Ideation Strength: Get Known For Your Talent

I get tons of questions about how to go deeper to align your CliftonStrengths talent theme of Ideation with your career. So in this series, I break down one strength per post.

That way, you can add to the insights from your StrengthsFinder report and make a better match between your job and your strengths.

- If you’re reading 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 reading 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 talent theme of the episode is Ideation. 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 Ideation Strength

You probably already have a reputation for what you know. If you imagine your resume 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 in most resumes and profile is "the how,” and this is where your StrengthsFinder talent themes live. This is an overlooked use for LinkedIn. That's why it's not just for job seekers - it's also about shaping your career.

I bet you are like many of my StrengthsFinder training clients, where you don’t see your teammates and customers every day. That’s why LinkedIn has become so important for career branding. It's where your teammates, customers, and vendors go look you up before a meeting - to see who they’re about to talk to.

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 Ideation strength:

  • Discoverer
  • Insightful
  • Connector
  • Unbound
  • Stimulator
  • Fascinated
  • Designer
  • Creator
  • Innovator
  • Brainstormer
  • Spontaneous
  • Fast-Thinker

Red Flag Situations When You Lead With The Ideation Strength

These are the cultures, interactions, or situations that feel like soul-sucking drudgery to someone with the talent theme of Ideation. They might even make you want to quit the team. So I’ll give you a couple of these to be on watch for — because if they fester, you might get the urge to disengage on the job or become detached at work.

Here are a couple of Red flags for the Ideation strength (talent theme):

  1. The “Yeah, But” Team. This is the team where there’s a table full of devil’s advocates ready to pick apart every idea. See, if you lead through the Ideation strength, you love having ideas. You love exploring ideas. You love talking through them to see what they could turn into. If you’re part of a team that instantly greets new ideas with “Yeah, but that will never work here” or “Yeah, but we tried that two years ago and it didn’t work” “Yeah, but” “Yeah, but”…you’re going to feel really shut down if you lead through the Ideation strength.

  2. The “Little Less Talk And A Lot More Action” Team. This is the team that loves to execute and crank out volumes of transactional work. If you’re on a team with this type of job responsibility, be on watch for what’s valued in the culture. Often you’ll hear that they need less talk and more action, which to you means fewer ideas, less exploration, and less growth. Which leads to boredom. Which leads to the death of your soul. I’m dramatizing, yet if you lead through the Ideation strength, you likely love to think and dream and expand beyond what’s going on today - and to do that requires thinking and talking through new ideas. If your ideas constantly get squashed, you’re likely to feel like the environment is a total downer for you.

3 Fresh Application Ideas For The Ideation Strength

These are ways to apply the talent theme of Ideation at work , even when the job duties on the team feel pretty locked in. If you’re listening 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 Ideation strength, put the talent to good use with one of these options:

  1. Making Unlikely Connections. People who lead through Ideation are great at brainstorming ways that things could be repackaged or reimagined. For example, they could take a stale product line and bring you 3 ideas for ways that they could be refreshed or remixed to solve a new problem for customers and create new revenue streams.

  2. The Blue Sky Dreamer. If you want the team to be thinking about what you could accomplish if you really dreamed big - without constraints - this person will be great at leading, generating, and even facilitating this kind of thinking from others. When you’re trying to pull the team out of the status quo, someone with Ideation would love spearheading that type of mental exercise.

  3. 10 Better Ways. Lets say you work in a customer-facing role, and your team uncovers that customers do not understand or use your help page when they have an issue. If you assign the person with Ideation to come up with 10 better ways of solving the problem for the customer, they will likely have a blast and offer innovative ideas that the team loves.

So there you have it. It’s a quick tour for building your career through the talent theme of Ideation.

Here's Your Personal Branding Homework For The Ideation Strength

  1. 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.
  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.
  3. Volunteer your talents through the application ideas. And 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 Ideation strength all the way. You can really nerd out on the nuances on the Ideation Talent Theme Page.

Rock Your Talents As A Team

If you’re thinking about doing a virtual or in-person event to kick off your strengths-based culture, head on over to our training page to see if our current offerings are a good fit for you. Until next time, thank you for being part of this powerful strengths movement that helps people unleash the awesomeness already inside them.

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Here's A Full Transcript Of The 12 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 hard to find something more energizing than using your natural talents every day at work.

And I get a whole lot of questions about how to align your natural talent themes with your CliftonStrengths report with your job and your career branding. Sometimes it's hard to make sense of everything that you're seeing. You can read the report and think, “Oh, yeah, this is saying really nice things about me.” But then what do you do with it? And how do you show up with that every day at the office.

