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Rolling Out Strengths in an Organization: 4 Key Roles, Pt 1

Rolling Out Strengths in an Organization: 4 Key Roles, Pt 1

Webcast Details

  • Gallup Called to Coach Webcast Series
  • Season 7, Episode 30
  • Listen as Dean Jones talks about the roles of leader and strengths champion, and how they are key in rolling out CliftonStrengths in an organization.

On a recent Called to Coach, we spoke with the Principal Architect of Gallup's Global Client Learning Strategy, Dean Jones, about 4 roles or types of players that are key in rolling out CliftonStrengths in an organization. In part 1 of this webcast, Dean discusses the first 2 key roles: leader and strengths champion.

NEW: 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 Called to Coach, recorded on July 19, 2019.

Jim Collison 0:18

Called to Coach is a resource for those who want to help others discover and use their strengths. We have Gallup experts and independent strengths coaches share tactics, insights and strategies to help coaches maximize the talent of individuals, teams and organizations around the world. If you have questions during this live webcast, put them in the chat room, we'll get to them as we can. If you're listening after the fact, send us an email: Don't forget to visit the Gallup Strengths Center, just for all your CliftonStrengths coaching resources and training needs. You can also catch the video in both downloadable audio for offline listening -- we call that podcasting; all the cool kids are doing it these days, and you might want to listen to them that way as well. Never miss an episode, get subscribed, all those great things. Everything you need is at our coaching blog. Go to Dean Jones is our host today. Dean is one of Gallup's senior experts in learning and development. Dean, always great to have you on Called to Coach and welcome back.

Dean Jones 1:08

Yeah, thanks for having me here today. It's um, I'm watching the chat today. Super excited to see everybody. And it's so fun like to see people that we just saw at the summit. How fun is that? How fun is that? I got to see my friend Cheryl Pace, who I see almost every year, right. And my new friend Meryl from South Africa, who is just, you know, changing the world -- completely changing the world. So it's just, yeah, it's so, so cool to see everybody here. And, and just to have seen them all in the summit, you know.

Jim Collison 1:42

Dean, you've become a little bit -- at the summit, you've become a little bit of a rock star. And not a little bit, a big bit of a rock star. And really, when I think about what you bring to what we do here, is you have really brought some of the best learning I think folks can get in this forum, right? I mean, certainly coming to our courses and attending our events, and some of that is that is great. But I think over the last three years, you've really -- maybe four, I think, have brought the most consistent learning. And that's the feedback that I've gotten from at the summit. I was like, Oh, yeah, everybody's gotta listen to Dean. So if you're, if you're listening now, congratulations. You've made it to the right part. Also, a lot of feedback we've been getting is around these, this idea of rolling out strengths into an organization. We get those questions a lot, we've done a lot of work around that; we've produced a lot of material around that. But we really want to spend the next two of these sessions kind of talking about getting your advice, getting your teaching on, how do we do this? And so as we think about rolling this out into orgs, help us -- walk us through that. How do we how do we do that? What's the -- what's sort of the right place to start?

Dean Jones 2:53

Yeah, no, Jim, that's great. I think with regard to me, I think, like everybody who's who listens to this podcast, I am just a guy who is super passionate about strengths, and super passionate about the difference that makes for people. And, you know, that's why I think as we talked today, about how do you make this available in organizations? It's I think that happened -- what I'm hearing with from the coaches that I talked to, and the people in HR and organizational development that work inside organizations is, you know, more and more, I think we're at a place where people want to be able to roll out strengths in organizations. They want to create a strengths-based organization. I always laugh because I think sometimes we are still I think at Gallup discovering what it means to have a strengths-based culture and to be a strengths-based organization. I don't think it's like -- we've got it, like; I think people expect it's going to be like, that's what a chair looks like, or that's what a table looks like. Like it's a thing and like you know, like that. I think we're still -- that's still unfolding for us. And I think we're still discovering what does that all mean, as we work with organizations around the world to help them utilize strengths inside their organization. So -- and we've got some, you know, with the publication of the It's the Manager book, we included some great information in that book about how to build a strengths-based culture. Today, today, and next time, and I think we just decided, this is how Jim and I decide things, right? So we get on the -- we get on the podcast, and before everybody gets on it's, like, hey, is this one or two sessions? So we decided that it was two sessions.

Dean Jones 4:28

So we decided today, the thing that I thought would be useful is I think we oftentimes when we talk about building a strengths-based organization, or building a strengths-based culture in an organization, that we talk a lot about how it would unfold, and what are the key attributes. And I think we talk a lot about where to get started. And I know that before these two sessions are over, I want to talk about just a little bit about where do you start? Because I do know that people have questions about that. And I feel like I've talked about that a lot. But I want to -- I want to mention it again, because there are different ways to get strengths started in an organization. The piece that I wanted to talk about today, particularly, is I think there are four key roles that you want to make sure -- four kind of types of players when you're rolling out strengths in an organization. And I want to talk about each one of those four roles. And I want to be a little methodical, a little deliberative about talking about each one of them. Because I think it's useful to understand what role does each, what -- how does each role contribute to the success of strengths in an organization. The four roles that I want to talk about are leader, right, an organizational leader, organizational, an executive and organizational leader. The second is strengths champion. And I don't know that we've talked much about strengths champions in this forum, but we sure talk about it with the clients that we work with. And so I want to talk about what is the strengths champion a little bit? And how are those used in a strengths rollout? The next time I want to talk about the role of strengths coaches in a strengths rollout. And that may seem obvious, but I, I think there's some nuance to it that we should discuss, and the role of managers, right. So the four roles are leader, strengths champion, strengths coach and manager, and those are the -- I'd like to talk about each one of those as we kind of go through this, right?

