Activator Strength: Get Known For Your Talent
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.
Today, the episode talks about the Activator strength.
You’ll get three layers to chew on:
1. Career Branding
2. Red Flag Situations At Work
3. Fresh Application Ideas
Career Branding For The Activator 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 adjectives to consider using in your career branding efforts and your LinkedIn profile when you lead through the Activator strength:
- Go Button Presser
- Fresh Thinker
- Movement Maker
- Just Ship
- Kick Off Crew
- Gets It Going
- Momentum Creator
- Early Adopter
Red Flag Situations When You Lead With The Activator Strength
These are the cultures, interactions, or situations that might feel like soul-sucking drudgery to someone with the Activator strength. 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 a couple of Red flags for the Activator strength (talent theme):
- 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 strength, 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).
- Maintenance Mode. If you lead through Activator strength, 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 The Activator Strength
These are ways to apply the Activator strength 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 the Activator strength, put the talent to good use with one of these options:
- 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.
- Beta Testing. People who lead through the Activator Strength 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.
- 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.
Your Personal Branding Homework For The Activator Strength
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. 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.
4. Dig into the Activator strength all the way. You can really nerd out on the nuances on the Activator Talent Theme Page.
Here's A Full Transcript Of The 11 Minute Episode on the Activator Strength
You're listening to Lead Through Strengths, where you'll learn to apply your greatest strengths at work. I'm your host, Lisa Cummings and I got to tell you, it's tough to find something more energizing than using your strengths on the job. Every day. I hear a lot of enthusiasm about aligning the CliftonStrengths talent theme of Activator with the role. And if you lead through the Activator strength and you're listening to this episode because of that, you want me to jump right to it.
So, I'm just gonna skip past, “Hey, if you're listening, as a manager, do this. If you're listening for yourself because you have Activator, do this.” No, I'm just jumping ahead.
So here we go. Three layers to think about. Number one, career branding. Number two red flags at work. And number three, application ideas.
So, in career branding, you are likely already known and have a reputation for your subject-matter expertise for what you know, for the skills you have, for what expertise you've built, what jobs you've had in the past. But let's talk about the how. Do people know about this quickness about you? Do they know that you love the starting line? That's more like the how and this is where your CliftonStrengths come into it. It's how you operate, how you influence, how you get things done through this need for speed that you have.
So here are some adjectives that you could consider using in your career branding efforts. Something that sound different from you being the same, well, motivated team player. Activators are instigators. They are GO Button Pressors. Fresh Thinkers. Action Jackson. Initiating. Movement Makers. Catalysts. Fast. Just Ship (If you live in a culture where just ship is a thing, you'll know what I'm talking about. If you don't work in that kind of industry, ignore that one. And we're not talking about boats).
Influential. Kick Off Crew. Eager. Brave. Change Friendly. Energetic. Action-Oriented. Starter. Propulsive. Spark. Gets It Going. Momentum Creator. Early Adopter. Motivator.
So, as you listen to that list, if one or two stood out to you as something he thought, “Oh yeah, that is so me” and, “I would love to have a career brand around that because I would love to get more assignments around that”, then take note of that as something that you can go put in your LinkedIn About section.
Now let's talk red flag situations for Activator strength. These are the cultures, the interactions, the situations that might feel like soul-sucking drudgery to you if you lead through this theme. At its worst, it could make you want to quit. But more likely what happens is, these are just those little frustrations and they get at you and suck the life out of you. But you don't really know why or what is going on or why you're not feeling so motivated. So here are a couple of them for Activator.
One, watch out for a team culture of analysis paralysis. If your industry or your workplace culture is all about carefully weighing every option before taking action, it can be really draining for you. This waiting game concept, oh, that's extremely frustrating for Activators because you get satisfaction from starting things.
Every delay and every moment of bureaucracy can make you feel like you're an animal trapped in a cage. So, be sure to communicate with your leader that you would love to be involved in as many pre-launch and starting line moments as possible. And since it's unconventional to assign projects like that, based on a place in the timeline, it's usually more like, “here, you get this project start to finish”.
This can be an eye-opening step or an eye-opening conversation with your manager. It can really help you shape your job toward those elements that put you at your best, especially if you find that your leader is open to assigning projects in a way that hasn't happened before because there are almost certainly people on your team who love taking things across the finish line and doing the completer part.
So, if you come in saying you love to do the kick off, you love to get the momentum going, you love to do the startup that can be really fun, you just have to watch out for the analysis paralysis part that we're talking about and whether that prevents you from doing the start part. So, you have to study all of this as an art.
Okay, number two, maintenance mode. Now if you lead through Activator, you are going to feel motivated, energized and excellent. When you are at the starting line, if you find yourself assigned to the maintenance of things like the maintenance of a process once it's up and running or the maintenance of a product once it's launched, you're more likely to get bored because your magic mojo, it's not at the finish line and after. It can really be a powerful insight to you to realize that you might be more attracted to short cycle projects, not to programs.
So, think about that. Study that for you. Is that true for you? Do you tend to like projects with a finite start and end date, especially the start part? Then you are to a program that is something that is ongoing for eternity. So, try that concept on and test it out for a while.
