Developer Strength: Get Known For Your Talent
I hear a lot of curiosity about how to apply your CliftonStrengths talent theme of Developer to your career.
In this series, I break down 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 Developer 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 Developer strength:
- Celebrator Of Growth
- Capabilities Cultivator
- Foster-er Of The People
Red Flag Situations When You Lead With The Developer Strength
These are the cultures, interactions, or situations that might feel like soul-sucking drudgery to someone with the talent theme of Developer. 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 Developer strength (talent theme):
Wasted potential. If you lead through the Developer strength, it will frustrate you if you see people being typecast into a single function. You see potential in people that other people are often not willing to see. For example, you might see careers being limited because someone doesn’t have a degree or they lack some experience. Yet you wish for people to take chances on them and let their talents bloom. This seems a bit odd as a red flag for Developer (if you don’t lead through this talent) because it’s often demoralizing for the person who leads through Developer when the overlooked talent is actually other people on the team. This isn’t weird at all to someone with Developer though - they feel enlivened by cultures that help each person reach their full potential. And they feel stifled and demotivated when they see potential getting wasted.
Being the fixer. This red flag is actually self-induced. It happens when you fall into a bit of a martyr syndrome, where it’s your mission to help every person be seen and heard and appreciated for what they are - even when they don’t want it. If you see that someone is consistently struggling the role, and they don’t want to be helped…or when you see that someone is a cancer on the team and they don’t want to turn around, you might want to let it go. I’ve seen this happen in organizations where low performance was tolerated for awhile, and complacency has set in. Now, as you swoop in to try to pump them up to see their greatness, they’re having none of it. If you see it as your job to turn them around, this burden can get emotionally heavy for you. Don’t let it bring your performance down. Now, I say all of this, knowing that you will still see potential in them. You’ll still believe in them. But you can’t make everyone care. You can’t own their performance results. They have to take accountability too.
Note: item #2 above assumes you are a peer. If you manage a person who is cancerous on the team, of course, "letting it go" would not be the right path.
3 Fresh Application Ideas For The Developer Strength
These are ways to apply the talent theme of Developer 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 Developer strength, put the talent to good use with one of these options:
Celebrate what you see. Fill some buckets, and do it over the seemingly small stuff. You’ll naturally see these small accomplishments because you know they aren’t small when you add up the ripple effect. For example, if you know a numbers-crunching peer has been working on their communication skills, compliment them when you see them customizing their interactions to be more palatable to the listener. When someone knows they’re on the right track, they’re more likely to continue on that track. Although it’s popular right now to bemoan the “everyone gets a trophy” mantra, you see the value in giving out small, metaphorical trophies for each person’s small wins. Don’t let that trophy thing get in the way of you noticing what works. You’re not giving away disingenuous compliments. You’re not giving them a participation trophy. You’re celebrating the small things so that they can tell that their efforts are actually working. You're noticing milestones that others can't see.
Share your optimism behind the scenes. Tell a person what you see in them. If you lead through the Developer strength, you can often see potential in people that they cannot see in themselves. Make it a daily practice (or at least weekly), to share with someone how much you admire a thing about their work (or their work style). When you help someone see that their ability to provide clarity is useful to others, they’re more likely to give it in the future. When someone knows that their way of telling stories through data is insightful for others on the team, they’re more likely to share that data with the team next time. Give these small, personal encouragements so that people can see that their common sense is special…it’s in fact, not common at all.
Nurture new hires. Be a mentor. Volunteer to help with onboarding programs. Make newbies feel welcome. Take someone who is green under your wings. Tell them where the learning curve will be steep in a new role, and how to get some quick wins within their first month on the job. Any of those things will be easy for you to know and convey - and it will be energizing for you to see new people step into their potential faster.
Here's Your Personal Branding Homework For The Developer Strength
- 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.
- 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 Developer strength all the way. You can really nerd out on the nuances on the Developer Talent Theme Page.
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 tough to find something more energizing than using your natural talents every day at work. I hear a lot of enthusiasm about how to apply your CliftonStrengths talent theme of Developer at work.
So, in this series, you're going to get one strength broken down per episode. In that way you can add to the insights that you already have from the StrengthsFinderr report, and then make a tighter match between your specific workplace and your strengths.
