Growing the StrengthsFinder ‘Intellection’ Talent Theme

Growing the StrengthsFinder ‘Intellection’ Talent Theme

‘Intellection’ in a nutshell…


People exceptionally talented in the Intellection StrengthsFinder theme are characterized by their intellectual activity. They are introspective and appreciate intellectual discussions.


Theme Description

You like to think. You like mental activity. You like exercising the “muscles” of your brain, stretching them in multiple directions. This need for mental activity may be focused; for example, you may be trying to solve a problem or develop an idea or understand another person’s feelings. The exact focus will depend on your other strengths. On the other hand, this mental activity may very well lack focus. The StrengthsFinder theme of Intellection does not dictate what you are thinking about; it simply describes that you like to think. You are the kind of person who enjoys your time alone because it is your time for musing and reflection. You are introspective. In a sense you are your own best companion, as you pose yourself questions and try out answers on yourself to see how they sound. This introspection may lead you to a slight sense of discontent as you compare what you are actually doing with all the thoughts and ideas that your mind conceives. Or this introspection may tend toward more pragmatic matters such as the events of the day or a conversation that you plan to have later. Wherever it leads you, this mental hum is one of the constants of your life. 

What’s the power of the Intellection talent theme?


The genius of Intellection talents stems from the deep processing that occurs when you think. Wisdom and clarity result from your ability to muse for long periods of time.


The genius of your Intellection StrengthsFinder theme stems from the quality of your thinking. You think about ideas, concepts, and principles in great depth. It is as if you hold discussions in your mind about ideas, concepts, observations and new learnings. This results in deep learning, deep understanding, and deep appreciation for the best knowledge. Out of this deep processing, you often come to new insights and understandings. But the greatest aspect of the genius of your intellection is the wisdom that you gain from your in-depth thinking and internal discussions. You can think by yourself for hours, but never doubt what results: wisdom, clarity, and a firm foundation for action planning and decision-making.

How do I grow the Intellection talent theme?

1. Set aside time to think and reflect.

Because those with the Intellection StrengthsFinder theme thrive on depth of thought, they feel most at ease when they carve out pockets of time just to muse on concepts or events of the day. Rather than joining all their friends or colleagues for lunch all the time, for instance, they might enjoy spending the first 15 minutes of their lunch hour just to think through a few things, or taking off by themselves for an hour for some solid introspection. Having this time alone does not detract from the quality of their relationships; in fact, it will likely strengthen it, as those with the Intellection theme will feel more settled when their need for time to think is met. Then, when they actually do gather with others, they bring a depth of understanding and wisdom to various issues that may arise, making conversations all the richer.

2. List your ideas in a journal.

If you have the Intellection StrengthsFinder theme, it is likely that you enjoy stretching the muscles of your brain in multiple directions, mulling over ideas and refining them. Through this intellectual activity, it is also likely that you occasionally discover nuggets of wisdom. Keep track of these ideas or nuggets of wisdom in a log or a journal that you can come back to later. These ideas will serve as intellectual fodder for later reflections, and you will enjoy coming back to these to continually develop and refine these concepts.

3. Identify like-minded peers you can converse with.

People with the Intellection StrengthsFinder talent theme do not feel threatened whenever others challenge their thinking. On the contrary, they feel stimulated by it, as they take it as a sign that others are giving consideration to their thoughts. In fact, whenever they find like-minded peers who are able to engage with them in intellectual conversations, they enjoy these exchanges and find themselves energized by the discussions. It would thus be helpful for those with the Intellection theme to find a group of friends – though not necessarily all in the same group – with whom they can engage in intellectual discussions. These conversations will excite them and sharpen their thinking.

How could this theme be overplayed?

“Aloof.” “Distant.” “Makes things overly complicated.” “Slow to act.” These are words and phrases that could be used to describe those with Intellection, particularly when the talent theme is overplayed. Because of their inclination toward intellectual activity, those with Intellection can sometimes go overboard with this tendency and become lost in thought when it is time to speak or act. This is what we call the infancy of the talent theme – when the overextension of this theme negatively impacts either the individual or those around him or her. Fortunately, as the term suggests, a theme that’s in its infancy can be further developed into maturity.

Three Practical Ways to Manage This Theme:

  1. Learn to communicate your intentions. Explain to others why you need time for introspection. Although it might seem to others that you are slow to act, taking time to think allows you to refine your ideas. For you, thinking is just as productive as doing. This explanation of your internal gear-whirrings would also benefit your interpersonal relationships. As someone with Intellection in my dominant talent themes, people often misunderstand me and think that I’m detaching during conversations because of my silence. However, it is not that I am disengaged from the conversation, but rather that I am thinking through what the others in the conversation have presented. Making this clear to others helps them to understand that I am still very much present in the conversation, but that I want to give ample consideration to their thoughts rather than delivering a rushed response.
  2. Practice putting your thoughts into plain language. The genius of the Intellection theme is in their ability to think deeply about situations, projects, and issues. Yet because of the depth of thought and command of language they bring to the table, they can often be intimidating to those with lesser talents in this theme. It would therefore be helpful for them to practice putting their thoughts into plain language so that others can better understand their thinking. For example, whenever they have insights they would like to share with others, it would be helpful to have a process by which they identify any outcomes they would like to achieve by sharing their insights, or perhaps find stories that would help people better relate to their points.
  3. Find outlets in which your depth of thought can become an asset to those around you. Those with the Intellection talent theme thrive on mental activity — but for them, this mental activity might not necessarily lead to action (depending on whether they have other talents that can help push thoughts into the execution phase). This is where the label “slow to act” comes in, as people misunderstand them to be “all thinking and no doing.” To counter this, the Intellection talent theme can be aimed toward specific outcomes. For example, you can think about a concept you’d enjoy musing on, then turn that into a certain deliverable for your work. In my job at Strengths School, one of the ways I use my Intellection theme is through writing articles. The process of writing helps me crystallize and refine concepts, so in that way my Intellection theme is piqued — and by publishing solid content on our website’s blog, my thoughts also benefit the company.

Concluding Thoughts: “Thinking about my thinking” (metacognition) is one phrase I’d use to describe this theme. This means that the power of the Intellection StrengthsFinder theme is in being able to go beyond the boundaries of traditional theories, examining and brewing over the subtleties of a train of thought to take it deeper. Yet because they need time to process, they may sometimes appear aloof and distant even when they’re sitting right opposite from you. However, this does not mean that they’ve disconnected from you; rather, it is more likely that they’re simply thinking through something that was just said. So when engaging with someone with Intellection, be prepared to give them time and space to think – they will appreciate the latitude, and your conversations will be all the richer for it!

Video Resources





Written by Tan Meiling

Responsibility • Learner • Relator • Belief • Harmony

Meiling is a writer, editor, and Gallup-Certified StrengthsFinder Coach based in Singapore. As a StrengthsFinder® Coach, she is passionate about helping people discover their innate potential and celebrating who they are. She enjoys reading, learning, and sharing her knowledge through writing articles. Meiling is also actively giving StrengthsFinder coaching to individuals and facilitating workshops in Singapore.


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About Meiling | Meiling is a freelance writer, editor, and Gallup-Certified StrengthsFinder® Coach based in Singapore.

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