StrengthsFinder Coaching: Harnessing Power of Unique Profiles

No Ordinary Organisation

StrengthsFinder Coach - Harnessing Uniqueness.jpg

I walked into a busy healthcare facility in the heartland of Singapore. The security guard initiated surprising hospitality-like eye contact and asked me what I needed (not part of his security job!). I said "I have a meeting with Dr. X" (certainly not your usual visitor request in a healthcare facility).

Surprisingly, he walked me personally to the door of Dr. X, checked for his presence in the room, before allowing me to contact Dr. X on my mobile.

During the 10min waiting time before I met Dr. X, two other staff approached me to see how they could assist me (they were obviously paying attention to my "non patient-like" body language)

A Unique Work Culture

That surprised me. This was no ordinary work culture.

THAT was no ordinary security guard (not even an employee of the organisation, merely contracted to provide security services). But his hospitality spoke volumes about how psychologically invested he was in his job.

There were many other patients in the healthcare facility, all presumably waiting. The three personnel's actions demonstrated the amazing level of staff engagement in this place. There was nothing that happened that didn't concern anyone. No one had to wait for others before taking action to serve.

The Man Behind the Culture

Dr. X came across as humble, polite & patient, not the usual qualities you will immediately associate with a successful & accomplished leader of a healthcare facility. He said,

"Here we treat everybody, even non-employees (referring to the security guard) as part of the family. They get invited to all our staff functions and gatherings. People here stay a long time, they do not want to leave."

He was speaking about what he did, but I was making connections between his actions and the talent themes on his most unique profile.


Strengths-Based Coaching by StrengthsTransform

Strengths-Based Coaching by StrengthsTransform

Dr. X possesses a unique ability to focus on incremental improvement (#developer) of his people while pushing for high standards (#maximizer). This allows him to patiently nurture junior staff yet engage high-flyers to drive excellence. No one left behind.


He does work well independently (#achiever), yet is adept at delegation (#arranger), all these while maintaining a real ownership of everything that happened in his center (#responsibility). An effective manager who leads from the front.


He invests time fairly among his huge staff team (#consistency), yet manages to make all of them his inner circle (#relator). People felt close to him without sensing any favouritism or cliques. Relatable leader to all staff.

Keys to Effectiveness - Applying Talents for Consistent Positive Outcomes

StrengthsFinder Coach - Harnessing Uniqueness.jpg

We could go on about the half-dozen combinations we explored during strengths-based executive coaching, but it was clear that Dr. X's excellence arose from his ability to apply contrasting talents effectively to meet the multi-faceted demands on a healthcare leader.

Dr. X demonstrated an ability to use his unique soft-skills, coupled with his domain knowledge and skills as a medical doctor, to become an effective leader.

The Strengths-Based Coaching helped him to become aware of what he did (unconsciously) to become so good at his job. What was formerly incidental, once brought into conscious space, paves the way for intentional development & application.


Strengths-coaching now empowers him to do more:

  1. Selectively add more hard skills & knowledge to expand contribution into other areas (e.g. medical research)
  2. Intentionally maximise contribution with job functions that bring out his best soft-skills (a.k.a. career planning, people management & job redesign)

The coaching will have sparked a potentially significant leap, helping him to contribute even more.

Strengths-Based Leadership & Employee Engagement

That was all about the man. What had it to do with the staff & excellent culture? Even before executive coaching, Dr. X had already exhibited a keen awareness to engage staff in their (respective) unique talents.

  1. His #developer allowed him to engage people at their level.
  2. His #maximizer enabled him to focus on staff's potential for excellence.
  3. He invested time (#relator) to be curious about his employees (#learner) & assumed ownership (#responsibility) to assign roles (#arranger) so that his facility & service matches up to the highest benchmarks (#competition).

Gallup's research on employee engagement shows that a focus on strengths is the primary driver for staff engagement regardless of the bigger environment or the personal factors. Dr. X "just happened" to lead using a strengths-based approach even without calling it out.

Team Building StrengthsFinder.jpg

What did he do with this conscious realisation? He ordered StrengthsFinder profiling & StrengthsTransform Team Coaching for his staff.

(For more information about my coaching & training services. Please drop me a note or refer to the StrengthsTransform, Amplitude (corporate) or Kingmaker (schools) websites.)

Your Unique Talents - Keys to Power, Purpose & Passion in your Career

(An article I am writing for a dear friend's mission to value-add to the gig economy. And for everyone out there who is on the journey to discover your unique personal branding & contribution)

StrengthsFinder Career Coach.jpg

Key Questions for the Independent Talent

  • Q1: Why should customers & clients choose us?
  • Q2: What sets our service apart from the rest of the market?

These are key questions that face the successful Independent Talent (IT) everyday. The answer involves identifying how one can "uniquely value-add" to customers & clients, then elevating the service to become a "compelling draw" for clients.

Operating with Talent

"Unique value-add" happens when one does a job with his/her unique talents. Using Clifton StrengthsFinder terminology, "Talent" is defined as a naturally recurring pattern of thinking, feeling & behaviour.

