Strengths Coaching Blog

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Activator: How to Position Yourself for Powerful Starting - Theme Thursday Season 3

On this Theme Thursday Season Three webcast, Jim Collison, Gallup's Director of Talent Sourcing, and Maika Leibbrandt, Senior Workplace Consultant, talk about Activator with guest Vanessa Toledo-Vickers.





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“When can we start?” This is a recurring question in your life. You are impatient for action. You may concede that analysis has its uses or that debate and discussion can occasionally yield some valuable insights, but deep down you know that only action is real. Only action can make things happen. Only action leads to performance. Once a decision is made, you cannot not act. Others may worry that “there are still some things we don’t know,” but this doesn’t seem to slow you. If the decision has been made to go across town, you know that the fastest way to get there is to go stoplight to stoplight. 

You are not going to sit around waiting until all the lights have turned green. Besides, in your view, action and thinking are not opposites. In fact, guided by your Activator theme, you believe that action is the best device for learning. You make a decision, you take action, you look at the result, and you learn. This learning informs your next action and your next. How can you grow if you have nothing to react to? Well, you believe you can’t. 


You must put yourself out there. You must take the next step. It is the only way to keep your thinking fresh and informed. The bottom line is this: You know you will be judged not by what you say, not by what you think, but by what you get done. This does not frighten you. It pleases you.

Activator is going to kick off our Influencing themes. It is all about getting started. Activator is confidence with action. It is a whisper of continuous progress. In an individual it may look like you’re the first person off the starting line in a race. In a leader it may look like you’re the starting clerk. It is that leader’s job to get everybody to the starting line, and start the race off with a bang. 

Leaders with Activator have proactive confidence in movement. You have the assuredness that as long as things are moving forward we can find stability, we can be safe and we can be sure. You can also demonstrate your belief in others by taking that belief and translating it into action by taking that first step. It is an internal sense of urgency, as well as an awareness of the cost of not going. Activators speak in the language of opportunities. You have a sense of pride and courage to be able to take the first step. 

Ways to invest as a leader are by aligning your skills with the opportunities you see. What do you care about? What can you begin? Position yourself for powerful starting. “Let’s get going,” can be as valuable as “Hey now it’s finished.” Activator and Achiever can sometimes be confused with each other. Achiever is about completion and finishing what you started, whereas Activator is about beginning things. You can have one without having the other. In that way it is important to help communicate the value of beginning things. In a world where we place more value on completing things, help others see that blasting through hurdles and starting something can be valuable. 

Become exceptionally effective at helping your followers all start in a way that resonates with them on an individual level. This will expand your influence as a leader with Activator. Pay attention to the phrases, gestures and cultural influence that you have which can really cause someone to take action. 

There are some questions to ask yourself as you think of the four needs of your followers. How can you communicate your talent to help start things? How can you get people to trust you? Where can you make the first move in building a relationship? For stability, how can you position yourself to blast through those hurdles? How can you be the person who helps remove obstacles? How can you help launch things off the ground to build hope? 

How do you feel about the Activator Theme in a leadership role? Share your thoughts and experiences on the Called to Coach Facebook page.

Pressed for time? We now have all of our Theme Thursday videos in short, easy-to-digest snippets and other Gallup-Certified Strengths Coaches break down the nuances of each theme.

Register now for the 2017 CliftonStrengths Summit!



 Mrs. Toledo-Vickers is a highly motivated and experienced entrepreneur and management professional with expert proficiency in coordinating targeted business strategy and marketing efforts for a roster of industry-leading Fortune 500 corporate clients and non-profit organizations.  Vanessa currently directs and oversees all non-academic operational policies, objectives, and initiatives for a fully integrated career and college prep public charter high school in Providence. As member of the organization’s leadership team, she participates in all aspects of day to day operations and strategic planning.  

Vanessa, a Gallup Clifton StrengthsFinder trained coach, has led the development and production of a bilingual radio show and podcast series on Latino Public Radio called “Invest in Your Strengths”. The show highlights the educational transformation occurring at the charter high school, the needs of 21st Century employers, and how staff and students focus and invest in their strengths. 

Vanessa is a Leadership Rhode Island (LRI) 2001 graduate and was introduced to strengths through LRI's efforts to build the first strengths based State. 


Vanessa's top 5 strengths are: Achiever | Activator | Strategic | Arranger | Futuristic.

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