skip to main content
Context: Highlights From Your CliftonStrengths 34

Context: Highlights From Your CliftonStrengths 34

Webcast Details

  • Gallup Theme Thursday Webcast Series
  • Season 5, Context
  • The CliftonStrengths themes at the top of your profile are the most powerful and give you the greatest chance for success. Join us as we discuss Context.

Join Jim Collison and Maika Leibbrandt as they talk about your Context talent theme -- helping you unlock the power of truly understanding yourself through how you get things done, influence others, connect with people and think critically -- on this Theme Thursday Season 5 webcast.

NEW for Season 5: Below is a full transcript of the conversation, including time stamps. Full audio and video are posted above.

Jim Collison 0:00

Hi, I'm Jim Collison and live from the Gallup Studios here in Omaha, Nebraska, this is Gallup's Theme Thursday, Season 5, recorded on August 8, 2019.

Jim Collison 0:21

Theme Thursday's a Gallup webcast series that dives deep into the CliftonStrengths themes, one theme at a time. And today's theme is Context. If you're listening live, we'd love to have you join us in the chat room. If you have questions after the fact or any questions, you can send us an email: Maika Leibbrandt is our host today. She's a workplace consultant here at Gallup. Maika, always great to see you. And welcome to another Theme Thursday.

Maika Leibbrandt 0:43

Thanks, Jim. I kind of can't believe we get to do this every week. This is fantastic.

Jim Collison 0:48

Hey, how do you feel about two a week? That's even -- when we think about Context and we just got done with Consistency, how do you feel about two a week, how's this working for you?

Maika Leibbrandt 0:56

I'm loving it. I'd love to hear from our listeners what they think of it. I think it's nice to offer up a change. So we did get done with Consistency and now talking about change. But I think it's nice to have a little bit of variety. So as you're consuming these, you have the option of a 20-minute segment. And it's fun for me to get to do too.

Jim Collison 1:14

Yeah. Let's dig in. Talk a little bit about Context.

Maika Leibbrandt 1:18

Yeah, so I am going to get to Context. First, just a little bit of a reminder that what we're doing as we dive into every single one of these themes is hopefully helping you focus on those themes that you have most dominant. We typically think about the themes at the top of your profile, those that you would say yes, that always describes me. Those are called your dominant talents or your dominant themes. And most people find that they can claim their first 5, maybe their Top 10, sometimes even into 12 and 13 as always, always describing them. I encourage you to be really picky with that, because even loving and understanding and leaning into one could be a lifetime of development. But that really is where your greatest potential lies. If you want to think about the the doors to walk through in order to be your best self, whether you're trying to apply it at work, at home, in your community, it is by unpacking and uncovering and investing in those themes at the top of your profile. If Context is one of those for you or for somebody you care about, this one is for you.

Jim Collison 2:16

So what does it mean to have Context as one of my top talent themes?

Maika Leibbrandt 2:19

It means that you make sense of the world by understanding what has happened before. You look to clues of where we've been in order to sort out where we're going.

Jim Collison 2:28

And how might people notice this, if it's dominant -- if it's one of their dominant themes?

Maika Leibbrandt 2:32

Yeah, if you've got high Context, your brain craves a timeline, a backstory. Your first instinct when you're solving a problem might be to explore what has already happened. Hey, what got us here, what happened before, what do we already know about this? It might not be hard for you to imagine and identify with that phrase, there's nothing new under the sun. You are drawn to history in some way. Now, it might not mean that you love, like my preschooler, the History Channel, but it is looking at perhaps individual histories or even just background information before you can truly feel like you're understanding something. You probably get excited about what you discover about the past. And you can use it as important points in your understanding or benchmarks. You might find that you get more joy out of these discoveries than other people do. Maybe you've heard yourself saying, Hey, did you know? Or I've got something interesting to share -- more than other people around you do.

