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The Sideline Blog

Just as sports players come to the sideline for rest and guidance, this blog is meant to provide you some insight and guidance as you explore your Strengths journey.

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  • Writer's pictureChad T. Ahern

Strengths Positioning: Empathy®

Updated: Sep 22, 2021

A chalkboard soccer game plan showing what the next steps might be. Those with Empathy use their ability to sense the emotional flow to anticipate the next move.
Understanding the emotional flow to anticipate the next move.

Leaders, and colleagues, need to position people on work project teams effectively and efficiently to ensure work gets done and people stay engaged. A lot of leaders often spend too much time trying to guess where to put people because they don't have a point of reference.

What follows is a "scouting report" for those with Empathy® talents, as identified via the CliftonStrengths assessment.

If you are a leader or a colleague of someone with these talents, consider how you can best position them in the context of your team and your projects. You can also use this as a discussion piece to find out how they see and use their Empathy® talents.

Each person with Empathy® talents operates differently. Make sure you're not missing out on their unique contribution.

Disclaimer: The following insights represent my opinions based on my understanding of the CliftonStrengths® themes. These are not statements created by or formally endorsed by Gallup®.

Scouting Report

Can sense the flow of the "game," and what comes next.


Ways in which this team member can make a direct and immediate impact. Use these insights to consider where you place them on the team or in an organization.

  • Insight extraordinaire. Every interaction, every project, every meeting has an unseen, emotional undercurrent. Most people don't pick up on these feelings. Individuals with Empathy talents are the exception. These talented individuals' intuition can be key to understand situations and people well before most of their colleagues because they can sense of flow of a situation. This makes them invaluable to your team if you're trying to collaborate with internal partners or when trying to get a read on the competition.

  • Anticipator. Those with Empathy talents can often be one step ahead. They sense the questions that aren't being asked. They find the right way to express ideas, thoughts, or feelings before others. Combined with their ability to feel the flow of conversations or situations, they provide you and your team to play "one step ahead."


Ways in which people with this theme might "overplay" their talents.

  • Become overwhelmed. In this case, it isn't so much about overplaying as it is about "overloading." Because those with Empathy talents often gain insight from receiving / feeling the emotional energy, it is equally possible for them to become overwhelmed in intense, charged, or conflict-prone situations. Because their reaction will be influenced by their other talents, leaders and colleagues would be wise to discuss ahead of time how much emotional input their Empathy-talented colleagues can handle before it diminishes their contribution(s) to the team.

  • Their gut, your head. Those with Empathy talents can get wrapped up in the emotional weight they give to certain decisions or assessments. They might be more apt to trust their gut -- and not be able to describe their reasons -- rather than look at the team's data. To help them, put them in teams where they can have space to trust their gut while also encouraging them to consider matching their feelings with others' data.

Talent Combos / Position Modification

  • Achiever®: "The Aware Attacker" - Team members with Achiever talents have a drive to get things done. Those with Empathy talents sense the "underflow" of situations. Individuals with this Achiever + Empathy combo are keen to use their "sixth sense" to find paths of least resistance so they can achieve as much as possible in the least amount of time. As a leader, consider placing these talented individuals in situations where they are on the leading edge of projects -- particularly those close to completion.

  • Connectedness®: "The Connected Midfielder" - Team members with Empathy talents are particularly adept at sensing the emotional flow for a particular situation. Those with Connectedness talents are keen to see multiple connections all at once. Those blessed with both Empathy + Connectedness talents are likely to be able sense multiple channels of emotional energy and understand the intersections of these multiple channels. Be careful though. These talented individuals may be more susceptible to emotional overload because they may be trying to assess multiple streams of emotional energy.

Game Film

Check out these videos from Gallup to learn more

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