I hear a lot of curiosity about how to apply your CliftonStrengths talent theme of Empathy to your career.
In this series, I break down one strength per post — so that you can add to the insights from your StrengthsFinder report and make a better alignment between your job and your strengths.
- If you’re exploring this concept as a manager, use this series for career development ideas and even new clues about responsibilities you could give a person with this talent theme so that they can show up at their best.
- If you’re exploring this concept for yourself, use this as a chance to build a reputation for your strengths so that you’re more likely to be given assignments that live in your strengths zone.
You’ll get three layers to chew on:
1. Career Branding
2. Red Flag Situations At Work
3. Fresh Application Ideas
Career Branding When Empathy Is Your Strength
You probably already have a reputation for what you know. Think about your personal resume, CV, or your LinkedIn profile, I bet it's full of “the what,” which are things like job titles, skills, knowledge, expertise, or the degree you earned. What’s missing is usually "the how,” and this is where your StrengthsFinder talent themes live.
Chances are good that you are a lot like my StrengthsFinder training clients, where you don’t physically see your teammates and customers every day. That’s why LinkedIn has become so important for career branding. It’s how your teammates, customers, and vendors go look you up before a meeting - to see who they’re about to talk to. And rather than only telling them what you know, you should also give them a peek at how it is to work with you.
So here are a bunch of Empathy-related adjectives to consider using in your career branding efforts and your LinkedIn profile:
- Spidey Sense
- In Tune
Red Flag Situations For Empathy
These are the cultures, interactions, or situations that feel like soul-sucking drudgery to someone with the talent theme of Empathy. They might even make you want to quit the team. So I’ll give you a couple of these to be on watch for — because if they fester, you might get the urge to quit the job or become detached and disengaged at work.
Here are two Red flags for Empathy:
Give Me The Facts, I Don’t Care How You Feel. For someone who leads through Empathy, the emotions are where the truth lies. If you’re in a work culture that not only loves facts and data, but takes it further by also mocking or disregarding emotions, it might suck the life out of you.
The Helper Job. Many people who lead through Empathy are drawn to helping careers like nursing, customer service, counseling, or support desks. Although you can provide a great service to those on the receiving end, you can also do yourself a disservice if you allow the escalations, irate customers, pain, and suffering into your psyche every day. The drain of these situations can be significant if you don’t get ahead of it and have a regimen for boosting the ratio of positive vibes.
3 Fresh Application Ideas for Empathy
These are ways to apply the talent theme of Empathy at work, even when the job duties on the team feel pretty locked in. If you’re exploring this concept as a team manager, be sure to have a conversation around these ideas. You’ll both be able to come up with places to apply them.
For someone who leads through Empathy, put this talent to good use with one of these options:
Persuasion Ninja. People who lead through Empathy innately know that people make decisions with their emotions and they justify those decisions with logic. Next time your team needs to be persuasive for a presentation or business case, get someone with Empathy to help you think through what you want to make the audience feel…and then now to present a story or data to make that happen.
Name It. Many coaches and therapists have used a technique where people name their feelings. People who have the Empathy talent theme can often do this more readily. They understand that our thoughts create our feelings. And then they can name the feeling (beyond the obvious first ideas, like “anxious”). If they act as a model for how this can boost collaboration on the team, they can show others how effective it is. For example, imagine someone saying, I felt totally divided and disheveled when both teams demanded the opposite solution.
Notice The Unnoticed. Often people with the Empathy talent theme will catch the unspoken elephant in the room. They’re the person who knows that everyone is nodding their head as if they’re aligned…yet that Frankie is not going to implement the agreement when you leave the room. Someone with the Empathy talent theme can be the one to say, “Hey Frankie, you look like you might have a reaction to this - what’s your opinion?” That small action of calling out an eye flinch that no one else saw may have saved the team 3 months of re-work and in-fighting.
Here's Your Personal Branding Homework
- Go take action on your LinkedIn profile with the career branding section. Challenge yourself to write one sentence in the Summary section of LinkedIn that captures how you collaborate as a teammate at work.
- Then think over the red flags to see if there’s anything you need to get in front of before it brings you down.
- And finally, volunteer your talents through the application ideas. And if you’re a manager, have a conversation with your team members about which of these things sound like something they’d love to have more of.