Command Strength: Get Known For Your Talent
I hear a lot of reflections about how to apply your CliftonStrengths talent theme of Command 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 For The Command 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 Command strength:
- On The Level
- Chaos Tamer
- Clear Communicator
- Strong Presence
- Truth Teller
Red Flag Situations When You Lead With The Command Strength
These are the cultures, interactions, or situations that might feel like soul-sucking drudgery to someone with the talent theme of Command. 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 Command strength (talent theme):
Sugar Coating Culture. Do you have a team that avoids the issue behind the issue? Are there elephants in the room? Are people often beating around the bush? Are there passive aggressive comments? Do people skim past challenges because they’ll raise uncomfortable conflicts? Ooooh. If you lead through the Command strength, all of the stuff I listed sounds awful. It could totally suck the life out of you. If colleagues sugar coat the bad news, you might feel like they’re patronizing you. If you lead through the Command strength and you know a teammate is boiling hot about something, you want them to just say what it is. You will feel soul sucked if you think that work has turned into a giant mind-reading game. If you are great with the candor, yet you’re not feeling very tolerant of the over-harmonizing, I recommend practicing Radical Candor. Check out the book by Kim Scott. It’s a way of giving direct feedback with candor and compassion at the same time. You will become a great model for the team. They can watch you demonstrate candor in a way that they’ve never tried. Once they see how your truth-telling is a more efficient way to perform (and they get less scared of directness because they see the feedback working), you might be able to slowly turn the norms around on the team culture.
Don’t Poke The Bear. See, if you lead through the Command strength, you’re not afraid of poking that sleeping bear. Yet, when the corporate narrative is that you cannot challenge the assumptions of Mr. X (Mr. or Mrs. X could be any leader, subject matter expert, or sacred thing). If you lead through the Command strength, you need the freedom to disagree (even if your stance is the unpopular one). You thrive when you can ignore the typical norms of an org chart where you’re “supposed” to defer to others and not dig underneath the decision to reveal a flaw. If you work in a culture like this, learn to bring your most mature version of challenging assumptions. You might be viewed as “having sharp elbows” or being too blunt. Yet truth-telling is how you thrive, so focus on the influencing part of the equation. Try a “yes, and” approach where you affirm something about what they did. Then your “and” comes in as a new layer of a building block, rather than calling them out. For example, Ted, I love how your solution put the customer experience right up front. And it strikes me that they’re likely to take this action next. In order to stay out in front of it, let’s add this element to your plan to make it lock-tight. See how that worked out? Rather than telling Ted he was a dumb dumb for missing a step, you built on his idea. And now he’s nodding along with you rather than resisting you or resenting you for catching his oversight.
3 Fresh Application Ideas For The Command Strength
These are ways to apply the talent theme of Command 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 Command strength, put the talent to good use with one of these options:
When you need clarity over consensus. Sometimes you have a workplace situation that leaves one party to feel disappointed or upset - you know, one of those times when it feels like there will be a win-lose vibe by the department who doesn’t get their way?! When you need someone with an objective presence who can remove ambiguity, call on your team member with Command. Although they see consensus as a nice-to-have, it will not distort their decision-making process. This is great where you’ve had harmony-seeking teammates fail at getting to the core of the issue.
When the messaging is a jumble. When you have a direction to communicate, and every department has thrown in their 2 cents…plus the kitchen sink, it can be a big ‘ol cluster. It can turn into an incomprehensible jumble-of-jargon. People who lead through Command are great concept people. They can easily narrow your thoughts into a few words or a few buckets so that people can understand the message clearly. Even in a small moment when you need someone who can “cut to the chase,” send in your person who leads through Command. They’re great at finding the three words that decode the mess in everyone’s head.
When you need someone to take the driver’s seat. Maybe your team is in chaos. Maybe you have a lot wishy-washy-ness that has kept the team from progress. Maybe the team culture has always been one that defers to the leader, yet you don’t have time for someone to ask for your permission at every turn. When you need to get to a calm, clear future state, ask a person on the team who leads through Command to drive you there. They love being direct and decisive. They thrive when they can fix or manage out-of-control situations. And they will absolutely thrive if you give them permission to own it and then get out of the way. That will sound dreamy to most people with Command. When everyone else would be nervous to own a decision, they’ll be thinking, finally…less micromanagement.
Here's Your Personal Branding Homework For The Command Strength
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Dig into the Command strength all the way. You can really nerd out on the nuances on the Command Talent Theme Page.
Here's A Full Transcript Of The 14 Minute Episode
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 every day at work.
Well, I hear a lot of enthusiasm about how to align your CliftonStrengths talent theme of Command with your everyday work environment. So, in this series, you get one strength broken down per episode. That way, you can add to the insights that you already have from your StrengthsFinder report, and then make an even fuller match between your job and your talent themes.
