Activator® Theme (CliftonStrengths®, formerly StrengthsFinder®)

Activator® Theme CliftonStrengths® StrengthsFinder®
Image Credit: shutterstock/baranq

Gallup CliftonStrengths® is an assessment of personality, rooted in the theory of positive psychology. Research indicates that people who know and use their strengths every day are more likely to experience positive emotions (energy, happiness, respect) and less likely to experience negative emotions (stress, worry, anger, sadness). The assessment identifies an individual’s top five “Signature Themes” from a list of 34 common talents. Individuals can then develop those talents into strengths, and apply those strengths in all areas of their life.

Overview of the Activator® Strength

Forget the lights and the camera, you just want the action. Standing around waiting for things to happen is, quite frankly, the worst thing imaginable. While coworkers may talk themselves in circles with planning, you’re going to go, go, go until you reach your goal. Once you’ve made a decision, it’s full steam ahead to accomplish your mission. Others may consider you to be rash, and it’s true your passion for action has led you to make some missteps in the past. It’s just that you learn by doing, not pondering over a problem for days. After all, how else could you determine if a course of action will be successful if you don’t try it?

Action Items for the Activator® Strength

Choose the right job. You thrive at companies where you have the autonomy to make quick decisions and take immediate action without needing to run your plans up the flagpole for approval. Fast-paced, hyper-entrepreneurial environments, like a startup, are a great fit. Steer clear of jobs with responsibilities that include meticulous planning or mandatory group deliberation.

Pick the right partners. If someone says jump, you’ll ask how high (and probably jump higher than they say, anyway). It’s not reckless; you learn best by acting. To realize the most effective results, partner with someone strong in the Analytical® or Strategic® theme. They’ll provide a solid landing for your next jump.

Ask for action items. If next steps are vague at the end of a meeting or planning session, propose or request an assignment. When possible, take a moment to explain your action plan to a manager or coworker rather than rushing forward to implement it. Doing so will help generate internal consensus for your actions and minimize your perception as an impulsive employee.

Become a master networker. Reach out to influential people in your area. At least once per month, meet someone for coffee, lunch, or dinner and bounce ideas off each other. They’ll help you shape your activation and reach your goals.

How to Manage Someone with the Activator® Strength

Remember the childhood game Red Light, Green Light? To someone highly talented in the Activator® theme, there is no difference between the lights. Both colors mean “let’s go!” and they’ll take off running before you know what’s happened. Managing an “act now, ask questions later” type of person can be challenging, especially if you prefer a more deliberative, methodical work process. To harness an Activator’s potential and mitigate the downside from rash decisions, try these three tips:

Let them make their own decisions. When projects are covered in red tape, your Activator® may feel trapped and held back. Instead, give her goals and actions that they can accomplish without a lot of approval from other people. She’ll be much more energized and ready to tackle new projects.

Look for turnaround scenarios. An Activator® is at their best when they’re allowed the freedom to act immediately. Do you have a team – or even a client – that’s all talk and no action? Toss your Activator® into the mix and they’ll get the ball rolling.

Praise the work, not the process. If you’re a sports fan, you’ve likely heard a player say something like, “it wasn’t pretty, but we got it done” after an ugly win. Activators® work a similar way; the process might not always look great, but the results speak for themselves. Offer your feedback on the work itself and not how it was done.

Gallup®, Clifton StrengthsFinder®, StrengthsFinder®, CliftonStrengths® and each of the 34 CliftonStrengths® theme names are trademarks of Gallup, Inc. For more information, or to take the CliftonStrengths® assessment, visit