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Thursday, July 18, 2019

Activator: Highlights From Your CliftonStrengths 34 -- Theme Thursday Season 5




Join Jim Collison and Maika Leibbrandt as they talk about your Activator talent theme -- helping you unlock the power of truly understanding yourself through how you get things done, influence others, connect with people and think critically -- on this Theme Thursday Season 5 webcast.



NEW for Season 5: Below is a full transcript of the conversation, including time stamps. Full audio and video are posted above. 


Jim Collison  0:01 
Hi, I'm Jim Collison and live from the Gallup Studios here in Omaha, Nebraska, this is Gallup's Theme Thursday Season 5, recorded on June 26, 2019.

Jim Collison  0:22 
Theme Thursday is a Gallup webcast series that dives deep into the CliftonStrengths theme, this season based on the CliftonStrengths 34 report, one theme at a time, and today's theme is Activator. If you're listening live, you can join us in the chat room or if you have questions, you can send us an email coaching@gallup.com Maika Leibbrandt is our host today. She's a workplace consultant at Gallup here with me and Maika, always great to have you back. Welcome to Theme Thursday.

Maika Leibbrandt  0:43 
Thanks, Jim. It's great to be here. I like that you mentioned that we're just going one theme at a time through as they're highlighted in the CliftonStrengths 34 report, it's important to be able to look at your entire theme profile, but also understand that those themes at the top are really the most powerful. These themes represent not just whether you're talented, but how you are uniquely talented and your greatest chance to succeed at work or anywhere lies in strengthening what you naturally do best and doing more of it. If you possess a great deal of Activator talent, or care about someone who does, today's podcast is for you.

Jim Collison  1:16 
So what does it mean to have Activator as one of my top talent themes?

Maika Leibbrandt  1:21 
You know, it means that you're ready to get going. And that you probably create some contagious confidence to begin. Activator describes a whole bunch of natural patterns of talent in somebody who tends to learn probably while doing or make sense of a problem by jumping in. There's a great deal of energy toward something with a lot of the influencing themes. We'll talk about that in a moment. But for Activator, that something is the starting line.

Jim Collison  1:47 
Yeah, I Activator 5 for me, no, no surprise there for people who know me. There's a lot of movement. Let's -- if there's a good idea, et's not think about it too long. Let's kind of get it rolling. And actually, Maika, I feel this urge from within me, it's actually like a physical response. It's not like an idea. It's a physical response that I almost can't stop, in some ways. It just kind of I feel it drawing me forward. And I've got to move. What else would I notice, maybe, if I had this -- this theme?

Maika Leibbrandt  2:17 
Well, tell me how you think about this. Because you know, you're great case study in Activator today. But some of the things you might spot are that you, maybe you notice you stop listening to instructions once you realize what needs to be done. And instead you start strategizing for how to start. You might hear early whispers of "Let's go." And maybe that's the physical response -- say more about that physical response, what does it really feel like to you?

Jim Collison  2:43 
It feels like a drawing force. Like I don't know how to explain that. It is, I have to respond to it in some way. It's just like I have to get moving. You mentioned that stop listening to instructions, I cannot tell you how I've got to step three in instructions. And all of a sudden, I'm like, no, I gotta go. And it's it's one of those things -- we'll talk about little blind spots here in a second. But it's it's one of those areas, it just draws me.

Maika Leibbrandt  3:07 
Well, and think about how powerful that is. It's so easy to label that as a blind spot. Right? It it -- and I can tell you five reasons why you could label that as a blind spot. But again, imagine what that's created. We've we've done five seasons of Theme Thursday, we probably wouldn't have even done one, had you and Kurt not been sitting at lunch saying, "What if we did this?" and your Activator talent to say we can do it tomorrow, we've got a Ready Talk line at the at that time, we could do a conference call, we could jump in. So I think a lot of that we need to, we need to see that for the magic that it is and the beauty it creates. There's this quickness to commit -- it's it's the opposite of a fear of commitment. It's a it's a love of starting, you know, register for that marathon, start reading the book, grab the mic, right? It might also show up as a confusion in yourself of why it takes other people so long to start.

