After noticing a trend of employees strengths being underutilized on a daily basis in the workplace Dr. Clifton, colleagues from Gallup and other academic professionals carried out 20,000 interviews with individuals working in leadership positions. These leaders held various roles and the interviewers sought leaders from a multitude of industries. All leaders were interviewed for 90 minutes and asked the same set of standardized questions.
Upon completing their 20,000 interview, Dr. Clifton and his research team was unable to produce one strength common to all of the top leaders (Rath, 2008).
A leader needs to know his strengths as a carpenter knows his tools, or as a physician knows the instruments at her disposal. What great leaders have in common is that each truly knows his or her strengths – and can call on the right strength at the right time. This explains why there is no definitive list of characteristics that describes all leaders – Dr. Donald O. Clifton, 2003 (Rath, 2008, p. 13). Executing themes aid individuals in getting things done. Leaders who posses skills in this domain are known for their abilities to ‘make things happen’ they set their sites on a goal, make a plan and stay laser focused on that goal until it’s realized.
Influencing themes aid an individual to take charge of a situation, speak up and share important thoughts or ideas as well as ensure fellow team members have a voice. Leaders who possess strengths in this domain are known for their abilities to assist their team reach a larger market by sharing ideas within their organization and selling them to others on the outside.
Relationship Building themes aid an individual in the process of building the solid foundations of a relationships that are necessary to maintain a team together during difficult times. Leaders who posses strengths in this domain are known for their ability to bring the bits and pieces of the organization together and make them work like a finely tuned machine. These leaders are able to bring individuals together in a manner in which what they are able to create together far exceeds what they would be able to create alone combined
Strategic Thinking themes aid an individual to make better decisions after they have analyzed the information and believe they are properly informed on the matter. Leaders who posses strengths in this domain are known for their abilities for innovation, these individuals have their eyes set on a future idea and because of this are focused on that future idea Individuals with talents ranging the executing domain have an eagerness within themselves to be detail oriented and produce high quality products that are a representation of themselves.
Individuals in the executing domain are thoughtful of the system, rules, budgets, timelines, process and enjoy structure.
Individuals skilled in the executing domain are highly task-oriented.
Individuals with strengths in the executing domain are highly depended on to finish tasks on or before deadline “People exceptionally talented in the Discipline theme enjoy routine and structure. Their world is best described by the order they create” Building Trust
Having been in the military discipline is something that I learned early on, consistency is something that I thrive upon, I like standardization for multiple reason and believe details make all the difference. As a leader it is my belief that being consistent is important as I must treat everyone equally and fairly.
Using my strengths to the advantage of the team to pick up detail oriented work that many find tedious and time consuming yet I find invigorating. Work as a member of the team and ask if there are tasks that I may be able to help with, also when under deadlines assist the team in order to meet timelines.
I am a huge fan of calendars and I am a visual person. In an office I will put a great big calendar up on the wall and plan things out, break down timelines, note key dates, things get color coded, maybe circled, I want to be able to walk into the office and know what’s going on, I want to be at my desk or on the phone and look up and know, if someone walks in I want them to be able to figure out what’s going on. I’m also going to have that information in my computer/phone/etc.
It’s my belief that everyone should have a short term and long term goal, these goals can be changing, obviously the short term should be evolving. Write these goals down and look at them every day. Also, keep track of the things you are doing and accomplishing when you think about what you do it may not seem like much, but when you write these things down it adds up. “People exceptionally talented in the Responsibility theme take psychological ownership of what they say they will do. They are committed to stable values such as honesty and loyalty” Building Trust
It is my belief that it is important to acknowledge and commend individuals who have displayed outstanding “moral strength and integrity,” when we take the time to recognize this type of character perhaps it will inspire others to behave in such a manner. I would rather recognize someone for having the courage to do the difficult thing than have to punish someone for doing the wrong thing.
