Understanding Your Strengths

Prior to the Session

  • Log back into Pairin to access your Pairin results
  • Download and save your results as a PDF to have your results more handy

Learning Goals

  • Understand what a strength is and what it can look like in practice
  • Identify your own top strengths both in reflection and by using your Pairin results
  • Identify challenges with using your strengths
  • Plan for how to discuss strengths and working preferences
  • Analyze opportunities for professional growth

This Week’s Career Journal

  • Describe one of your strengths
  • Reflect on Pairin Top 4
  • Challenges with Strengths
  • Strengths in Action
  • Continued growth

Strengths: Why are we starting here?

The core of developing yourself professionally is understanding yourself and being able to speak to to that understanding. You have to understand yourself in order to know what you’re striving towards professionally as well as how to advocate for what you want.

These abilities will not only help you at Turing but in your new career as a software developer.


This week’s focus is on strengths. It can be easier said than done to identify what our strengths are. So, to help us break them down, we can think about them about our strengths as a combination of:

  • Skills
  • Knowledge
  • Talents

Skills are something you have learned to do well

  • A way to articulate this is by using a statement starting with “I can…”

Knowledge is something you know or have expertise in from years of study and practice

  • A way to articulate this is by using a statement starting with “I know…”

Talent refers to something that you have a natural ability to do well. Another way to think about it is something you were born with and have a natural preference towards.

  • A way to articulate this is by using a statement starting with “I am…”

Seems easy enough, right?

Again, breaking down our strengths can be difficult, so let’s start with looking at some examples.

Example #1

You heard from our executive director, Jeff Casimir, this morning at the State of Turing talk. Often when people hear him speak, they remark on how passionate he is. Why is that? Let’s break it down:

  • Here his skill relates to his public speaking abilities. Jeff has honed those over the years in conference talks, on panels, in podcasts, and in speaking with students and stakeholders throughout the years at Turing.

  • His knowledge can often be summed up by his “big ideas” (his words). He is a prolific reader, especially around topics of organizational leadership and best practices for schools and organizations interested in social change. He creates connections between these ideas in his blog posts and speeches.

  • Now that brings us to his talent, which in this context relates to his ability to engage and connect with others. He’s a connector and educator.

  • Combining these 3 things leads us to the strength known as Inspirational Leadership, which is defined as the ability to uplift, enliven, fill, and empower people with a compelling vision. As the founder of several programs, Jeff has cultivated and used this strength to not only further his vision but get others involved in executing it as well.

Example #2

Let’s look at another strength. A common strength that comes up for students in the Pairin assessment is Persistence, which is defined as the drive to firmly continue in a course of action, despite difficulties, opposition, or warning; stubborn determination. Pairin loves to nickname its strengths with fun names, and its reports refer to this one as “Tugboat.” What does it look like in practice to be a tugboat?

  • A skill that would contribute to this is detail-oriented planning. If you’re someone who uses a planner, likes to write to-do lists, and approaches projects from a backwards planning stance, this might describe you!

  • The knowledge needed here would be around knowing how to prioritize, which comes down to the ability to know which task to focus on at a time based on practice.

  • The natural talent that might come into play here is the ability to maintain focus during arduous tasks.

Put together, these create the strength of persistence.

Putting this into Practice: Working Preferences

Breaking down strengths in this way can be easier when we already know what the strength is, but how can you approach recognizing your strengths in everyday activities?

Start by thinking about how you prefer to work. Consider these scenarios:

  1. Sam prefers to spend time thinking through problems in their head and drawing out solutions before discussing them.
  2. Ana enjoys being challenged and working hard. She doesn’t feel like her day is complete if she hasn’t accomplished something. She is very motivated by the satisfaction of meeting deadlines.

Based on how they like to work, how would you describe Sam and Ana’s strengths?

Do Now: The first prompt in this week’s career journal will ask you to think about what you skills, knowledge, and talents you combine into one of your strengths.

Application: Using the Pairin Survey

If you’re having trouble identifying your strengths, your Pairin survey results might be able to help you. Pairin is a tool that gives you insight into 102 coachable and changeable professional skills ranging from citizenship to empathy to self awareness. The results from your survey will help you to identify some of your strengths and potential areas for growth.

