Activator Strength An important concept to understand when taking the StrengthsFinder 2.0 assessment is understanding the difference between a talent and a strength. The organization (Gallup) that created the StrengthsFinder 2.0 assessment defines both:
Talent: a natural way of thinking, feeling, or behaving Strength: the ability to consistently provide near-perfect performance
Naturally this raises the question from individuals and their managers alike: How can Activator Strength be negative? How can you tell? The answer can be found in the results produced. People who are especially talented in the Activator theme can make things happen by turning thoughts into action. They are often impatient. (Gallup) As a Strength, this produces hustle. It is an influencing strength, which allows the person to lead through pacesetting. They drive forward with a:
  • Desire for action once a decision has been made
  • Break of any stalemate or analysis paralysis
  • Burst of energy for the plans and ideas of others
  • Skill of using action to learn from results and produce growth
As a Talent, this can result in haste. There are many old sayings that seem to be directed toward those who are impatient for action:
  • Haste makes waste
  • Look before you leap
  • Hasty feet miss the way
There actually is value in taking time to analyze, deliberate, strategize, get input, etc., before moving into action mode. While some people learn best from personal experience, the one who doesn’t take time to reflect and learn from the results of their action–positive or negative–will develop a habit of hastiness that leads to mistakes, waste, and pain to themselves or others. Eventually, if left unchecked, this potentially beneficial talent can create a reputation as a loose cannon.

How Do You Develop this Talent?

Keeping the following in mind can prove very beneficial in developing this talent into a strength that produces near-perfect performance:
  1. Use your strength intentionally. Some people think big picture, some go straight to the details, others just seize the moment. All are necessary. When you move into action, make sure it is an intentional choice and not just because you have had enough talk. Give the reasons why it is time to move forward in action. This will help others see that you have invested some thought and are not pushing full steam ahead in a “ready, fire, aim” manner.
  2. Be patient with others. Your tenacity can be intimidating to others who may have strengths critical to the task. Impatience can cause you to run ahead without the pertinent information your teammates can provide. It may also cause them to hold back on voicing their opinion or concerns. Patiently cooperating with others builds their trust and loyalty toward you, making it more likely they will follow you into action at a faster pace next time.
  3. Ask questions when there is hesitation. Your natural tendency will be to press harder for action when you sense hesitation. It is wise to consider hesitation as a caution flag. Rather than making statements and pressing harder, take time to ask questions that will draw out the cause for hesitation. This may prevent falling into holes in the road or heading blindly over a cliff.
  4. Develop your decision-making abilities. People will follow you the first time you yell, “Charge!” and run into the wall. The second time, they will hesitate to see if you make it. The third time and beyond, they will not follow. You will have lost credibility. Build habits and categories that will help you consider the important factors in various situations that will help you make solid decisions.
  5. Focus on others. When you are teaming with others, your talents should be used for the good of the group. This ability often goes sideways when it is self-focused. Enough talk, let’s go! When are we going to get started? Why are we still here? Instead, turn your skill outward. How can I help? What can I do? What’s the next step? What is concerning you? People will really appreciate the energy you bring and the results you produce.

What If I Manage Someone with Activator?

First of all, appreciate him. He gets things done. And remember–just like with Achiever [Insert link: Achiever Strength: Workhorse or Workaholic]–it’s almost always better to ride a wild horse than beat a dead one! In addition to incorporating the list above into your training and management of the person, the following suggestions should prove helpful in building a strong working relationship:
  1. Go to her to make things happen. She loves to be wound up and turned loose on a project or new initiative. Beginnings are exciting! When you are ready to start in on something, invite her to lead the charge. It’s play to her. It’s where she fits and can best contribute.
  2. Train habits of checking her work. Many times, this type of person does not pay close attention to detail. Close enough is good enough. Whenever possible, delegate the highly detailed work to someone else who is wired to enjoy the details. If this person must fulfill a responsibility that does involve the details, help her develop a checklist or other method of double-checking her work to ensure quality control.
  3. Keep her busy and establish checkpoints for assignments. She can likely accomplish more than you expect in less time than you think. If she gets off track, she may get significantly off track before you catch on. Make sure you establish checkpoints along the way where you can review what has been done and make small course corrections as needed to ensure the overall goals and deadlines are met as expected. Also take time to articulate why any course corrections are necessary. Remember, if she learns from her experiences, she will be less likely to make the same mistake twice.
The principal idea in development is the addition of knowledge, skill, and intentionality as you accomplish an activity. What tips do you have? Tell us on Facebook! Like our page and share your tips on our time line. We’d love to hear from you!