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Employing CliftonStrengths in a Musical, Faith-Based Context

Employing CliftonStrengths in a Musical, Faith-Based Context

Webcast Details

  • Gallup Called to Coach Webcast Series
  • Season 6, Episode 11
  • Learn how the CliftonStrengths assessment has given renewed purpose to individuals, including millennials, in an Australian faith community.

On a recent Called to Coach, we spoke with guest Daniela Duarte. Daniela Duarte is the Organisational Development Manager for Hillsong Church. Her role requires her to develop innovative and impactful approaches to leadership development and talent management across 60 Australian Locations and 1,000 staff. Daniela is passionate about transformational change and believes that a key factor in sustainable success is engaging with individual leadership potential at every level.

How did you discover CliftonStrengths?

In 2008, I was teaching at Hillsong Leadership College. I was introduced to strengths by a student who shared with me the CliftonStrengths 2.0 book. Sometime later, I decided to use it with a team and found positive responses. When I combined strengths with my love for emotional intelligence, I have been invested in the tool since 2012. "[CliftonStrengths] is the No. 1 tool to help people grow their emotional intelligence."

Can you talk about the music aspect of Hillsong and the community/impact that the music has had?

As a member of the congregation, I find every new album impactful and share them with friends/family, even those who are not faith-based. Music fills me with positivity. Hillsong did recently win a Grammy. Their music is really about bringing people closer to God and we did not expect to see it have such a broad impact.

How is strengths used in CityCare (community development arm)?

Teams have used strengths personally as caseworkers. I worked in community development for 15 years, a position I would consider "high emotional labor" -- people are giving out continuously. CityCare was one of the first places to implement strengths. People heard they had specific talents that they brought to their communities and positions. "This is what I contribute. This is unique. And this is passed on to our community members."

They receive letters from all types of people who hear their music.

"Our goal is to give people a message of hope and purpose. One of the reasons strengths had such a large take-up is that it aligns perfectly with that [goal]. Now it is a tool people use to recrystallize their sense of purpose."

Some faith-based organizations find it difficult to embrace a tool like CliftonStrengths because it is not 100% biblically based. Is that a discussion that has occurred at Hillsong?

"Organizations don't change but individuals do change. That journey of being aware and desiring something new, gaining knowledge and being able to use it is a journey every individual goes on." Individual contributors, front-line managers, middle managers and executive leaders within Hillsong -- some have completely embraced the tool; some (perhaps because of their strengths filter) are more questioning of whether it aligns to their faith.

Book by Al Winseman (Living Your Strengths) on aligning strengths helped. Being able to see Scripture aligned to strengths helped them to adapt. There are some who are not early adopters. "Language is a big killer for any organization." At first, the idea of strengths and weaknesses got caught up in the discussion. Aligning your strengths with God's purpose and blessing others with those strengths. Balconies and basements worked for us to help individuals figure out how their basements hinder their ability to bless those around them.

In terms of change management, the challenge has been about the language differences between strengths-based and faith-based language. They conducted 700 coaching conversations in 18 months. 50 workshops in the first year. Activator helped me move from accreditation to facilitating a workshop a few days later.

"It's not a faith-based challenge, it's a challenge humans have when they are a collective."

Anne: In my experience with U.S. faith-based organizations, some organizations will use it for couples retreats or premarital counseling. They'll use it in transitional periods as well (high school to college) or issues in a marriage (to provide insights into partner). Are you using it in those spaces and/or other ways?

Individual in pastoral care -- Gets up at 5 a.m. and reads strengths-related materials until 8 every morning. He is incorporating into couples counseling. Coming from the point of similarity rather than difference.

How can we get people connected as fast as possible? "Engage" is an app created by their church that allows people opportunities to engage in their faith outside of the church. This includes engaging with your strengths and your talents. We encourage people to connect to CS via the app as a way to engage in their purpose.

Thinking about your own staff, how do you use CS with your staff and how do they use it with their staffs on a daily basis?

They have integrated CS into a "people with purpose" framework. Strengths is the first component (understanding your talents) and then align with the framework (competencies defined by discipleship and coaching). This will roll out to three of their campuses by midyear next year to integrate strengths, discipleship and our competencies. What is the aim? To sell CS, or integrate competencies? Their aim is for their staff to have an experience similar to that of the congregation members --

"To enjoy their life -- not endure it -- with purpose."