Jim Collison 3:24

Context is one of my favorite middle themes for me. So it's not dominant; I wouldn't claim it. I probably don't know it as well as I do. But when it's happening -- when it's happening to me or others are doing it, I just really love it. It's just -- I smile. I love kind of the history. I love, like, how does this all kind of come together and tight pieces? So I love doing it. However, in the new 34 theme report, we have this area of blind spots, and it can create blind spots for people -- hold them back from excellence. So what could we be looking for if you're high in Context?

Maika Leibbrandt 3:54

Yeah, remember, your blind spots are not a guarantee; they're not a diagnosis. They're just a way for us to assume responsibility of how our themes might splash on to others. Or what could get in your way of being incredible with your Context. I would say one blind spot to consider is the fact that Context is a rarer theme, say rarer, 25 times fast. So you see how you do with that. It is among the 5 least common to show up and people's Top 5. So I think it's important for people to know when they're the only one in the room who cares about the past. Ask permission, offer a preview, perhaps. Find a great way to introduce what you know, or what you're curious about. Maybe it's by saying, Hey, did you know -- there's something I have here to share? Or would you like to hear something interesting about what we're discussing? You might even find a great way to say, hey, we've tried that in the past -- do you think it's applicable to revisit what we what we know about those discoveries? You could be seen as being resistant to change. Now hold on -- everyone is, at some level, even folks with high Adaptability, I would say still, change is not comfortable to just about anybody. But I think Context on its on its face value can look like resistant to change or or digging in your heels. It might be -- it might even look like that more as a quick ability to notice the newness that other people see as change as re-creation of what's already happened. Because you're so aware of where we've been in the past, you can make links to the fact that perhaps this change that people are describing isn't all that inventive. But make sure that it doesn't mean that you are leading with "No." So ask questions. Feed your Context. Learn more about the experiences that perhaps drove other people toward this change. Ask how they're preparing or what brought them to this point. Again, lean farther into that Context so that it can get even better.

Jim Collison 5:50

When I think Context -- be a good storyteller. Like I think that's a great have something to practice to be good at. When we think of that, and I think the storytelling idea, it comes in handy on team context. So when we think about Context, how does it play well on a team?

Maika Leibbrandt 6:04

Yeah, so page 21 of your CliftonStrengths 34 report is a super piece, it is going to help you understand how your themes fall in relationship to the Four Domains of Leadership. And Context falls into the Strategic Thinking domain. So that means that Context is a theme that makes sense of its world by studying it; by conceptualizing, by spending a bit of think time inside their head. I think Context on a team can be the historian, the anchor, the brainpower who grounds the team in understanding maybe those stories that that idea of where have we been? They can also really amplify future decisions that a team is making by understanding what did we do successfully in the past? Maybe what caused us to misstep in the past, or what have we tried before? To compare it to some other Strategic Thinking themes that might help us really, really understand Context, I want to compare it to Strategic -- the theme of Strategic. Context might say, I'm most confident when I've learned what happened before. Strategic might say, I'm most confident when I've explored our options. Both of those are identifying patterns. Context is identifying patterns in a linear timeline; Strategic is identifying patterns and themes in a cluster. You can see how they could work quite well together or how they could be very different.

Maika Leibbrandt 7:26

Context and Learner are also pretty similar themes, again, both in that Strategic Thinking place, both I think about a curiosity about what they don't yet know. Context might say, it's vital to know about the past, and I'm always tuned in to curiosity of where we've been; Learner might say, I enjoy that process of going from not knowing to knowing, whether it's about the past or the present or the future or a specific topic. So I think both of those might bring a value to the team or an insistence. Context's value might say, we need to give the past its proper attention in order to prove that we're taking the future seriously. Whereas Learner might say, hey, there's always something that you can learn and gain and an attitude of, of figure it out or stay open to it is something that's really important. Again, these aren't contrasting themes, but hopefully offering some more sunlight on both of them helps you understand all of these themes a little bit better. In partnership, what Context can bring to you is, think about the the ability to advise and inform. They bring an intimacy with the past that other people might miss. They can -- Context can help you minimize risk. If you're making important decisions, what Context can bring to the table are a lens to to prior discoveries that can build upon those important decisions. I think Context can also set the benchmark for what we understand as a partnership. They can help you compare your current state to other points in time, and that -- it just makes the picture clearer. I think about Context in a -- on a theater stage, when you pull back the curtain and you see the setting, whether that's a prop or a background, or a sense of what time we're in, Context helps you understand the story by putting it into a setting, helping you understand more about where we are right now.

