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Talents define how we do things, not what we can do or who we can be. This concept is one of the most important discoveries I’ve made in working with talents and strengths. My Activator talent helps me in making decisions and not worrying too much about the consequences. My Empathy talent allows me to tune in to the emotions of my interlocutor. But my talents do not define what I can and can’t do. Realizing this has helped me to shift how I perceive and analyze my talents. As a result, I can now build on my strengths in a much more mature way. One way to do this is by analyzing talent domains.
The four domains of talents
The StrengthsFinder creators describe four domains of talents. They are:
- Executing – People with dominant Executing themes know how to make things happen.
- Influencing – People with dominant Influencing themes know how to take charge, speak up, and make sure the team is heard.
- Relationship Building – People with dominant Relationship Building themes have the ability to build strong relationships that can hold a team together and make the team greater than the sum of its parts.
- Strategic Thinking – People with dominant Strategic Thinking themes help teams consider what could be. They absorb and analyze information that can inform better decisions.
I’ll stress here that it’s very important to remember that just because a talent is in a particular domain doesn’t mean that it can’t be applied in another context. For example, Input is in the “Strategic Thinking” domain. This means that it will be used in that context most often (e.g., collecting important information when making a decision ). But it doesn’t mean that you can’t use this talent to influence others. You can use the knowledge that you’ve collected with your Input talent to position yourself as a person who knows a lot about a variety of things. These kinds of people are always needed and held in high regard. Isn’t it that an excellent way to influence others?
How to interpret information about domains
By knowing the domains of your talents, you can better reflect on how your talents are distributed among the four domains. Are most of them in one or two domains? Or are they evenly distributed?
When your talents are in only two domains (e.g., Executing and Relationship Building), then you can ponder the following:
- In reality, are you most comfortable working in these two domains?
- Do your peers know that you feel best when acting in these two areas?
- How do you make decisions (if you don’t have “Strategic Thinking” talents among your top five)?
As you can see, when you know the domains of your talents, you have a new tool for analyzing them. And based on that newly acquired knowledge, you can maximize the impact of your talents.
What does it mean if most of your talents are in one domain?
I’ve met quite a few people whose talents tend to fall in one domain. What does this mean? It’s simply their way of approaching tasks – it isn’t good or bad. This also goes for others who have their talents in more than one domain.
There is a very simple exercise you can do . For each of your talents, ask yourself the following questions:
- How can this talent help you in executing?
- How can this talent help you in influencing others? In communication?
- How can this talent help you in building new relationships?
- How can this talent help you in making decisions ?
You can find a way to use each talent in every domain. Sometimes it isn’t so obvious, but there is always a way – and it will always be unique to each individual.
Is there an ideal distribution of talents between domains?
One of the questions that I am most commonly asked after I introduce the concept of domains is about the ideal distribution of talents. For example, people assume that it’s best to have a talent in each domain. My answer is always the same – there is no such thing as an ideal distribution of talents in domains. We are all unique. We all have talents that define how we do things. But they do not define what we can do. It’s helpful to understand how your talents are distributed among the domains in order to better develop your strengths. But you can’t say that it would be better to have talents in any specific domain.
I’ll repeat this once more – talents show how you’ll approach your tasks and projects. They don’t show what you can do or who you can be. Domains just give you one more tool that you can use to develop your talents. I assure you, it’s worth analyzing them.
Question: in which domain do you have the most talents?