A CliftonStrengths Theme Spotlight
"People exceptionally talented in the Belief theme have certain core values that are unchanging. Out of these values emerges a defined purpose for their lives." -The Gallup Organization
Belief is my #5 strength. It explains why I'm prone to connect decisions and actions to values, both in myself and in others. It also explains why I'm so stubborn.
That's one of my favorite things about studying strengths. When you start to dig into your background, you will find both their raw and mature influence at work. To illustrate, allow me to share an embarrassing season from my early teaching career with you.
I've always been serious about arriving early. My parents were rarely late to anything and instilled in my siblings and I the idea that showing up early communicated respect. In high school, I had a coach who used to preach to us:
"If you're early, you're on time."
"If you're on time, you're late."
"If you're late, you're left."
Showing up early became a value for me. And even now, I'm the kind of person who arrives at least 15 minutes early to almost everything on my calendar. I despise being late. I don't perform well when I arrive late, either.
So when I became a teacher, it was incredibly offensive to me when students were late to class. I took it personally. This belief led me to create a policy in which students were not permitted to enter the classroom after class started. If they were late, not only did they forfeit the ability to turn in assignments, they forfeited the right to engage in class that day. I implemented the policy in my fist semester teaching, and I was serious about it.
Very, very serious.
It all sounded good in theory. My students would learn to be on time and I might even pass on the value of arriving early to them. But as you've probably already guessed, this did not go over well. After two or three awkward exchanges at the classroom door with late arriving students who actually had good excuses, I was ready to ditch the policy.
And thankfully, I did.
I had taken a deep and personal value in my own life and tried to project it on my students with absolutely no flexibility. Even worse, I made assumptions about my students that were unfair.
Now I can connect this to my Belief theme. Yes, I have deeply held values that inform my choices, and even my course policies. But if I'm not mindful of the values that others bring to the table, I can become very rigid and inflexible too. My strengths can get me in a lot of trouble if I'm not using them in service to others.
The Talents of People High in Belief
People high in the Belief theme are passionate, and they tend to possess a powerful drive and direction in all areas of their lives. They are steadfast and sure, dependable and trustworthy. Typically, their idea of success and personal/professional fulfillment is much more than status and power. Rather, they are the types of people who define success by whether or not their actions align with their beliefs. To a person with a Belief theme, sacrifices must be made for the things that are most important in life.
Because of this, people high in Belief tend to be very altruistic and generous, family-oriented, and ethical in their decision making.
We like to call this theme the "die on a hill" theme, because people high in Belief are especially likely to dig in their heels and stand their ground when they feel their values are being challenged or undermined. Each person with Belief will have different hills to die on, but one thing is for sure - they will all be passionate advocates for their unique set of values.
When working on a team or as a leader, people high in Belief will naturally gravitate towards discussing vision, mission, and purpose. They were "starting with why" before Simon Sinek coined the popular phrase. While others have to remind themselves to cast vision and connect their roles and responsibilities to values and purpose, the individual high in Belief does this without thinking. It's intuitive and effortless for him/her.
We've worked with individuals in many different industries who have the Belief theme in their Top 5, and while it shows up differently for every single one of those individuals, the common thread between them is that they are consistently making decisions and acting in light of their deeply held values and convictions.
One marketing professional shared her process of writing copy and designing materials in light of the vision and mission of the organization she represents. She told us:
"I can't design anything for a company until I know what they are all about. What do they care about? What difference do they make in the lives of the people they serve? "What matters to them? Once I know those things, I can create materials that speak to those answers, and hopefully those messages will resonate with their target audiences."
Not only does she connect her role as a marketing professional to her own deeply held beliefs and values, she also has the ability to discern and communicate the values of companies and organizations. This is the power of the Belief theme.
The Temptations for People High in Belief
Because people high in the Belief theme are passionate and convicted, they can sometimes struggle with being very stubborn and inflexible when working alongside others who share different values and beliefs. They might move away from or become oppositional to people who have a different perspective or paradigm. When others propose decisions, projects, or vision that don't align with their personal attitudes, beliefs, or values, the individual with a Belief theme will struggle to feel unified with his/her team members. Because, to a person high in Belief, it's very difficult to make decisions or act in ways that are inconsistent with his/her values. At times, others can view a person high in Belief as judgmental and closed-minded.
Earlier I mentioned that those high in Belief have hills they will die on. Sometimes, they struggle to choose their battles wisely and strategically, and instead, decide to die on ALL the hills. When they make everything a black and white issue, others can come to resent them for their passion and conviction and fail to see them as team players.
And sometimes their students (see opening story above!) come to see them as opponents instead of supportive advocates.
Sometimes leaders high in Belief create their own rigid rules they expect others to intuitively know and follow. Without realizing it, they can grow frustrated with their team members for not adhering to their specific way of doing things. For example, we talked with one leader high in Belief about his tendency to project his own methods onto his employees:
"It's always frustrated me when they don't follow my advice about how to open a sales meeting. I will tell myself, 'there's a right way to do this and a wrong way to do this and there's no middle ground.' It's always felt like they were disrespecting me when they didn't do it my way, but it took one of my employees finally asking me, 'What is your closing rate in comparison to mine?' to get me to realize that I was making up rules for them that might not necessarily work for them and their skill set."
Even the most well-intentioned individuals with Belief can struggle with imposing their values on others in inflexible ways. If they don't learn to communicate their own values, advocate for the values of others as much as possible, and strive to find shared values upon which they can build consensus, they will likely struggle to remain unified in vision with those they work with or lead.
Here are a couple of quick ideas to get you thinking about how to leverage and self-regulate if you've got a dominant Belief theme:
You thrive when you can connect your job responsibilities to your deeply held values. Ask yourself, "Is my calendar and to-do list aligned with my priorities and values?" "With the values of the organization?"
When working with others, don't assume that they understand the purpose and vision behind your decisions or actions. While this feels intuitive to you, it likely isn't to others. Learn to communicate the "why" so that others can catch the vision and unite with you in the purpose.
Make a list of the hills you will die on and then make a list of the hills you've died on in the past that weren't worth it in the long run. This exercise can help you make strategic decisions about the battles you want to take on and the ones you don't need to take on.
At ROI Talent Development, we try to help people fall in love with every single talent theme, even if it isn't dominant in their own theme sequence. Because when we all take the time to understand and appreciate one another, we build happy and healthy workplaces where employee talents are valued and developed.
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