Strengths Spotlight: Command

tangenby Sue Crosby-Tangen

Top 5: Includer, Arranger, Responsibility, Command and Positivity

When I first glanced at my 5 Signature Themes and saw Command  in the fourth position, probably trying to nudge its way rigorously at the top three to rise above them to the position of number 1, I was both pleased and almost horrified at the same time.  What did this mean?  Yes, I can be loud.  Yes, I can be bossy, YES..I NEED TO BE IN CHARGE!!!…but was that a good thing???  Or a bad thing???

My other top themes are Includer, Arranger, Responsibility, and Positivity.  Where does Command fit into those warm and wonderful themes?  I decided to take some time to really reflect on what Command meant to me and how it fits into my strengths as an Associate Athletics Director instead of seeing only the negative aspects of Command.  Some may use the term “bossy”, “control freak”, some may even use the term “dictator” to describe this strength, or talent.  But one could also use terms like “self-assured”, “pleasantly intense (my preference)”, even “respected”.  As you can see, this theme has a truly effective side, and possibly a very negative side.  It takes a delicate balance of self-awareness and sensitivity toward the strengths and talents of the others with whom you are working.

Command can be very effective in my role with student-athletes, particularly the first year student-athletes and the ones that I consider “at risk”.  As a department we have expectations of our student-athletes as students, community partners, and leaders both on and off campus.  Athletes are used to listening and responding to coaches in order to be successful.  I use the talent of Command to engage their attention, set up and communicate the expectations and values of the department and the university, as well as to establish what my role is in their journey toward a college degree while at BSU.

Admittedly there have been times that I have been told that I can be intimidating.  Assuming that at the grandiose height of 5’ it is not my size but rather the presence of “command”, I have to remind myself to draw from my other strengths to be able to connect with all of my student-athletes, effectively include others in decision making, and to be able to take a step back from wanting (really NEEDING) to control a committee or group.   That can be the downside of Command.

With Command as a theme of talent, it is often almost PAINFUL to take a step back and let others lead, organize, or make change.  Because Includer is my number one theme, I am more apt to reach out to others for their input rather than taking total control of a conversation or meeting.  Although many “Commandos” struggle with accepting or “needing” feedback, it is very important to assess how effective, or ineffective, the Command is on a group that you are leading or merely just working with.  In my own experiences I have had to learn to assess the various personalities in the group before unleashing the full strength of my Command.  Having Command as one of my top five is something that I am proud of and I feel that it has been an effective tool for success in several roles that I have within my position as the Associate Athletics Director here at Bridgewater.

Want to learn more about this fascinating theme of talent? Check out Gallup’s “Theme Thursday” podcast that featured the Command theme! Their “Theme Thursday” series features one theme at a time and you can learn so much!

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Strengths Spotlight: Belief

SQHeadshotby Erin Hennessy, Administrative Assistant – Office of Student Involvement and Leadership

Erin’s Top 5: Connectedness, Belief, Responsibility, Input, Adaptability

“A life not lived for others is not a life.” –Mother Teresa

Q1: How do you define this Belief theme of talent for yourself?

I’m a huge fan of Mother Teresa, her selflessness knew no boundaries, I admire her greatly for that. I try my hardest to exemplify that in my life. Personally, my Belief theme is how I live out all aspects of my life, it means serving others, putting others before yourself, giving your all for the greater good.  It also means having a very high values system. Corrie Ten Boom once said, “The measure of a life, after all, is not its duration, but its donation.’  When I leave this world I want to know I gave others my all, my family, my community, and my employer.  There is never enough time in a day, days in a week, months in a year to do all that I want to do for everybody in my life.

Q2: When this Belief talent is applied, what has this theme enabled you to do in your role at BSU?

Before BSU I left a career as an account coordinator at a leading cosmetic company to be a stay at home mom. I always thought I wanted to stay at home with children. A series of events happened in my life that lead me here but mainly I got bored at home & decided to go back to work part-time. I worked for SGA for 9 years as a part-time employee, the reason I decided to stay and have become fulfilled in this position is because of our institutions value system and mission, as well as, the students that make up this fine University. The year I came aboard the Community Service Office was opened and there was a huge push on campus for students to serve and give back to the community.  Even though I am an administrative assistant in SGA and The Comment I know that the efforts I put forth in my job give back to the greater good.  I know our students are the future & they will be an integral part of making this world a better place.  I can serve our students knowing my job has purpose, that the students of this University have an impact which will be a direct benefit to our communities in the area and abroad.

Q3: How is this Belief theme of talent sometimes misunderstood?