Jim Collison 6:19

Yeah, Dean, let's get this kicked off right away with the leaders. And I think this is a key, it's not No. 1 on the list by accident, right? Key role in what we are doing. So I think -- I think it's really time to pay attention. What do we have around leaders?

Dean Jones 6:32

Yeah, I think for leaders, honestly, I think it's, in a weird way, I think leaders are sometimes scary for people. I think it's scary for strengths coaches that are trying to make something happen in an organization. I think it's scary for a lot of HR and OD people. Because I think that people recognize that getting buy-in from leaders is essential for the success of a strengths initiative inside of an organization. And it's because at the end of the day, leaders are responsible for culture. And leaders set the tone for culture in an organization. So it is so critical that the leaders that you're working with are owning and modeling and communicating around the shift in culture that you want to have when you introduce strengths into an organization. But I think that oftentimes people feel like they are not equipped or don't know how to get the buy-in of leaders -- of leaders if they don't already have it. You know, one of the things we say in It's the Manager is you should start as we talk about building a strengths-based culture in an organization is start with the CEO or the executive sponsor. And oftentimes, I will tell you, you know, many organizations, many people are fortunate, and they have leaders inside the organization that are already passionate about strengths. And even though when the leader is passionate about strengths, it may not necessarily translate to ownership of a program or initiative in the organization. So you might -- I do know we've worked with organizations where the leaders are, they are excited about strengths, they have gotten personal value from strengths. And it doesn't necessarily translate into sponsoring or owning the strengths rollout in the organization. So I think in some ways, that's -- those are two different things. And I think it's important for people to recognize this, I'm going to go into this a little bit. But I think those are two different things, somebody's personal excitement about it versus sponsoring, or owning an initiative, right.

Dean Jones 8:27

So I think what you want to end up with, and what the goal here is, is that you've got leaders who are bought in to strengths. And I don't mean CliftonStrengths the tool; I mean, creating a strengths-based organization. Sometimes we collapse that. So when we think about rolling out strengths in an organization, we think about rolling out the tool. I think that's the biggest -- when I talk to organizations, to clients about rolling out strengths in their organization, I think that's the biggest, honestly, barrier in people's thinking is when they think about rolling out strengths in the organization, they're thinking about how do we get everybody to participate in doing the -- doing this assessment, or using this tool. And strengths is really broader than that. Strengths is really about when you think about building a strengths-based culture, you're talking about a culture where we understand that talent is probably the most important asset that the culture has, right? It and that we know how to identify talent in the organization. We know how to harness it; we know how to develop it and point it at or applying our talents and strengths meaningfully to performance in the organization. So it's much broader than, Hey, have you done CliftonStrengths or not? It's really about, Hey, are we harnessing talent and applying talent against performance objectives to really fulfill on the mission and purpose of the organization? So -- and I think that's part of what the -- when you're communicating with leaders, it's not it's -- sometimes it comes across like, we want everybody to do this assessment, right? Or we want everybody to do this tool, right? It's not about that. It's about, Hey, we want a culture, where we're -- where everybody in the culture, understands their own talent, and can apply it meaningfully and powerfully against our business objectives, right, or against our mission and purpose. You know, and that is a powerful thing.

Dean Jones 10:21

So I think as you're talking to leaders, you got to shift that conversation so it's focused there, right? I will tell you that at the end of the day, what you're going for with leaders is ownership. And I will tell you, I actually learned this, I learned this from one of our clients. So we were working with a very large, a very large bank, and they were talking about initiatives in their organization. And I heard the the gal who the woman who was leading this for the organization, I think I believe she was the senior HR person in the organization. She was talking about working with leaders. And she -- the thing that she said that was so powerful, and really, for me kind of shaped my thinking about it. What she said, Gosh, you know, in the past, what we noticed is, is when we rolled out these kind of culture initiatives in the organization, that executives saw their role as a sponsor, that they were sponsoring it in the organization. So -- and as a sponsor, they would be they would say, yes, this is good. And yes, I believe in this or I'm aligned with this like that, right? But she said, the thing that we saw that was missing was ownership. So sponsorship and ownership are two different things. And we're executives in the organization really owning the culture and owning this -- owning the kind of culture that we want to create. And honestly, from that, I mean it really was powerful for me and really shifted my thinking. And since then, as I've worked with clients and organizations around the world, you know, the thing that I've talked about is creating that ownership, that sense of ownership with executives and leaders.

Jim Collison 12:00

Dean, what if you can't get that ownership, but you get the sponsorship? Do you -- is it good enough? And I should move forward with it? Or is that something I should wait until I get the full ownership before I move forward?