Now, if you're listening as a manager, take this series and use it for career development ideas. You can get clues to what kind of responsibilities you could give a person with this talent theme. And you can help them show up at their best by learning more about it. If you're listening for yourself, because you lead through the talent theme of Command, 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 the Command zone.
[1:10] So as you can tell, today, the theme of the episode is Command. And you're going to get three layers to think about. One is career branding. Two is red flag situations at work. And three is application ideas.
So, let's talk career branding for Command. You probably already have a reputation for what it is that you know. Think about things like well, the stuff you'd put on your resume or the stuff you would put on your CV or your LinkedIn profile. Those are all the things that are, the ‘what's. They are your skills. They're your experiences, or your past roles, all these expertise areas.
[1:45] And that's great stuff to build a career brand on except that it should also include how you get things done. And your StrengthsFinder talent themes tell you how you get things done at your best. And it tells people what it's like to work with you, how you think, how you interact, how you make decisions, how you get things done. So, imagine how great it would be if you could get known for these ways of working that already feel easy and enjoyable to you.
So, a bunch of adjectives I offer you here to consider using when you think about building a career brand based off of how you operate and how you think. Here you go for Command.
Strong-willed. Bold. Challenging. Driven. Truthful. Decisive. Determined. Concise. Unruffled. Candid. Honest. Persuasive. Frank. Quick. Direct. Plain Spoken. Leader. On The Level. Assertive. Chaos Tamer. Purposeful. Influential. Clarifier. Forthright. Straightforward. Clear. Communicator. Strong Presence. Unshakable. Truth Teller.
Now, when you listen to that list, did one stand out to you? Something you really would love to be known for? Pick that one and just make a simple goal of using that one, in your conversations, literally saying it in your conversations, and doing it, showing it in your actions this month. The more you use it, the more you get known for it. And wouldn't that be great getting known for your strengths so you can get branded for your strengths, so you can get more assignments that live in your strengths, where you have ease, energy, and enjoyment?
Now, I just talked about ease, energy and enjoyment. But I'm going to take you to the opposite side, which is the red flag situations for Command. These are the cultures, the interactions, the situations that might feel like soul-sucking drudgery to you if you lead through the talent theme of Command. At their extreme, they might even make you want to quit the team. So, I'm going to give you a couple of these. You want to be on watch for these because if they fester and you don't get in front of them and come up with either a reframe, so you can think about the situation in a new way, or a solution for it to productively work through, maybe even lead through another talent theme to get it oriented in new way in your head, it might give you the urge to become detached at work.
[4:26] Okay, so two red flags for Command. The first one is Sugarcoating Culture. Do you have a team that avoids the issue behind the issue? Are the elephants in the room? Are people often beating around the bush? Are there passive aggressive comments all the time at work? Do people skim past challenges because you can tell they don't want to raise uncomfortable conflicts?
[4:49] Well, if you lead through Command, all the stuff I just said, sounds awful to you. It could totally suck the life out of you if you are running around and your colleagues are constantly sugarcoating the bad news. You might even feel like they're patronizing you. If you lead through Command and you know a teammate is boiling hot about something, you want him to, “Just say what it is. Just be straight. Just say it with me.” You'll be soul-sucked.
If you think that work has turned into this giant game of mind reading, if you are great with candor, yet, you're not feeling very tolerant of the over harmonizing part that you perceive at your office, I recommend practicing radical candor. So, check out that book by Kim Scott. It's actually called Radical Candor and it's a way of giving direct feedback with candor that you already have naturally with Command and compassion, both at the same time. And it would be a great thing to practice with Command because you could become a model for the team. They can watch you demonstrate the candor part, because that will come naturally to you. And it's something that they've potentially never tried. They may have over emphasized the compassion part on their side.
So, once they see your truth telling part, and they see it as an efficient way to perform, and they get less scared of the directness because they see the feedback working, because you've added the compassion part with it and makes it palatable, so if you do all this, you might be able to slowly turn around those norms on the team culture.
[6:28] So that's a great example of finding the red flag, and then being the change that you want to see on the team by doing both candor and compassion at the same time.
Next red flag is a team I would call, Don't Poke The Bear Team. See, if you lead through Command, you're not afraid of poking that sleeping bear. Yet, if the corporate narrative, or let's just say you might have that team storytelling that happens where people warn you like, “Hey, don't challenge the assumption of Mr. X” (well, Mr. or Mrs. X in this example, could be any leader, any subject-matter expert who is highly esteemed at the company or any sacred thing), and you walk in and people tell you, “Oh, don't do that. That's one of those untouchables.”, well, if you lead through Command, you need the freedom to disagree.
And you don't mind if your stance is the unpopular one. You thrive when you can ignore the typical norms of an org chart where you're supposed to defer to others, or you're not supposed to dig underneath the decisions, you're not supposed to reveal those flaws. Well, if you work in a culture like this, oh, it can challenge you but learn to bring your most mature version of how you challenge assumptions because if you lead through Command, you're going to naturally challenge assumptions.