Jim Collison  4:02 
Yeah, that's that is for sure. Let's dig in a little bit more on those blind spots. What What else would -- it's just in that order. So what would we see?

Maika Leibbrandt  4:10 
Well, you know, and the reason we talk about blind spots is because you you really have the responsibility to think about not just how can you be good with these things, but how can they lead you to world-class? How can your strongest moments in your life come from your themes, and in order to do that, you might need to address ways that your themes selves could could hold you back. Some decisions that we all make could benefit from more confirmation. And confirmation might take a couple forms. Maybe it's asking for other people's opinions, looking for stakeholder buy-in, doing some research, building your credibility before you jump. So I think it's important for actuators to consider expanding the skill you have for evaluating the different weight of decisions. Maybe even looking at how you weight different priorities. Still jump, for sure. Still bring others over that edge with you. But know when you're jumping off a cliff and when you're jumping over a speed bump. Others might also feel like your confidence comes from inexperience, because you are so willing to jump off that cliff. I think you should know that this could also feel like a pressure to people who need a little bit more evidence first. So do your homework, know when this has served you well, and when it hasn't. I would also say you don't have to demonstrate that you have experience in a specific area or project or industry, you could do a really good job of reflecting on your experience with jumping into things and they worked. So part of that might also be being able to get out ahead of that misperception and say, Hey, you know what, I haven't done this before. And I've jumped into things I haven't done before and it's worked out.

Jim Collison  5:53 
My favorite segment, quickly becoming my favorite segment of Season Five -- What role does Activator play on a team?

Maika Leibbrandt  5:59 
So Activator lives in the influencing domain, it often I think masquerades as executing. But Activator isn't about completing things; it's about beginning and about bringing others along to the starting line with you. So when a theme is less about the dive and more about the splash, chances are it lies in that influencing theme. Just to compare and contrast maybe some other influencing themes that are also in that domain. Activator is unafraid to begin; Communication is unafraid to speak. Woo is unafraid to meet or to be the first person, whereas Activator is going to look maybe a little bit similar in that they've got that lack of fear. But they're just lack of fear about different things. Also, I think you could contrast Activator and Competition, perhaps, both influencing themes, but we're going to honor them differently. Activator says, let's commit by starting. Competition shows commitment by measuring or by a willingness to be ranked together with others. I think the the value that Activator brings to a partnership, and remember, teams really are made up of a whole bunch of partnerships. Activator can turn ideas into action, provide encouragement to just try. Sometimes what I love about my Activator partners is their ability to say, Hey, what's the worst that could happen? And sort of defuse the fear of jumping? I think Activator can also forgive quickly. And that can be something that you need in partnership.

Jim Collison  7:30 
Caroline in the chat room says raw Activator immediate action, kind of what I was talking about earlier being drawn towards that mature Activator intentional action. Maika, when we think about communicating or working with Activator, what would work? What would we do there?

Maika Leibbrandt  7:45 
Well, I think share with an Activator what you what you're ready to be nudged about. Because even even raw is valuable, even that raw piece of like immediate action, that can be incredibly important to take immediate action. So honor an Activator by putting something in front of them that needs action. Also, when you're when you're I think communicating with an Activator, start with where we can begin, and then what it is that needs to be done. Because like we talked about earlier, sometimes Activator is going to stop listening; they can't hear the whole instructions, because they can hear where we can begin and then they kind of go, it's not a bad thing. So think about communicating that way. Start with When can we start? And then talk about what does starting look like?

Jim Collison  8:29 
I think you talked about this just a little bit in what you said, but how do we inspire or motivate someone with Activator? This seems a little, again, a little counterintuitive in some ways. But how do we do that?

