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Called to Coach
Activator®: Developing Your Leadership Skills
Called to Coach

Activator®: Developing Your Leadership Skills

Webcast Details

  • Gallup CliftonStrengths Podcast, Season 2: Activator
  • What is the power of Activator in a leadership role?
  • How could Activator help or hinder you in leading others?

Below are audio and video plus a transcript of the conversation, including time stamps.


Explore Gallup's CliftonStrengths® for Leaders Report and discover its ability to help you maximize the impact of your -- and others' -- unique leadership talents and strengths, in this Season 2 episode of The CliftonStrengths Podcast. Join Jim Collison and Dr. Jaclynn Robinson as they discuss the Activator® theme, its power in a leadership role, how it can help or hinder you as you lead others, and how you can leverage it with the CliftonStrengths for Managers and CliftonStrengths for Sales Reports. Unlock the leadership potential of your Activator talent -- because everyone leads something.


[An] Activator is someone that can make things happen by turning thoughts into action.

Jaclynn Robinson, 1:29

[Activators] have this comfort with trying and failing and trying and failing until they get it right. And they allow other people to have that comfort too.

Jaclynn Robinson, 4:03

Jim Collison 0:00
I am Jim Collison, and this is The CliftonStrengths Podcast, Season 2, recorded on February 21, 2023.

Jim Collison 0:21
In this CliftonStrengths Podcast series, we look at the CliftonStrengths for Leaders Report one theme at a time, and today's theme is Activator. If you're listening live, we'd love to have you join us in our chat. If you don't see the chat, there should be a link to it right above me there. Or if you're listening after the fact, and you have questions, you can always send us an email: Dr. Jaclynn Robinson is our host today. She works as a Senior Learning and Development Consultant here with me at Gallup and has joined me for Season 1 as well of The CliftonStrengths Podcast, where we looked at Wellbeing at Work one theme at a time. Jaclynn, always great to have you. Welcome back!

Jaclynn Robinson 0:54
Yeah, we did! Hello. I was about to say, Welcome back! to you too. Although technically, Welcome back! Yeah.

Jim Collison 1:01
Yeah, we did! I like that.

Jaclynn Robinson 1:02
Yeah, we did! Yeah, we did wellbeing! It was great!

Introducing Activator

Jim Collison 1:05
Yeah, it was a good, it was a good, you can go back and review all those as well, if you, you're listening to this probably because you've got Activator. And so if you want to activate and go back to listen to Activator in Season 1 of The CliftonStrengths Podcast, do it right -- just pause this, maybe open a new browser window or something, so you don't lose this. And you can get activated on it. Let's spend a little time setting the intro to this. What is Activator? How do we define that?

Jaclynn Robinson 1:29
Activator is someone that can make things happen by turning thoughts into action. So you want to do things now, rather than simply just talk about them.

What Is the Power of Activator in a Leadership Role?

Jim Collison 1:38
Love that. Let's do it now. That feels so good for active, high Activators, it feels good, right? I think there's a little adrenaline -- I think this is one of those, we don't spend a lot of time on strengths thinking about the chemical makeup of our body and what, what strengths does to it. But I think Activator has that tendency to be, to be driven that way. It feels good to get rolling. As a, when I was young, as a child, I'd actually get almost a euphoric state of starting something new. It felt so good to just get something going and, something new. But we're not talking about it as a child; we're talking about it in a leadership capability. We've been spending some time thinking about this in the context of our CliftonStrengths for Leaders Report. So what is the power of this theme, then, in a leadership role?

Jaclynn Robinson 2:26
Think this leader is really good at getting people moving towards action. The, and if they are adept at matching talent to task -- if we're thinking about surrounding themes -- then they can delegate out those actions in a way that's efficient and has everyone's best talents in mind. Their inclination to act, so to speak, can help them push products or services to market faster as well. So that can serve the customer's needs more expediently. So a couple of, or maybe three things that I just mentioned that are kind of that power-packed combo of Activator there.

