Lead Through Strengths

I hear a lot of curiosity about how to apply your CliftonStrengths talent theme of Developer to your career.

In this series, I break down one strength per post — so that you can add to the insights from your StrengthsFinder report and make an even stronger alignment between your current job and your strengths.

- If you’re exploring this concept as a manager, use this series for career development ideas and even new clues about responsibilities you could give a person with this talent theme so that they can show up at their best.

- If you’re exploring this concept for yourself, use this as a chance to build a reputation for your strengths so that you’re more likely to be given assignments that live in your strengths zone.

You’ll get three layers to chew on:

1. Career Branding
2. Red Flag Situations At Work
3. Fresh Application Ideas

Career Branding When Developer Is Your Strength

You probably already have a reputation for what you know. Think about your personal resume, CV, or your LinkedIn profile, I bet it's full of “the what,” which are things like job titles, skills, knowledge, expertise, or the degree you earned. What’s missing is usually "the how,” and this is where your StrengthsFinder talent themes live.

Chances are good that you are a lot like my StrengthsFinder training clients, where you don’t physically see your teammates and customers every day. So many of us work on remote teams. That’s why LinkedIn has become so important for career branding. It’s how your teammates, customers, and vendors go look you up before a meeting - to see who they’re about to talk to. And rather than only telling them what you know, you should also give them a peek at how it is to work with you.

So here are a bunch of Developer-related adjectives to consider using in your career branding efforts and your LinkedIn profile:

  • Coach
  • Teacher
  • Mentor
  • Celebrator of Growth
  • Advocate
  • Capabilities Cultivator
  • Encouraging
  • Foster-er of The People
  • Caring
  • Patient
  • Perceptive
  • Recognizer
  • People-Investor
  • Talent-Nurturer
  • Potential-Spotter

Red Flag Situations For Developer

These are the cultures, interactions, or situations that might feel like soul-sucking drudgery to someone with the talent theme of Developer. They could even make you want to quit the team if they get really bad. So I’ll give you a couple of these to be on watch for — because if they fester, you might become detached or disengaged at work.

Here are two Red flags for Developer:

  1. Wasted potential.  If you lead through the Developer theme, it will frustrate you if you see people being typecast into a single function. You see potential in people that other people are often not willing to see. For example, you might see careers being limited because someone doesn’t have a degree or they lack some experience. Yet you wish for people to take chances on them and let their talents bloom. This seems a bit odd as a red flag for Developer (if you don’t lead through this talent) because it’s often demoralizing for the person who leads through Developer when the overlooked talent is actually other people on the team. This isn’t weird at all to someone with Developer though - they feel enlivened by cultures that help each person reach their full potential. And they feel stifled and demotivated when they see potential getting wasted.

  2. Being the fixer. Now this red flag is actually self induced. It happens when you fall into a bit of a martyr syndrome, where it’s your mission to help every person be seen and heard and appreciated for what they are - even when they don’t want it. If you see that someone is consistently struggling the role, and they don’t want to be helped…or when you see that someone is a cancer on the team and they don’t want to turn around, you might want to let it go. I’ve seen this happen in organizations where low performance was tolerated for awhile, and complacency has set in. Now, as you swoop in to try to pump them up to see their greatness, they’re having none of it. If you see it as your job to turn them around, this burden can get emotionally heavy for you. Don’t let it bring your performance down. Now, I say all of this, knowing that you will still see potential in them. You’ll still believe in them. But you can’t make everyone care. You can’t own their performance results. They have to take accountability too.

3 Fresh Application Ideas for Developer

These are ways to apply the talent theme of Developer at work, even when the job duties on the team feel pretty locked in. If you’re exploring this concept as a team manager, be sure to have a conversation around these ideas. You’ll both be able to come up with places to apply them.

For someone who leads through Developer, put this talent to good use with one of these options:

  1. Celebrate what you see. Fill some buckets, and do it over the seemingly small stuff. You’ll naturally see these small accomplishments because you know they aren’t small when you add up the ripple effect. For example, if you know a numbers-crunching peer has been working on their communication skills, compliment them when you see them customizing their interactions to be more palatable to the listener. When someone knows they’re on the right track, they’re more likely to continue on that track. Although it’s popular right now to bemoan the “everyone gets a trophy” mantra, you see the value in giving out small, metaphorical trophies for each person’s small wins. Don’t let that trophy thing get in the way of you noticing what works. You’re not giving away disingenuous compliments. You’re not giving them a participation trophy. You’re celebrating the small things so that they can tell that their efforts are actually working.

  2. Share your optimism behind the scenes. Tell a person what you see in them. If you lead through Developer, you can often see potential in people that they cannot see in themselves.   Make it a daily practice (or at least weekly), to share with someone how much you admire a thing about their work (or their work style). When you help someone see that their ability to provide clarity is useful to others, they’re more likely to give it in the future. When someone knows that their way of telling stories through data is insightful for others on the team, they’re more likely to share that data with the team next time. Give these small, personal encouragements so that people can see that their common sense is special…it’s in fact, not common at all.

  3. Nurture new hires. Be a mentor. Volunteer to help with on boarding programs. Make newbies feel welcome. Take someone who is green under your wings. Tell them where the learning curve will be steep in a new role, and how to get some quick wins within their first month on the job. Any of those things will be easy for you to know and convey - and it will be energizing for you to see new people step into their potential faster.

Here's Your Personal Branding Homework

  1. Go take action on your LinkedIn profile with the career branding section. Challenge yourself to write one sentence in the Summary section of LinkedIn that captures how you collaborate as a teammate at work.
  2. Then think over the red flags to see if there’s anything you need to get in front of before it brings you down. You might decide to make the situation mean something different, or pre-plan a reaction for the next time it comes around.
  3. And finally, volunteer your talents through the application ideas. If you’re a manager, have a conversation with your team members about which of these things sound like something they’d love to have more of.
Direct download: 094-Developer.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am EDT