Integrating Q12 into this framework helped bring leadership expectations into the conversation.

  • Part 1: Strengths workshops within campuses for all staff. Team-based conversations, team grid, insight photo cards, talents in actions cards, etc. "We talk about honoring each other. But sometimes when you're working with each other day in and day out, that can tough. Being able to focus on the balcony of their strengths has integrated their team relationships."
  • Part 2: Select team leaders to receive their All 34. Use pairing book to prepare a "talent mix" and talk to their domains and combinations. Five 1-on-1 sessions and aim their strengths at a competency.
  • Part 3: Performance coaches will be able to continue this work in the future. "When you consider the outcome model of change -- awareness, desire, knowledge, ability and reinforcement -- with a 1,000-strong community, we are just past desire. We've worked on awareness for quite a long time, we definitely have the desire and now we are wearing in knowledge on all of our campuses -- next is advocating for more accredited strengths coaches."

Anne: Reminder -- "change is slow," especially in larger organizations. Managing other people's expectations is other challenging. How do you maintain your own expectations of this implementation and also manage the expectations of others (especially those who may be looking for immediate change)?

Competency core perspective

  • Key competencies of executives, one of which is "perspective" -- organizations can be so focused on obtaining KPI performance indicators that we forget to look outside the organization for talent, input and societal issues. She realized a lot of talent development departments in organizations have challenges with resources because they are considered a cost center.

Daniela's own strengths

Being able to speak the language of metrics

  • To connect with the board on the metric results on engagement. Using the Q12 to tell the narrative and story. Linking our vision and using our language. Sharing the results, even those that are not entirely positive.

Share with us your approach to coaching millennials

We built 7 key characteristics into the way we coach. Millennials don't always focus on the past of their career but are very focused on the future of their career and their organization. They are passionate about articulating their purpose. Helping them to map out their purpose is key. They want development that helps them grow into that purpose. Coaches vs. bosses -- shifting our leaders from being a "boss type" to more of a coach with more touchpoints and more supportive. This is a shifting culture, especially as a low percentage of managers approach their job from a coaching perspective. Focusing on their strengths and what they are good at.

"Tying all this into their life. They don't work for a job -- they work for finding purpose and fulfillment."

Standard coaching with a millennial leader includes six sessions.

  1. Energy -- how to keep it high -- how to maximize your emotional energy via your self-awareness.
  2. Rewards -- motivation cards and owning what they find rewarding and aligning with their positions.
  3. Values -- find it hard to identify values.
  4. Korn Ferry competencies and align with basements of CS -- "As a leader of leaders, what could derail you?"
  5. and 6. How do you change a nation? Talent mix (combo of the pairing book on their top 10) to understand what they bring as a senior leader.

You've been asked to travel to other global locations for Hillsong to expand the use of strengths. How has that experience been?

They are working with a New York staff of about 30 with a lot of volunteers. There was a little bit of fatigue due to the team size and being a new organization. CS gave them a sense of accomplishment and confidence.

"People feel very safe with CliftonStrengths because they're not about to hear what they're not good at … When people are working really hard, that's probably not what they want to hear. CS was an arms-open approach."

What is next for you in regards to strengths and Hillsong?

I would like to try to attend the Gallup Summit.

Daniela would love to see accredited strengths coaches on every Hillsong campus, ongoing developmental conversations with coaching techniques as "we always do this" … "Sitting on the cusp of a millennial generation and how they are inspired to grow, I would love to see more techniques around getting millennials to grow their leadership capabilities by using CS, Korn Ferry and coaching techniques.

Jim: How does Belief play out in a bigger corporate setting within an organization like Hillsong?

The difference between dialogue and appreciative inquiry. People who have high Belief can sometimes come across as "telling" or wanting to have their point seen very quickly. However, in collaborative cultures, Belief may be best served by putting up their ideas/perspectives for analysis by the group.

Jim: It can lend itself to being more about a mission rather than a person being in charge.

Daniela: A group with multiple people with high Belief can become a collective of very committed people regardless of whether there are challenging or easy times.

Their pastor intentionally talks about generational legacies and empowering the youth of the organization.

Daniela Duarte's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Activator, Strategic, Maximizer, Ideation and Self-Assurance.

Gallup Certified Strengths Coach Rachel S Carpenter contributed to this post.

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

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