Dean Jones 12:14

Yeah. And that's a point I think I wanted to make sure that I made today is -- I think in working with leaders, it's often progressive. I think sometimes, I think people relate to it, like, I'm going to go there, I'm going to explain it to this to them, and I'm going to flip -- flip a switch, and they're going to be so fired up, and it's going to change our culture overnight. And it just doesn't work that way. I think for all of us, I think it's progressive. You know, and I think in the beginning, oftentimes, it may feel like sponsorship, it may feel like just tacit approval. And, and that's OK. And that's good, right? And I think, like with all of us, I think we and and and particularly in organizations, you want to see, is this working? Is this beneficial? And is this yielding results? Right? I will tell you the tendency oftentimes with, with people I see -- with HR people, with with coaches, and even with our own consultants a lot of times is that they believe that the way to convince leaders of the value of CliftonStrengths is to have them do it personally. I think that's useful, but I think there's actually limitations to that. So, um, I think, you know, there was a time back in our history, when, when we were introducing strengths to an organization, the first thing we would do is we would say to the leaders, you need to go to CliftonStrengths. And then we'll do a one-on-one coaching session with you, so that you can see the power of strengths personally. I would tell you that some with some leader leaders, that is absolutely one of the most powerful ways and persuasive ways to get their buy-in. With other leaders, it actually doesn't work. Not everybody's at a place where they want developmental feedback. So sometimes you got leaders that are at a place where they either don't have strong self-awareness, or not -- or for whatever reason and then there may be very valid reasons to say, Look, I'm not in a place where I really want input from somebody from a coach I don't know. And so doing CliftonStrengths themselves may not be the right approach for them. And doing a coaching session may not be the right approach for them, right? And I -- don't mishear me, I think everybody should do CliftonStrengths. So I'm a huge advocate. I'm not saying, Don't do it with people. I'm just saying if you want to get buy-in it's a way, but don't put all your eggs in this basket. Don't put all the emphasis on, We're going to have the leaders do CliftonStrengths, and then we're going to have them do a coaching session and then it's going to be a slam-dunk. It does work, it doesn't necessarily always work.

Dean Jones 14:41

Part of what you got to be sensitive to around this is, is that -- one is, if you're going to do this, you need a strengths coach who's experienced in working with leaders and executives. So, you know, when we do this with clients, it's not just like we we grab, you know, like one of our coaches and say, hey, go work with this person. We are very strategic. We have certain coaches, you all may have met many of them. Jacque Merritt is the one who comes to mind, who's probably one of our top executive coaches in the company, Andrew Green, Jeremy Pietrocini has worked with many, many, as you know, many executives around the world around strengths. So we're very strategic about the people that we put with a leader to coach them in their -- in their strengths, right. And we want somebody who really understands the world of being an executive and leader, and is experienced at doing that, and providing that kind of feedback. So they can make sure that the coaching, like all coaching, should be relevant for people and meaningful for people. And should should be, it should be delivered in a way that's consistent with where that person is, in their own development and their own self-awareness. So pieces, that that piece is really important. The other piece about this is oftentimes, HR people inside the organization are not in a position to be able to coach executives in the organization. So you know, like, like, you may be an HR person, but you're not, you don't already have a coaching relationship with the executives in the organization. So that may be -- that may be uncomfortable for you and for that person. And it may not be appropriate, right? I will tell you, most executives -- and the thing that as we, over the years have have worked with executives and organizations, many, many executives prefer to have a coach who's outside the organization and sits outside the organization, someone with whom that they trust and where that trust has been built up over time. Right? In some cases, executives, rather than than having the company pay for the executive coach, they actually personally pay to have a coach and and have that person coach them. So as a result, an HR person, even a senior HR person, may not necessarily be in the position where they can coach the executive, right?

Dean Jones 16:58

The last piece I'll say about this is that, even when there's value, that even when there's personal value, in almost every case, people get something out of it. Right? So let's be clear, like people do CliftonStrengths, they see stuff, right? They have insights, it's valuable. It's interesting. You can't automatically assume that because people get personal value, that that translates into support for a companywide initiative, right? So I may say, gosh, that was super valuable for me. I learned a lot about myself, it was very useful. But but it's a different thing for me thinking about as an executive, thinking about rolling this out to the organization. So the conversation has to be one where where we make it clear for the organization, what's the return on investment, in terms of investing in strengths for the organization? We have to have a business conversation with them to be able to say, yes, you got value, the organization gets -- the people in the organization will get value. Here's how it then translates into business outcomes or performance for the organization. Right? So you've got to have a conversation where you say, hey, how this is going, it's going to fit into your development, but this is how it's actually going to drive performance. Now luckily, and maybe not so luckily, you know, intentionally, we have done a lot of research on the value of CliftonStrengths, and its impact on individuals, teams and the organization as a whole. So there is research and there is data that supports being able to have that kind of conversation, where you say, hey, when you invest in strengths, this is how it drives engagement for the organization. This is how it drives performance and business outcomes for the organization. So we have we have data and research that we share around that that's powerful and very compelling. And so -- so when you're in that conversation, you can start to have that conversation about, hey, we're going to invest in this, this is part of a transformation in our culture. And this is what we're going to do there. Right? So, Jim, were you gonna say something?

Jim Collison 19:01

Yeah, a couple questions. Joel had said, in the chat room, he said, that's often where he feels insufficient trying to champion strengthen his org, it doesn't feel like he's at that exec-level experience. Amy, Amy agrees with him there. Any advice you'd give in that space? If you're working this and you don't have it, outsource it? I mean, let's see, that seems logical. But what's your advice?