Understanding the Results: Overview of Top 4 Qualities

Your results show you top 4 qualities:

  1. Top Thinking Style
  2. Most Intense Driver
  3. Highest EQ Competency
  4. Leading Virtue Class

The following information comes from the Pairin Qualities Overview

Thinking Styles

The Thinking Styles are characteristic ways of processing information and handling tasks. This includes how people acquire knowledge, organize thoughts, form views and opinions, apply personal value, plan, decide, solve problems, and express themselves. Thinking styles are NOT the same thing as thinking ability. These are categorized in 4 areas:

  • Cooperative-Practical: Team Player
  • Imaginative-Inspirational
  • Intuitive-Conceptual
  • Objective-Analytical


Psychologist Henry Murray outlined a set of psychological needs that—-alone or in combination—-drive specific behaviors. Murray believed that everyone has the same set of needs but that individuals experience them in different intensities. These Drivers are based on Murray’s needs. The three domains (Love, Work & Growth) are derived from the core concepts of Abraham Maslow, Edgar Schein and James Sales.

  • Loveto interact, connect with & experience care for and from others
    • Relationship: Friend
    • Supportiveness: Caregiver
    • Flamboyance: Stand-out
    • Deference: Loyalist
    • Support-Seeking: Reliant
  • Workto influence outcomes & gain mastery
    • Achievement: Ace Achiever
    • Personal Power: Director
    • Persistence: Tug Boat
    • Order: Specialist
    • Aggressiveness: Blaze
  • Growthto be all that I can be in life; fulfilled purpose & potential
    • Change: Transformer
    • Independence: Maverick
    • Perceptivity: Searcher
    • Vitality: Enthusiast
    • Self-Blame: Microscope

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) Competencies

The definition of Emotional Intelligence or EQ (first advanced by researchers Peter Salavoy and John Mayer, but popularized by author Daniel Goleman) is the ability to:

  • Recognize, understand and manage our own emotions
  • Recognize, understand and influence the emotions of others

In practical terms, developing EQ means gaining awareness that emotions drive our behavior and impact people (positively and negatively) and learning to manage those emotions — both our own and others — especially when we are under pressure. The EQ framework has four categories comprising 18 competencies as outlined below.

  • Self-Awareness
    • Emotional Self-Awareness: Self-Attuned
    • Self-Assessment: Self-Examiner
    • Self-Confidence: Self-Confident
  • Self-Management
    • Self-Control: Calm, Cool, Collected
    • Transparency: Glass Window
    • Achievement: Ace Achiever
    • Initiative: Self-Starter
    • Optimism: Can Do Attitude
    • Flexibility & Adaptability: Elasticity
  • Social Awareness
    • Empathy: I “Get” You
    • Organizational Awareness: Group Expert
    • Service Orientation: At Your Service
  • Relationship Management
    • Inspirational Leader: Inspirational Leader
    • Influential Leader: Influential Leader
    • Enriching Others: People Developer
    • Change: Transformer
    • Conflict Management: Conflict Wrangler
    • Cooperative-Practical: Team Player

Virtue Classes

Six broad virtues classifying 24 specific strengths that consistently emerge as “good” across history and culture. Pairin’s virtues map to Character Strengths and Virtues (Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P., 2004), the work of a prestigious group of researchers who have attempted to create a systematic classification and measurement of widely valued positive traits. Their aim was to present a measure of humanist ideals of virtue in an empirical and scientific way.

Knowing your leading virtue class and associated strengths isn’t just interesting information. Research shows that tapping into character strengths can help an individual to: 1) Buffer against, manage and overcome problems, 2) Improve relationships, and 3) Enhance health and overall well-being.

  • Courage: Lover of Courage
  • Humanity: Lover of Humanity
  • Justice: Lover of Justice
  • Transcendence: Lover of Transcendence
  • Wisdom & Knowledge: Lover of Wisdom
  • Temperance: Lover of Moderation

Do Now: In the second prompt for your career journal this week, read through your Pairin results and reflect on what they mean to you.

Opportunity for Professional Coaching

What is professional coaching? Sometimes referred to as “career therapy,” coaching provides you with the opportunity for thought partnership on goals that you have for your career. What topics could be covered? Whatever you want! Some popular topics are:

  • Stress management
  • Organization and time management
  • Career transition guidance
  • Using your Pairin data for growth

You can reach out to Allison (@allison_reu_singer on Slack) through this request form if you’d like to get additional reports on your Pairin strengths or to schedule a coaching session this module. All coaching sessions are completely confidential.