Maika Leibbrandt  8:38 
Reduce the permissions, take off the training wheels, let them run. That's three really great short sentences that say give them a little bit more autonomy. Think about how do you remove some of that red tape? Or position them in places where there is fewer need for permission? Also, I think, talk about the risk or what the expectations are for forgiveness. How risky are the choices that you're asking them to take? Is this a situation where you want people to fail fast and often, you know, to drive innovation that way? Sometimes we talk about it. Help them understand, when are we jumping off a cliff, and when are we jumping over a speed bump? But I also think, set them up for short turnaround from idea to action. Maybe that's quick deadlines, maybe it's early check-ins to say, All right, I'm going to check in with you, you know, in a couple days and see how this is going. That creates a spark and a joy in an Activator.

Jim Collison  9:32 
You, there's been a little shout about Activator and Deliberative. And that kind of comes up every time we do this. But then you said something that kind of sparked in me that for an Activator where like, give me permission to do it. But sometimes having the decisions premade for me is really, really helpful. Because I can move through a process quickly. I don't get bogged down in the decision-making process. And so I may need someone with Deliberative to work through all those things in advance. Just give me like a production line, just give me exact I if you need decisions made quickly, I can do that. But I need some definition around them. So actually more clarity for Activators, I think, is better than less, in this case. And I think sometimes it's just, you know, fire, fire, fire, fire, fire. And I think maybe that's kind of an immature view of it, as opposed to having some predefined targets that we're going to hit and the Activator is then making those decisions. I don't know -- respond to that.

Maika Leibbrandt  10:27 
Well, I think that yeah, absolutely. And I love that, you know, we're doing a really good job of practicing our theme knowledge here by thinking about the contrast between maybe some obviously contrasting themes, Activator and Deliberative. On the face value Activator is fast and Deliberate is slow, or Deliberative is slow. That's not doesn't have to be true about either of those. And they can both exist within one person quite beautifully. I think what you described with that partnership opportunity of give the Deliberative person a little bit more evidence, a little bit more time, a little bit more available resources to think about how the execution is going to look, and then help them take action on some of the things that need influence or that need buy-in. Right. So it's important to realize that Deliberative is an executing theme and Activator is an influencing theme. So maybe your Activator can get people on board for the safe, cautious path forward that the Deliberative person is taking. Maybe they both exist within one human being and then they just know, I might jump into something really quickly. And then once I'm in, I'm going to dive really deep. I also think Activator, as I'm talking through this, I'm realizing that Activator gets a lot of probably overcaricature-ized sort of stereotyping happening to it. It's not a word, I made it up, go to stereotyping. That's really what I meant. I think Activator is easy to see it be ready, fire, aim, or they're reckless, or they're just fast or they're not thinking. I think sometimes we miss the beauty in how quickly they can respond. How transparent an Activator can be. Because you know what they're believing in and the moment they're believing in it, because that's what they're taking action on. How inviting and fun and kind of engaging an Activator can be. Investing in that talent doesn't always mean tuning it down. Sometimes it means leaning into it on purpose.

Jim Collison  12:21 
That's, that's some great advice. I just love this idea. As we think more about how we practice this talent every day, what else would we say?

Maika Leibbrandt  12:29 
Give yourself an action boost. If you're somebody with high Activator, build a short amount of time into your day to take something from idea to action. Maybe Maybe it's a week instead of a day. But maybe every week, you dedicate an hour to tackle whatever crossed your list last, instead of making everything kind of earn its spot and stand in its line in the queue. I also think it's an important skill for Activators to build rapport and trust with people that you can influence, people that you can nudge. Maybe that means be in the group chat. And when it's appropriate, be the nudge that people need in order to take action.

Jim Collison  13:08 
Maika, what can we do with theme-mindfulness? We're spending some time together. What else can we do? Walk us through an exercise as people can kind of work this through here. This is an actual live thing we want you to do with us.