The individuals you work with are a type of family, you spend the majority of your day with them, you spend the week with them, get to know them, their families, their stories, it’s only natural that you develop a sense of community. As a leader I want to ensure that my team knows that I care about them and their needs. I want to check in with everyone each day to see how everyone is doing, check up on families once a week, when individuals are sick/injured/have surgery I want to check up on them. At a previous job on my one year anniversary card my director wrote ‘you’re such a wonderful addition to the office,’ I spent 80% of my time out of the office.
The team knows that due to my personality they can rely on me to make certain projects will get done on time, however, I will learn to delegate and let the team work to get things done. By doing this not only will I be relieving the burden from myself, but I will be allowing the team to take on new tasks, learn more responsibility, new skills, and come together to finish the project.
Along with delegating tasks, I’m going to allow team members to make more choices for themselves. While I am choosing to release some of the responsibility I am going to allow the team members to decide which tasks they want to work on, as discussed earlier each individual has their own set of strengths. Along with individual strengths employees tend to grow bored and stagnant in their positions, this will give them the opportunity to experience change and grow as an individual. “People exceptionally talented in the Achiever theme work hard and possess a great deal of stamina. They take immense satisfaction in being busy and productive” Build Trust
“Showing people that you see yourself as an equal, not a superior, can inspire feelings of trust and respect” (Rath, 2008, p. 103). Never in my career have I thought I was too good to do something, if this meant cleaning a toilet, water coolers, scrubbing the training room floor, or massaging an overweight, hairy, Russian wrestler I did it with a smile. I always had the mentality which I’ve passed along that I would never ask an athlete to do something I myself couldn’t do, while I myself can not lift the same amount of weight I would never expect them to do a hip thruster if I couldn’t.
I feel that this setting and achieving a goal is not directed towards the workplace, however, I do tend to share my personal life at work. An example here could be planning a trip to Paris with a friend and deciding to learn French. There’s an end date and someone you care about that you’ve taken on a project with. I would share my struggles and success stories of learning French, perhaps someone at work speaks French or would speak with me.
“The one thing they can control in life is their own effort” (Rath, 2008, p. 104). There are so many motivational speakers and celebrities, entrepreneurs, on and on that all say the same thing and that is that they had to work for it. Being the one who comes in first thing in the morning and leaving last at the end of the day is how an individual becomes successful, how a person becomes noticed, not by putting in the bare minimum.
Many times people ask me how I wound up in my current profession and I explain it to them, and tell them I’m currently in school. Then they ask me about my background and education which leaves most people shocked. I always try to tell people nothing is impossible if you want it badly enough, most individuals are full of excuses as to why they can’t do something instead of figuring out a how they can. I’m happy to help someone dream the biggest dream and then help them figure out the how. Individuals in the influencing domain have lots of energy and are typically more extroverted than individuals of other domains.
Individuals in the influencing domain are skilled at assembling others and persuading them into a thought process.
Individuals with a strong influencing domain are cognizant of the freedom to speak up, the freedom to act and make change when they see fit.
Individuals in the influencing domain live to inspire others and will do what it takes to make that individuals vision become a reality “People exceptionally talented in the Self-Assurance theme feel confident in their ability to take risks and manage their own lives. They have an inner compass that gives them certainty in their decisions” Building Trust
I believe it is important to be honest with people, even employees. When asked ‘how did I get here,’ talk about the struggle, the failure, the days when I wanted to give up, the redirects, and then tell them the success stories. Talk about the good days, the wins, the reasons you got out of bed. Nothing worth doing is ever easy and the people who are the best at what they do are the ones who practice the most or work at it the hardest.
After a tournament a wrestler was sitting in medical with me and he looked at me and said “You know, I’ve never won a tournament before.” I looked at him and replied “well, if you’re going to win one, I think this is the one to win.” Oscar Wood, 2004 Olympic Trials
In the military I was taught to always answer questions with confidence even if I didn’t know the answer, this doesn’t necessarily translate to the civilian world, but I’m happy to tell you that’s an excellent question I’ll get back to you with confidence. I do enjoy being able to share a past experience to make things relatable, however, that isn’t always possible in that event I find it’s best to be fully educated and ask other team members for their input.
