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Competition: Highlights From Your CliftonStrengths 34

Competition: Highlights From Your CliftonStrengths 34

Webcast Details

  • Gallup Theme Thursday Webcast Series
  • Season 5, Competition
  • 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 Competition.

Join Jim Collison and Maika Leibbrandt as they talk about your Competition 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 1, 2019.

Jim Collison 0:21

Theme Thursday is a Gallup webcast series that dives deep into the CliftonStrengths themes one at a time. And today's theme is Competition. If you are listening live, you can join us in the chat room -- super easy to do there on the page. If you have questions after the fact or you -- well, you can just send us an email, Maika Leibbrandt is our host today. She's a workplace consultant here with me at Gallup and Maika it's always great to see you on Thursdays, welcome back.

Maika Leibbrandt 0:43

Thanks. Great to be here. You know the the CliftonStrengths at the top of your profile really are where we want to help people understand, unpack and utilize. They are the description of not just -- are you talented, but how are you talented? It's your greatest chance to succeed, whether you're at work, at home, on a podcast, wherever you are, it lies in strengthening and truly understanding those those powerful patterns that you tend to repeat all the time. Those are the themes at the top of your profile. So whether you do yourself possess a lot of Competition talent or care about someone who does, today's podcast is for you.

Jim Collison 1:18

And Maika, what does it mean to have Competition as my top talent theme?

Maika Leibbrandt 1:22

If you've got high Competition, it means that you measure progress against performance of others, not just being focused on accomplishing something but accomplishing something important, something relevant, and something that is a relative win.

Jim Collison 1:36

Yeah. And I think "win" is the important word in this definition that we do. How might people with a dominant Competition theme notice this in their life?

Maika Leibbrandt 1:45

You might notice that you sort through rules and expectations through this lens of -- What do I need to do in order to win? That's different than just what are the expectations? But how does how do these expectations tie or propel me toward a bigger goal? You also might notice if you've got high Competition that you take winning and emotion, and you can't separate them. You also might feel incredible emotion when you lose, that winning brings an extra surge of replenishment to it, whether it's you or someone you're supporting even, it's not -- it doesn't have to be you doing the winning. But you do connect this idea of being a champion to being something truly meaningful. You get, I think replenished, you get a joy and an energy when you win, or when you see other people win -- as long as they're not people you are indeed competing against. You also might notice a curiosity in your mind of or an awareness of how am I being ranked? And how does that compare to other people? You also might have a real knack for keeping and understanding score. I think there's also an awareness of other performers -- you might even remember the performance rankings in your life, because you are so tuned in to the I think the forward motion of the idea of life kind of as a game.

Jim Collison 3:08

During this entire season, we've been kind of pulling the best out of the 34 reports, the all 34 report available to anyone. With Top 5, you can use a code to unlock that if you'd like. You can purchase it for someone if you want 34, available for you. But we have this idea of blind spots, things to kind of look out for with these themes. So when you think about Competition, what would we -- what kind of advice would we give in that area?

Maika Leibbrandt 3:29

Yeah, and I'm glad you mentioned, again, Jim, just reminding folks about what we're doing about that entire CliftonStrengths 34 report. Because if you take a look at your own, it's 25 pages long. It's meant to be something that you take apart, you look at different pieces of it, but it's a real comprehensive look at your natural patterns of behavior and how they can be productive for you. One piece of that is some some insights into potential blind spots. It's not a scientific diagnosis. This is just, again, part of the coaching element around the science of strengths. So with Competition, some of those blind spots that we talk about could be that you can quickly sort to places where you can be the champion. And because you sort to those places really quickly, it's a great way for you to focus your energy. It could also hold you back from trying new things. Those new things might mean challenges; they might mean different roles; they might even mean relationships. So in order to make sure that that doesn't become something that hinders you, think about identifying what a current "win" might look like. And then maybe even define the playing field. When I first started spin classes, I remember one of the spin instructors said, "Hey, enjoy being a beginner; you don't get to be a beginner very long." And so maybe it is even about sorting your playing field or those people that you're comparing yourself against to the other rookies, even if it's not something as simple or straightforward as a sport, think about not just how am I doing compared to everybody who's ever done this, but how am I doing to other people who are who are also new at it? I also think it's important to realize with Competition that competing is part of the process, that the goal isn't to compete, the goal really is that end of a successful competition. When you win, it doesn't hurt!