How Can Those With Activator Lead Others?

Jim Collison 2:57
Do you think that Activator can give confidence, in some cases, to be able to -- we're gonna talk about this, maybe, when we talk about Needs of Followers, but, but to -- sometimes we just need people to get moving, or maybe in a leadership role, demonstrate the movement of it. You know, I think of, like, cybersecurity training. Like nobody, there's nobody on the planet, except maybe cybersecurity people. who like going through those things. And yet, as a leader, we've got an opportunity maybe to activate on it and get going, get it moving, to be an example to others, right, to get that. You know what? Hey, I did it. It's actually not as hard as it -- we just, we just came out of that. That's why it's a very fresh example. It's very, it's, it's very fresh. How else, how else could this theme lead others? What do you think?

Jaclynn Robinson 3:47
Well, I think you hit the nail on the head too with that confidence piece. There's that comfort and confidence they give people to say, Just give it a just give it a whirl, give it a try -- to get to action. It can be, it can live in the beta phase for a little bit, and then we'll course correct. They have this comfort with trying and failing and trying and failing until they get it right. And they allow other people to have that comfort too, as opposed to feeling like it has to be perfect before they get it into market or, you know, carry out a responsibility.

Jim Collison 4:17
How much of the secret weapon of an Activator is failure, do you think? I mean, because, right, for many, failure is, is, it's not, it's not allowed, or it's not acceptable. Or, I'm, I'm, I'm, I am in fear of it. And, and I think for some Activators (I'm actually not afraid of failing too much). I mean, that's, that's not totally true. There's things, there's, maybe I'm, maybe I'm selective in that, but respond to that a little bit. I mean, how much of a superpower is that to be able to push through that idea of failure?

Jaclynn Robinson 4:53
Yeah. I think because they have comfort knowing that you can learn from adversity and obstacles, it Is that superpower for them to go, Oh, there's a lot that can be learned in failure. I can learn how to do something better. I can learn how to tweak it. I can learn what didn't work. It's a learning process versus something that's terrible and the end of the world for somebody, I think, with Activator. So there is a lot of comfort and just going into beta, I'd rather try -- the risk is in not trying, I think, for Activators.

Jim Collison 5:24
Bigger failure, right? Maybe not doing it is a bigger failure than doing it and failing, right, cause you don't get any data. Right? You don't get any. You're like, I just --

Jaclynn Robinson 5:35
You're still just sitting at the table.

Jim Collison 5:37
I ejected before we even got off the aircraft carrier, you know, you're like, Hey, the thing hasn't even taken off yet! You know, you, you didn't, you kind of didn't know. We're in the middle of a big software conversion right now for our cert and recertification process. And it's, this is the best time for me, we, it's just kicking off, right? This week, we're just starting to turn things on. This is when I get excited, and my, my counterparts start to fear. And I'm like, No, no! This is awesome. This is actually the best part of it. Because we're going to find all the weak, all the weak links, all the, all the problems with it. And not everybody likes that. I get it. But again, as a leader, for me, that makes it exciting, right? And I'm like, Yeah, let's do this thing. This is gonna be, it's gonna be terrible -- I've said this -- It's gonna be terrible, and then it's gonna get better. Right?

Jaclynn Robinson 6:23
There we go! Yes! We're gonna learn from it.

How Could Activator Hinder Your Leadership of Others?

Jim Collison 6:25
Now I got Positivity 6. So you can hear that bleed through into that. So 5 Activator, 6 Positivity -- those two work pretty well together in a leadership role. But let's talk about, in the report, we actually have a section talking about how this theme can hinder the leadership of others. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Jaclynn Robinson 6:44
Yeah, so this leader's inclination to just jump right in and get started, it can be daunting or unsettling for some folks on the team that are still just trying to gather information or intel, or just understand the bigger picture. So it can end up leading to inefficiency and miscommunication if this leader doesn't create what feels like a healthy amount of space for the people to get the information they need before they start acting. I think that's so important. So important. It can end up creating hindrances and obstacles if they're not too cognizant of people's work styles.