I want to set high goals, I mean high! When individuals set goals then tend to set goals they think are attainable or that they are ‘comfortable’ with. NO WAY! I want nothing to do with that, I don’t want to be comfortable nor do I want my team comfortable. An incredibly high goal, something that seems unattainable is something an individual is going to have to work for, step outside of their comfort zone, think in a manner they are unaccustomed to, give up being content. Individuals in the strategic thinking domain are happiest when thinking.
Individuals in the strategic thinking domain need to know the ‘why’ or ‘how,’ they are concerned with purpose behind something.
Individuals in the strategic thinking domain like data, facts, strategies, concepts, ideas and big picture.
Individuals gifted in the strategic thinking domain thrive when presented with the opportunity to create and explore.
Individuals in the strategic thinking domain are a good source when looking for counsel, ideas or wisdom “People exceptionally talented in the Intellection theme are characterized by their intellectual activity. They are introspective and appreciate intellectual discussions”
Learning to give my honest opinion to others in a thoughtful and meaningful manner will assist individuals in the decision making process. This may aid them in avoiding mistakes and guide them on their path towards success.
For those interested in stimulating conversation one of the manners in which I build relationships is through intellectual and philosophical debate, for those who similarly enjoy the give and take/push and pull I am able to provide them with hours of never-ending companionship.
I will learn that others don’t know what is going on in my head and that I need to verbalize this. When I need time alone to think and do my thing I will let my team know that that is what is going on and once I’ve completed my process I’ll rejoin the team. Until then they are to go about their work. I understand that what works for me is not everyone’s style, nor does everyone understand my style, therefore it’s best to provide a heads up before sequestering myself.
At the beginning of projects I plan to be involved in the process and available to all individuals assigned. After launching I expect to be updated and plan to oversee the project, throughout the duration of the project I will let the creative juices flow, in an attempt to add to the better of the project. The four StrengthsFinder domains may be classified into two categories:
Task-Oriented (Strategic Thinking & Executing domain)
Works to progress the team towards goals.
May get a bad reputation for being indifferent towards others.
Appreciates completing projects or tasks.
Builds relationships through hands on activities. The four StrengthsFinder domains may be classified into two categories:
People-Oriented (Influencing & Relationship Building domains)
Assemble people and keep the team together during difficult times.
Occasionally are accused of not being able to manage time or prioritize tasks.
Tasks are completed to demonstrate the value of a relationship that exists.
Tasks are completed with a sense of urgency due to these relationships. The StrengthsFinder assessment online, organizes the strengths in each of the four leadership domains:
- EXECUTING: Achiever, Arranger, Belief, Consistency, Deliberative, Discipline, Focus, Responsibility, Restorative
- INFLUENCING: Activator, Command, Communication, Competition, Maximizer, Self-Assurance, Significance, Woo
- RELATIONSHIP BUILDING: Adaptability, Developer, Connectedness, Empathy, Harmony, Includer, Individualization, positivity, Relator
- STRATEGIC THINKING: Analytical, Context, Futuristic, Ideation, input, Intellection, Learner, Strategic
Individuals who take the Strenths
Finder assessment will receive an individualized profile of their personal five greatest strengths from the 34 listed above. They will learn their strongest domain, and with this information individuals are able to apply it to how they strategize, create, interact with others, and even think. -Dr. Clifton and his research team developed “StrengthsFinder,” an online program created for individuals both leaders and followers. This program is designed to assist leaders in discovering their true strengths as many are unaware and don’t don’t take advantage of the skills already available to them. When discovering followers strengths leaders are able to learn how to better utilize their skills and abilities, they are better able to understand how to mentor and coach them. By focusing on employee strengths as opposed to focusing on weaknesses and how to correct them the employee will become more engaged in the work environment (Rath, 2008).