Calling out fellow Command mates. We are a rare breed (in fact, Command is the rarest strength in the world). Perhaps that’s why we are often misunderstood and sometimes even labelled as “bossy.” While there is some truth in that (particularly when our Command talent theme is still in its infancy stage), there is so much more this Strength has to offer beneath its veneer.
People with Command in their top 5 StrengthsFinder results often desire to take charge and be in control. They are often recognized by many to have great leadership abilities. This in part is due to the fact that people with the Command talent display unusual confidence and often bring clarity and courage to their team, especially during times of crisis or in challenging situations. People with Command are also compelled to present facts or truths, no matter how unpleasant they may be. They strive to bring clarity to circumstances and among people, often through polarization.
As a person with Command, I have had my fair share of pain that comes along with this wiring. I often feel misunderstood when I voice out opinions. I often receive feedback that my words are cutting, direct and blunt. People have commented that the statements I made created tension and came across as personal attacks. Yet, that was never my intent. A person like me with the Command talent simply desires clarity. My strong belief is that clarity can best be expressed and achieved through creating polar opposite positions - making things black and white - or simply put: creating obvious contrasts will bring about clarity. Often I pride myself to be objective in evaluations and I never take sides. I call out what needs to be addressed even if it makes the people whom I am close to uncomfortable. In my mind, there is no hierarchy to follow when it comes to seeking truth. The desire for truth gives me courage to direct questions to anyone in any setting. The worst answer to give is one that is politically correct.
Today I realize that in seeking clarity through the idea of contrast, I inevitably force people to choose and take sides. I create huge discomfort for people who stand on the opposite side from me. Strangely, the people standing on the same side as me are often amazed at the clarity in my head and look to me for leadership and direction. I realize I can have huge influence over a group standing on the same side as me and at the same time, be viewed with a huge amount of distrust by the other. Polarization seems to be the norm in my life.
How does one grow the Command talent and bring it into maturity? Here are a few suggestions.
1. Embrace Humility as a core value.
Many perceive those with the Command talent to be heavy-handed in their dealings with others. Their headstrong and direct ways are simply the unique features of such a talent. People with Command have a knack of making others feel like they like to speak from a higher moral ground. One powerful way for a Command person to impact another positively is to act in humility. A person who is humble is often willing to consider others better than themselves. Such an attitude allows for self-reflection, self-examination and most importantly, cultivates an inner strength that empowers a transformational leader. Quite counter-intuitively, a humble spirit is powerfully influential and contagious. While many tend to look up to confident leaders, they are drawn even more to confident leaders who can demonstrate humility. A Command person who displays a humble attitude possesses a deep inner strength mixed with a powerful ability to lead others over troubled waters.
2. Hone your influencing skills
People with Command have a strong presence in groups and can influence others positively. They love to confront challenges and like to influence others to do the same.
- Seek people who can stretch and challenge you
One way to grow in influence is to deliberately seek close colleagues, mentors and friends who can stretch you and have strengths that complement yours. People with Command are usually not afraid of others who can outshine them. On the contrary, they thrive on being challenged. Differences in opinion are often welcomed by a Command person in an environment filled with mutual respect for one other. People with Command thrive on differences in opinions shared by others. They leverage on these opinions to create greater clarity in their own minds. As they do so, they often grow their influence through the clarity of direction they give and impart to others.
- Seek to influence rather control
There is a need to recognize that the Command talent can be often a hindrance in the area of relationship building. Being outspoken, direct and at times blunt makes building trust especially hard with people who have relational talents like Harmony or Empathy or Relator. Many perceive those with Command to have a great desire to be in control and feel that they often use the iron-fisted approach to handle working relationships.
Seeking to control is basically saying, “I’m your leader, you have to respect me.” On the other hand, one who seeks to influence will cause people to say, “We respect you and you are our leader.” The two perspectives are contrasting. One is about telling others to do something because they have to (control) while the other is to have others do something because they love to (influence). One is Command in its infancy and the other is Command in its maturity.
3. Find Complementary Partnerships
Those with the Harmony talent hate conflicts while those with Empathy are sensitive to people’s feelings. Either one of these partnerships can help the person with Command talent reduce conflicts by clarifying the intent of words used (especially words that could be perceived as too confrontational and strong in nature). Another way the Harmony or Empathy person can help is to paraphrase using new words that can bring out the same meaning in a more cordial or lighthearted way. Simply by doing that, conflicts can be greatly reduced because team members have a greater understanding of the situation and the person with Command has his needs for clarity met. Partnering with people who have Harmony or Empathy allows for discussions that can encourage a Command person to reflect on his / her decisions. Questions that may surface in the thought process can be like the following: How can I put forth the message using less confrontational words? How can I better ask questions to solicit feedback and to clarify without hurting the feelings of others? How can I build trust with others while retaining my own flavour?
Another Strengths partner may be someone dominant in ‘Woo’ or ‘Positivity’. Those with the Woo talent tend to be outgoing and friendly. They enjoy breaking ice and forming new friendships. Those with the Positivity talent prefer a fun and relaxed atmosphere. Some enjoy making others feel at ease and others enjoy making people laugh. That is almost the polar opposite of people with Command, who tend to have a certain presence that can sometimes be viewed as intimidating.
A Command person who partners a Woo person can leverage on the friendliness and the welcoming traits of Woo. The result can be the Command person adopting new approaches to conversations that are less intimidating in nature and possibly learning different skill sets of being welcoming. A Command person who partners a Positivity person can leverage on the fun and outgoing traits of Positivity. The result of this partnership is one that balances the direct and often no-nonsense approach with fun-filled dynamism in teams.
Ending note: They might be rare. They might be intimidating. They might even put you off at times. But don't dismiss them. People with Command can offer you great courage and strength in times of need.
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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