Activator: Moving Others to Action

A CliftonStrengths Theme Spotlight

"People exceptionally talented in the Activator theme can make things happen by turning thoughts into action. They want to do things now, rather than simply talk about them." -The Gallup Organization

My husband has an Activator talent. He's always loved the feeling of launching something new and being an important part of a new beginning. He moves forward with courage, and when I get irrationally worried about the details, he works hard to keep me excited about the future.

In 2017 he quit a job he loved, working with people he loved, at a place he loved, to join a church staff as the Executive Pastor of Equipping. Once he felt the calling to to act, he made the decision and quickly moved forward.

He was full steam ahead.

Even though I knew it was the right decision and I supported him completely, I was terrified for us to make the leap and to leave behind a job that had been such a joy for him.

Ben, on the other hand, was PUMPED. And the thing is, I really needed his energy and enthusiasm for change and newness. He was going to miss his former job and the people he loved who worked there, but he was not afraid to move forward.

He's an Activator.

The Talents of People High in Activator

Activators are energized by action and they love to see something new get off the ground. Whether they are sitting in a work meeting, dreaming about the future or talking with a colleague, they are typically listening for action that needs to be taken or for opportunities to create something new.

They typically work best in environments where they have the freedom to strike when the iron is hot. Waiting and deliberating do not come as naturally to the Activator. Rather, his/her natural instinct is to get started, and then to learn and adapt along the way.

When others are anxious or worried about implementing something new, Activators are fearless. They often report that they don't believe it's necessary to have all the details worked out before taking action. In fact, to an Activator, too much risk assessment or detailed planning can snuff out the excitement of seeing something new come to fruition.

Listen to how one Activator we know put it:

"When I decided to open a small business, my Activator theme gave me courage and got me moving quickly.While I knew there were many unknowns and questions ahead, I dove right in and felt confident in my ability to figure it out as it came at me."

In teams and workplaces, Activators give others the courage to get moving. Incredibly influential, Activators have the ability to inspire team members to take risks and learn from mistakes along the way. They don't expect their team members or followers to be perfect, but they do expect them to keep moving forward.

The Temptations for People High in Activator

Because Activators are passionate about getting started or creating something new, they sometimes move to action before others have had a chance to catch the vision and trajectory of a project. And because they often assume everyone else is ready to get moving too, they can create stressful work environments in which team members feel that they can't keep up with all the new initiatives or projects.

Activators are typically fine with assuming some risk, but if they aren't careful, they can underestimate the importance of strategic planning or vision casting. They often report being frustrated with too many work meetings or too much discussion and deliberation with respect to a needed action. Because they are confident in their ability to work out the kinks as they go, they don't always have an accurate assessment of risk, or of the effort needed to maintain a new project or initiative. Additionally, a person high in Activator might lose interest in a project once it's off the ground. If he/she hasn't thought through the logistics surrounding the maintenance and long-term viability of a project or initiative, others might become frustrated when yet another project dies.

If an Activator doesn't learn to communicate well or self-regulate this talent for action, he/she runs the risk of being impulsive and unwise, impatient with others, or perceived as a "ready-fire-aim" person. Listen to how one manager high in Activator described his early years as a manager:

"I know that I wore them out. Every month I had a new idea I was ready to implement, and I just always ran with it. Some of them were great ideas and it worked out, but some of them weren't, and I was just too quick to pull the trigger at times."

At their best, Activators know when to pull the trigger and then they get everyone else motivated to act too. Their enthusiasm for creating something new or taking necessary action keeps their teams fresh and relevant, even cutting-edge. But if an Activator isn't strategic with his/her talent, he/she can become impatient, impulsive, and unwise.

How to Activate

Here are a couple of quick ideas to get you thinking about how to leverage and self-regulate if you've got a dominant Activator theme:

  1. Learn to communicate about your Activator talent with your colleagues so that they begin to trust your inclination to act. Others might be more hesitant to make the jump, but you bring a courage and fearlessness to your team and workplace that inspires others to take risks and fine-tune the details along the way.

  2. Before you take action, discipline yourself to spend at least a little bit of time analyzing the risk associated with taking said action. Make sure you can answer the question, "why now?" before you jump into something new. You want to take action, without being impulsive or unwise.

  3. Consider partnering with others who can take over after you've gotten the ball rolling. Because you are energized by what's new, you might not always enjoy maintaining what you've created - for this, you might need to work closely with someone high in an Executing theme like Discipline, Responsibility, or Focus.

At ROI Talent Development, we try to help people fall in love with every single talent theme, even if it isn't dominant in their own theme sequence. Because when we all take the time to understand and appreciate one another, we build happy and healthy workplaces where employee talents are valued and developed.

So take some time this week to encourage your coworkers who have dominant Activator themes. Ask them what new project or initiative has them excited lately. Ask them how you can help them get started. Express your gratitude for their energy to get the ball rolling when others are tentative to start.

And watch them energize others for action in your workplace.

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