I find people often think that because I have high standards due to my belief system that I think I am perfect, that I do not make mistakes.  Another stereotype is that I judge others who do not have my beliefs or that I am not tolerant of other’s lifestyles.  These stereo types can’t be further from the truth.  It is my #1 goal to make sure everybody feels valued and respected.  Am I successful in this quest all the time, certainly not, I am human too, but I do try hard to “Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.” Luke 6:31

Q4: What are ways you have helped this Belief talent to “mature’ over the course of your career and experience?

I grew up in a home where serving others was exemplified through my parents.  Giving your all, hard work, dedication, and dependability was always expected.  Growing up Belief was part of my upbringing, it was a family affair.  After college I found that if I didn’t have a career that had some kind of impact on society long term than I felt very unfulfilled and empty. I need my career to have a purpose which will somehow impact every facet of our community, even if it’s a very small piece. It is something that I work at daily, it evolves with time because of new circumstances or challenges.  As I mature in my faith I am able to engross myself in what is directly beneficial to the greater good and this is reflected in all aspects of my life, career, family, and relationships both personal and professional.

Want to learn more about this theme? Check out Gallup’s “Theme Thursday” podcast and learn more!

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Strengths Spotlight: Arranger

by Gael DeIuliis, Assistant Director – New Student and Family Programs

Top 5 profilepicThemes: Individualization, Achiever, Arranger, Deliberative, Analytical

As I reflect on my Arranger talent, I envision a juggler with many balls in the air or a complex puzzle with many pieces. I am more productive when juggling multiple priorities and programs. I consider the intricate pieces (mission, resources, facilities, people) and include the creative ideas of my colleagues as a way to find the best solution. When reading my Gallup report, this talent theme immediately resonated for me.

For those who know me it may not come as a surprise that the Arranger theme is my #3 dominant talent. This theme describes my ability to manage, coordinate and execute multiple priorities. It is a talent I exercise in all aspects of my life; as a professional, wife, mother, daughter, sister, etc. Whether it is a program at work or a family matter, my distinctive response is to begin planning, coordinating, and anticipating.  It speaks to my talent for considering all the variables to produce the most effective outcome. My Arranger talent highlights my ability to be flexible, be open to the ideas of others, as well as a preference to accomplish tasks in a collaborative, team environment.

At BSU, we are all faced with the challenge of getting our work done with limited resources and keeping things current and relevant amidst constant change. My Arranger talent allows me to flourish in a complex working environment. I am at my best when handling multiple priorities and projects. My approach to a successful outcome is to remain flexible while aligning details, resources and collaborative interests. In my world, nothing is etched in stone. Some may become immobilized and frustrated when confronted with change or barriers – I would be lying if I did not ever share such feelings – but the Arranger talent will kick in. I instinctively will start to think about a new approach while being creative about working with the resources available.

The success of the programs and projects that I oversee relies on collaborative, cross divisional planning. Large scale programs such as Homecoming and Family Day and Family Orientation would not happen without campus partners.  There are other programs that would not be as successful or effective without the creative, expert input of my colleagues.  This planning model lends itself to a level of complexity, however my Arranger talent knows a quality program that represents BSU has to be accomplished beyond the walls of New Student and Family Programs. “It takes a village” to get programs moving forward in the complex environment of BSU – I rely heavily on my Arranger talents to be effective in this way. I value what my colleagues bring to the table and seek to understand the complex pieces of their puzzle. As an Arranger , it is not about my ideas, but more about influencing the strengths and ideas of others. My primary focus is the success of the program. Although this approach is second nature to me, the level of detail that I consider can be intimidating to others.

I do understand that my Arranger talent can be misinterpreted by campus partners, especially those who may not have an Executing theme in their top talents. I am a controller –always thriving to arrange and rearrange for the best possible outcome. I am aware that a colleague could perceive my Arranger talent as controlling or presenting barriers.  The reality is I am anticipating all the variables and resources, or lack of, when strategizing how to best execute an idea or program.  Further, I expect my ability to be flexible and my willingness to make a sudden change for the betterment of the program can be frustrating or perceived as indecisive. I do try to be cognizant of how intense this talent can be for some – it is a high energy talent and not how everyone works.

In closing, I am fortunate to have the opportunity every day to learn from colleagues who I view as amazing Arrangers. I am energized by a colleague’s creative ability to find solutions to complex issues that can completely change a program for the better. Having such talented colleagues provides a working environment where I am always learning and growing. It is professionally satisfying to be part of the team at BSU and the ever changing, dynamic field of higher education. It never gets old and there are always new balls being thrown in the mix, new pieces of the puzzle to consider and an opportunity to partner with and learn from talented campus partners.

Learn more about the Arranger theme from Gallup’s “Theme Thursdays” videos on You Tube. This one hour podcast digs deeply into one theme at a time and is a great resource!

