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The Command Theme: How to Productively Aim Your CliftonStrengths Talent

The Command Theme: How to Productively Aim Your CliftonStrengths Talent

by Albert L. Winseman, D.Min.

Gallup's CliftonStrengths Command description: People exceptionally talented in the Command theme have presence. They can take control of a situation and make decisions.

People high in Command instinctively take charge, express their opinions and calm the chaos. They are not afraid to take risks or to confront and feel compelled to bring emotional clarity to thorny situations.

There is an emotional power to Command, a power that can break the logjam, face the facts and deliver the bad news. But it is important to note, though, that while those with Command can share bad news, their purpose is always to move forward, resolve issues and attain the goal. Command motivates the team to "take the hill," no matter how difficult the battle may be.

People are drawn to those with Command, in part because they know where they stand, and in part because of the confidence they instill in their followers.

Command inspires, but also intimidates -- often without realizing it. However, there can be a calculation to intimidation, because often threats to the team need to be intimidated in order to be vanquished.

Command: Helps and Hinders

When coaching those with Command in their Top 5, helping them claim both the "helps and hinders" of the CliftonStrengths Command theme is critical to productive aiming. Some common helps and hinders of Command include:


  • You have a natural ability to inspire and, as such, your words carry weight. Others often will defer to your personality as much as to your expertise or experience.
  • While you may value time alone, you are not a "loner" -- you need people; specifically, you need people to follow you. Because you are focused on others, you can be charming in your efforts to gain followers. This quality makes others want to follow your lead.
  • You have a very protective nature -- you will stand up and often intimidate those who would threaten your team at work or the people you love and care about.
  • You do not hide from the truth, no matter how unpleasant that might be. This leads you to say out loud what others may only be thinking. You can become the voice of the voiceless.


  • Your Command talents drive you to seek clarity, often through confrontation. Others can see this as intimidating and may even perceive you as a bully. Be careful not to intimidate those you seek to inspire.
  • You are naturally decisive which can cause others to shy away from sharing their insights and ideas. Seek others' points of view before you make a decision.
  • You have an opinion about the way things should be done and are not shy about expressing it. Be careful about imposing your will upon others lest they see you as bossy or arrogant.
  • You are direct and sometimes can offend others without meaning to. Find ways to soften your approach and expand your influence -- create an encouraging environment to draw others to follow you.

Command: Self-Awareness, Self-Expression, Self-Regulation

In order to productively aim Command -- or any -- talents at a particular goal, an individual must have: 1) self-awareness about the theme's power, edge and vulnerabilities; 2) an understanding of how the theme finds expression in day-to-day thinking, feeling and behaving; and 3) the ability to regulate the theme to maximize the potential positive outcomes that can be realized through intentionally applying a strengths-based approach. Coaches can help clients with strong Command talents by exploring the following:


  • The Power and Edge of Command: People with Command bring decisiveness and clarity to tense situations and can bring emotionally-charged issues out into the open. The courage to face and overcome challenging issues and situations brings others to trust their leadership.
  • The Vulnerabilities of Command: Others can view those high in Command as empire-builders who are only concerned with their advancement. They can be domineering, insensitive and abrasive -- often unintentionally. Coaches can help those with Command focus on being more intentional about the perceptions and feelings of others -- particularly those they lead.


Coaches can assist clients in realizing and claiming the expression of Command by helping them explore past instances when this theme has been particularly useful. To facilitate this exploration, coaches can ask the following questions:

  • What are you in charge of at work? At home?
  • What accomplishments have you been most proud of in your career?
  • Tell me about a time when you led a team to accomplish a difficult goal. How did you know you made a difference?
  • How do you inspire others to be at their best?


Self-Regulation occurs when individuals know which of their talents to use in particular situations, or know which talents to combine to sharpen, accelerate or soften a specific talent. For example, those high in Command may tend to shut down discussion and inadvertently discourage others from sharing their points of view. This can lead to team members not feeling valued or respected and to myopic decision making. It is then that a coach can help the client find other talents that might yield better results. Coaches can also help clients explore different theme combinations to either accelerate or soften Command, such as:

Command: Five Powerful Questions for Productive Aiming

  • Who could benefit from your advocacy? How will you make it happen?
  • What does your manager need to know about the team that others are afraid to share? How can you break the news in a way that will inspire them to greater effectiveness?
  • What cause do you believe in that needs defending in the face of resistance? What will you do about it?
  • Is there someone you have offended or even wounded with your words? What will you do to make it right, and when will you do it?
  • Who on your team has potential that is unrealized? How can you inspire them to reach their full potential?

Learn more about using CliftonStrengths to help yourself and others succeed:


Al Winseman's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Ideation, Futuristic, Maximizer, Strategic and Command.

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