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Career Branding When Command Is Your Strength

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 When Command 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 Command-related adjectives to consider using in your career branding efforts and your LinkedIn profile:

  • 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

Red Flag Situations For Command

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 two Red flags for Command:

  1. 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 Command, 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 Command 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.

  2. Don’t Poke The Bear. See, if you lead through Command, 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 Command, 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 Command

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 Command, put this talent to good use with one of these options:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  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.