I hear a lot of reflections about how to apply your CliftonStrengths talent theme of Competition 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 Competition 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.
We often see two distinct "flavors" of the Competition talent theme. You may have one. You may have both. One is fairness in the treatment of people. The other is standardization for processes. So here are a bunch of Competition-related adjectives to consider using in your career branding efforts and your LinkedIn profile:
- Record Holder
- Ratings Creator
Red Flag Situations For Competition
These are the cultures, interactions, or situations that might feel like soul-sucking drudgery to someone with the talent theme of Competition. 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 Competition:
No Public Metrics. Call them KPIs. Winning Scorecards. Dashboards. Performance Metrics. Quotas. Standards. Job Levels. Targets. Whatever you call them, they’re something you need if you lead through Competition because you find it motivating to know where you stand. When there's no measure of success, you have no idea how you compare to others. And that’s no fun if your drive comes from your ranking of things.
Everyone Gets A Trophy. If you're in a culture where people get rewarded for simply showing up, you might feel offended and drained. In a work environment, this can be more annoying than in 7-year-old soccer leagues because it tells you that you don’t work in a meritocracy. If everyone gets the same commission or bonus or job level for the same, mediocre performance, it will really take away the juice that makes you want to be awesome.
3 Fresh Application Ideas for Competition
These are ways to apply the talent theme of Competition 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 Competition, put this talent to good use with one of these options:
Earn A Personal Record. Even when you run a 5k by yourself, it’s fun to set a personal record (PR). Translate this to mundane tasks at work to give yourself the juice to blast through them at work. For example, if you made 90 phone calls one day, challenge yourself to get to 100 tomorrow, or to get to 90 in 7 hours rather than 8.
Help Someone Else Win. Share your hacks and tactics. Help other people on the team step their game up. Since winning is fun, you’ll enjoy treating someone else to that feeling. Also, it allows you to keep stepping your game up so that you can feel challenged in a pool of smart and formidable teammates. As the water level of the whole pool goes up, so does yours. So do the company results.
Challenge Someone To A Duel. Find someone else at work who thrives on winning. Look for a top performer who will make you step your game up in order to win the bragging rights. Make it a duel that you have a chance at winning. At the same time, be sure it’s not a “gimme” because it’s no fun when you’re not even in a legit challenge. Of course, the smack talk and the energy of the competition is fun, yet it’s also a great way to meet company goals by pushing each other to set new records and pull off more than you’ve ever done before.
Here's Your Personal Branding Homework
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.