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The Activator Theme: How to Productively Aim Your CliftonStrengths Talent

The Activator Theme: How to Productively Aim Your CliftonStrengths Talent

Gallup's CliftonStrengths Activator description: 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.

Let's get going. Can we just get it started? We don't have to get it all figured out -- let's just start and we'll make adjustments along the way.

Those with Activator in their Top 5 have a restless energy that drives them to get something started and to influence others to do the same. Activators tend to live by the motto "the worst action to take is no action." They learn by doing and bring energy to most any situation. Getting things moving, getting the ball rolling, setting things in motion -- these are all common characteristics of the CliftonStrengths Activator theme.

However, while Activators are energized by starting, they usually are not so much by finishing. In fact, those high in Activator may get bored halfway through a project and begin looking around for a new challenge to tackle.

Activator: Helps and Hinders

When coaching those with Activator as a Signature Theme, helping them claim both the "helps and hinders" of the CliftonStrengths Activator theme is critical to productive aiming. Some common helps and hinders of Activator include:


  • With Activator in your Top 5, you likely excel at mobilizing your team to action -- you communicate what has to be done and then instill a sense of urgency.
  • You are a catalyst for saving your organization time, energy and money. You are impatient for action and get things moving when projects stall.
  • You are not afraid to take risks, which can make you a great innovator.
  • Your energy and action-oriented approach instill momentum -- you keep things progressing forward.


  • You may have a tendency to charge ahead and act without a concrete plan. Challenge yourself to stop and consider alternatives and consequences before taking action.
  • Your drive to get started means you may miss important ideas from others. Give others on the team a chance to give input.
  • Because you believe only action leads to performance, you may be perceived as unorganized or impulsive. If you are a manager or team leader, take time to explain your reasoning and make sure you are clear about your expectations.
  • You start things quickly and that may cause others to feel left out, unappreciated or undervalued. Take time to listen to others to ensure you are headed in the right direction.

Activator: Self-Awareness, Self-Expression, Self-Regulation

In order to productively aim Activator 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; 3) The ability to regulate their Activator to maximize the potential positive outcomes that can be realized through intentionally applying a strengths-based approach. Coaches can help clients with strong Activator talents by exploring the following:


  • The Power and Edge of Activator: Activators tend to be catalysts, naturally turning ideas into action and making things happen. They tend to have a contagious energy and bring instant momentum to nearly any situation. And it's not only about getting things started for themselves, it is also about getting others going; Activator can be more "Let's get going" than "I need to get going." There is an inherent need in the Activator talent theme to bring others along as they start the journey.
  • The Vulnerabilities of Activator: Because they derive satisfaction from getting things started, those with strong Activator talents may not always finish what they start -- the thrill is in the start-up, not the wind-down. Unfortunately, some may see them as unreliable, so help them be aware of this perception and either use other talents or partner with others so that once a project is started, it gets completed.


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

  • Tell me about your best day at work. What made it a great day? (listen for expression of Activator)
  • When was the last time you helped your team get off of "dead center"? What were the results?
  • In what situations do you get restless? When was the last time that happened, and what did you do about it?
  • What is your most effective way to problem-solve? Tell me about a time when you solved a particularly difficult problem.


Self-Regulation occurs when individuals know which of their talents to use in particular situations, or know which talents to combine to either sharpen or accelerate a specific talent, or to soften that talent. For example, Activators want to get started and may find themselves off and running before others are ready to come along. It is then that a coach can help the client find other talents that might yield better results. Also, coaches can help clients explore different theme combinations. Below are some possible combinations that will either accelerate or soften Activator:

Activator: Five Powerful Questions for Productive Aiming

  • How do you evaluate and measure progress? How do you know your activity is getting you where you want to go?
  • What is something important that you have been putting off doing? What is the best way for you to get started?
  • What projects in your work or life have you started that need to be finished? How will you get started on finishing?
  • Who gives you the feedback you need to let you know you're starting the right things at the right time?
  • What does success look like for you and how do you celebrate it?

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

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