[0:46] 

Now, if you're listening to this as a manager, use this series for career development ideas. It will help you think about what action items you could give someone who leads through this theme. It will help you think about how to assign job responsibilities, how to interact with them, effectively, what they might need from you, and what they might bring to the team.

[1:04] 

Now, if you're listening for yourself, because you have the Ideation talent theme, use this as a chance to think about how you could build a reputation based on those natural thoughts that are going to be flooding through your head. Anyway, why not get known for those, and then start to get assigned work that requires those things of you that you love to do. Sounds like a great deal, right?

So, you probably already noticed that today's talent theme of the episode is Ideation. So, you're going to get three layers to chew on there. One, career branding. Two, red flag situations at work. And then three, some application ideas.

So, let's start with the career branding concept. Now, you're probably already known for what you do at the office. Think about the ‘what’ part of your career branding, i.e., anything that you would see in a job title. Those are subject matter expertise areas. Those are skills that you have, potentially the school that you attended, and the kind of expertise you got through your degrees. This would also be things like just specific knowledge areas, or functional areas, like, “hey, you're a great marketer”, or, “you are a good Operations person”.

Those are the kind of things that most people spend their time branding themselves on what most people forget. But you're not most people. Most people forget to consider the ‘how’ and your StrengthsFinder talent themes give you the ‘how’ part of things. And when I say the ‘how’, I mean, how you think, how you feel, and how you act when you're just at your natural default, at your best.

So, consider these adjectives and see if any of them really stand out for you where you think, “Oh, yeah, I would love to be known for that on the job because I would love to be assigned work that calls on that part of me.”

So here are some for you. Discover, insightful, unbound, stimulator, fascinated, designer, creator, innovator, brainstorm, spontaneous, fast thinker.

So, go through that list and think what could you be doing to continue to get known for those things intentionally? And then also, where could you put them someplace in your resume or cover letters if you're looking for a job transition, or you can put them in LinkedIn in the summary section, because that's where your colleagues are going.

Even if you're not a job seeker right now, this is where your current colleagues go to look you up because people are spread all over the world. And it's a way to figure out who it is they're about to have a call with. And what a cool way to guide them into thinking, “Oh, this person who I'm about to meet is a fast thinker who likes to brainstorm great, I need some ideas on something and I'm going to ask them about it.”

[3:47]

Okay, let's move to red flag situations for people who lead through Ideation. These are the cultures, the interactions or situations that are going to feel like soul-sucking drudgery to someone who leads through the talent theme of Ideation. They might even make you want to quit the team. So, I'll give you a couple of them to be on watch for because if they fester, these are the kind of things that are going to give you the urge to quit or become detached at work or at a minimum, feel burned out.

So, 2 red flags for Ideation.

One is the ‘yeah, but’ team. This is a team where there's a table full of people who are proudly calling themselves devil's advocates, and they want to pick apart every idea you come up with. See, if you lead through Ideation, you love having ideas, you love exploring ideas, you love talking through ideas to see what those ideas could turn into if they got a little air and space to be explored. But if you're part of a team that is instantly greeting almost all of your new ideas with, “yeah, but that'll never work here”, or “yeah, but we tried that two years ago and it didn't work”. ‘Yeah, but’, ‘yeah, yeah, but’, ‘yeah, but.’

If you have a ‘yeah, but’ team, and you lead through Ideation, you're likely going to feel really shut down and that is going to be super draining for you. So be on watch for that.

Number two, the little less talking a lot more action team. This is a team that loves to execute. They love to crank out volumes of transactional work. They love the checklist. They love marking stuff off, like they've gotten it done. Now you can lead through Ideation and still get stuff done. Don't get me wrong, but if you're on a team with this type of job responsibility that is very high volume transaction-based, be on watch for what is valued in your company culture, because often you'll hear things like that phrase that I mentioned, -

“Hey, we need a little less talk, we need a lot more action.”

“We need, we need to move.”

“We need to get going.”

“We need to get off.”

“We need to stop thinking, we need to start doing well.”

If you're a part of a culture, and that is the prominent cultural value, it means that you're able to have fewer ideas. You're able to do less exploration of ideas, and you're able to have less growth of those ideas, because there isn't time to sit around and think and let something grow, which often leads people with Ideation to boredom, because they get tired of the same thing. That's why one of the reasons they're coming up with all of these ideas, because they want to keep growing, getting better innovating.

