skip to main content
How Your Themes Interact to Drive Personal and Team Success

How Your Themes Interact to Drive Personal and Team Success

Webcast Details

  • Called to Coach Webcast Series
  • Season 7, Episode 11
  • Learn more about intrapersonal theme dynamics -- how your themes influence one another -- from Dean Jones.

On a recent Called to Coach, we spoke with the Principal Architect of Gallup's Global Client Learning Strategy, Dean Jones, about intrapersonal theme dynamics -- how your themes influence one another -- and gaining an understanding of "Theme Math." Grasping these concepts will enable you as a coach to understand an individual's "unique chemistry" of themes and how they combine to become bigger than the sum of their parts.

Below is a summary of the conversation. Full audio and video are posted above.

[4:57] What Are Theme Dynamics?

Curt Liesveld, 2012:

  • "In order for a Strengths Performance Coach to be most helpful to those they coach, it will be necessary for them to understand the chemistry of theme dynamics. This intrapersonal chemistry of talent within a person has the potential to create an energy that can drive higher levels of individual performance. The interpersonal chemistry of talent within a team has the potential to create a synergy that can drive higher levels of team performance. Just like a wise and experienced chemist, a coach must be continually learning about the intrapersonal and interpersonal chemical reactions of human talent so that they can so that they can intentionally utilize and maximize these reactions in order to enhance performance.

  • "Consider, if you will, what happens when we think about a person using only a static, one-theme description for that person. Let's say that Mary has the Achiever theme and so we might think of her as being hardworking or task-oriented. While that is who she is, that is certainly not all she is. To describe her in such static and singular terms would be doing her a disservice and would hinder the understanding, appreciation and maximization of Mary. When we explore and explain the theme dynamics within a person, we will get closer to the core of who they really are at their best. Mary is not just an Achiever. Maybe she is an Achiever who also has Positivity and creates a unique set of theme dynamics that differentiates her from many others who may have the Achiever theme. As an Achiever/Positivity person, we come to see that in addition to being hardworking and task-oriented, she may also be fun-loving or emotionally influential in a positive way. That description has impact about how I feel about Mary and will probably have an impact on how she feels about herself.

  • "As we take themes dynamics into consideration, we see people from a fuller, richer and more complete perspective. A growing awareness of the chemistry of human talent can help equip coaches to deal with the 'law of supply and rely,' that is, their ability to help each person to know when they are to be a supplier of something the team needs to be successful and when they are to be a 'rely-er' who depends on others of the team for something that is critical to success."

Buy Curt Liesveld's e-book Expanding Your Strengths

[16:52] Intrapersonal Theme Dynamics

Start to understand theme dynamics first in an individual -- as Curt would say, an intrapersonal way.

  • Really understand the standard, generic definitions

  • Begin to identify the traits -- the patterns of thought, feeling and behavior that can be productively applied

  • [24:19] Do simple "Theme Math"

    • Pick one trait from one of your Signature Themes that you recognize in yourself.

    • Pick another trait from a different Signature Theme.

    • Now ask yourself, "How do they work together?" How do they complement each other? How do they help you succeed? Or contribute? Or excel?

    • For example,
      • My Woo leads me to break the ice and meet new people.

      • My Relator pulls me to "go deep," wanting to know people on a deeper level.

      • Together, they help me expand my network of relationships with long-term, authentic relationships with people.

    • Start practicing this kind of "Theme Math" on yourself and then on others.

    • Then work backward from the outcome. When you notice unique patterns of behavior in others, see if you can identify the themes that work together to cause that behavior.

    • When you master that, you can see if you can do three themes together -- and so on.

[37:07] Side Trip

You have to be willing to see that most of our behavior as human beings is not irrational, not emotional, not completely unpredictable.

We all have a certain integrity to the way we behave -- and by that, I don't mean ethics, morality, and so on; I mean integrity in that we have a certain order and consistency to our personality and identity that are given by our view of the world -- and how our innate talent shapes and responds to that view of the world.

We are all always operating in a way that is consistent with the way we see the world. (Listen to the earlier session that we did on How Strengths Shape How We See the World.)

For instance, if I am a competitive person, that is, if I have Competition as one of my Signature Themes, I may see the world as a game to be played, with winners and losers, and I will behave in a way that is consistent with that view.

Theme Dynamics -- and particularly these intrapersonal theme dynamics -- help us to break down behavior in a way that enables us to understand it as a function of our talents and strengths. It becomes less mysterious -- and more, "Well, obviously, you would do that/say that/behave that way, given that you lead with [whatever the particular combination of strengths is]."

[41:56] After you begin to play around with simple "Theme Math," you start to notice some aspects of how themes combine and color each other -- in other words, the unique chemistry of themes.

There are four aspects that I think are useful to start to notice. They are:

  • Motivations -- What motivates people? What is the engine that is driving them?
  • Applications -- How are they applying their talents and strengths? What are they drawn to?
  • Mood -- What is the tone or mood of their strengths? Are they internally oriented or externally oriented?
  • Energy/Intensity -- What is the level of intensity or energy associated with their strengths?

[45:53] Then, with some sensitivity to these aspects of how themes interact, you can see how the themes combine with each other to create a kind of Gestalt effect -- where the whole is bigger than the sum of the parts.

You begin to understand how themes:

"Law of Supply and Rely"

[53:39] Important to keep the POINT in mind:

  • A better understanding and insight into who we are -- and who others are
  • Better equipped to contribute in a positive and meaningful way
  • Greater capacity to self-regulate -- and know where we need partners
  • Increased opportunity to (and odds of) excelling -- and realizing success

Dean Jones' Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Activator, Focus, Woo, Strategic and Relator.

Learn more about using CliftonStrengths to help yourself and others succeed:

Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A
+1 202.715.3030