Dean Jones 19:24

You certainly can partner with somebody who's an executive coach. Honestly, I think that if but -- here's the place I think you can lean into is that if you, again, that you can use this approach where you have executives do do strengths themselves personally, and it's useful for them, right? The the piece that you want to lean into is your experience working with teams and groups and organizations around that, right -- around rolling out strengths and the impact that it has, and have that business conversation about how it transforms the culture, how it shifts organizations, the work that we do there, and the impact that that has. And that's the -- that's where I would lean into, rather than trying to sort of personally convince somebody around it. And again, what what I, what I've seen is, as you have that kind of conversation, and then people also do CliftonStrengths, senior leaders also do CliftonStrengths in organizations, it's compelling for them. Right? And so and, and certainly for us, as we work with executives around the world, you know, I think it's one of the things that's really striking, is you see the number of CHROs, the number of senior leaders and organizations around the world that have done strengths and value strengths, and are using that in a meaningful way to transform their organization, right? Were you going to say something else?

Jim Collison 20:44

Yeah, one more question on the opposite side, as we dig into these leaders, I think it's kind of good to get these these cases out of the way. What about what about a leader, so you've got a leader buy-in, but almost too much buy-in, and they're ramming it downstream to be like, everybody's going to do this. No exceptions. You know, where it becomes almost like a forced initiative, any advice on that, if you come across that style of leader?

Dean Jones 21:08

Yeah, I think here's the thing is you do get enthusiastic, enthusiastic leaders. And that's great. And the end where and often times you get that, anytime -- and we've seen this before with other organizations where somebody gets excited about either a development or like a course, or development approach. I've seen this with other other organizations where somebody gets super excited. And there's backlash in the organization, because they feel like something's being forced down their throat, or where they feel like, like, um, they feel like that they're being forced to buy into something that they not -- they're -- they're not sure that they believe in, right? I think one instance where you can help help people understand that as a journey. It's not, it's it, this is always a journey. And it's, it's, in some ways, kind of like climbing a mountain that has no top, like, you're always going to be working on building strength, a strengths-based organization. It's not about getting someplace fast, it's about bringing people into the conversation, right? And that that enthusiasm is great enthusiasm, and we want to harness that enthusiasm. We also want to let people, people have to have to kind of try it on for themselves and find themselves in it. So and that's OK. And we want to have a lot of space for that process. As we talk today, we're going to talk about in a minute here about strengths champions. Right? And, and strengths champions are great in an organization about helping people go through that kind of process of adoption, right? So that they can go through that journey, kind of honor that journey that people have to get their concerns addressed, their questions answered, to -- to get that kind of that sense for themselves. Right. And so -- like that.

Dean Jones 22:52

The other thing I would say, as you talk to leaders about strengths that you want to, I think that you want to make sure that you're communicating is that strengths is a development approach that's designed to help people turn their talents into performance. And it's designed to streamline that process. The piece that I think sometimes is missing is when strengths is presented to leaders and organizations is it comes across as that it's just about self-awareness, or just a sort of about team awareness. And it's not about performance. And the goal, really, of strengths in organizations is it's really a business strategy that's a performance strategy. So it's really about how do we harness talent, help people apply it meaningfully, and translate into performance and business outcomes. I have become aware just through work with our -- some of our partners around the world, right, that, you know, performance is not necessarily a positive thing in every part of the globe, right? Sometimes people look at that as a very Western and a very American point of view, right? You know what I mean? And that the thing we should be fostering in organizations is more collaboration, and not this sort of single-minded sort of goal orientation around performance. But I do think that what we want to be thinking is about the application of strengths to the culture of the organization, to fulfill on the purpose and mission of the organization.

Dean Jones 24:17

The other thing I think is useful to particularly right now, I will tell you, almost every day of my life now, I am in a conversation about the value of development in the current workplace and in the current workforce, right? I would say that the workforce right now, there is probably there's the probably the most meaningful thing that people who are in the workforce, entering the workforce care about is am I going to be developed? Will I be able to learn and grow? And, and they are gauging the culture of organizations. They are gauging the the organizations that they joined based on their ability to be developed in that organization. And so you got to have good answers. If you're a senior leader that cares about the growth of your organization, you have to have good answers about how are we developing people? And what kind of development can people expect when they join our organization? And in the old-school kind of answers, like you'll get promoted or you'll pay your dues, and someday you'll be promoted? Right? those answers do not fly. The answers that people want to hear about is how am I going to be able to contribute to the mission and purpose of the organization? Jim, boy, you know this probably better than anybody, right, given your work with interns and your work with some of our some of our folks who are joining our organization, right? There's really meaningful answers have got to be around the mission and purpose of the organization, how people can contribute to it, how they will be developed, and how that -- how the ways they are going to develop are going to contribute meaningfully to the organization. So that is super important.

Dean Jones 25:56

So just to kind of wrap this piece, I want to kind of change gears and talk about champions in a minute. But, so as you talk with leaders and get their buy-in, get as you talk with leaders, and help them to start to sponsor and then own the strengths of the organization -- and really what they're doing is sponsoring then owning the culture of the organization -- here's some of the things that that you want to, you want to let them know that you're going to count on them for. The things that you you would say you would say, hey, look, this is your role as a leader. One is we want to make sure that for leaders, that they're incorporating strengths into their leadership brand. People watch leaders like a hawk, you know, and -- and you know, you are, you're in a very public position; leaders know this, you're in a very public position. And everything you do or don't do, or say or don't say, it sends a signal about what we're doing in the organization and who we are. So it's very important for leaders to model the kinds of behaviors that are consistent with the culture they want. And particularly as you start to bring strengths into an organization, that they're modeling, that they start to model being somebody that values talent, values the development of strengths, and can own their own strengths and values the strengths of others, right. So that's super important. That the a lot of the doing-ness, that what leaders actually do, to advocate for strings in the organization is to incorporate that, that in the way they communicate with people. And that communication is super powerful. And a lot of you know, like, the way I kind of boil it down is leaders need to be able to answer the question "Why?" Why are we doing this? Why is this important? Why now? So they, they want to have good answers to the question "Why?" Why are we doing this, right? And this they is, but part of that you're reinforcing the message, this is what we're doing here now. This is going to be an important part of our culture. This is consistent with our values. This helps us fulfill on our mission and purpose. This is how it's tied into what we want to do, right?