Jim Collison 7:17
I've had to learn to say, "I'm ready. Are you ready?" Right. "Hey, I'm ready to go. Are you ready to go?" And kind of almost asking for permission. I think that's one of, maybe as I've gotten older, I've gotten better at just kind of asking permission. Hey, I'm super comfortable, are, but are you? Because I'm ready to move forward on this. And I think that's one of those areas, the we to -- the me to we -- Yeah, I'm, young, young Jim is like, I'm ready; I'm just gonna blow through this thing. In fact, sometimes even in spite of people, or to spite people, right?

Jaclynn Robinson 7:56
When you're using it for evil, so to speak.

Jim Collison 7:58
Yeah, you're like, You know what? I'm ready to go, and then you just take off.

Jaclynn Robinson 8:02
I'm out.

Jim Collison 8:03
Right? When we think about this in the construct of the 4 Needs of Followers -- you know, Hope, Stability, Compassion and Trust -- where do you think it fits in that construct? Where does it add to one of those, or, and again, it could be, could be all of them. But talk, what do you think?

Jaclynn Robinson 8:21
I could see it adding to Trust. Because they're giving people that opportunity to try and fail and experiment. There's the freedom to experiment and just see what happens without fear of repercussions or, you know, punishment, so to speak, because you do learn so much in that learning process. So I think it can create a lot of trust, because they go, Ooh, they trust me to just figure this out or to learn and grow. And then I also think there's an element of -- ah, it just slipped me.

Jim Collison 8:55
Hold on. While you're, we'll come back to you in a second. I like to think of it in the area of Compassion of, because genuinely, people are stuck sometimes, and they won't act. And, and, it's, it's, it's painful. And a high Activator leader can come alongside them and say, Let me take you there. Let's, let's do this thing together. And I see that as an act of Compassion. Like, I see you're stuck. Let me help you get unstuck in this. I don't know, did that, that jar anything for you?

Jaclynn Robinson 9:27
We must be on the same wavelength, because that's, that's what I was thinking was their ability to overcome -- that resiliency factor that they have, because it's OK to try and fail. We'll get this right. Or let's just get started. We will figure it out. So that, that Compassion piece, I hadn't put that link together but that resiliency piece was there, and I think you're speaking to it is they can help lend that sense of Compassion.

Jim Collison 9:52
I think so.

Jaclynn Robinson 9:53
Which is a resiliency factor, too, of, Oh, OK, thank you. Thank you for lending that to me. We got this! Yeah.

How Can You Use Activator as You Lead, Together With the Managers and Sales Reports?

Jim Collison 9:59
I just got, I mean, just before this, this time today, I was, we were going through some of the initial reports on this project that we're working on. And they're not as robust as I was hoping, you know, and it's like, Well, OK, this is gonna be a little bit of work, right? But let's get into the process and see what it becomes. And then we'll adapt and do some things different. And we're probably gonna have to do another round of development to kind of work some of those things out, but that's OK. And to, for people to hear that tone, and be like, Yeah, you know what? I'm not disappointed. In fact, I anticipated this; I knew this was going to happen. And so it's OK. It's all part of the plan. We'll, we'll, we'll come back around, you know, we'll come back around and do it again. So I think that provides -- to me, that's Compassion; that's showing Compassion in a team setting. Right. And I think we need more and more and more of that, you know, all of those lead to Hope. I always think those three, those first three kind of lead to Hope, right? That's, that's really what we're looking for. So in a team setting, I think that gives some Hope. OK. We, we're spending some time thinking about report dynamics. What if we took -- we have two other role-based reports that, one's CliftonStrengths for Sales and CliftonStrengths for Managers. If we took the Leader Report and kind of paired it with the Sales Report, how could we use those two together for success?

