Lead Through Strengths

If you want others to experience the best of your StrengthsFinder talent themes, you'll love our third core concept -- regulate by situation

A Simple Concept?

Imagine you’re in front of a mixing board wherein you’re looking at your Top 5 or Top 10 from your CliftonStrengths reports. Each of your talent themes is assigned a fader so that each of them could have its own volume. 

To regulate by situation is to adjust your talent theme’s “volume” based on the following:

  • the person you're interacting with 
  • the project and what it calls for

It’s much like setting the quantities of your musical instrument or tool based on the song you wrote or the genre you're in. 

From Simple To Complex

While that seems like a fairly simple concept, it gets a bit more interesting when we apply it to a team context.

Having to fiddle five to ten faders in order to manage your own talent themes can already be overwhelming. Imagine how much tougher that would be when aside from watching over your own set of five or ten, you will now have to consider that every person you interact with -- whether within or outside of the team -- could receive the varying quantities of your strengths in different ways! For example, in certain projects, they may call for a little bit more or a little bit less of that given strength. 

If you think about working on this for the rest of your life, it can get really complicated!

The Experiment Mindset

The most effective way to not get overwhelmed with regulating your strengths is to think about it as just an ongoing experiment. In particular:

  • Assess how much every situation calls for. 
  • Get a feel for what is received well by other people in your collaborations. 

Scenario 1: Communication as a troublemaker talent

In one StrengthsFinder event, a client had five cards representing her Top 5 CliftonStrengths talent themes spread on her desk. Out of the five, there was one card that was pushed off to the side. It read: “Communication.” 

Apparently, she could not view Communication as her talent or strength. She had just gone through a series of performance reviews with her manager who elaborated to her what she described as bad feedback on her communication, including: 

  • “I talk too much in meetings.” 
  • “I’m just too much to handle.”

She resisted when we offered the notion that Communication could be her greatest asset. But coming into the event might as well be her opportunity to apply the core concepts of both troublemaker talents (core concept #2) and regulate by situation (core concept #3), as follows:

Core Concept #2 (Troublemaker Talents) - She needs to recognize that her love for words -- how she values them as important -- are strong points to her communication theme. The reason Communication was coming out as a troublemaker talent for her was that she was talking to think instead of thinking before talking. 

Core Concept #3 (Regulate By Situation) - By turning her Communication volume high up all the time and not checking how it is being received by others, she’s clearly not regulating it. She has to start adjusting it accordingly.

In the end, it’s how she operates that can transform her troublemaker talent into a great asset.

Scenario 2: Volume wars

In a band, the drummer plays a loud instrument, which tends to make the guitar player, the keys player, and other members to start turning up so they can hear their part and not miss a note. This kicks off what is called volume wars. 

When this results in a big wall of sound, not every person in the audience will receive it well. Loud is not for everyone. 

The same thing happens at work if we think of our talent themes as a collection of variations, nuances, and colors and can be received differently by people. But many of us haven’t recognized those variations and the value of regulating that we turn our talents all the way up to all situations. 

Tip: Get a feel of each situation to determine whether you should turn up your strength or pull back a little bit. 

Let’s Regulate By Situation

Using the strengths volume dial in a team context, how can you regulate all your talent themes? 

As you play with your own Top 5 or 10 knobs, you also face an almost infinite number of rattling and twisting as you try to find the right mix based on all of the people on your team. That’s how complex and layered it is. But that's why we have our third core concept to remind us that it's all just a matter of adjusting according to the situation!

  • Regulate based on the person you interact with

If, for example, you lead through Individualization, you’re most likely interested in every person and what makes them unique. You’d like to learn everything you can about them so that you can customize your communication in a way that is palatable to them. 

If you don’t mind to regulate in your first meeting and turn your talent theme volume right up to a 10, it might catch others off-guard and they might perceive your probing questions as intrusive. 

  • Regulate based on the project or company

Similarly, if you get into a company that’s focused on standard operating procedures in a highly regulated environment, trying to customize everything might not be well-received. It’s not going to fly. You will have to take that tendency down a notch.

Bottom line: Think of regulating by situation as a general concept. Then, start playing with it like experiments. 

Your Team Challenge: Reflect On Your Dials

To make this core concept an even more conscious practice yet still a fun experiment to do for your team, encourage these guide questions: 

  • “How were my strengths? Were they dialed in?” 
  • “Were they all operating in the right place?” 
  • “Were there any that I should have pulled back a little bit?” 
  • “Were there some I could have pulled up more to add more to the results in that situation?”

Taking the time to "play it by ear" with your team will make all the difference and will bring out your unique harmony.

Ready For The Next Concept?

Up next: “E” for easy buttons. See you in the next episode!

Direct download: 111-Regulate-by-Situation.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 2:30am CST

From the S.E.T and “Aspirational You” concepts in the previous episode, we now move towards a seemingly favorite topic for discussion: troublemaker talents!

When talking about strengths, curiosity about the other side -- the so-called “shadow side” or “blind spots” -- tends to surface. And that’s exactly why our next core concept is worth discussing.

Troublemaker talents are natural talents that have the potential to make you great yet may be causing pain or trouble to you, or to others within the team, due to misapplication, talent overuse, or squashing down of talent. 