Dean Jones 28:08

Particularly, we talk a lot about connecting and being able to articulate how strengths ties to the organization's identity. And if you've heard some, we've done some work on this in the past, but we talk about the organization's identity as three parts, right: the purpose of the organization, the brand of the organization and the culture of the organization. Right? And, and we've done other kind of education and work around that, if that's something you're interested in, we've got other other podcasts that we've done around that. So I'm not going to go too much into that. But a lot of it is helping leaders be able to tie strengths to the purpose, brand and culture of the organization. And I think for leaders, it's helping them understand what makes a strengths-based culture unique, and how it's going to shift the current culture of the organization. So one of the things that happens as you start introducing strengths to the organization, is it really does start to transform the culture. And it is incredibly powerful for people. And I think I would say, we've, if we've done anything in the past, we we have underestimated the shift that organizations go through when they start adopting strengths and how it really does empower and transform the culture of the organization. Right? The challenge is, that can be very upsetting for people. Right? You know, like, and, you know, it sounds funny, we have great change consultants in our organization. And, you know, I think you've interviewed some of them here, Jim, you know, who are great at helping organizations be able to navigate change, but, you know, like, I think it -- I think, you know, when you look up "change" in the dictionary, the first definition is, is that it's upsetting. You know what I mean? Like -- it's just impossible, you know, I think we want to we all want to believe I think that we embrace change. I think we all want to be -- think that, as a value, we all want to be people that yeah, I can embrace change. And I love change. I think we all love controlled change that you're in charge of. You know what I mean? Like I think if you know it's controlled change, and it's at a pace that's comfortable for you and you're in charge of it, I think that's great. You know what I mean?

Dean Jones 30:20

For most of us that what had change in organizations just doesn't happen that way. Sometimes it comes out of left field; sometimes we have no control over it; it can be very upsetting and dislocating for people, including leaders. Right? And so I think, one is we want to have a lot of empathy for the for how upsetting and dislocating it can be for people, right? And one of the things leaders can help with is to help people help guide people through the change, right? I'm a big fan -- nd I'm blanking on his name -- gosh, I can't remember his name now -- the gentleman at Harvard. In fact, I think that we've had consultants at Gallup, who've studied with him that talks about the leadership is kind of helping organizations navigate through change. And it talks a lot about adaptive change. I'm sorry, I'm blanking on his name right now. But I think that's really important and powerful is that leaders need to help people navigate through this help people know, hey, this might be feel like a new expectation for you in your job. It may feel not Clayton Christensen, good call, Nate. But good -- good answer, close.

Jim Collison 31:32

We're getting there.

Dean Jones 31:33

Yeah, sorry. I didn't, I didn't mean to take us down to you know, we're playing charades now. Sounds like

Jim Collison 31:39

It'll show up.

Dean Jones 31:39

You know? Yeah. So, but, um, you know, like, I think its leaders help people understand, hey, that this may feel like a foreign expectation. One of the things I think happens sometimes in organizations is people, you know, like, when you start to embrace strength, people say, yeah, this is interesting, but I don't know that I know how to get work done in this way. Right. And that may be the challenge for leaders and managers in the organization is, how do I get work done in this way? Like, this seems interesting. And everybody feels good about it. And everybody's very enthusiastic. But the in the beginning, I think it's challenging for people to say, hey, look, how do I now harness this to enhance performance? Right? If I'm a manager or leader in the organization, how do I use this strengths thing, and point this at the right stuff in order to be able to do that, and I think let's the beginning with leaders is to help them understand, hey, you know, it's okay, right. And what we want to do is start to point talented performance here. And strengths is going to give us a language and an ability to be able to do that, right. And I will tell you, I've seen both leaders and managers organization feel like as we've introduced this, that they don't have the right approach, they don't have the skills, they don't have the right personality, to be able to support strengths, right. And you don't have to have any of those things. You just have to be willing to start to help people understand their talent, and help them apply meaningfully at the things that we're asking them to do in the organization. And sometimes that means shaping someone's job in some cases. So that it's it's meaningful. We'll talk when we talk about managers next time. We'll talk about that in more detail. Right. So last thing with leaders, I just think, and it goes back to the point that you made, Jim, which is, which is I think the right one is I think it's progressive, right? So it's very seldom, even when it's, even when you get a lot of enthusiasm in the beginning, you want to make sure, sometimes the go slow approach is actually better, because people are, it's going through the right vetting, so that it becomes a legitimate part of the culture, and isn't just a program of the month or flash in the pan, right, that it's going through the right vetting and integration in the organization. So that it's got long-term appeal. So the, you know, faster isn't necessarily always better. Right. So like that. So that's the piece on leaders, OK?

Jim Collison 34:14

Dean, how would when we think about, you know, going in with leaders, oftentimes, we talked about ROI, how can a external coach obtain ROI data for existing clients? If we're going in from the outside in?

