Five words that changed my idea of who I am.
In my Leadership class recently, I was able to take the Gallup’s StregthFinder test. The idea in taking this assessment is to discover what your strengths are with the hope of being able to maximize them after identification.
Here is what I am:
Responsibility | Maximizer | Relator | Arranger | Achiever
Today, I want to discuss what those five words mean to me, and how they relate to where I’ve been and where I’m going.
As an in-store executive for Target, I led diverse and extensive teams, managing 230 employees across six departments. Each department had varied goals, but our common mission was always clear and set. Through strong communication skills and a relatable personality, I was able to inspire my team to achieve annual sales goals surpassing $43 million.
I truly believe the key to my leadership success at Target was my relatability. Having spent two years working my way from seasonal cashier to executive, I had hands-on experience at each level of Target’s in-store process. Working through the ranks allowed me to aggregate my knowledge into one cohesive picture of Target’s operations. I realized that this working knowledge not only allowed me to better make strategic decisions, but to also enabled me to explain the “why” factor. I understood the importance of clearly communicating the impact of even the “smallest” of duties and was able to relate simple tasks back to the greater mission: driving profitability. The team members trusted my explanations because I had spent two years walking in their shoes as I climbed the corporate ladder. Upon taking the Gallup Strengths Assessment, I was not surprised to see relator in my top three themes.
I specifically oversaw the assets protection department, which protected the personnel, profitability, and products of the store. I focused on internal theft, prosecuting team members that violated company policies. Although these policies were stated in black and white terms, I was able to see the grey areas. I drew upon my background in psychology to help me relate to and connect with internal and external theft subjects. My desire to understand and demonstrate empathy helped me get to the deeper root cause of their theft. I did not believe it was possible to write up a Record of Arrests and Prosecutions (RAP) sheet without first spending time in open conversation and curiosity. This was a unique and uncharacteristic tactic of my position, which was typically staffed by ex-Military males in the process of making the transition to public law enforcement. I was the first female assets protection executive in my district of 10 stores, and the clear and profitable results of my more empathetic nature were undeniable. Within a year, I had trained three new female assets protection executives (and four male executives) with empathy as a core value. Again, my ability to relate has been one of my most dependable strengths.
I am a holistic, forward thinker and am known amongst my peers as someone continuously able to keep the big picture in mind. I demonstrated time and again my macro understanding of both assets protection’s impact on Target’s profitability and the interwoven store process. Because I have the strengths of responsibility, arranger and achiever, I was able to consistently deliver exceptional quantifiables, leading the Sacramento district over multiple years in theft and safety metrics. But being able to execute is not the same as leading and will only take you so far.
In the year since starting this personal blog I have learned the importance of introspection. By writing publicly about my personal experiences, I have gained a sense of deep self-awareness. By clearly understanding my strengths, I am able to bring my best self to work and school. This is one aspect of being a maximizer. But what surprises me about this strength assessment is the focus it places on maximizing group abilities. Although I have spent many years working on teams while at Target, I recognized only my ability to develop the strengths of those below me, not my peers. In order to fully harness this leadership theme, I will need to develop this half-latent strength.
The first step in developing any strength is to recognize the potential for it. The Gallup Strength Finder did that for me. The second step in maximizing the strengths of my peers, is to build trust. Although not an easy feat, I can use my relator leadership theme and harness the skills I have learned during my undergraduate studies in psychology to help me build rapport.
Looking toward the future, I believe that I can make the biggest impact by harnessing my strength of maximizing. Target places a strong focus on team work, a value that I firmly stand behind. As a maximizer, my drive is fueled by a passion for developing human potential. I need to be able to look at an individual and understand the importance of assessing their ability to work on a team when making hiring decision. And going beyond that, taking the time to understand their desires, goals, and limitations to ensure they are placed on the right team.
Using business terms, this strength will become my personal competitive advantage. I will be better able to achieve and arrange if I can maximize. This is an exciting challenge, but I know that my previous work experience, education, and signature themes will allow me to develop my ability to maximize.
I hope that this post encourages you to seek out your strengths, with the desire to grow them in the future.
What are you Gallup’s results? Let us know below.