Strengths Coaching Blog

Monday, April 10, 2017

Mastery Monday: Understanding Activator

By Albert L. Winseman, D.Min


“Okay, are we done talking about this? Let’s get moving.”  If you have Activator in your Top Five, you probably have said this more than once – maybe weekly (or more often) in your team meetings. Activators tend to live by the motto that the worst action to take is no action. Those strong in Activator talents learn by doing, and they bring energy to most any situation that needs a boost. Activator is energized by starting, but usually not so much by finishing. In fact, those high in Activator may get bored half way through a project and look around for something else to get started. Getting things moving, getting the ball rolling, setting things in motion – these are all common characteristics of the Activator theme.

In this installment of Compare and Contrast, I look at the similarities and differences between Activator and Command, Ideation, and Woo.


Activator and Command

Both Activator and Command have a decisiveness about them that moves things forward. But while there is a natural impatience with Activator, that may not be the case with Command. Depending on other themes, Command may be very content to get all the data, weigh all the options, and then give the orders to act. But strong Activator doesn’t need or want to wait; “we don’t have to get it all figured out, let’s just get started and we’ll learn along the way.” Command will take charge; Activator will take action. Command will confront; Activator will urge. Both Activator and Command are influencing themes, but while Command tends to influence from the front of the pack, Activator tends to influence from the midst of the pack. Command is in the driver’s seat; Activator is the spark plug.

Activator and Ideation

There is a certain sense of positive attitude and optimism about both Activator and Ideation that brings energy and creativity to a team. And individuals with high Activator can be great partners with individuals high in Ideation. Ideation says, “What if we did this?” and Activator says “Let’s do this!” Activator doesn’t necessarily think up things to do, and Ideation doesn’t necessarily act on everything it thinks of.  Activator is energized by getting started on a creative plan, while Ideation is energized by conceiving a creative plan.  Ideation sees possibilities, and Activator acts on possibilities. For Ideation, thinking is doing. For Activator, doing is doing. Both Ideation and Activator can tend to be seen as impractical, yet creative. Activator might say, “Let’s just do it and see what happens, and then we can adjust accordingly;” while Ideation might say, “I have an idea that may sound crazy, but it just might work. If it does, great! And if it doesn’t, we’ll just think of something else.” Both Ideation and Activator can motivate teams to think – and act – outside the box.

Activator and Woo

There is a positive energy and sense of fun that can be associated with both Activator and Woo. Both are influencing themes, and both Activator and Woo can motivate others and influence the decisions and actions of a team. This makes both themes look somewhat similar in their outcomes, but the motivation comes from different sources. Woo (Winning Others Over) finds energy in meeting new people, creating a network, getting people on its side, bringing energy to social situations.  Activator finds energy in getting things moving, starting a project, getting a decision and then acting. For Woo, meeting people and networking feels like an accomplishment in and of itself, while for Activator the purpose of meeting people and networking is to “rally the troops” to take action and get going. Small talk often times may not feel productive to an Activator, while for those with Woo small talk can feel very productive – because it builds relationships that add to the network.


Be sure to catch up on Season One and Season Two of Theme Thursday-Activator to learn more!


Albert L. Winseman, D.Min., is a Senior Learning and Development Consultant at Gallup. Al brings deep expertise in employee and customer engagement, executive leadership and organizational dynamics to his consulting work with Gallup’s clients. He consults with senior leaders, executives and front-line managers to improve employee and customer engagement and to implement strategic initiatives that drive business growth.

Al's top 5 strengths are: Ideation | Futuristic | Maximizer | Strategic | Command

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3 comments :

Merely said...

This was great. I have woo, activator and ideation in that order! That makes me a bit crazy!

Pia said...

So true :) Activator is my #5, Ideation #10, Command #15 and Woo #17!

bianca capo said...

Love these comps Jim. I have Activator, Ideation, and Command in my top 5... Interesting (even to me) how to interact to make thngs happen, lead, and innovate...

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