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Strengths Spotlight: Analytical

by Anthony Hebert ’16Hebert

Top 5 Themes: Harmony, Analytical, Deliberative, Focus, Context

Of my top five themes from Strengths Finder, the one I notice the most in everyday life is my theme of Analytical. It is not rated as my top theme though I believe I utilize it the most and is the best strength I have for the work that I do. I find that I use this theme every day and most of the time never even notice it. Whenever I have to make any sort of decision I always analyze the current situation I am in and think ahead to what the consequences of my decisions could be and how it could change things; for better or worse. This theme gets me to dig deeper and ask question after question until I get the answers that I am looking for. This allows me to base my decisions on fact and logic which leads me down the right course the majority of the time and presents me with some of the best possible outcomes. Being a very analytical person I also use this talent when interacting with other people. I find that I have a skill in picking up on subtleties that might otherwise go overlooked which allows me to talk honestly with people and get to the truth behind questions I may have.

My Analytical talent also plays a big role in my duty as a student leader at BSU. As a member of the Student Government I need to constantly work with other students and University staff. I need to make decisions for the benefit of the student body and so often that requires peeling back the layers to discover what the best course of action is. As a member of the Student Government Association I make great use of my Analytical talent. Very often I must take a position on an issue and the decisions I make can have serious consequences. I analyze the issue at hand and thank carefully and deliberately about it. I never come a decision rashly or in the spur of the moment but rather take the time to consider all the factors and take a night or two to sleep on it before deciding. Occasionally tempers can flare and people in the student government can let their emotions sway their judgment; however I always rely on my analytical thinking to come to a judgment. This allows me to make the best decisions possible and not let heated passions sway me. If a situation needs to be resolved quickly then I speed up my analytical process though I do have some difficulty acting on things in a swift manner occasionally.

Something that I think is misunderstood about this theme is that it does not have to deal with numbers or academia. I feel when people hear the word analytical, they automatically jump to the conclusion it must have something to do with running numbers or deals with some kind of science. It of course it is used in these subject matters but like I said it is used in everyday life from talking to friends or planning how to spend your time for the day. An issue I have –  and I believe most analytical thinkers have – is over-analyzing a situation or a question. By continuously looking too deep into a question or thinking about every possible outcome over and over again, you can lose sight of the larger picture and mistakes can be made. We analytical thinkers need to know when to stop and clear our minds to reduce overcomplicating the situations we are in.

As I have progressed through my undergraduate education I have learned how to keep myself from overanalyzing problems which helps keep my stress levels in check. As an involved student I have a variety of different responsibilities and commitments; my analytical mindset helps me to manage these and through experience have learned to keep my college stress levels to a minimum.

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Strengths Spotlight: Adaptability

By Diane Bell, Director of the Internship Program

Top 5 themBelles: Adaptability, Developer, Connectedness, Positivity, Relator

 “No matter how much structure we create in our lives, no matter how many good habits we build, there wil
l always be things that we cannot control – and if we let them, these things can be a huge source of anger, frustration and stress.  The simple solution: learn to go with the flow.” 
Zen Habits, written by Leo Babauta

Before I even knew about StrengthsQuest, I understood Adaptability.  Over time, things never quite went the way I thought they would, forcing me to go with the ebb and flow of life.

My family was evicted from our home when I was in elementary school.  I still remember seeing our possessions sprawled out on the sidewalk in front of the house. We were – for a moment – homeless. Suddenly, I was rising before dawn to take a city bus with my grandmother to attend school in my old neighborhood, in order to maintain a sense of normalcy.  I learned how to live in the moment because you never know what curve ball life might throw your way.

While that situation was unfortunate, good curveballs have been thrown my way.  Like when I participated in a 12-week summer internship with the Atlanta Braves between my first and second year of grad school in Buffalo, NY and three weeks into the internship, they wanted to hire me. I saw this sudden change as a tremendous opportunity.  What might have been stressful to others was exciting to me.

Adaptability is being flexible, embracing change, responding quickly to unforeseen events and unpredictable conditions and accepting things you can’t change.  It’s about letting go of control, not being “out of control.”  It’s about making the best of the situation.

Adaptability is part of my life.  As Director of BSU’s Community Service Center, volunteer projects didn’t always go as planned.  My reaction to those changes was based on my attitude toward change and my vision of the bigger meaning.  On one trip, rain hit the area where we were building homes and we weren’t able to work on the project the next day.  Everyone was anxious about what we’d be doing.  Not me. I asked our volunteer coordinator if we could visit the Boys and Girls Club. We also served lunch and interacted with people experiencing homelessness. The day was not lost just because we didn’t build homes as planned.  We had a small part in building lives that day.

