Those with "Maximizer" in their top 5 StrengthsFinder results have a high regard for excellence. "From Good to Great" is a tagline that they can identify with. Often, they are deemed to be people of high standards. Yet at other times, they are labelled "perfectionists." There is a great drive within them to keep improving what they are doing. Good is never good enough. Sometimes, this urge to improve drives them up the wall. Maximizers dislike people who try to "fix" them and make them well-rounded. Intuitively, they understand the Pareto principle (a.k.a. the 80/20 rule) - 20% of our efforts yield 80% of the results. They have a strong preference for working with the best people and believe in optimizing resources to get the best results.
In this article, we take a look at how the Maximizer talent manifests through the reflection of a former Youth Pastor.
"After some coaching on my StrengthsFinder assessment results, I discovered that as a Maximizer, the more I felt my strengths were engaged in my work, the more motivated I was to carry on the emotionally-draining work of a Youth Pastor. I also had another realization - the way I wanted to be engaged in my work as a Youth Pastor was exactly the same way the youth wanted to be engaged - through their Strengths (or Talent Themes in StrengthsFinder lingo).
These discoveries led to some personal reflection. One thought stood out: “How do I engage the youth and raise them to be the kind of people God wants them to be?” This was the key question that I grappled with while serving as a Youth Pastor in a church in Singapore. This question guided my thoughts on leadership development, organizing training programs, youth camps, and outreach programs. To me, this question is at the heart of biblical discipleship."
How can a Maximizer engage the youth to be the kind of people God wants them to be? I'd like to share my discoveries.
1. Engage the Youth by leveraging their talents.
When asked about managing outrageous talent, renowned soccer coach Jose Mourinho said this: "The toughest thing is when you don't have that talent! I never understood when people said that can be a problem, or that you can have one special talent but not two or three or four. I want 11 special talents!"
Intuitively, I understood what Jose Mourinho was talking about. There are many youths who are crying out to be engaged today. Many troubled youths have great talents that are not harnessed because of their noticeable character weaknesses. A large number end up leaving the Church. Amongst Christians, it is common knowledge that no one is perfect, except Jesus. The Maximizer in me reckoned that since it is so easy to spot character weaknesses (of which I have no lack), I might as well try to spot talents in order to engage the young people. I decided that if I communicated my belief to the youth and engage them based on their talents or strengths rather than their flaws or weaknesses, they may open up themselves to me and allow me to establish trust with them.
Since forming this conviction, the most powerful statement I use in my attempt to engage youths is, “I believe in you!” This phrase is supplemented by the many opportunities I gave to these youths as a Youth Pastor. Roles and responsibilities were offered to them to reinforce the belief I have in these young people.
That approach was not without its challenges. Most of the time, I chose to go against the grain in saying, "prove to me you are spiritually mature and you shall be given a role."
Instead, it was, “I trust you and I believe in you even though you have many flaws. Take on this role, let me walk with you and show me that we can count on each other.” This approach, though extremely challenging and at times heart-breaking, has yielded much fruit. I stand proud as I see many transformed lives, many of whom have become influential leaders in the church today. They may have started in their roles “judged” by many to be incapable or unsuitable (because of their behaviours or personalities). Yet, they have overcome these to become the leaders of the future. One such talented and highly influential youth is "Samuel." Against the odds, he overcame a few moral failures in his life, accepted the consequences of church discipline and bounced back stronger. Today, he inspires many younger ones through his life.
To me, the statement "Be the kind of person God wants you to be" means that the person’s potential must be maximized and fully lived out. After all, it is the Creator who gives us these Talents for a reason.
2. Leverage on Strengths as a new approach to teamwork.
As a leader with Maximizer, I also realized I intuitively sought mature leaders with particular strengths (that complement mine) to build a dynamic and strong Leadership TEAM. I had no doubt that the best team is an all-rounded team, at least in my mind. One of the best memories I have as a Youth Pastor was leading a core team of leaders who started out with little experience, yet each individual capitalized on his/her strengths to serve the team and the whole youth ministry.
As a Youth Ministry leadership team, we were highly dynamic and deeply connected. Strong in all four domains, each individual contributed unique perspectives and talents. The one strong in Responsibility made sure every program ran smoothly and was strong in following through. The one strong in Woo and Connectedness made sure every new person was personally known and connected to others. The one strong in Empathy and Developer made sure the pastoral care and counselling needs were met. The one strong in Analytical and Harmony highlighted key areas of strengths and weaknesses by studying patterns and data for the team to work on. As a Maximizer, I leveraged on each person’s strengths and drew out their best for the team.
I am deeply convinced that other than the conventional approach of leveraging on skill sets and work experiences to build strong team performance, there is another approach that is just as powerful - leveraging on each other’s unique Strengths. A strengths-based approach to teamwork and engagement allows different people to contribute in their own unique and impactful ways. In giving opportunities to do what they do best on a regular basis, individuals are encouraged to continue to use their strengths to serve the church and the community with greater joy and passion.
3. Own your Strengths journey and lead by example.
We have to realize that leadership is most powerful when we lead by example. As a Maximizer, I realize that I am poor at receiving criticism (at least in my mind – my immediate reaction is often poor). Somehow, my facial expressions or the “defensive response” I give to others tend to be a huge turn-off for many wanting to give me feedback. I do suspect that as a Maximizer who takes pride in being excellent, being told that I am not “good” in something can be very damaging to my confidence.
This ability to accept criticism and feedback continues to be a key area I hope to grow in. The ongoing journey has been for me to learn to receive feedback with a more open heart. I have discovered that when I receive feedback and advice from others, I also end up validating their strengths, which in turn allow me to leverage from them in increasing measure. I believe strongly that a person of great humility is the hallmark of a true Maximizer.
Ending Note: I have since left this role of Youth Pastor. But the journey of using the Maximizer talent to engage young people will be one that continues on: "Seeing every generation live out their full potential."
Written by Victor Seet
Activator • Communication • Strategic • Self-Assurance • Command
As a Gallup Certified StrengthsFinder coach, Victor is passionate about strengths engagement and now runs his own training company, Strengths School™ (strengthsschool.com). He has been actively giving StrengthsFinder leadership and team building workshops to businesses and schools in Singapore as well as Hong Kong, China (Shanghai) and India.
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