Jaclynn Robinson 11:22
Yeah. So this person, remember, they're quick to act. So possibilities can become probabilities -- ooh, say that three times -- possibilities can become probabilities, because of this leader's responsiveness to that prospect's needs, or even that client's needs, so they can build and broaden a client that they might have the work they're doing with them. So without any delay, these are those folks, meetings are set, calls are made, proposals are built. For that prospect, they see someone who's really quick to provide customer service and support, and like, Oh, they're always there. They've got my back. They're not dropping the ball, leaving me, you know, hanging for a week. So just like they can be really quick to market, because they can iterate and try and fail, and think about products and get them out there internally, externally, people are reciprocating that in those partnerships they have. They're like, Ooh, they're quick to respond to my needs. They're quick to give me a solution.

Jim Collison 12:19
I try to be that in my role with, for supporting our Certified Coaches, right. I want to be every, every email, I want them to say, Oh, man, that was fast! Like, I didn't expect to get it back in 10 minutes or 30 minutes or whatever. Now, some of that is I've built my schedule in a way so that I can do that. Like that's the secret. If I'm in meetings all day, well, even in meetings, I would probably answer back. I'd ignore the meeting and probably answer back.

Jaclynn Robinson 12:47
You are really responsive, and I love it! I, I can ping this man on Teams and know that he's gonna get back to me pretty quick.

Jim Collison 12:53
Pretty quick, pretty quick. Yeah, regardless, but that's that Arranger-Activator, right, for me. I love being, and I love it. I don't, I don't, I never resent that. I never resent someone. But again, that's the way I'm wired. Right. And that's what works in a leadership role for me is to be able to do those kinds of things. OK, that's, that's on the sales side. And I do, I do, because everybody sells something, I do see myself in that sale. The faster I get an answer back to somebody, you know what? They may purchase that product from us. And that's important, because it can't work for free. I mean, I know people think we can --

Jaclynn Robinson 13:06
Gotta keep the lights on.

Jim Collison 13:29
Gotta pay for this stuff. What about the Leader Report with the Manager Report? What if we put those two together for success?

Jaclynn Robinson 13:37
They can bring a spark to the team, igniting that sense of, you know, action and enthusiasm for the work that they have ahead of them or for the, the goals that they have for the year, maybe. But another way they can support is if a project's stalled out, this leader can help the team or that individual on the team just start to think through a solution to get it moving again. So yeah, I think this person can just create a lot of synergy and energy for folks. They've got that comfort level with risk; they bring that sense of safety. They're like, Let's just try it. If it doesn't work, OK. Let's try something else. Better than to just sit and let it fester.

Jim Collison 14:13
Right on. How important is the day-to-day in this, in this kind of setting? The day-to-day activities that a team has to complete and a manager who may be able to, may, where their strengths may play to that advantage, as opposed to -- and we know, as a leader-manager, you got to do both, right? You got to play to the day-to-day, and you also have to plan for the future. But how is important in this Activator setting, do you think that plays into this daily success of a team?

Jaclynn Robinson 14:40
Ooh, that's good. Well, you know, I'm just thinking now a lot of people have a ton of priorities on their plate. Depending on this, this Activator's themes, they might be that person that can help kick-start it and say, Oh, OK. You've got 10 things. This is our focus. Let's, let's put our time and energy here. Let's get started on this. Let's get it, let's get the ball rolling. And then we can start to look at some of these other tasks or responsibilities that we, you know, have to get through. But they might get people energized towards the right priorities, if they've really, I'll call it maturated, like maturated that theme, and it's really just mature, and they're self-aware of how they can direct it with intention.

Jim Collison 15:22
Yeah. I'm gonna ask you here in a second for final thoughts. I do like your, this idea of energy. You've said this a couple times throughout this, but this ability to bring energy, both positive and, you know, it could be negative, too, if it's not handled correctly. I think you have to be careful. Yeah, I think you got to be careful in that setting. Again, you know, for leaders, those other themes that are around this, I think, are as important as the theme itself. And so really digging into these reports, you get, on the Leadership Report, you get your Top 10. And you get a great opportunity to look at all of those around it, and I think a great learning opportunity. Jaclynn, any other final thoughts on Activator?