As Director of the Internship Program, I handle yearly fluctuations in my funding source.  What keeps me grounded is the bigger picture – that there is a funding source to help students do internships, no matter the amount.

While I embrace my Adaptability trait, I am well aware of its drawbacks.  Sometimes the Adaptability theme may be misunderstood.  For example, I’ve had co-workers say things like, “You’re such a pushover; I can’t believe you said “Yes” to that change so easily”.  I’ve had staff come to me and say “You’re way too nice.  You just added more to your plate by agreeing to do this project”. Some people might feel as though I’m a poor planner…that because I haven’t planned, I’m easily swayed to change.  Not true.

My colleagues are quick to remind me that when I’m taken off course by a sudden change, I might be inconveniencing myself.  I don’t always see it that way.  Change is inevitable.  I do understand that I have to be careful not to let this talent steer me away from things that I must get done.  I also have to be careful that I don’t allow others to abuse my innate nature to be flexible.  Sometimes it’s not easy for me and I’m still learning when to “bend and go with the wind” and when to stay firm and on my own course.  This includes in my professional as well as personal life.

 “Planning is helpful. If you don’t know what you want, you’ll seldom get it.  But, no matter how well you plan, you will fare better if you expect the unexpected.  The unexpected, by nature, comes unseen, unthought, unenvisioned.  All you can do is plan to go unplanned, prepare to be unprepared, make going with the flow part of your agenda, for the most successful among us envision, plan and prepare, but cast aside as needed, while those who are unable to go with the flow often suffer, if they survive.” – David W. Jones, author of Moses and Mickey Mouse: How to Find Holy Ground in the Magic Kingdom and Other Unusual Places

I rarely plan what I’m going to do on vacation. I book my transportation and hotel and the rest is left open for me to welcome new opportunities.  When I get there, I’m there, ready to embrace the ebb and flow of what life brings my way.

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Strengths Spotlight: Activator

By Rachel Wood, Class of ‘17Rachel Wood

Top 5 Themes: Communication, Includer, Activator, Woo, Positivity

I would describe Activator as being a go-getter and being the first to take initiative in situations. When something needs to be done I am able to understand it better once I am actually engaged. Once I am given instructions I want to start and get things moving along. A quote I would use to describe this is “I don’t trust words, I trust actions”. When something is actually in the works and getting done that is when I will believe it. Not only do I enjoy putting things into plans and getting a task completed; I also enjoy getting others around me to want to do the same. For example, as President of Program Council, I get enjoyment when e- board members are happy with the outcome of their events.

I believe that having Activator in my Top 5 has helped me in many of my different roles at BSU. I see myself using this theme mostly in my different roles to keep myself as well as the groups I am a part of on task. Once I hear a plan I find myself to be the person in the group to put the plan in to action and make sure what needs to get done is getting done. Planning an event also includes delegating different tasks out. When I am not the one putting the plan together I have noticed that it is easy for me to help others when they are looking for instruction. I noticed this mostly in my roles as a Resident Assistant and an Orientation Leader. When other students had problems arise I was able to help them put an action plan together to solve the problem.

The biggest way I have noticed this talent to be misunderstood is being called out as impatient. Many times when some sort of plan is made I like to get it started right away because it is easier to understand when it’s all being played out. Whereas other people like to take the time to process what was said. Instead of using the word “impatient”, this is where I would instead say “eager.” Once a plan is figured out it’s easier to put the words into action and therefore as an Activator tend to be eager to get started.

Entering my third year at Bridgewater I have noticed my themes, Activator included, develop more and more each year. Instead of being the person to just always take action I have learned to work with this theme and learn different types of ways to get others to want to take initiative as well. This could be something as simple as still giving a plan but letting someone else run with it, bringing out the positives in different actions to want to get others to step up, and making sure to let others know how they are doing such as constructive feedback and compliments. It has also matured in ways such as learning when to step forward and take action and when to step back and let others. I tend to always be the type of person that wants to volunteer for everything because I like to take action but I have learned that sometimes it is better for someone else to step forward and for me to sit back.

Want to learn more about the Activator in your life? Listen to Gallup’s “Theme Thursday” podcast about the Activator theme

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Free Resource: “Giving Great Presentations” today on Higher Ed Live

Hi folks!

This discussion on Higher Ed Live today is a topic I know is important to many of you. In student affairs we do so many presentations for both staff and student audiences I wanted to be sure to share this resource.

Hear from Laura Wall Klieves, Vice President of Training and Marketing for Duarte, Inc. and benefit from some time to consider new ways to develop your skills.

Tune in from your desktop today – Wednesday, October 15th – at 1:00 pm

Have a great day!

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