Think back over past roles, past projects and if you find that that's true for you, have a conversation with your manager about your ideas for how you can amplify your contribution in the momentum creating phase. And then you’re moving on to the next thing, but not being assigned to the maintenance part. Or if you already have a bunch of maintenance work, see how you might be able to shift that over time.
Alright, let's move to 3 fresh application ideas for the Activator strength. Now, these are ways to apply the talent theme of Activator at work. I'm going to present these as though you're a manager who is leading someone who leads through Activator. But of course, if you have this talent theme yourself, listen up because you can come up with some great action items for yourself.
Alright, the first one is, we will call it come in, the water's fine. So often Activators are early adopters. So, if you have ever observed somebody who leads through Activator, and you see that they're out there, they're courageous, they're breathing a new way of doing things, now, if you're a leader, take that thing you’re observing and use them as a model that the team can follow.
Show the team, “Hey, look, look what this person's doing. They're knocking it out of the park over there.” It's even better if you can get the person who leads through the Activator strength to be the voice for the team that says, “Hey, come on in, the water's fine. This is good in here.”
And a situation where this is really helpful is, I imagine a big corporate rollout. Now often the team will receive corporate messaging on it during a kick off base. Well, if people are skeptical about this change, then those skeptical people might be looking at that change link, “Oh, there's another rah-rah visioning email”. So those people who are feeling skeptical, they're going to sit on the sidelines until they know it really works well, or they know that the rollout is going to be a real thing, not just a flavor of the month. They know what's really going to get implemented.
Meanwhile, your Activators, they're already in there. They're doing the thing. They're testing it out, they're living it in the new world. So, get them to champion it by sharing the exciting parts with people, the features they love, or the timesavers they've found. So, Activators can really be a practical voice to show others that a new way is working out great and it gives some practical credence to some of the corporate messaging that might come out. Then they're all in great alignment. And people who aren't on the team thing, “Oh, yeah, yeah, there's that corporate stuff. Now it all feels like one thing.”
Okay, second application idea, beta testing. People who lead through Activator, they love being on the cutting edge. They love bravely trying new things. So, if you ever need to pilot a program, or do a beta test, even user experience testing, sometimes it's fun for them. They could be great group of people to get things started. So, if you're a manager and you lead someone who has the talent theme of Activator, ask them what they think of those kind of concepts, pilots, beta tests, etc.
Third application idea, change management. So, when you have a major change initiative, often you have a project team that has been working away for months or years. And if you have a team that's been working for years, when it feels done to them, that's usually, “here you go”. Finish line means the thing is complete, and it's ready for the market. But then there's often another set of months or years to actually implement it, to get people to adopt the change, to have messaging around the change to build excitement for the change.
Meanwhile, they've been working on it for three years, so they're bored, or they're like, “Hey, I designed this amazing thing. I don't want to have to go sell it. It stands on its own, it's great.” Well, this is a great time to involve someone who leads through the Activator strength because, wow, getting people to adopt this change is often tougher than all the tactics it took to plan it and create the thing.
So, although this is the finish line for one group, it could be the starting line for your person who leads through Activator. It's a great place to bring in Activators. They love being part of a kick off crew. They're great at being a spark of energy. They're great at creating momentum. So, notice the difference. If they lead through Activator, they likely love creating spikes of energy at a kick off. But their energy for the project overall it would wane as it drags on. They wouldn't want to be on the maintenance crew. So, get them on the kick off crew and not on the maintenance crew.
And there you have it. There's your quick tour for building a career through the talent theme Activator. So, here's your homework.
One, remember to go back to that career branding section and take action. Challenge yourself if you lead through this talent theme to write one sentence or one bit in there, in the LinkedIn About section to just capture how you collaborate as a teammate at work. Get something in there that helps people see that you're a spark, that you’re energy, that you’re momentum creator, those kinds of things that people would love to call you for.
Number two, think over those red flags. See if there's anything you need to get in front of before it brings you down.
And then number three, volunteer your talents through those application ideas if you have the Activator strength or if you're a manager. Consider how you could assign those to someone on your team who leads through Activator.
With that, I'm your host, Lisa Cummings from Lead Through Strengths. If you're thinking about doing a virtual or in-person event style to kick off your strengths-based culture, head over to leadthroughstrengths.com/training . Check it out. See if our current offerings are a good fit for you.
Until next time. Thanks for being part of this powerful strengths movement that helps people unleash the awesomeness that they already have inside them.
Deena Silverman is the Director of Customer Experience at Lead Through Strengths, where she helps teams improve their productivity by focusing on their natural talents. Deena helps leaders pull off seamless strengths-based events that change the culture of their company. One of her greatest joys is studying human behavior and helping others achieve their goals. When she’s not using her organizational strengths to create awesome events, you can find her running around with her two special boys and her unique dog, Ranger. Or she might be hunting for Gary, her repeat-escapee hamster with a top talent of persistence. Her Top 5 StrengthsFinder Talents are: Individualization | Achiever | Learner | Input | Activator.