Belief is one of the misunderstood talent themes, both for individuals and for teams. People are sometimes in disbelief when it isn’t a top 10 Gallup strength for them, as many people feel they have strong beliefs and thus expect it to be on their list. Those who manage or lead people with high Belief often misunderstand it as well, which can create some challenges within a team.
Let’s clear up the mystery around Belief and examine some practical tips for yourself or for managing those with high Belief!
In full disclosure, this is my #5 strength (and my husband, Patrick’s, #7). The following is based on our personal experience and that of hundreds we have coached with and without this strength.
What is Belief? It is being guided by unwavering principles (a.k.a. beliefs) and filtering all decisions, actions, and thoughts through those beliefs. They can be spiritual but don’t have to be, and those beliefs say steady over time.
They may manifest as important principles about what’s important (family comes first) or how to work (haste makes waste), and you’ll often hear them interlaced in a person’s dialogue. For example, a recent client named Bob talked about the importance of “personal responsibility” many times over before we even discussed his talent themes.
Mature Belief Brings Energy and Stability
A person who uses the Belief strength well has the following advantages:
- Decisiveness, even with decisions that may seem daunting for others. Example: I didn’t have to think long and hard about stepping away from an unethical client — it was obvious what needed to be done.
- Consistency and thus reliability as decisions are made based on core values. People know what you stand for, and there’s no testing the direction of the wind. Leaders with high Belief bring stability to the organization. Example: When I led professional student development at Mizzou, my team knew that as long as they kept students as their first priority, they were making the right decision. In that case, my beliefs impacted the organization’s culture.
- Passion. Even for someone who generally has lower energy, you can see their passion come alive on issues connected to core beliefs. Example: Even though an introvert, Patrick will be emboldened to speak with passion when the right thing is not being done.
- Motivation for work, even when the work requires using lesser talent themes. Example: With low Discipline, I struggle with doing routine work typically. But when the work supports something I believe strongly in, I’m motivated to do it.
- Extra Strength. A core value, if it aligns with a Gallup talent theme, can translate into an extra strength. Example: One client Carol (with Belief #6 and Consistency #30) held a core value that all people should be treated the same. Social justice and fairness were important to her. Because she held that core value, she operated like she had high Consistency even though that strength was much lower on her list.
Raw Belief Can Lead to Over-Reaction
All of those advantages sound great, don’t they? Well yes, except high Belief has a few drawbacks as well. There can be some times when those of us with high Belief need to be aware of some areas to manage:
- Overly rigid. High belief can be so quick and decisive that there isn’t room for others’ opinions.
- Strong emotional response. One client said that when her beliefs are crossed, it feels like a spinal tap. It so strongly consumes her that she has to get the issue resolved before moving forward.
- Doubling the potency of another strength. If a core value of a person’s Belief is tied to another strength, it can magnify that strength. For example, Bob had high Responsibility and Achiever. Those strengths combined with Belief resulted in an incredibly strong focus on personal responsibility, both for himself and his direct reports, which could sometimes be exhausting.
Actions to Develop Your Belief
As with any strength, awareness of that strength and how it plays out in work and life situations is important. For those with high Belief, there are two aspects of self-awareness that can help ensure Belief is a mature strength for you.
- Know what your beliefs are and write them down. Many people with high Belief know they have core values or principles, but they struggle to name them. This is an important exercise, so block out some time to think about and write down your specific beliefs. You might get to a solid list in one session, or it might take a few different rounds of brainstorming to create a refined list of your core values or principles.
- Identify your triggers. People with high Belief may have strong gut reactions to things people say or things that happen in our world. Once we identify our most common triggers, we can be more aware of moments that violate a belief and may prompt a strong reaction. Being aware of those moments better equips us to mitigate that response.
There’s Value in Recognizing and Knowing the Core Values of Others
If you have a direct report or another person you’re close to who has high Belief, find out what their beliefs are. All you have to do is ask to gain new insight into how that employee (or friend or family member) reacts to decisions and how you can motivate them more.
I once worked in a factory with a number of employees who had high Belief and a shared anchoring value that putting in your time should earn you more opportunities. When a leader changed the policy to reduce the benefit of time on the job, those employees with high Belief pushed back with gusto. The leader learned from that and started taking into account their beliefs as he made decisions and communicated them, and he became a more effective leader through that process.
Understanding Belief as a Filter
Belief is one of those strengths with a significant impact on the other strengths because it acts as a filter. For example, my Relator gives the ability to build trust quickly and a preference for deeper relationships, but my Belief guides me to create an inner circle of friends who all have the same guiding values. My Woo enables me to win people over, but I only do this about things I believe in 100% because of my high Belief. (That includes ideas about the best way to lead, why the Iowa State Fair should be on everyone’s bucket list, and a few other things that I believe in wholeheartedly.) I could never sell something that counters my core principles or that I don’t completely endorse. Our strengths work together in many ways, and it’s important to realize how Belief plays into your other strengths as well.
Your Challenge: If you have high Belief, take time to list your beliefs and notice how they impact your behaviors and contribute value. If you don’t have high Belief, find someone with this strength and interview them to get to know this strength (and them) better.