Developer: Cultivating the Potential in Others

A CliftonStrengths Theme Spotlight

"People exceptionally talented in the Developer theme recognize and cultivate the potential in others. They spot the signs of each small improvement and derive satisfaction from evidence of progress." -The Gallup Organization

The Talents of People High in Developer

People high in Developer are passionate about teaching, coaching and equipping others to grow and mature. This theme is in the Relationship Building domain, which means that people who have it are typically exceptional at working alongside others. In the case of the person with Developer, their natural pattern of thinking, feeling and behaving relates to the ability to recognize and then cultivate the potential in others.

While some people struggle to remain patient and positive with people in the learning process, those high in Developer are understanding, encouraging and kind. They notice and are energized by even the smallest improvements in others. They are typically quick to praise others for their growth and because of this they are often viewed as mentors in their organizations.

For the person high in Developer, the success of others is interpreted as welcome affirmation of their own natural giftings and strengths. Seeing people they care about realize their potential and achieve important goals is fuel for the Developer. Because of their focus on others, they are always on the lookout for opportunities and experiences that will push people beyond where they thought they could go by themselves.

When you need someone to advocate for the growth and development of others, people high in Developer should be your first call. They are growth-oriented and willing to spend the time and resources necessary to invest in those around them. In fact, they are so others-focused, that they often put their own development on the back-burner to push others to greater heights. They are always willing to take on more students.

A life spent investing in others is a life well-lived, especially for the Developer. One teacher we know with this incredible strength said it this way:

"I go to work every single day believing that my students are capable of amazing things. If I can help them see that about themselves too, and then give them tools to reach their goals, I'll have a lot to be proud of when I look back over my teaching career."

The Temptations for People High in Developer

Because people high in Developer are passionate about helping others grow, and because they are convinced that all people can learn and develop, they can sometimes to struggle to select the right people for the right roles. They see potential in everyone, even those who are not great fits for specific positions. If they aren't careful. they will place people in areas where they lack natural talent or ability.

Similarly, sometimes people high in Developer can be perceived as naive or unrealistic when it comes to who they choose to invest in, both in their personal and professional lives. They might struggle to waste time on low performers or on people who have no interest in learning or growing. At times, they can even pressure people to grow to the point that it becomes overbearing or even obsessive in nature. Others might even begin to resent them for their constant coaching and pushing.

Sometimes it's hard for people high in Developer to have difficult conversations with team members or their followers. They want to encourage others and fear that negative assessments will have the opposite effect and will demotivate. If they aren't able to view constructive criticism as an opportunity for growth, they will opt to avoid conflict completely.

Finally, one temptation for the person high in Developer is taking on too many "students" at one time. Because they are so passionate about helping others, they are prone to ignore their own needs or goals and can sometimes become spectators instead of active participants. One of my closest friends has a Developer theme and she uses it in every area of her life. She develops others at work, at home and in her church. She develops me on a weekly basis. I asked her how her Developer theme gets her in the most trouble and she told me:

"I can be so focused on other's development that I can over-invest myself and wear myself out."

I've definitely seen that struggle in her over the years, and we've had to have that conversation a time or two! But the flip side is that she's poured herself out for others in such a way that there is evidence of her Developer strength everywhere you look in her life. Just like with every talent theme, balancing it is the hard part.

Develop Yourself, Too!

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

  1. Look for opportunities to teach, coach or mentor in your workplace. Does your organization have an internship program in which you could lead? Perhaps you could volunteer to help in the on-boarding process so that new employees are encouraged from day one. Or, perhaps you could facilitate a series of learning and development lunches or meetings for your colleagues. Whatever the specific context, look and ask for more opportunities to use your Developer theme.

  2. When your organization or team is discussing big-picture vision and strategy, be an advocate for the growth and development of employees. Research shows that employees want to be coached and mentored. You have the strength to make this a reality in your workplace.

  3. When leading a team or working with others, make sure you surround yourself with people who can help you understand the most strategic and effective ways to develop specific individuals. You will need their help determining the right people for the right roles and tasks.

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.

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