Get in the Driver's Seat with Command Sara Thomas

Put yourself in the parking lot at work. Your team is preparing to head out on a road trip. At the last minute, one person can’t go. Another person is having car trouble. And a third person isn’t there and it’s time to leave.

You’re looking at one another, frustrated and a bit irritated. If you’re honest about what is really happening, you know the problem. This isn’t just any road trip. This road trip was designed so you could make crucial decisions about the next step in a project.

Only there’s one problem: everyone is staring at each other wondering what to do next…and you haven’t even left the parking lot!

You’re stuck.

What happens in the next moment leaves you both excited and in awe.

With clarity and determination, one of your colleagues steps forward, takes the lead and outlines the options before you. She leads you through articulating pros and cons, debate and questioning.

Her clarity is unwavering. She courageously names the points of conflict.

The team makes a decision about getting on the road and your missing colleagues.

Before we know it, we’re ready to move forward. She hopped into the driver’s seat, using her COMMAND talent to lead you to action.

Command Steps Up & Steps In

The beauty of the COMMAND talent theme is multi-dimensional. Yes, I say that about every theme.

But this theme is less common than many of the others. From over 18 million people who have taken CliftonStrengths, COMMAND is 33rd out of 34 talent themes. Until this year, it’s been the least common theme appearing in the top 5. So it’s not the most common theme we’ll experience.

In the scenario I offered above, you can see the beauty of COMMAND at work. She is efficient and willing to take the lead. She’s clear, concise and to the point. Her probing questions help the team get clear. She doesn’t shy away from the tough questions. And it all happens with ease.

People exceptionally talented in the COMMAND theme have presence. They can take control of a situation and make decisions.

For some people, avoiding conflict is their first priority. For example, HARMONY talent will seek to find points of connection and similarity. HARMONY will help you look for a commonality that you can rally around. COMMAND, on the other hand, uses polarity and conflict to make decisions.

Be careful here. It can be easy to put COMMAND in the doghouse. Why?  Because they step up and step into a void. When a decision needs to be made, this talent can come to life in beautiful ways. Why do I say don’t put it in the doghouse? Well, you may disagree with COMMAND’s point of view. When you do, name it. Don’t put her in the doghouse. She’ll welcome the opportunity to engage your point of view. A conflict for COMMAND can bring clarity.

Efficient Resolve

One of the things I celebrate about COMMAND is their resolve. Leaders I’ve experienced who have the COMMAND talent in their top 5 are not wishy-washy. They take a stand and are clear about what they are advocating. I love watching how they create openings for other people to engage.

Additionally, COMMAND is efficient. They point out the elephant in the room. Again, where others may avoid or contemplate how to confront a situation, people with COMMAND can be energized by conflict. Hear me, they don’t create conflict. They embrace it for the purpose of clarity.

Where there is a void of leadership, they’ll step in, step up, and take charge. For this reason, they become leaders who people follow.

Remove the Label

I confess this is a talent I loved to hate for a season of leadership. Then I realized why.

Unfortunately, I was witnessing undeveloped COMMAND that was not aligned with the purpose of the team. I was seeing, hearing, and experiencing labels like “arrogant, single-minded, bossy.” The reality was, I needed to pause and ask if this is COMMAND at work? Yes, it was. But, it was undeveloped. This person needed to learn that listening well brings clarity. And I needed to remove the label.

In other situations, it could be a new leader is testing out how to fill a new role. They may or may not have COMMAND as a dominant talent. Challenge them to name what is happening. Help them understand the talents they naturally possess. Then, guide the leader in claiming their talents and aiming them for the good of the team.

Final Reminder

Leaders with COMMAND have resolve. When the purpose before you align with their values, they’ll create influence and action. Just like you read the road to navigate turns, bends, and speed limits, COMMAND reads the room to take a team in the direction of clarity.

With COMMAND in the driver’s seat, you’ll always know where you’re going – together.