Note that you may be squashing down a talent or not developing it because you don’t see the necessity. But when it does come out inevitably, it doesn’t come out looking good.

Join us explore these “T” talents, and towards the end you will get these takeaways:

  1. Some workplace scenarios where troublemaker talents can show up
  2. How these scenarios may affect teams and team projects 
  3. What you can do as a team in order to address the possible impact on timelines and results caused by the misapplication, overuse, or squashing down of talent

Are These 'Troublemaker' Scenarios Familiar To You?

  • Scenario 1: Love For Learning

Let’s say a member of your team leads through Learner and Input. Coming out of such strength is her love for learning, such as data gathering. As she’s bent on really getting to know the stakeholders and the end-users before beginning a project, she spends time on the front end of the projects not only collecting stakeholder specifications, the end-user information, and the end-user preferences but really digging into these items. 

What makes it a troublemaker talent?

This is showing up as a troublemaker talent for her because in the process of thorough and in-depth learning, you would see her as being too slow-paced or a “deadline-misser.” This is rooted in the following:

1) Her non-communication of how her workflow looks (70% of the time on front end then hastened towards completion)

2) Her lack of awareness that would make someone else nervous

What can you do as a team?

As you are following a more sensible timeline, and it’s clear that the troublemaker talent is going to make her miss the deadline, you have no choice but to step in. In this scenario, she’ll keep getting her projects pulled as she’s getting them started because you think she’s not going to complete them on time.

  • Scenario 2: Digging In Or Intruding?

For this same person who loves gathering information, it also comes out as a talent overuse when she spends most of a meeting with a colleague, asking too many questions -- to the point that she causes skepticism and guardedness on her colleague. 

What makes it a troublemaker talent?

While the main point of the meeting is to explore and learn as much as she can, “too much curiosity kills a cat” as they say, and may spell trouble by way of perceived intrusion. 

  • “Why the 20 questions?”
  • “Why are you digging into my business?”
  • “What’s the deal here?”

In the end, when the colleague senses that she’s prying into their business, she might not obtain the information she was driving for.

What can you do as a team?

  • Self-awareness - It’s important that this particular “troublemaker” be made aware of where she is not being well-received by others, and where her supposed talent seems to be getting in the way of her desired results. The ability to reflect on this starts the active process of addressing the “trouble” or pain. 

Maximizers also want to think about things longer and improve on them through constant reworks. However, they tend to get stuck on that phase rather than just jumping in and executing it. Naturally they go for the highest quality output, which requires that everything must be thought through. In effect, it keeps them from getting ahead along the timeline. But if high stakes are involved, Maximizers must not let themselves be okay with a B+ work. 

The Yin-Yang Complex

Another concept to watch out for in troublemaker talents is the “yin-yang complex’ where within a team, we often find talents that look the opposite of someone else's. 

Consider the previous example of the leader through Learner and Input. As her boss, you happen to lead through Activator. That means you want to get things moving, and in contrast to her Learner-Input themes, you are really fast on the front end of projects. 

Now due to self-awareness or team awareness about each other’s talent themes, you will know in advance how to handle and address potential “trouble” brought about by varying cadence and preferences in approach. Action steps may look like the following:

  1. The Learner-Input team member effectively communicates and aligns with you where she’s at in the milestone 1-10 through regular updates, providing 
    • explanation where there may be gaps 
    • assurances of how she will strategize to meet the deadline
  2. You determine the types of projects you can (or cannot) assign to her, depending on where her thoroughness may be best utilized. 

Your Team Challenge: Identify A Troublemaker Talent And Develop It

This challenge may take a little thinking through or maybe backtracking. 

  1. Think of someone right now that you know, or someone that you've worked with in the past whom you think you’ve often butted heads or clashed with because you were always coming from totally opposite directions. Recognize that these people are a great case study for troublemaker talents.
  2. Assume both their positive intent and your positive intent. See how they're both trying to achieve results for which you may have a very different approach. 
  3. Develop a troublemaker talent into a value-adding talent.

Suppose you're a visionary, and while you're passionately presenting about the vision of a project, you feel that your team or a team member is dragging it down into something that's irrelevant at present. It can be quite maddening. 

If you recognize the troublemaker talents in your team, you can avoid the frustrations of being derailed in your vision presentation by talking to that person in advance. Example:

“Hey, I'm going to give you the high level in the meeting, and then let's book an hour after because I know you're gonna have a lot of detailed questions."

This short and direct approach will most likely provide the win-win situation where you can cast an inspirational vision for the team. At the same time, these “troublemakers” are given the opportunity to raise questions, be heard, and add value to company-wide results.

So rather than merely point out to them what’s wrong that needs fixing, it’s far more constructive to focus on the team member’s potential, to inspire them to further develop their strength and express confidence that they can be among your top talents in the world. As you both commit support towards this person’s development, imagine the fulfillment for you both if they transform from a “troublemaker” to a superstar!

Bottomline: It's so much more inspirational to craft and develop something that is already strong in you or others than to feel like you need to squash something and stamp it out.

Ready For The Next Concept?

Up next: Learn how to regulate by situation. Stay tuned!

Direct download: 110-Troublemaker-Talents.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 3:30am CST