What does it mean to have “Context” as a strength?
If I asked someone with the “Context” strength to give me the background of a situation in an interview question, they would nail the answer. According to Gallup, “People exceptionally talented in the Context theme enjoy thinking about the past. They understand the present by researching its history.” Context is one of CliftonStrengths’® rarest strengths as one of the top 5 least common.
Those with Context are reasonably drawn to what happened in the past following the “history repeats itself” mantra. This mantra is a reminder to ensure we don’t turn the lessons of the past into the mistakes of today. This is why a clear understanding of the past is key. It is the key that unlocks our ability to be poised and ready to take charge of today with certainty.
The past not only teaches us intangible lessons to move forward, but the past is also a blueprint that reveals the meaning and implications of the future that were planted in the past. We cannot do our jobs as reapers and sow today’s crops without the underlying structures and events stacked up from the past.
The past not only teaches us intangible lessons to move forward, but the past is also a blueprint that reveals the meaning and implications of the future that were planted in the past.
Context Mindset and Antics
Here is a word from our Churchill Leadership Group Team member Brayden Jenkins, who has Context in his Top 5 Strengths:
“The Mindset that is adapted by someone who possesses the Context strength, is one that looks into the past to determine one’s future. Individuals with Context mindset are often more geared towards looking into the past instead of perhaps focusing on the present. As someone that has Context in their top 10, I believe a common practice of mine when confronted with a difficult situation is, almost instinctively, to search my memories for a circumstance similar to what I have come across before, and use that information in the present. This allows me to be confident in my actions because I know first hand that this particular method has been effective before.
To describe someone that has Context as one of their top strengths, they would be cautious about new situations because they have no previous experience to work from. This individual would also be quick and efficient in completing tasks that they have come across in the past, giving them a leg up on the competition due to their experience and ability to be contextual when approaching a challenge.”
This individual would also be quick and efficient in completing tasks that they have come across in the past, giving them a leg up on the competition due to their experience and ability to be contextual when approaching a challenge.
Context lives in the strategic thinking domain of CliftonStrengths® since it’s about setting yourself up to make the best decisions you can. Strengths in this domain use deep analyses to draw conclusions and move forward. Since Context asks “how did we get here?”, they find current understanding by analyzing the past.
Individuals with Context are creatures of curiosity as they continuously ask questions to look for more. Some may label this curiosity as creativity. However, this curiosity is simply an output of the individual’s desire to gain confidence in their current situation. The past and present are like cause and effect. We cannot make informed decisions today without learning what caused the state we’re in.
Resources such as case studies and biographies help Context individuals feed their desire to connect past to present. They act knowing that what happened in the past is anything but arbitrary to influence how we move forward today. In home life, these resources might be old photographs, artifacts, or mementos from relatives that have passed. These items hold deep significance and importance for a Context’s family to cherish family history.
Individuals with Context are creatures of curiosity as they continuously ask questions to look for more.
Since Context is such a rare strength, managers should focus on really understanding it and putting it to good use. For example, managers can use someone’s Context for paying attention to detail in meeting minutes or even leading a debrief session after a big event. This is a great tool for coaching leaders and team performance builders.
If you’re thinking about changing a policy or procedure, do detailed background research to support your changes, ask someone with Context to help you dig into why the current policies and procedures are in place. Give them sufficient background information on a project or new team member they are working with. They may inherently assume the role to make sure none of the details of the project are left out. Learning more about their team members will also allow them to leverage those individuals’ strengths to best understand where everyone’s skills fit into the scope of the project. This is leadership development at its best.
At times, the “we’ve always done it that way” mentality of Context might be viewed by team members as “stuck in the past” or “old fashioned”. When others want to innovate, individuals with Context should seek to understand the new innovative opportunity that might be even better than the way “we’ve always done it”. If someone with Context is feeling stuck, they might be well served to work with someone who is Futuristic to prevent them from dwelling on minute details of the past and help them see the open doors that lie ahead.
Another good balance for Context is Analytical since both of these strengths enjoy extracting data to come to a conclusion. The difference is, Analytical is more focused on the “here and now” rather than the past. So, this will be a compatible match to keep Context on track. While Context and Connectedness both make linkages between events across time, they may butt heads since Connectedness is timeless and is looking to make connections in every which way.
When Context is understood and utilized in the right ways, it can be very powerful. Context provides meaningful implications on the perspectives people use to approach their current situation, and therefore shape their futures.
If you have Context, you can learn even more about how to hone in on the Context strength.
Context provides meaningful implications on the perspectives people use to approach their current situation, and therefore shape their futures.
Churchill is certified and highly experienced at delivering the Gallup programs including Building a Strengths-Based-Organization. Learn more about our Strengths-Based Organization program here.
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