Maika Leibbrandt  13:20 
Yes, so we want you to really do this with us -- unless you're driving, in which case, I want you to just hit pause and come back to it later. But right now, wherever you are, just drop anything that you're trying to take notes on and just be in be present with us. We're going to spend about the next 2 1/2 to 3 minutes in an exercise that builds upon your your talent. We're going to invest in your talent through something we call talent-mindfulness. So right here, right now, with a bit of Activator flair, you'll you'll catch some Activator here, but this is for everybody. Let's inhale together,

Maika Leibbrandt  13:55 
hold it at the top.

Maika Leibbrandt  13:57 
And then release through a great exhale. Bonus points, if we can hear you exhale, really let it go and just be here. You can return to some normal breathing now that you're here in the moment. You know, we're constantly picking up on cues that peak our talents, we have to adjust our ability to hear these cues or pay attention to these clues. But like turning a radio dial until you can hear what your talents are listening for more clearly, I think it's important that we we pay attention to how tuned-in we are to the things our talents are wanting to pick up. So I'd like for you to imagine a radio dial within yourself. If you're somebody with a lot of thinking themes, maybe this radio dial lives in your brain, maybe it's in the center of your chest, maybe it's in your gut. Think about slowly and very, very small adjustments that you can make to that radio dial that help you hear more clearly your talents in your life. Until what you're hearing becomes clearer, more crisp, maybe juicier. I'm going to ask you a couple questions that help you adjust that dial. So what have you noticed today that could use more of your attention? What would giving more attention to that idea really look like?

Maika Leibbrandt  15:31 
What do you need to do about that?

Maika Leibbrandt  15:36 
What do other people need you to do about that?

Maika Leibbrandt  15:39 
You have instincts that are going to lead you in the right direction. And other people have their own instincts. We all have different talents, you are more powerful when you're listening to yours. Whatever you had to do next today, I want you to bring that fine-tuning idea to whatever you decide to do next, even if what you go do next is make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, want you to think about that radio dial and think about what kind of peanut butter and jelly sandwich is going to be most true to the clues that your talents are bringing. So again, let's bring ourselves out of this, bring your yourself kind of back into the room, wherever you are. Maybe wiggle your toes, wiggle your fingers and come on back out of that talent-mindfulness exercise, I encourage you to revisit this if you need to. If you want to hear some of those questions again, feel free to take note of them. Share them with us on social media with the hashtag #talentmindfulness. Thanks for practicing.

Jim Collison  16:42 
Maika, one of the things I think Activators are going to struggle with on that one is getting the first question and then running. And there's there's a few in there. And let me encourage you Activators -- do do it however it works for you. But But you know, spend some time in this and and maybe I activate on one question at a time. Pause it, think through it, write it down, do something, do -- if it's activity, if you need to get up and walk around, even though we're encouraging you to kind of think through this. Do what it takes. If it's lower for you, maybe there's some opportunities here to to actually activate, move forward on these things. So I really we're really looking forward to hearing back from you, Maika, as far as social. We've done this before, but how would you like folks to respond? What do we want to hear from them?

Maika Leibbrandt  17:30 
Well, you can follow us on Instagram @Strengthstalk. I haven't done this yet. I need a little more Activator about this -- where I plan on at least highlighting a few of those questions on Instagram. So if you didn't catch them, follow us @Strengthstalk -- you can catch on there and use the hashtag #talentmindfulness, we're going to make that a thing. We're going to own it if it's already a thing. And if you'd also like to just transfer some of those questions and and share them on your own. You absolutely can and should.

Jim Collison  17:55 
All right, with that, we will remind everyone to take full advantages of all the resources we have available at the Gallup Strengths Center, just gallupstrengthscenter.com. You can send us your questions or comments. Just drop those in an email, coaching@gallup.com. Of course, you can catch the recorded audio and video of this program as well as all the past that we've done. We've got 600 or 700 of them -- coaching.gallup.com. We'd encourage you to join us on that Facebook group facebook.com/groups/calledtocoach gets you there and continuing the conversation. Want to thank you for joining us today. Hope you enjoyed it and there should be plenty of other ones available for you as well if you want to listen to those. With that, we'll say Goodbye, everybody.


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