So, if you imagine what boredom does, well, in my opinion, boredom leads to the death of the soul. And I'm kind of dramatizing it. But if you lead through Ideation, you likely love to think and dream and expand beyond what is happening today, even beyond what your current capabilities seem like they might be today. And to do that, to expand it requires thinking and talking through new ideas. And if your ideas are constantly getting squashed, you're likely to feel like the environment is a total downer for you.

[6:49] 

So those are the two red flags for Ideation: the ‘yeah, but’ team and a little less talk and a lot more action team.

Let's move to some fresh application ideas that you may not have thought of, for the talent theme of Ideation. These are ways to apply this talent theme at work. So, if you're a manager, think about assigning these talents this way. Think about assigning someone who leads through this talent, these kind of action items. And that's actually how I am going to phrase them as if I'm talking to a manager who leads someone with Ideation.

But if you lead through Ideation, and you're just listening for yourself, just think about putting yourself on these jobs and volunteering your talents in these ways.

First one, making unlikely connections. So, people who lead through Ideation are great at brainstorming. They're great at thinking about ways that things could be repackaged or reimagined. So, for example, think about work. You could take a stale product line, and then you could bring three new ideas that could show how that product could be refreshed, or how it could be remixed to solve a new problem for customers with existing stuff but bring new revenue streams. It would be a great way to apply brainstorming to something that is revenue-focused.

Okay, number two, the blue sky dreamer. So, if you're a leader, and you want the team to be thinking about what you could accomplish, if you really dreamed big, if you forgot all constraints, these are those kind of meetings that you hold with them offsite, and you say it's going to be the big blue sky meeting. If you're about to do one of those, this person would be great at leading, generating those ideas, facilitating that kind of thinking from others, potentially getting some of that big dreaming seated in the people before they show up in that room for that meeting.

When you're trying to pull your team out of a status quo way of thinking or operating, someone with Ideation would love to spearhead that kind of mental exercise.

All right, third one, I'm going to call it 10 better ways. So, let's say you work in a customer facing team, and someone on the team uncovers that customers do not understand or use your help page when they have an issue. Take in, by the way, just substitute anything that could come up on the office then assign someone with the Ideation talent theme to think of 10 better ways to handle that situation, or 10 better ways to solve the problem for the customer, which would be an even better way to phrase that. And they will have a blast thinking of innovative ways that the team loves, that are both practical but different, instead of being the same, same, same, same, like, if you kept trying to direct customers to the help page over and over and over again and they just don't go there, then why continue to try to get them to use a resource they don't want to use. Someone with the Ideation talent, they might think of something totally different, get way out of the box and think of a new way to solve the problem for the customer, which is the point of that page in the first place.

So, you could call it 10 better ways and that could be to solve anything that you're working with and just give them that blank piece of paper, no constraints, no box to be in just, ‘if you started this from scratch, what would it look like?’ That would be a really fun exercise for someone with Ideation. What I love about this kind of application is that some people don't like that. Some people want something to react to. Some people say, “Oh, just give me a direction. Tell me where to go.” Some people say, “give me a vision that's clearer.” But someone with Ideation can just take that blank piece of paper and have a great time running with it. So, when you're in that situation, and that's what you need, call on someone on your team who has the Ideation talent theme.

So, there you have it, that's your quick tour for building a career through the talent theme of Ideation. So, here's the homework.

Number one, go take action on the physical representations of your career brand. So, first, figure out the adjective or two that really resonate with you, and then put it somewhere that is visible, whether that is a life motto that you've listed in a social media channel somewhere or in your LinkedIn profile, or something on your resume.

Number two, think over those red flags. See if there's anything you need to get in front of right now and consider a new way to handle it before it drags you down and makes you want to quit or detach.

And then third, volunteer your talent themes through some of those action ideas. If you were listening to this episode, and listening to these application ideas, and you have the talent theme of Ideation, go talk to your manager about this kind of topic and say, -

“Hey, if you ever need a person who… (and then fill in one of those that really resonated with you, then say)… if you ever need a person who (blank), I'd love it, if you consider me for that.”

Then you just put it on the table. They don't have to assign it today, but you've planted the seed that you would love to do that type of work. And next time that kind of work comes up, you'll be the most likely person to get asked to do it.

With that, I'm your host Lisa Cummings from Lead Through Strengths. If you're thinking about doing a virtual or in-person event to kick-off your strengths-based culture, head on over to leadthroughstrengths.com/training . Check them out, see if our current offerings look like a good fit for you.

Until next time. Thank you for being part of this powerful strings movement that helps people unleash the awesomeness that they already have inside them.

About Deena Silverman

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.