When one operates with his/her "talent", it taps into a naturally stronger ability & competence for the task. It expends less energy because it is not contrived - resulting in greater enthusiasm & energy. The service becomes better value for the client. When successfully sustained over time, it carves a clear niche highlighting the best that one can offer to the world - a unique value-proposition.

Thus if any person is able to find, create or shape a job that maximises all of one's dominant talents – he/she will probably have found the lead to an ideal, all-consuming career - one marked with excellence, productivity & engagement.

Talents & My Career

My top 5 StrengthsFinder talents are (1) Achiever (2) Ideation (3) Relator (4) Strategic (5) Analytical. The profile describes & identifies very accurately the highlights & valleys of my career:

  1. Highlights - when I design intellectual property (#ideation, #strategic, #analytical) for a nationwide thrust for cyber wellness education
  2. Valleys – when I struggled to use my #relator talent (as an engineer) & #achiever talent (as a manager in a big hierarchical organisation)

Today, I am a Strengths Coach for professionals & students, imparting the very same insights that transformed & continually shapes my career. Everyone’s primary goal should be to identify one's talents, to intentionally develop & operate with them.

Launch Your Strengths-Based Career

  1. Purchase your profile & get a complimentary 15min consultation, visit this link
  2. To sign up for a SkillsFuture-funded workshop, visit this link




Coaching "Unusual" StrengthsFinder Profiles II

An 18 year old student got her StrengthsFinder profile. After scrutinising her Strengths Reports, she approached me with a troubled look at the end of a Strengths Introduction session.

StrengthsFinder Profile Poh Yeang Cherng

"I'm unsure about these three talent themes - they don't seem to describe me"

#activator #individualization #deliberative

STEP #1: Define Talent Themes Precisely & Concisely

I asked...

(1) "What do you understand by these three themes?"

  • to check for for her understanding
StrengthsFinder Coaching Poh Yeang Cherng

"Signature Themes Report” covers the broad spectrum of thinking, feeling & behaviour patterns.




"Strengths Insight Report” customises theme descriptions with other signature themes.



Some people are still unable to pinpoint & confirm their top 5 with these reports. In such cases, it is imperative that coaches are able to provide concise & precise descriptions for the themes.”

(2) (Hearing her understanding) "That is partially true, but a more direct way to explain this is..."

  • #activator - "hate to wait" & "try first & learn along the way"
  • #individualization - "easily notices preferences of people & caters to each with different approaches"
  • #deliberative - "naturally sees risks, thinks of what may go wrong & takes precautions"

(3) "When do you think, feel or behave that way?"

  • Check whether they can clearly & concretely identify manifestation of talent themes

(4) "That sounds right. You do manifest these talent themes. Why did you feel (2 minutes ago) that it doesn't describe?"

STEP #2: Discern for Contrasts & Unlikely Pairs in Top 5

(5) I notice contrasting pairs of themes in your top 5. Do you recall situations where you vacillate between the talent themes?

  • #activator usually wants to start & get things off the ground. However #deliberative may prefer to carefully consider risks before starting.
  • #command usually wants to take charge and lead people to follow your decision. However #individualization prefers to cater to & adjust to people's preferences.

Spot on!

The lady could identify many situations where she felt "torn". It was because of these situations that she found it hard to accept that she had #activator #individualization & #deliberative

StrengthsFinder Coaching

Do you have inquiries & doubts over your StrengthsFinder report? You can contact a StrengthsTransform™ Coach to guide you through this process of identification!

StrengthsTransform™ Coach Certification

Interested in getting certified to use our tools & materials for coaching? Inquire with us for the next run of training!

Coaching "Unusual" StrengthsFinder Profiles

Perfecting Self-Discovery with StrengthsFinder

At the beginning of every Strengths Discovery Workshop, after reading their StrengthsFinder reports, participants usually indicate the following:

  • 15% - "not like me"
  • 35% - "a little like me"
  • 30% - "quite like me"
  • 20% - "totally describes me"

By the end of the sessions however, with precise explanation & interview, most people will gravitate towards

  • 0% - "not like me"
  • 5% - "a little like me"
  • 35% - "quite like me"
  • 60% - "totally describes me"
StrengthsFinder Coaching Self-Awareness

I've discovered that the remaining 5% are uncertain, usually due to a combination of factors:

  1. Disruption during profiling (somewhat inevitable)
  2. Inherent issues with StrengthsFinder profile (although it already is, in my opinion, the best instrument available)
  3. "Unusual" profiles (varies with clients)
  4. Younger clients (who may lack the depth of social experience to relate to the descriptions)

Diagnosing "Unusual" Profiles

Although each of the 34 StrengthsFinder Talent Themes are distinct & independent, there exists some highly-unlikely pairs. Examples of these will be:

Contrasting StrengthsFinder Themes
  • Restorative-Maximizer
  • Strategic-Consistency
  • Command-Harmony
  • Analytical-Belief, Analytical-Connectedness

When some of these pairs occur in a single person's profile, they may struggle to identify with either of the themes they are so contrasting (and yet they also show up at the same time.

