and use their strengths every day are more likely to experience positive emotions (energy, happiness, respect) and less likely to experience negative emotions (stress, worry, anger, sadness). The assessment identifies an individual’s top five “Signature Themes” from a list of 34 common talents. Individuals can then develop those talents into strengths, and apply those strengths in all areas of their life.

Overview of the Context Strength

History repeats itself. That’s why you’re reluctant to take any action in the present without first understanding the lessons of the past. While the present can be a confusing cacophony of conflicting demands, looking back brings order this chaos, revealing insights into behaviors and decisions. You’re an effective employee because you understand how projects came to be and why clients are driven by specific needs. You’re a better teammate because you take the time to learn your coworkers’ histories. Your need for context, however, can slow down your decision making process. Some might accuse you of being “stuck in the past” or constantly rehashing what’s already happened at the expense of forward momentum.

Action Items for the Context Strength

Choose the right job. Young organizations that prize self-starters and fast-movers aren’t for you. Choose an established company with a history you can study to understand the how and why behind today’s decisions. You thrive creating case studies, documenting institutional knowledge, and providing background briefs.

Pick the right partner. If you find yourself getting stuck in the past, partner with a coworker who has a strong Futuristic or Strategic theme. Your coworker will help you consider what can be rather than dwelling on what was. You’ll keep your coworker from rushing ahead and ignoring critical past lessons.

Accept change. Studying the past does not mean living in the past. Resist the urge to dwell on what’s already happened. Channel your understanding of behaviors, motivations and decisions into constructive forward action.

Nourish your passion for history outside work. Don’t expect work to fulfill all your needs for context. Reading historical novels or biographies, collecting old photos, and documenting family history can be extremely rewarding and help you understand your own place in the world. Consider volunteering at a local historical society.

How to Manage Someone with the Context Strength

“How did we get here?” Before embarking on a new project, your Context Employee needs to understand what’s already happened. They constantly ask for background on discussions and decisions, carefully studying past work. They want to know the history behind clients, teams and processes. Why are things done a certain way? What lessons from past work informed current precedent? Dismiss their questions and your Context employee can flounder, fearing that critical lessons are being ignored.

Help them succeed. At first glance, your Context employee may seem stuck in the past. Their continual need to rehash old projects, policies and people can feel counterproductive, especially in an organization that prizes ambitious self-starters. Pair them with coworkers who have a strong Futuristic or Strategic theme and everyone wins. Your Context employee provides vital background knowledge that can prevent repeat mistakes from rash decisions while your Futuristic and Strategic employees will keep their projects moving forward.

Help them stay engaged. Don’t skip debriefs or project post mortems. They’ll feel ignored and worry that mistakes will be repeated, causing them to shut down and disengage from work. Respect their need for historical context by letting them know how the past informs your decision-making process; you’ll gain their respect and confidence.

Help them thrive. Task your Context employee with projects that require careful historical analysis, such creating client case studies or documenting past department policies. Your Context employee finds deep satisfaction investigating the past, learning backstories, and sharing these lessons with their coworkers. Give them a constructive outlet to share their passion for the past and your entire team will benefit.

Gallup®, Clifton StrengthsFinder®, StrengthsFinder®, CliftonStrengths®and each of the 34 CliftonStrengths theme names are trademarks of Gallup, Inc. For more information, or to take the CliftonStrengths assessment, visit www.gallupstrengthscenter.com.

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