Jaclynn Robinson 16:07
Yeah, what a great time to have that theme, and get teams excited and activated for what's to come, especially after just maybe 3 years of feeling like they've just been in the weeds. It's like, Ooh, to your point, this can be hopeful. Let's think about what we have, you know, now and moving on in the future. What do we want to get started on? They have that natural energy; they're kinesthetic, you know -- they like to get stuff started, and they like to physically move. So they can just bring a lot of fun and engagement and Positivity on a team by nature. And I think that's that spark plug that a lot of people are looking for right now, that might just kind of feel like they're in a bit of a rut. So they can reengage them and reengage them in the right direction, if they're really attuned to how they're using that, coupled with their other themes.

Jim Collison 16:57
Yeah, yeah. It's, it's, listen, I've been feeling a little high centered myself. I've said a few times, I need to get another, a new hobby. And just, just yesterday, practiced a little bit of this myself. Just yesterday, I was like, you know -- and I don't know what made me think of this -- but I'm, I think, you know what? I'm gonna grow some ginger this summer. Like, I'm gonna do a ginger bar. Why don't -- that's the most random, isn't it the most random?

Jaclynn Robinson 17:22
It really is random, yeah. Can have some great ginger tea.

Jim Collison 17:26
I'm like, yeah, yeah. There's some great things you can do with ginger. It's really good for you too. Grows well in Nebraska here. You know, so I looked up a few things. I went out, after work, I went out and bought some planters and some ginger and some soil. It really was a nice, it felt good to get that activated. And I didn't wait. It was like, I'll do it over the weekend. I'm like, No, before dinner, I'm gonna go, I'm gonna go buy some things and get this done. So I gotta pick up a few more things. But that energy, right, that you -- that energy.

Jaclynn Robinson 17:56
Pep in your step. Identify where you're getting the pep in your step.

Jim Collison 18:00
Yeah, no, I love that. Well, speaking of pep, we'll remind everyone to take full advantage of all the resources we do have available in Gallup Access. Head out to All these themes are available now in our Resources -- funny, just real quick side story -- that actually, I've been saying this for a while; they actually weren't. And we, some of them were, some of them weren't. Of course, Mark, who does all the editing for this, has been helping me get those in there. He has. He likes, like me, he likes things complete. So he spent a bunch of time. Mark, thanks. He'll, he'll be transcribing this right now. So Mark, thanks for your -- he'll be doing this here, I don't know, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 weeks. So Mark, thanks for your work on it; by now we have it all set up. But head to the Resources tab menu, upper left-hand corner. Drop that down, choose Resources, put in any of the themes. You'll see everything we've done around these themes. Lots of resources available for you. Even if we hadn't tagged it right the first time, there's still a lot of resources available for you that are out there. And maybe by the time you're listening to this, we have that all fixed. Stay up to date with all the Gallup -- because we Activate it -- stay up to date, stay up to date with all the webcasts by following us on Eventbrite: Create an account, click the Follow button, and we'll get a notification every time we do something new. Join us on any social platform by searching "CliftonStrengths," and thanks for listening today. If you enjoyed it, share it. Hit the Like button, subscribe, whatever -- just, just make sure you don't miss another one of these.

Jaclynn Robinson 19:19
Just do it.

Jim Collison 19:20
We want to thank you for joining us today. If you're listening live, stay around for some of the midshow. With that, we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.

Jaclynn Robinson's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Achiever, Strategic, Maximizer, Positivity and Relator.

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

Gallup®, CliftonStrengths® and each of the 34 CliftonStrengths theme names are trademarks of Gallup. Copyright © 2000 Gallup, Inc. All rights reserved.

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