Now, if you're listening in a manager capacity, use the series for career development ideas. You'll even get clues about responsibilities you could give a person or projects you could assign so that they can show up at their best at work.
If you're listening for yourself, because you lead through the talent theme of Developer, 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 strength zone. Sounds like common sense, but it's not something people often think about.
Now today, the talent theme of the day is Developer. You're going to get three layers to think about. One, career branding. Two, red flag situations that you need to watch out for at work if you lead through Developer. And three, application ideas.
So, let's start with career branding. You probably already have a reputation for what you know. So, think about your personal resume CV, your LinkedIn profile. It's probably full of the ‘what’. These are things like job titles, skills, knowledge, expertise, or the degree you earned. Think about it like what you know and what you do, or even what your function is. But what's missing is usually the ‘how’, and this is where your StrengthsFinder talent themes live. The ‘how’ 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. And imagine how cool it would be if you got known for these ways of working that already feel easy and enjoyable to you.
So here are a bunch of adjectives to consider using during your career branding efforts. Listen and try to notice the one that really stands out for you: coach, teacher, mentor, celebrator of growth, advocate, capabilities cultivator, encouraging, fosterer of the people (different from the band Foster the People, but fosterer of the people), caring, patient, perceptive, recognizer, people-investor, talent-nurturer and potential-spotter.
So, which one really resonated with you as something that both comes naturally to you and something you want to get known for? Because you definitely don't want to get known for the things that resonate with you, but you don't want to get known for them. So, pick that one and make a goal of using that one in your conversations and in your actions this month. The more you use it, the more you'll get known for it.
Next, let's move on to red flag situations for Developer. These are the cultures, interactions, or situations that feel like soul-sucking drudgery to someone with a talent theme of Developer. They might even make you want to quit the team if they got really bad. So, I'll give you a couple of these to be on watch for so that they don't fester so that you don't find yourself with the urge to become detached on the job or start looking for your next transition.
So, here are two red flags for Developer. First one wasted potential. If you lead through Developer, it will frustrate you if you see other people being typecast into a single function. Yes, you won't like being typecast yourself. But I even called out other people because this is something that you would be keenly aware of around the organization. You would know if a teammate is getting typecast and limited compared with the potential they actually have, because you see potential and people that others are often not willing or able to see.
So, for example, you might see careers being limited because somebody doesn't have a degree, or they lack some current experience. Yet, your wish is that people would take chances on other people and let their talents actually bloom and blossom through the new experiences. And this seems kind of odd as a red flag for Developer if you don't lead through this talent because it is difficult for other people to get their head around the fact that it's demoralizing for the person who leads through Developer, to see overlooked talent when it's someone else's overlooked talent on the team. But this isn't weird at all to someone with Developer. They feel enlivened by work cultures that help each person reach their full potential. And they feel stifled and demotivated personally when they see potential getting wasted, even if it's somebody else's potential getting wasted.
Second red flag, being the fixer. Now this red flag is one of those weird ones, because it's self-induced. It happens when you fall into a little bit of the martyr syndrome, where it's your mission to help every person be seen and heard and appreciated for what they are, even when they don't want it. So, if you see that someone is consistently struggling in the role, and they don't seem to want to be helped, they may say it on the surface, but you feel like they're really blowing it off, they really don't want this, are really not changing, I really don't believe them, or you see that somebody has a cancer on the team and they don't want to turn around, you might want to let it go. I've seen this happen in organizations where low performance was tolerated for quite a while, and then complacency has set in, and it's become part of the culture.
Now you come in, you swoop in with your Developer, and you're trying to pump them up, because you want them to see their greatness. You know that they can be more, but they're having none of it. Well, if you see it as your job to turn them around, just as appear, this burden can get really emotionally heavy for you. Things are a little different if you're a manager, and you're trying to lead this team. That's a different situation. But I'm just saying as appear. You want to demonstrate personal leadership, but you can't take on the burden of every other human deciding that they want to do something about it.
So, don't let it bring your performance down. Now, I say all of this knowing that you'll still see the potential in them, and you'll still believe in them, and you'll still hope for this turnaround, but you can't make them care, and you can't own their performance results. They have to take accountability, too.