Jim Collison 9:17

Any clues on or advice on communicating well with Context?

Maika Leibbrandt 9:21

I would say, don't try to overengineer your expectations for Context; let the -- let the person with Context explore alongside you. Remember that because it's that Strategic Thinking theme, they're probably at their best when they're in discovery mode. So don't just assume that you need to start at the beginning. Give them opportunities to ask questions and to guide you through your own understanding of the past. Their timeline is going to be different than yours, or their connection to what the past is, is going to be different than yours. So let them guide you; let them ask questions. I would also say, be prepared by knowing something about relevant history. Maybe that's knowing what that person is, is struggling with today, or and being able to say, Hey, this is what we've tried before. Maybe it's knowing what they're interested in and knowing who an expert is in that field.

Jim Collison 10:11

And Maika, how might we inspire or motivate somebody with Context?

Maika Leibbrandt 10:16

Invite them to share what they know. Invite them to share what they or the group perhaps already knows about current challenges. Give them the floor. Challenge them too to learn all they can about a specific topic, and find a great way to translate that into a place that other people can benefit from. Go to them for quick nuggets; ask them to illuminate the past without any expectation of owning something new or taking on extra responsibility.

Jim Collison 10:45

How would -- so for people with Context, how could they practice this talent every day?

Maika Leibbrandt 10:51

I think it's important for people with Context to make history a relationship connection. So maybe that means that you're going to spend time with someone who can help you better know the history of a group or a team that you're a part of. It might be a mentor who's been there longer than you have. It might be somebody who knows a lot about the industry and is perhaps delighted for you to ask them questions about where we've been. As with many Strategic Thinking themes, every single day, you need to be feeding your brain. Deliberately learn something that interests you. Spend time reading, listening or, or even talking, to really do that work of studying.

Jim Collison 11:31

So when we think about practicing, we've been doing this talent-mindfulness exercise, right. It's getting pretty popular, Maika, people are really liking it. How can we -- walk us through this.

Maika Leibbrandt 11:43

Candidly, Jim and I are a little surprised at how popular it is. But we're thrilled that it works.

Jim Collison 11:48

I remember you saying at the beginning of the season, I'm going to try this thing, and I'm not sure if it's gonna work. Right. I remember you saying that. But give it a try. Yeah.

Maika Leibbrandt 11:57

It does. If you have turned off the podcast at this point in previous sessions, just give it a try today. It's going to take less than 5 minutes of your time. And it's an opportunity for you to really focus on yourself. So not meant to be prescriptive to the theme of Context; just a 5-minute reflection, an opportunity. We know that talent multiplied by investment is how you get to strength. Investment is skill, knowledge, intention, time spent practicing. Here's some time for you to spend practicing about yourself. And I really like this one today. So right now it's time for a bit of talent-mindfulness. Again, it's for anyone regardless of where Context falls in your profile, but I think you'll hear a bit of a Context theme. Let's start with a deep breath. Breathe in through your mouth. … And exhale, let it all go, just be here in the moment. So it's helpful to study the past in order to understand the future, even if that isn't where your brain naturally goes. Today, we're going to do just that. If you're comfortable, and it's safe to do so, close your eyes. If that doesn't make you comfortable, or it's not safe to do so, choose a spot -- kind of cast your gaze down, choose a spot somewhere beyond your nose that you can focus on. I'd like you to think about your own Top 5 talent themes. Which one of those can you remember showing up earliest in your life? Focus on that one. If you're in the chat, type the theme name into the chat. If you're not, just think about that theme name. See it in your mind. Think about what it sounds like to say it out loud.

