Strengths Coaching Blog

Monday, March 13, 2017

Mastery Monday: Understanding Focus

By Albert L. Winseman, D.Min


“Okay let’s get back on track – we’re losing our focus here!” These words may frequently be uttered in planning meetings by those high in Focus. Focus sets goals, prioritizes, gets rid of the extraneous, and sees a clear destination – and takes steps to arrive at that destination. The “eye on the prize” aspect of Focus causes those with this theme in their Top Five to positively discriminate between actions that will assist in achieving the goal and actions that will detract from attaining the goal. And those that detract are discarded. Individuals high in Focus tend to be able to tune out distractions and concentrate – and they are sometimes so absorbed in what they are doing they don’t see or hear anything else that is happening around them. Focus is a way of getting things done, and being efficient is crucial to the achievement of goals.

In this installment of Compare and Contrast I explore the similarities and differences between Focus and Strategic, Deliberative, and Individualization.

Focus and Strategic

While seeing a path to a destination is common to both Focus and Strategic, these two themes are essentially different in several essential qualities.  While both see a destination, Strategic considers alternate routes while Focus concentrates on a singular path.  Strategic naturally widens by considering options; Focus naturally narrows by concentrating on a goal. Focus is a way to get things done – an executing theme, while Strategic is a way to think about alternatives – a thinking theme.  Those with strong Strategic talents often have a plan A, a plan B, and a plan C and even D. Those with strong Focus talents execute plan A as the most efficient option. When asked a question, Strategic often answers, “It depends.” Focus tends to answer, “Here is the goal.”

Focus and Deliberative

Both Focus and Deliberative are executing themes and concern themselves with getting work done. The differences lie in how those strong in each of these themes get work done. Focus sets a goal, charts a course, and sets out. Deliberative considers and anticipates obstacles, looking for what could go wrong.  There is a caution inherent to Deliberative that is not necessarily an attribute of Focus. Deliberative wants to delay the start until all the factors that could get in the way are considered and dealt with; Focus wants to set out on the path and get moving toward the end result. Those high in Focus may become frustrated by those high in Deliberative (and vice versa), but if each learns to truly appreciate the talents of the other, Deliberative and Focus can become powerful partners.

Focus and Individualization

Focus and Individualization tend not to show up in a person’s Top Five very often, so when this occurs it is real opportunity to explore a powerful and unusual theme combination. Individualization is energized by the uniqueness of individuals, and as such might be inclined to get sidetracked from accomplishing a goal by an interesting personal story. Focus is energized by working towards a goal, and might be inclined to be oblivious to the people around him or her. However, Individualization can be a powerful additive to Focus, in that those with Individualization can help find the right people to be part of the team that enables those with Focus to achieve their goal.

Be sure to catch up on Season One and Season Two of Theme Thursday-Focus to learn more!


Albert L. Winseman, D.Min., is a Senior Learning and Development Consultant at Gallup. Al brings deep expertise in employee and customer engagement, executive leadership and organizational dynamics to his consulting work with Gallup’s clients. He consults with senior leaders, executives and front-line managers to improve employee and customer engagement and to implement strategic initiatives that drive business growth.

Al's top 5 strengths are: Ideation | Futuristic | Maximizer | Strategic | Command


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