The RIGSS Blog

To stimulate analysis, innovation, and forward thinking, and generate new ideas and insight
on subjects that matter in 21st Century Bhutan.
A humble tribute to celebrate learning, leadership and service that His Majesty The King continues to champion.

Launched on 21st February 2021 to commemorate the 41st Birthday of His Majesty The King

The views and opinions expressed in the articles on the RIGSS Blog are that of the authors and do not represent the views of the institute.


POSTED ON December 10, 2021
Norman New
Faculty, Strengths Advocate/Mindfulness Coach/Career Strategist, RIGSS

Listen to this article 6 minutes

Have you ever wondered who you are and what makes you unique? Do you think the most likely route to success is through minimising your weaknesses or maximising your strengths? Those were the opening questions I posed to the 200 Bhutanese school leaders as we embarked on a strength-based journey over the past six months trying to help them uncover their hidden talents and strengths through the Clifton StrengthsFinder.

According to a Gallup World Poll conducted from 2014-2016 on adults aged 23-65, only 3% of Bhutanese are engaged at work. Gallup defines engaged employees as those involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace. If this were true for the educators in Bhutan, can you imagine what the school would look like? This statistic is startling, and perhaps part of the reason could be because Bhutanese employees are unaware of and thus not taught to tap on their strengths at work.

Research by Gallup shows that compared with those who do not get to focus on what they do best, people who have the opportunity to use their strengths are six times as likely to be engaged in their jobs and more than three times as likely to report having an excellent quality of life. Also, people who harness their strengths look forward to going to work, have more positive interactions with co-workers, achieve more on a daily basis, and tend to be more creative and innovative at work.

Throughout my individual coaching sessions with each of the principals as part of the School Leaders Development Programme (SLDP) organised by RIGSS, almost everyone shared that they did not realise they possess such unique talents. They were awed by the uncanny descriptions in the Gallup Strengths reports, which accurately spelt out their talents and made them realise that they had these wonderful talents all along even though they were unaware of it. One principal even likened it to visiting the astrologer, which I believe most Bhutanese have experienced!

Just for the record, we are all unique individuals, and our talents are just like our fingerprints. No two individuals share the same set of talents. According to Gallup, there is a total of 34 Talent Themes, and the odds of finding another person with the exact Top Five Talent Themes as us is one in 33 million! When I went through the Top Five Talent Themes of the 200 school leaders, I was both amazed and impressed by the sheer diversity. All the principals are performing more or less the same duties yet achieving success in their own ways through their own unique talents and strengths.

Gallup defines talent as a naturally recurring pattern of thinking, feeling, and doing. In other words, it is our innate potential. Talents describe us, influence our choices, explain why we are better at some things than others, and most importantly, act as a filter upon which we see the world. For example, someone who has the talent theme of ‘Responsibility’ tends to have a deep sense of dedication and ownership towards things they commit to. They keep to their word, and others know they can trust and count on them.

Through the Clifton StrengthsFinder, the principals became cognizant of their Top Five Signature Talent Themes. Many of them could identify and resonate with their talent themes, and they could draw connections to how these talent themes actually manifest in their work and life. By reflecting on how these talents helped them achieve success in the past, the principals gained a greater appreciation and newfound confidence in their own strengths. They realised that by intentionally tapping on these strengths, they would overcome the challenges at work better and achieve greater success moving forward.  

In light of the education reforms and evolving education landscape, the expectations and responsibilities of a school leader have never been greater. The pressure is on them to move with the times and equip the students with 21st-century skills and competencies. It is no longer about maintaining the status quo but transforming the school and fulfilling the vision of His Majesty The King. Changes are coming thick and fast, and principals must be adept not just at executing tasks or being mere administrators; they have to influence and motivate staff, build relationships with the community, and come up with strategic plans to drive their schools forward.

In order to cope with the incessant demands and daunting expectations, it is all the more imperative for school leaders to appreciate and harness their own talents and strengths to bring about positive changes to their schools and communities. There will be many challenges and road bumps ahead as we live in a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) world but going on this strengths journey with the school leaders fills me with much hope and optimism.

Although no two principals are the same, everyone has a strong sense of duty and commitment, and an unwavering passion for making a difference. I am deeply impressed and humbled by their humility and eagerness to learn, even though many have served as school leaders for twenty to thirty years. With the attitude of life-long learning, if the principals can learn to unlock their own potential and the full potential of their staff and students, I believe the future will shine brightly in the Land of the Thunder Dragon.

I will end with one of the most common questions posed to me during the coaching session. Many principals have asked me repeatedly which are the best five talent themes or which five would be the best predictors of a good leader. My answer to them was always, “There is no best five. Our Top Five Talent Themes are what we have. Only by accepting and learning to work with them can we be the best leader and the best version of ourselves.”



POSTED ON February 21, 2021
Pempa Tshering
Senior Analyst, DHI


POSTED ON February 21, 2021
Dorji Dhradhul
Director General, Tourism Council of Bhutan


POSTED ON February 21, 2021
Tshering Wangchuk
Former Managing Director, BBS


POSTED ON August 26, 2021
Douglas OLoughlin
Faculty, Organization Development and Change Management, RIGSS


POSTED ON September 01, 2021
Douglas OLoughlin
Faculty, Organization Development and Change Management, RIGSS