Intellection: Thinking Deeply and Introspectively

A CliftonStrengths Theme Spotlight

"People exceptionally talented in the Intellection theme are characterized by their intellectual activity. They are introspective and appreciate intellectual discussions." -The Gallup Organization

The Talents of People High in Intellection

People high in the Intellection theme are energized by thinking, processing, and reflecting. While others may struggle to comprehend philosophical or abstract concepts, the person high in Intellection will feel right at home when asked to ponder something complicated. This theme doesn't dictate what the individual thinks about, because of course this will vary from person to person. We've worked with people high in Intellection who love to think deeply about a wide variety of topics: theology, relationships, people, philosophy, writing or speaking, business development strategies, etc.

The real charm of people high in Intellection is that they bring a depth of thought and insight to everything they do - their relationships, roles, and teams and workplaces. When working with people high in Intellection, you will will find that they are typically wise and self-reflective, always advocating for substance over shine. When you give them ample time to process and reflect, they produce thorough and meaningful strategies, products or experiences.

To an individual high in Intellection, thinking IS doing. It's not a "necessary evil" before jumping into action. It is action. One client with Intellection said it this way:

"I've always loved the brainstorming session much more than actually implementing the project. Well, maybe even more than that I've always loved the thinking that happens after the brainstorming session. That's when I feel the most motivated - when I can think through something on my own for a while. I usually come out of those thinking sessions with a ton of clarity about what we should do moving forward."

The Temptations for People High in Intellection

Because people high in Intellection see thinking as synonymous with doing, they might be perceived as "slow to act" by others who are more prone to move quickly on an initial idea or plan. For sure, the Intellection talent shows up differently for everyone who has it, but typically people high in it want to understand the theoretical before jumping into logistics and action. Sometimes this means they will be tentative to act and hold the team up as a result. Sometimes they report needing so much time to think and reflect that they experience negative interpersonal effects as a result.

Because people high in Intellection love deep and introspective thought, they can also struggle at times to isolate themselves from others who are crucial to their success. They might prefer to think autonomously about a project rather than having a brainstorming meeting with others present. While this independent thinking often leads to better insights for them, if they aren't careful, they can unintentionally communicate that the input or thoughts of others aren't valued. Similarly, sometimes people high in Intellection will assume that others understand their thought processes. We've even had a client tell us that she thinks she's communicated things to her team members when in actuality she only thought about communicating it. To her, it felt finished.

Finally, those high in Intellection often need their team members to remind them that sometimes it's better to keep it simple now and go deeper later. The same client from above spoke to this in a one-on-one we had:

"Sometimes I get so "in my head" that I am crippled with anxiety about which action to take or which choice to make next. I've learned in the last few years that I really need people around me to affirm my thinking but give me permission to move on when I'm prone to overthink."

Action Steps for the Person with Intellection

Here are a couple of quick ideas to get you thinking about how to leverage and self-regulate if you've got a dominant Intellection theme:

  1. Schedule regular rhythms in your days, weeks, and months for thinking. You're at your very best when given ample time to process information, clarify your ideas, and understand your feelings. Resist the temptation to jump right into action; your work will be higher quality when you carve out time to think.

  2. Consider partnering with someone high in Executing or Influencing themes such as Achiever or Activator. These individuals will help you take actionable steps to implement your ideas and thoughts.

  3. When leading a team or working with others, make sure you communicate clearly about your need for thinking and processing time. Your depth of insight can inspire others, maximize the potential of a project, and prevent failure. It might mean others sometimes misperceive you as slow to act. In reality, your thinking paves the way for your success.

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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