I am fascinated how Gallup’s Intellection talent theme is often underutilized by those who possess it and misunderstood by those who do not. Today’s blog will improve the effectiveness of both groups. Let’s start with Gallup’s definition of Intellection: People especially talented in this theme are characterized by their intellectual activity. They are introspective and appreciate intellectual discussions.

Clients with Intellection at the bottom of their 34 talent themes are sometimes insulted and feel not having it as a dominant theme (top 10) means they aren’t smart. Absolutely not! Instead, it is about using one’s intelligence in a quiet and reflective way. People with Intellection enjoy quietly processing their thoughts – it has nothing to do with being smarter.

The best usage of strengths occurs when we apply them to add value to a project or team – taking them from “me” to “we.”

Simply mulling something over and not sharing conclusions or observations with others is a “raw” form of Intellection. The power of this strength comes from the wisdom and clarity it allows the person to bring to a situation or an idea. When people with Intellection

  • View this high level of processing as a gift (“It’s just what I’ve always done”) and realize not everyone else functions this way, and
  • Get intentional with developing and contributing this special ability

they start to attain its full potential. Most clients aren’t doing either when we start working because of the unique nature of this theme.

If you are leading or collaborating with someone with Intellection as a strength, you need to give them time to process and think through ideas. These folks are amazing sounding boards! Just don’t expect a quick reaction. Instead, share an idea or a plan, and give them some time to think it through. If you know you will want feedback in a meeting, share the subject ahead of time so the Intellection people can be prepared to contribute at their best.

One of the common frustrations I hear from clients with Intellection is that they feel they are at a disadvantage during brainstorming sessions. This is usually expressed to me as, “I hate when we have to brainstorm.” Sometimes they freeze up when they haven’t had a chance to think something over, so if you see this reaction from a colleague, you might ask what is going on instead of assuming they are disinterested – they may just be stuck. To ask someone with Intellection to give a quick response is like asking those of us without it to not share an immediate reaction – it feels awkward, unnatural and increases stress.

3 Tips to Improve Meeting Contributions if Intellection is a Strength

The following simple steps have significantly helped my high Intellection clients perform better in meetings:

  1. Request the agenda ahead of time and talk with the meeting organizer about the format and decision points for the session
  2. Meet with a few other attendees ahead of time to learn about their ideas for the discussion topics
  3. Block time before the meeting to think through the topics and write down ideas, thoughts, concerns and opportunities to share

How to Feed Intellection

We all need to make time to “feed,” use and develop our strengths. Michael, a client, shares in his words what works for him that might help you:

  • I feed my Intellection by reading books related to psychology and/or human behavior. These types of books really make me think and I usually have a pen and notebook with me to take notes and write down my ideas.
  • I find other intellectuals to have conversations with. To me, whenever people are discussing ideas, they are exercising their Intellectual strength. It is effortless to talk about people and events; however, it takes real effort to talk about ideas.
  • I reflect and or meditate for a few minutes before I go to bed. I think it’s important to address both the good and the bad from the day. I typically start with the bad and focus on how I could improve going forward. I like to finish with the good as this practices gratefulness.

Michael also commented that, “I believe this strength takes years to master and is one strength that you deliberately have to feed/set time aside for because it’s somewhat immature when it happens naturally (i.e. missing an exit when you’re driving or not paying attention in a meeting).”

If you have Intellection, I challenge you to plan time this coming week to intentionally feed and use this strength.

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    Loriana Sekarski is founder and president of BONSAI, a consulting company that transforms leaders (and businesses) into the best version of themselves. As a leadership coach, Loriana teaches leaders how to hone soft skills, spur workplace engagement, and achieve untapped levels of potential. Outside of BONSAI, Loriana serves as an adjunct professor at Washington University’s graduate student program. Additionally, she's fine-tuning her passion project, TakeFlight, a division of BONSAI that launches organizations, churches, and marriages to boldly live out their purpose by leveraging their strengths to achieve their God-given destiny. TakeFlight has just developed Revealing Hidden Shackles, an innovative curriculum that examines domestic violence within the Christian community.