Lead Through Strengths

I hear a lot of reflections about how to apply your CliftonStrengths talent theme of Achiever to your career.

In this series, you get 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 Achiever 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.

Here are a bunch of Achiever-related adjectives to consider using in your career branding efforts and your LinkedIn profile:

  • Producer
  • Doer
  • Busy
  • Finisher
  • Energetic
  • Motivated
  • Completer
  • Workhorse
  • Tireless
  • Gets It Done
  • Ambitious
  • Intense
  • Driven
  • Independent
  • Pacesetter

Red Flag Situations For Achiever

These are the cultures, interactions, or situations that might feel like soul-sucking drudgery to someone with the talent theme of Achiever. 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 Achiever:

  1. Slackers. If you lead through Achiever, try to keep yourself out of environments where you perceive your colleagues to be slackers or lazy. Sometimes, this is a simple thing to spot. For example, say you’re on a team, and you have a teammate you work with very closely. You perceive him to be a low-accountability-slacker (albeit a nice guy). If this is someone you’re working with all day every day, you’ll likely be frustrated as you imagine all of the things you could get done together, if he’d just pull his weight. A sneakier version of this is when you’re at a company or in an industry that moves at a slow pace. The Achiever in you will likely feel continual angst about what you could be getting done. This consistent “if only” thinking can really drain you. Whenever possible, surround yourself with high-achieving, driven colleagues who will match your intensity and motivate you to step your game up.
  2. Meetings About Meetings. If you lead through Achiever, you likely love getting the actual work done. If you find yourself caught up in circular discussions or bureaucracy, it can be soul sucking for you. If you keep getting invited to meetings because you’re involved in a lot of projects (and therefore people think you’ll want to attend to stay in the loop), practice ways of politely opting out. Of course, the culture around meetings can be vastly different from company to company. Play with different techniques until you find something that honors your team culture, and honors your work style at the same time. For example, some Achievers have successfully created the habit of “popping in” for the 10 minute segment of the 1 hour meeting so that they’re not wasting 50 minutes of their productive time. Others have become expert at declining the meeting altogether—while also contributing to the project and staying in good graces with the team.

3 Fresh Application Ideas for Achiever

These are ways to apply the talent theme of Achiever 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 Achiever, put this talent to good use with one of these options:

  1. Small Bits. Although you have a lot of work stamina and you can crush it on long term projects, you’ll have more fun when you give yourself a way to feel the feeling of “done-done-done” throughout the day. Get in the habit of writing down your next small action that matters for a project. Break it down to the tiniest step so that you can get a little hit of Achiever-dopamine when you finish it. For example, if your project is to research and recommend a new piece of software for the team, you could be looking at a 3 year implementation. If your next action is “schedule online demo” and the next action after that is “attend online demo,” you can turn the 3-year-long-slog into digestible pieces that give you a motivating jolt of accomplishment.
  2. Power Hour. Try blocking out one hour on your calendar where you plan to crank out as many tactical tasks as possible. Don’t take calls. Get rid of all interruptions. Don’t look at email or IM. Simply crank out work. If this sounds like fun, you can also try the Pomodoro Technique, where you do intense spurts of work for 15-25 min, followed by a 5 min break. My favorite is an hour long cycle of (15 min work + 5 min break)x3. That gets you one hour of amazingly productive time. If you work in a distraction-heavy environment, these short cycles can help you feel super efficient, even when it seems like the world is conspiring against your personal effectiveness.
  3. Contests. Measure yourself doing a task that you do regularly. Maybe you make outbound calls. Maybe you write social media marketing posts. Maybe you reply to a lot of emails. Track yourself doing one of these things to get a Personal Record (PR). Then, week over week, challenge yourself to beat your PR while maintaining high quality. The contest makes it fun, and since Achievers are often the last ones at the office, it’s a great way to keep yourself out of the workaholic zone.

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 About 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: 107-Achiever.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am EST

I hear a lot of reflections about how to apply your CliftonStrengths talent theme of Activator to your career.

In this series, you get 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 Activator 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.

Here are a bunch of Activator-related adjectives to consider using in your career branding efforts and your LinkedIn profile:

  • Instigator
  • Go Button Presser
  • Fresh Thinker
  • Action Jackson
  • Initiating
  • Movement Maker
  • Catalyst
  • Fast
  • Just Ship
  • Influential
  • Kick Off Crew
  • Eager
  • Brave
  • Change-Friendly
  • Energetic
  • Action-Oriented
  • Starter
  • Propulsive
  • Spark
  • Gets It Going
  • Momentum Creator
  • Early Adopter
  • Motivator

Red Flag Situations For Activator

These are the cultures, interactions, or situations that might feel like soul-sucking drudgery to someone with the talent theme of Activator. 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 Activator:

  1. Analysis Paralysis. If your industry or workplace culture is to carefully weigh every option before taking action, it can be very draining to Activators. The waiting game is extremely frustrating. If you lead through Activator, you get satisfaction from starting things, so every delay and moment of bureaucracy can make you feel like an animal trapped in a cage. Be sure to communicate with your leader that you’d love to be involved in as many pre-launch and starting line moments as possible. Since it’s unconventional to assign projects based on the place in the timeline, this can be an eye-opening step (and one that helps you shape your job toward the elements that put you at your best).
  2. Maintenance Mode. If you lead through Activator, you are most motivated, energized, and excellent at the starting line. If you find yourself assigned to the maintenance of processes or products, you’re more likely to get bored. Your magic mojo is usually not at the finish line and after. It can be a powerful insight to realize that you may be more attracted to short-cycle projects than to programs. After you try on that concept for awhile, have a conversation with your manager about your ideas for how to amplify your contribution by getting you involved at the momentum-creation phase, and then moving on to the next thing.

3 Fresh Application Ideas for Activator

These are ways to apply the talent theme of Activator 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 Activator, put this talent to good use with one of these options:

  1. Come In, The Water Is Fine. Often, Activators are early adopters. If you’ve observed someone who leads through Activator, and they’re courageously braving a new way of doing things, use them as a model that the team can follow. Often, when big corporate rollouts happen, the team perceives the company messaging as “rah rah visioning.” Many people will sit on the sidelines until they know it really works or until they know this rollout is going to be a real thing that gets implemented. Meanwhile, your Activators are likely already in there, doing the thing, testing it out, and living in the new world. Get them to champion it by sharing exciting features or time savers with the team. Activators can be a practical voice to show others that the new way is working out great.
  2. Beta Testing. People who lead through Activator love being on the cutting edge. They bravely try new things. So if you ever need to pilot a program or beta test, they could be a great group to use to get things started.
  3. Change Management. When you have a major change initiative, often, you have a project team that has been working away for months or years. Getting people to adopt the change is often tougher than all of the tactics it took to plan and create the new thing. It can be exhausting for those who got the project to this place. Well, this is the finish line for one group and a starting line for another. It’s a great place to bring in Activators. They often love being part of a kick off crew. They are great at being a spark of energy. Notice the difference: they love creating spikes of energy at the kick-off, yet their energy for a project wanes as it drags on. So get them on the kick-off crew, not the maintenance crew.

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 About 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: 006-Activator.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am EST