You might be viewed as having sharp elbows, or being too blunt, if you don't bring your most mature version of it, because it will just look like you are busting up other people's work all the time. But this truth telling part, it's how you thrive. So, focus on the influencing part of the equation. What I recommend experimenting with is the “Yes, And” approach where you affirm something about what the person did. And then you're “And” comes in as the new layer. Think of it like a building block, rather than calling them out for being a dumb dumb.
[8:20] So for example, here's how it might sound. Let's say your teammate’s name is Ted.
[8:25] “Ted, I love how your solution put the customer experience right up front. And it strikes me that they're likely to take this action next. So, if we're going to stay out in front of it, let's add this element to your plan. And that will really make it lock tight.”
So now, if you break down what I just did there, and of course, it was kind of vague because of making up a scenario, but rather than telling Ted he was a dummy for missing a step, you built on his idea. You said, “I love it how you're focused on the customer experience.” And then in order to make it lock tight, “Hey, let's add this other element on to it”.
So, then you're building instead of tearing him down. And it's just a slight nuance. It's just all in how you present it. But now he's nodding along with you, rather than resisting you or resenting you for catching his oversight. So, experiment with the “Yes And”.
Alright, let's move to three application ideas for Command. These are ways you can apply the talent theme of Command at work, even when the job duties on the team feel pretty locked in. Now, if you're listening as a manager, be sure to have a conversation around these ideas because you want to make sure these actually appeal to the person depending on what other talent themes it's combined with. These might not be total slam dunks, but most of the time, these are going to appeal to somebody who leads through Command.
If you lead through Command, just be thinking about how you could volunteer your talents in this capacity. But as I go through each of the three, I'll frame it as if you're the team leader, the manager making an assignment.
So, first one is when you need clarity over consensus, or when you need clarity more than you need consensus. So, sometimes you have this workplace situation that leaves one party to feel disappointed or upset, where, you know, it's one of those times where it feels like there's going to be a win-lose vibe by the department who doesn't get their way. Well, when you need someone with an objective presence, who can remove ambiguity, call on your team member with Command.
Although they do see consensus as a nice to have, it's not going to distort their decision-making process. They're not going to get stuck in consensus mode in a way that slows them down or allows it to get all muddled up. This is a great way to use someone who leads through Command, if you've had a very harmony-seeking team and they've been failing at getting to the core of an issue.
Alright, number two, use Command, put it into action when the message is in a jumble, when you have direction to communicate. And you know those situations where every department has thrown in their two cents and the kitchen sink, it's just everything, and it's just a big old cluster, and it sometimes turns into this incomprehensible jumble of jargon, well, people who lead through Command, oooh, they're great concept people. They can really easily narrow down your thoughts into a few words, or even into a few buckets if you just have to categorize ideas, so that people can understand a message clearly. Even in little moments that are just small moments, when you need someone who can cut to the chase, send in your person who leads their Command. They're great at finding the few words that decode the mess that's happening in everyone's head.
Alright, third action idea, when you need someone to take the driver's seat.
[11:50] And, of course, as a manager, it can't always be you. And you don't want it to always be you because you're trying to develop your team. And maybe your team is in chaos. Let's say you have a lot of wishy-washiness that has kept the team from progress. Maybe the team culture has always been one that defers to the leaders, but you don't have time for someone to ask for your permission at every turn. You've been trying to develop the team so that they can make their own decisions.
Well, if you're in a situation like that, and you need to get a calm, clear, future state, one of those concrete vision kinds of things articulated well, ask a person on the team who leads through Command to drive you there. They love being direct and decisive. They thrive when they can fix or manage some out-of-control situation. They will absolutely thrive if you give them permission to own it all the way and you get out of the way. It will sound dreamy to most people with Command when everyone else might be nervous to own a decision, because you've always owned it. There'll be the one who's thinking, -
“Finally, they will stop micromanaging me and trust me to do the thing that I've always wanted to do.”
So when you are ready for people to start owning more and take the driver's seat, call on someone with Command first.
So there you have it, it's a quick tour for building a career through the talent theme of Command.
[13:11] So here's the homework.
Number one, go take action on career branding. Challenge yourself to write one sentence in the About section of LinkedIn that captures how you collaborate as a teammate at work.
Then, number two, think over the red flags. See if there's anything you need to get in front of before it brings you down.
And finally, number three, volunteer your talents through the application ideas. And if you're a manager, have a conversation with your team members around which of these things sound like something they'd love to have more of.
So with that, I'm your host, Lisa Cummings from Lead Through Strengths. If you're thinking about doing virtual or in-person events to kick off your strengths-based culture, head over to our training page. It's leadthroughstrengths.com/training . Check it out and see if our current offerings are a good fit for you.
With that, until next time. Thank you for being part of this powerful strengths movement that helps people unleash the awesomeness that is already inside them.