Dean Jones 34:26

Yeah, the thing, the thing that I would, I would say, to start with is around this is to start with the meta analysis that we've done around strengths. So we've done a meta analysis or constraints we did our post, our first one, I want to say was two or three years ago, Jim, you may know better than I do. But --

Jim Collison 34:44

2016, I think?

Dean Jones 34:46


Jim Collison 34:46

Yeah, I think so.

Dean Jones 34:47

Yeah. And was very, very good, very comprehensive. And what was interesting about it is we looked at it on two dimensions, we looked at the individual dimension, and we looked at the team dimension, to look at the impact, right. And the interesting thing is that we saw was, we saw a big range, in terms of the impact, but the range was really based on the environment in the organization. So the more the environment was set up to support strengths, the more the more likely you were to be able to realize benefits from from utilizing strengths inside the organization. So like that, right?

Jim Collison 35:24

I think the only thing I'd add sometimes to and these change with leaders and how we approach people, don't blame strengths on the way people approach this. So don't for the ones that adapt easy, don't say all they had high Adaptability or Individualization, or for the ones that don't, well, they had high Deliberative and high Consistency, don't don't go down that, that that works.

Dean Jones 35:43

Let's not blame people for their strengths.

Jim Collison 35:45

That works for no one.

Dean Jones 35:46

And we can talk about other things. I will tell you, there's times when people you know, and I've had experiences with leaders around this where, you know, people like like, everybody, right has to work through some stuff, right? There's sometimes when they read, they get their strings for they go, gosh, this is totally me. And I've met, nobody's ever read me like this before. Nobody's read me like a book like this. And sometimes people get it, they say, This all makes sense, except this one, you know, it's just like, it's just like anybody, right? Um, let's talk about the strict champions piece, right. And so, because I want to talk about this, this is something I don't know how much we've talked about, with people, with coaches and with others around, but oftentimes, when you're introducing strengths in the organization, the the role that is often a very useful role in the beginning is is creating people that are strengths, champions. And sometimes when we talk about this with organizations, or when we talk about this with people, it feels a little like, kind of like the strengths coach light, right, like, like, you know, like apprentice coaches or something like that. And in fact, it's not that right. So strengths champions are really a different role than a strength coach, right? It requires sometimes a different talent set now. It doesn't mean that strengths coaches, many strengths coaches, funny Um, I'll give a shout-out to my my new friends at the Bentonville, the Northwest Arkansas coach meetup just started, that we had just had our second session this this last week, right. And we were literally we were kind of talking about this, this same thing. But a lot of coaches also lead trainings and a lot of coaches are very Woo-y, right, where they love people and they love network with people like that. Some coaches are just not wired that way.

Dean Jones 37:35

There's a woman that was in our, in our Bentonville meetup that said, hey, look, I just want to work with people. That's who I am. That's the dynamic that's comfortable. For me. That's what I like to do. Right? So a champion strengths champion is a key role when strengths organizations, when strengths is launched in an organization, that the role of strengths champion is to promote strengths and generate adoption in the organization. So there job really is oftentimes it gets reduced to being a cheerleader, but it's really more than that. It's really somebody who is promoting strengths, and and generating that kind of adoption in the organization. We're in the beginning stages of rolling out strengths in an organization, the focus is on awareness and participation. And it really is in the beginning, man, it's it just feels like that's the work you're doing right, is awareness and participation. So you're creating awareness around strengths. What is this? What does this mean? What is this about? What is the world of this? What does that mean for our organization? How does this link to what we're doing lots of awareness, right. And then lots of participation, like, so people finding out about it, people and that sometimes been coming to information sessions, taking Clifton strengths, getting their results, talking with other people about their own results, getting some education around the results. So it's a lot about the focus focuses a lot on awareness and participation. So people as you want strengths in your organization, people ask questions, like, do I know what my strengths are? I'm not sure I know what my strengths are. Or I thought I knew what my strengths are. Is it the same, right? Do I know why we're doing strengths here? Like so? What's this about? And does this mean our position is changing? Or, you know, what does? How does this link to what I've always known about our organization? And so what does this mean? What does this mean, for me? What does this mean for my team? What does this mean for our organization? So there's lots of questions. And champions help answer those questions. So champions, the role of the champion really, is to share information about strengths. And so their job is really to create awareness and enthusiasm for strengths in the organization. Now, typically, these people are often winners and communicators. Right? So they're often people that, you know, the Jim Collison to the world, right, you know, like, yeah, yeah, they love being with people, they love working with people, people, people, people, right, you know, and so they want to help people understand what strengths are, they want to help people participate and figure out how to participate, they address any concerns or objections people have, you know, and so they're, they're really good at that piece. Sometimes, you know, when you introduce drinks into an organization, sometimes the language of strengths may be unfamiliar for people. And they feel like it's like, all of a sudden, there's this exclusive club, the strengths club, right? And they speak a different language, and I'm not sure I'm part of that club, I'm not sure I want to be part of that club, you know, is it will I be accepted in that club? Do I wanna, you know, all that kind of stuff? Right?