All right, let's move to application ideas for Developer. These are ways to apply the talent theme of Developer at work, even if your job duties feel pretty locked in. Now, if you're listening as a team manager, just be sure to have a conversation around these ideas to make sure they resonate with a person who has Developer who reports to you, and you'll also be able to come up with new places to apply them when you have a conversation about it. So, for someone who leads through Developer put that talent to good use with one of these ideas, if you have this talent.
Number one, celebrate what you see, go fill some buckets. If you don't know what I'm talking about, go read the book, How Full Is Your Bucket? Do it over the seemingly small stuff. By the way, bucket filling, it's kind of like tell people what's good, celebrate what's working, because you're naturally going to see even small accomplishments because you know that in the context of things, they aren't small, when you add up the ripple effect.
So, for example, you know, a numbers-crunching peer has been working on their communication skills. Well, compliment them when you see them customizing their interaction so that they're more palatable to a listener. They worked hard to do that. It wasn't easy for them. When someone knows they're on the right track, they're more likely to continue on that track. And although it's popular right now, to bemoan the “everyone gets a trophy” mantra, this is a tweak on giving out trophies.
See, you see the value in giving out small metaphorical trophies for each person's small wins. Don't let that trophy thing get in the way of you noticing what works. You're not giving away disingenuous compliments, and you're not giving them a big head over something too small. You're not even giving them a participation trophy. You're celebrating small things, so that they can tell that their efforts are actually working. And you have a very unique gift if you lead through Developer to notice the small things.
Second application idea, share your optimism behind the scenes. So, this builds on the idea from number one, but it's a little different. And this is to tell a person what you see in them. If you lead through Developer, you can often see potential in people that they can't see in themselves. And it doesn't matter if you're their manager or not, you can totally do this as appear. Make it a daily practice. Gosh, you could even do this with customers, with vendors, with any human you interact with, and share with someone every day, at least every week, how much you admire a thing about their work, or their work style, or their communication approach, or their teamwork, or their adaptability. Whatever it is, when you help someone see that their ability to do something is useful to others, they're more likely to give it in the future.
So, if you have a teammate who is really good at providing clarity when everyone else is confused, well, then they're going to offer that clarity more often. If they are great at telling stories through data and you tell them about that, well, they're more likely to share that data and those insights with the team next time.
So, give these small personal encouragements so that people can see that their common sense is special. In fact, it's not common at all. And this sounds a lot like number one. But one major difference is number one is happening out in the open. It's a big celebration of what's working. Whereas number two, this is a one-on-one, sharing the optimism and a person that they're probably not seeing in themselves.
Third application idea is to nurture new hires. Be a mentor, volunteer to help with onboarding programs, even if that's not a part of your current job. Make newbies feel welcome even if you don't go get involved in the onboarding program. Just tell yourself, “hey, when there's a new team member in the department, I'm going to be the one who ask them if they have plans for lunch on day one, so they don't feel like they're uncomfortable and weirded out”.
Take someone who's green under your wings. Tell them where their learning curve is going to be steep in a new role and how to get some quick wins within their first month on the job. Tell them that it's going to be a little difficult when you're interacting with this department. If you don't know this thing, given the secrets, it's the insider stuff. Any of those things would be easy for you to know and convey and it will be energizing for you to see new people begin to step into their potential faster because you've given them shortcuts, or you've given them the ability to feel welcome and feel like they can show up and be at their best quickly.
So, there you have it. It's a quick tour for building a career through the talent theme of Developer. Shout out to Dina Silverman and Joe Darren for content contributions on this episode. So, for your homework;
Number one, go take action on your career branding. Challenge yourself to write one sentence in the summary section of LinkedIn that captures how you collaborate as a teammate at work. And I don't mean I'm a collaborative teammate. That's so overused. Go back and look at those adjectives and find something that really embodies you at your best.
And then think over the red flags. See if there's anything you need to get in front of before it brings you down. Decide if you're going to change your situation or the meaning you're making out of it.
And finally, 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.
And with that, I'm your host Lisa Cummings from Lead Through Strengths. Now if you're thinking about doing a virtual or in-person event to kick-off a strengths-based culture and make it stick beyond a one-time event, head over to leadthroughstrengths.com/training . Check out the current offerings and see if they're a good fit for you.
Until next time. Thanks for being part of this powerful strengths movement that helps people unleash the awesomeness 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.