Maika Leibbrandt 13:40

Now we're going to go back in our own history, go back in your own life to a time that that theme showed up brilliantly for you. What were you doing? Who were you with? What did it look like? What words do you think you or someone else would use to describe that early talent of yours? What was valuable about that talent back then? … Maybe that talent was appreciated and nurtured early on. What did someone do or notice and care for that talent in you? How did somebody really honor it early on? … Now, I want you to stay in your imagination, but bring your focus to today. Think about that same talent theme and how it plays out today. What is valuable about that same talent theme as it manifests in your current life? … Who's someone in your life who appreciates and honors that talent? How do they do that? …

Maika Leibbrandt 15:22

I'm gonna close with two sentence stems. I want you to think about how to end these two sentences right now. "A great talent of mine is: … " "This talent feels appreciated when … " … You've probably noticed a couple elements of some truths about CliftonStrengths, and one is that talents grow best in relationships. Another is that they're naturally recurring, and they've probably been there a lot longer than you realize. It's worth studying past success. It's worth studying current success. And it's worth studying what great partners do to make the most of you. You are the best educator of others in terms of how to get the most of you. So if you need to replay this, feel free to replay it, I hope you get to that point where you can finish those two sentences. What is a great talent of yours? And what can people do to appreciate it? That's your talent-mindfulness for today.

Jim Collison 16:32

Maika, that's a great exercise -- I muted myself. That's -- That's ironic! When I had been in 4H, I think I was maybe 9 or 10. And I used to do these demonstrations. And I would practice them. And I would go through these things and show how to make vegetable pizza or fruit pizza or I had all these -- I'd done these. I loved them. I loved go and doing them. I loved memorizing the speech. In fact, one of the speeches, I could almost recite a good chunk of it today. Think about that, right? So Woo -- the art of influencing and moving people to do things. And how ironic would it be that that talent would manifest itself today in what we do here, right, this desire to communicate and to -- I have high Communication, I think most people who have Woo have that Communication and Positivity triplet. But I just thought I'd share that because I think it's really appropriate the context of that, as we think about going back in the history of success is my mom encouraged me in those days to do that. She was the driver of -- she, and I loved to get out in front of people and do those kinds of things, even (aged) 8, 9, 10. And I won a lot of those events. And it was pretty cool. It really set it really set me up for that. So I hope as you're thinking about that that talent-mindfulness, you might think, Jim's just sitting there doing nothing, right, as you're doing that. No, there's there's significant things in there, right as we think through that's what that led me back to is those this fruit pizza demonstration that I did, and I won the whole show with it. And it, it had a significant impact on what we do -- what we're doing right now and what we do today.

Jim Collison 18:07

So with that, I'll remind everyone to take full advantages of all the resources we have available at the Gallup Strengths Center, just If it's after September 20, you might be redirected to our new Gallup Access site that's out there and available for -- a lot of the same and even some better resources that are available for you, If you want to head out there, you can actually do that today, if it's before September 20, you can take a peek at it. Don't forget, we got a lot of resources for you on our Coaches Blog; that's changing too. For today,, that'll redirect to the new site when that is up and running. And we got some great-looking stuff coming your way. We're excited to share it with you. Don't forget, if you want to get some training, want to get some coaching, want to get anything, head out to our courses page: You can see what locations and it's available all around the world. We'd love to have you come out and do some training with us. In fact, I'm heading over to a training class right now, after we're done here, to speak with them about the the things that are available for them in our podcast world. If you want to join us live, and who wouldn't?, the best time to do this is live. Get signed up for the notifications of whenever we post something for our live events on our Eventbrite page. So go to And of course, join us in our Facebook group,, if you want to continue that conversation out there, you can do that. We'd love to have you doing that. Maika, thanks for joining me today, another great podcast. We want to thank you for joining us live. With that, we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.

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