What Leader Wouldn’t Want to be Known as an Achiever?

leader, achiever, leadership, Clifton Strengths

Can you think of a leader who wouldn’t want to be known as an achiever? Most of us – leaders or not – would appreciate that moniker following behind our name. And for the 6 million plus people of the 20 million who have taken the Clifton Strengths® assessment, they can rightly claim the talent of Achiever®.

But wait…isn’t “leader” synonymous with “achiever”?

Specifically, Achiever® is defined by Gallup as:

People especially talented in the Achiever theme have a great deal of stamina and work hard. They take great satisfaction from being busy and productive.

What’s not to like about that definition? The 6 million plus people mentioned above may also, due to the nature of their talent, play a role in making Achiever the top occurring theme of all the 34 Clifton Strengths themes.

Hmmm…if I work hard and take great satisfaction from being busy AND productive, maybe I’ll take an assessment that identifies my top talents AND can help drive performance! Achiever might just be a self-fulfilling prophecy when it comes to the Clifton Strengths Assessment.

Whether the result or the cause, it is heartening to know that over 30% of this population appreciate and value hard work. Now for the rest of us slackers without Achiever in our Top 5 strengths, where do we find solace?

Working with an Achiever can feel exhausting!

As with any strength, overuse can quickly run you into trouble. Dig a little deeper into the definition and you find:

Achiever describes a constant need for achievement. You feel as if every day starts at zero. By the end of the day you must achieve something tangible in order to feel good about yourself. And by “every day” you mean every single day — workdays, weekends, vacations. No matter how much you may feel you deserve a day of rest, if the day passes without some form of achievement, no matter how small, you will feel dissatisfied.

The experience of working with an Achiever can feel exhausting for those of us where this talent is a lesser strength. We might be unable to keep up with the rapid pace or lack clarity on the direction all the task completions are taking us.

When Achiever is an undiscovered talent in leadership, this happens…

When Achiever is an undiscovered talent, that need to accomplish each and every day can lead to a “task focus” rather than a longer-term view. Leaders need to provide a clear vision for the future to keep employees engaged and teams collaborating.

As a leader, if your measure is “completion” rather than “progress,” you may find employees abandoning the effort altogether. Achiever run amok can also result in a work product full of errors or substantially incomplete; all a factor of wanting to check that “DONE!” box and move on!

Downsides of strengths most frequently appear when we are not aware of our natural talents and able to marshal them for high performance. In the population that has taken the strengths assessment, those with Achiever mostly commonly have Learner® as another dominant talent. The short definition of Learner is:

People especially talented in the Learner theme have a great desire to learn and want to continuously improve. In particular, the process of learning, rather than the outcome, excites them.

Learner would certainly add another dimension to the efforts of someone high in the Achiever talent. The “check the box” process could be slowed down and enhanced by focusing on improvement and the process of learning. What a nice counterbalance!

Least commonly occurring with Achiever is Command®

That’s defined as:

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

Achievers in a stress situation, such as a project deadline, could most certainly look and feel like a Command strength. Command is the 2nd least common occurring strength in the total population.

That low ranking in the population is the more likely reason you see it less with Achiever rather than an inherent disassociation. It appears in the Top 5 strengths of only 5% of the population.

If you’re a leader with Achiever, here’s how to shine

If you are a leader with Achiever, deploy your other Dominant Talents (your Top 10 or 12) to minimize the perception of:

  • Can’t say no
  • Burns the candle at both ends
  • Overcommitted

With effective application of your Achiever talent, you’ll soon be hearing:

  • Strong work ethic
  • Go-getter
  • Hungry
  • Leads by example

Now who wouldn’t want to be associated with an Achiever?!

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