Dean Jones 40:45

So I, you know, part of the part of the value of champions is they make strengths accessible for people. So they introduce the language they talk, they help people with the with, what is this? And what does this mean? And that kind of stuff, right? So they address any kind of concerns or objections people have? Oftentimes, you know, I will tell you, people have been exposed to other tools, you know, and so it's like, Hey, I'm, you know, I'm big on Myers Briggs, what is strengths mean for me? Right? Or I'm an Instagram number, blah, blah, blah, blah, right? And what does this mean? If I, you know, and people are like, you know, if I embrace strengths, does that mean, I have to give up this over here? No, you know, no, not exclusive all about developments, you know, green lights here, right? But it's helping people with all that kind of stuff, right? And that stuff comes up, and it's valid, and it's fine. And we want to include people around this, right? The other thing that champions are really good at doing is connecting people to resources. So in the beginning, there's a lot of getting people connected, right. So getting people connected to websites, getting people connected to tools that they can use, getting people connected to experts or coaches, right, getting people connected the information, all the kind of stuff that will help them typically, typically, what you see the one of the key things that champions do, oftentimes, early in districts rollout is lead information sessions. And I always like I'm a big fan of information sessions in the early days. So you're rolling out strengths to people. And sometimes it's kind of like, We want everybody to strengths. And then we want to give people some training. I think before you do that, a really great thing to do in organizations of all sizes are information sessions, right? And where you're saying, Hey, here's what we're doing, here's why we're doing it. Here's what this means. Here's what this is about, here's the introduction to the language a little bit, so that they get a little bit of socialization, before they go do it, right. So it feels like that they're going to go, so they're going and doing it and it they feel like hey, I can go into this way, in a way that is where I feel like I can fully support it. And I am curious, and I'm not guarded in doing that. Right. The other thing I think you have to also be just aware of right, is that the word assessment, in some cultures of some organizations is a really negative word. So you know, and and we've learned this from clients, you know, sometimes with organizations, you say the word assessment, and it's what what it means that somebody's going to do going to test me so that they can figure out how to fire me, right? or lay me off, right? So So you say the word assessment, that big red lights and sirens go off. So I always help people to understand No, it's not that this is about your development. This is a developmental assessment. This is a this is and that's oftentimes when we talk about CliftonStrengths. We want people to know, hey, this is just to give you insight on you. And so that you can we can invest in your own development, you can invest in your own development to continue to learn grow. So that's right. So I would just say it's one of those buzzwords, I would just be tuned into, Hey, does it set off alarms for people?

Jim Collison 44:09

Dean, that's a -- that's a really good point, because we drive -- people often call this the, you know, the test. And we say, well, we call it an assessment. And I had never really, thanks for mentioning that because I had never really seen it as a negative, that it could have a negative connotation along that way. And so that's maybe a new learning for me and to say, well, it's really a developmental assessment.

Dean Jones 44:30

Yeah. Yeah. And, and even just, you know, sometimes we just talk about CliftonStrengths without talking about like, hey, CliftonStrengths is something you do online, you know, and it's designed to help you understand yourself and like that, right? It just because it can send people in in a funny direction. Sometimes I when I talked to coaches, about champions, some, some coaches get worried, like, are they going to do my job? Right? Or should I be worried if they're going to do my job, and it's a different role, and we're going to talk about coaches next time. But the you got to remember with champions, their job really is this promotion, awareness, all this kind of thing, versus that developmental? Right. So what you see with champions is champions are comfortable answering questions about strengths, and helping people to understand the what strengths is, what CliftonStrengths is, and what the 34 themes are, right? They are particularly at first, in organizations, a Champions role is more informational than developmental. Right. So champion for in the, in the beginning, the role is more of an informational role, and a promotional kind of role than it is a developmental role. You don't in the beginning, and a lot of in a lot of, you know, you don't see in a lot of ways, champions doing one on one heavy feedback sessions with people, right, that's more what coaches do. And you don't champions doing like a series of coaching, like a coaching series with somebody that's more of a developmental role. And that's something more than a coach would do. champions do things like information sessions, connecting people to resources, promoting strengths, answering questions like that. I do think and I've gotten this question a bunch is with champions, obviously need to have done strengths themselves. And they need to be familiar with a 34 themes. So they need to understand the themes, they need to understand all the dimensions of the themes, the traits and the themes. So they understand inside those themes, what they can distinguish competition from achiever from deliberative from activator, they, they should be comfortable answering all those questions, right. And often what you see in organizations is that people start out as strings, champions, and go on to be certified to be strengths coaches, right. So if for some people, it is kind of a starter position, and it's something where they, they get their feet wet as a champion, they fall in love with it, they love it, they want to continue to do that, right. And so you see what champions, but champions are critical at this beginning phase. So the thing I, you know, I always want to point out is, in the beginning phase, there's a lot of activity that's, that's designed around building adoption. So you're introducing the language, you're starting to shift perspectives of people, you're looking for new opportunities to include strengths, you're assessing needs, there's a lot of that kind of stuff that happens, right. And you're trying to keep the language of strengths present and visible for people and starting to have them start to participate in that. So that's where champions become super powerful, super valuable, in terms of being able to do all of that. Right? So I'm going to, I'm going to stop there, Jim. Next time, we'll talk about it, we probably should take some questions. But next time, we'll talk about strengths coaches, then, and then the role of managers. So to talk about those two roles, and how those kind of fit into supporting strengths in your organization. Right?

Jim Collison 48:06

Dean, could you use the word "adviser" for champions? How comfortable would you be interchanging those two terms?

Dean Jones 48:12

Yeah. we have, I think we used it with our when we were doing working with sort of certifying people in faith communities, I think we call them a face Strengths adviser was sort of the first first role around that, you know, I mean, I personally love champions, because that's who they are. You know, I mean, I like I don't mean to be attached, I'm you can come up with any name that works in a culture. But, um, and there's my front door. And so, the we, um, exactly, you have an app, can you pull? I should know, yeah, yeah. So we, um, but yeah, I think champions is great, because I think it speaks to really promoting that and like that, right? Does that make sense?