Examples of Unique Profiles

A recent client had trouble identifying with her command (#3) & harmony (#4) themes. It was only after a conversation she was able to identify that she is usually compromising when unless someone challenges her in a hostile situation. She said:

I am usually quite agreeable (#harmony). However when someone behaves rudely in traffic and cuts into my lane when I am driving, I usually with pursue the person and make sure I give him/her a piece of my mind (#command)!

Talk about contrast! Another example belongs to me:

My Analytical (#5) contrasts with Belief (#8) & Connectedness (#10). I have always been a sceptic and will find myself always asking difficult questions to discover the root cause of issues, seeking proof & explanation (#analytical). Yet with my faith-based teenage development, I learnt to embrace the unknown, the unexplained (#connectedness) and stand firmly by principles & values (#belief) that undergird my decisions.
So my faith (#connectedness, #belief) exists together with my doubt (#analytical).

Similarly, the person with #restorative and #maximizer may be selective (for quality), yet somehow be willing to work with the broken/struggling. The person with #strategic pushes for quick expedient solution yet is constrained by desire for fairness & equity.

Coaching Clients with Unique Profiles

StrengthsFinder Coaching

It is imperative that StrengthsFinder coach avoid taking a predictive ("I think you are like this"), prophetic ("see I told you") or even prescriptive ("people with this theme behave like this") approach to helping clients discover their strengths. Doing so will draw us dangerously close to "labelling" clients as a certain type (even though 34 types are pretty diverse).

I've learned to take a learning & inquisitive approach, always asking good questions and taking an attitude of "what else can I discover" about you? Using the theme descriptions as a starting point, I ask them to

  1. Point out the statements which best describes them.
  2. Ask them to elaborate how descriptions show up in their life

When there are doubts or uncertainly, I suggest how some other themes may modify their behaviour somewhat, yet always leaving room for them to disagree or to add on to my suggestion.

Here the coach becomes a learner, and continually develops in using the StrengthsFinder language to describe the amazing complexity in humankind!

Coach Development with StrengthsFinder

Unlikely pairs are some of the first things I look out for when preparing for workshops or coaching sessions. Being ready puts me into a position where I can help clients better. But many times, I also have to depend on quick thinking on my feet in order to respond to such cases.

I hope this has been helpful to you. If you are looking to dialogue further on other tips for coaching, or are interested in attending our continual coach development sessions with StrengthsTransform(TM), drop me a note and I will be delighted to connect with you!

My Journey in StrengthsFinder

Starting Right with Strengths

I first encountered StrengthsFinder in 2012 when I attended a group coaching session with Half-Time Asia. I had many queries that the coach could not answer. That resulted in a pause in my quest for some time. Here I learned that many people (like me) who possess the #analytical talent theme, often require precise & reliable technical answers in order to start right with StrengthsFinder.

Coach Certification & Development

Much as my interest was piqued (#learner), it was only 2 years later that I had access to real answers through the Accelerated Strengths Coaching Course. It provided me with a good start, good resources, and most of all, an extended time to dive into the many fascinating aspects of Strengths.

I started taking first steps towards coach-certification, took on clients for the first time, and quickly progressed to propagating the strengths-based development in the education sector with Kingmaker Leadership Institute. Very soon, the interest escalated & I went on to be certified with the Builder's Profile 10 (for Entrepreneurs), Q12 (Gallup's workplace engagement survey), and Strengths Strategy Coaching Certification.

This brought me to meet many excellent strengths practitioners & researchers such as Jim Harter, Deanna Murphy, Dean Jones, Jim Collison, Jamie Librot etc. They each added a different but unique insight into my own journey in strengths.

StrengthsFinder Consulting in Singapore

Soon this exploded. To meet the needs of the adult strengths training, and to develop a robust set of curricula to scale the services, I started Amplitude Consulting Pte. Ltd. & co-created StrengthsTransform™ brand - a range of proprietary training solutions for developing people & organisations with Strengths.

Impact with Strengths

Understanding & using StrengthsFinder has really "strengths-transformed" my life. My entire business is built as a strengths-based organisation. My family & children are living lives informed & directed by strengths. I've also had the privilege of helping many others use strengths to transform their careers, organisations & communities. Each day is a fresh journey in strengths as we strive to understand and bring out the best in ourselves & the people around us. Everyday we build stronger teams and greater synergy.

I am most excited at the greater possibilities ahead. With more than 9,000 clients in the past 3 years, we are dreaming of reaching deep into Asia with StrengthsTransform. Join me for this exciting journey!

Meeting with Gallup CEO Jim Clifton

16 Million StrengthsFinder Users

I had the privilege of being invited to a select group of certified StrengthsFinder Coaches in Singapore to meet with Gallup CEO Jim Clifton. It was an exciting time learning & contributing to the Strengths movement. After all, it was only recently that we reached the milestone of 16 million StrengthsFinder users. My team and me at StrengthsTransform™ had the privilege of contributing 9,000 to that number!

Empowering Strengths Coaches

However it was apt that Jim mentioned that henceforth, the challenge was not about just about StrengthsFinder or Positive Psychology. Rather the upcoming movement was to be a movement of COACHING - growing & empowering many coaches that will eventually bring the impactto the whole world!