Jim Collison 48:51

Yeah, we had had in chat room, we had a question about round. I think it was from Andrea who had said, you know, that word developmental in some circles means -- Or there's there's a deficiency, right? Much like the word "assessment," can do that, too. Is that kind of don't at that point, then you got to kind of change that to kind of make it work right for them.

Dean Jones 49:15

Yeah. Yeah, it's sorry, I've got my dog barking. Yeah, I think you got it. You gotta tune into what is actually happening for that organization. So, OK, I'm gonna I'm gonna mute you for one second here. I'm going to let you talk. I'll be right back, OK?

Jim Collison 49:30

Yeah. No, what always happens during a live -- I shouldn't say always happens during the live webcast. Sometimes that those distractions can happen Amy asking that question, I know Dean's still listening. So I'll start with that question. Any recommendations on a ratio of champions? Is it one per team, one per region? kind of advice on that and I think I'll start with I'll start answering by that here at Gallup I am really your strengths champion, as Dean -- I never thought of it in that way until Dean kind of outlined it this way, but I spend a lot of my time doing exactly Dean exactly what you said informational. I don't necessarily fill a coaching role. That's one per 10,000. So that's maybe the extreme. But Dean, any advice? Do you think in a typical org? Are you shooting for a number? Or is it just kind of who who appears?

Dean Jones 50:22

This is and man I tell you, we get the we get this question probably more than any questions is how many champions do you need? How many coaches do you need, right, and we'll talk about the coaches piece next time, I think you got it, it really depends on the size of the organization, right. And you I would say, champions tend to be because coaches are doing that, that more of that developmental work, that ratio coaches is a little different. And one of these we'll talk about next time is is really where when your coaches pointed, is it managers, right. And that's really want in, when you're looking at organization where you really want, sometimes coaches want to get into involved with everybody, and it's just not scalable, the organization, you just get to a point where it's just not scalable for the organization. So you really want to get the strengths coaches, the organization pointed at managers, with champions, you know, typically, what you see in the beginning is you need a lot more champions, and then as strengths gains momentum in the organization, at champions kind of take on a different role. So the beginning, it's, it's how many people do we have? And how, and, and and how many information sessions Do we need to be able to do this? I have I have talked to organizations, I'm thinking right now of a higher end institution, that part of the way they did it was they looked at the different constituencies inside of that institution, that they that they that they needed to be to reach. Right. And, and based on doing that they looked at, okay, how many? How many champions do we need? And who are the right champions, that are going to be able to reach each each one of these constituencies? And I think that's the that's the way to be able to think about it. Right. Does that help?

Jim Collison 52:01

Good. Yeah, no, I think it makes sense. Everybody's, I think everybody's sometimes trying to look for this exact formula. And I think the genius in some of this work is really understanding the environment and what is needed in an organization. And have you done some pre work to know, yeah, what have they done in the past? Where are they at? Are you going to need to go a little slower in the beginning, before mass adoption, or are they ready to rock it right out of the gate? And yeah, there's I think there's some validity to having some pre assessments in that area to where you get a feel for the leadership and how do they feel about it? What has happened in the past? And do you know the history of the organization and what they've done? I think if you try to come in and just a one size fits all your, your it's not going to go very far very fast. I think you really got to know what's happened in the past.

Dean Jones 52:46

Let me say one more thing about I just saw Amy Frederick's question in the chat about, do you need one per team? I would tell you it oftentimes, you know, sometimes there's that tendency, like we're gonna have one on each team. And in the beginning, I don't think you really need 14, you know, I mean, it just kind of depends, I think you got to look and say, Where are people geographically? What's going to make sense in terms of reaching the different constituencies? You know, I think and you know, part of this is part of I think the work you do when you when you as you think about planning to roll out strengths in an organization is looking to say, Hey, how are we How can we best reach people? Right? Sometimes I will tell you, you know, just like anything, you know, the people in accounting speak a different language than the people in marketing than the people in sales, you know, everybody's got a different -- so sometimes you you may want champions just to be able to reach people because they speak the right language you know, so.

Jim Collison 53:43

Yeah, really, really, really good advice. Well, Dean with that I think we'll remind everyone to take full advantages of all the resources we have available at the Gallup Strengths Center, just Send us your questions or comments. If you've got, if you still have questions maybe we didn't answer you can send us those to us in an email,, we'll get those routed around and get someone back to you. If you need some help with that, by the way, if you're listening to this and you're like, I need some help in that organization, let us know. We'll get somebody on the phone with you to help you out as well. You can catch the audio and video, the recorded version of this available for you. It's all available on our Coaches Blog, head out to If you're interested in some training around this, Dean mentioned becoming a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach or we've got some courses around strengths discovery. We can help with all that those are available off our courses page; go to If you'd like to sign up for future webcasts, we also have a site you can go to:, that'll let you know. Dean had mentioned, in a couple weeks, we're going to come back and finish the other two roles in this. You can get advance notification that those are coming up just by following us, We can take this conversation into the Facebook group if that's what you want to do: Dean, thanks again for your time today. We'll look forward to the next one of these. Thanks for coming out if you've joined us live, stay for a few minutes. We'll do a little chat here at the end; with that we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.

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

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

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