Maika Leibbrandt 5:15

Not everyone feels that way about the process, or the steps toward the end. So another way to say that is not every -- there are plenty of people who don't have Competition. And for them, even when they still win, it does hurt. So I think it's important to know your who your best Competition champions are, and spend time with them. Who is as excited about winning as you that they're willing to put in that same effort that you are because you're going to help each other get even better, you can compete together. I think sometimes one of the things that holds managers back very often or even team leaders back, right, I've coached teachers with Competition, who don't like the sort of pigeonholing of the definition toward -- I have to be the best against everybody else. Because they'll describe their Competition as -- I have this awareness of I want my team to be the best. Now there is something true about Competition where you do have to have other competitors. It's not just the Achiever side of I want to beat our previous personal best. It's, I want to be the best among the playing field. That's why it brings such a great relevance to it. I think it's also important when we're discussing blind spots, if you've got high Competition, know what your boundaries are. What is the cost that you've learned, perhaps, you are NOT willing to pay? Maybe it is you are in a situation where you don't want to be the best if you're going to be the only one who shares in that victory. Or maybe it's that you don't want to win in areas that really don't matter to you. So I think being aware of potential blind spots, and being aware of things that could hold your Competition from being excellent, it really means just being able to focus that Competition for the places that mean the most.

Jim Collison 6:55

Maika, you alluded to this a little bit earlier. But winning isn't necessarily a single-player sport. And so as we think about Competition on a team, what kind of advice would we give there -- How does Competition play on a team?

Maika Leibbrandt 7:08

So competition lives in that Influencing domain. That means it's about the energy that rubs off on others, and how it inspires the team to behave. For Competition specifically, this talent, I think, brings an energy to the team that can propel people toward winning. In many cases, it can take the road toward a win more seriously. So it can bring I think, a work-ethic piece to it, because you know, that you're you're working up to to a victory. There is a similar drive or work ethic within Competition, as I would say, Achiever has, but it's in pursuit of that top spot on the leaderboard, rather than just finishing or doing better than you did last time. Competition is about winning, but it's not about being solitary. Jim, I really loved what you said that winning is is not a single-player sport, or it doesn't have to be. Competition is about relative, relevant benchmarking, that helps prove the efficacy of the victory. So taking competing very seriously can also be a -- they can be a good spotter of other champions, a great celebrator of those who are brave enough to put their hat in the ring and, in other words, compete.

Maika Leibbrandt 8:22

Let's let's take a look also at maybe comparing Competition against a couple other themes that also are in that Influencing domain, just so we're sure we're all speaking the same language here. If you take a look at Competition and Activator, Competition says, I notice the leaderboard, and opportunities to improve against others. Activator says, I notice the starting line and opportunities to begin before other people. And that doesn't mean I want to start first; it means I see the chance to start before anybody else sees it. To take a look at Competition and Maximizer, Competition, might say, If it's worth doing, it's worth being the best. It's about competing against other performers and outperforming others. Maximizer is a little bit different. Maximizer would say, Our best is worth improving on -- that competing against our own record is probably where we're going to get the best return on our investment and outperforming our record is really where Maximizer would look. Another pair here that I have very often mislabeled, like I will look at one of them and think it's the other one sometimes because the behavior could look similar; the motivations are different. That's Competition and Woo. And Woo has the word "winning" in it. So maybe you can already see some parallels there. But Competition says, I love the payoff when I overcome -- when I overcome a ranked or measured challenge. Whereas Woo says, I love the payoff when I melt an icy stranger. Can you tell I might be planning a Disney trip? For Woo, it's that it's that moment when you went from somebody who was a stranger to somebody who's a friend or an acquaintance. With Competition, it's that moment when you you you overcame the person who was in front of you. Both of them feel like winning. Both of them are something that other people can share in the joy of.

Jim Collison 10:14

Yeah, I think, Maika, sometimes they're mistaken. You mentioned this earlier; I get this all the time. People see my Woo. And they they go, where's your Competition? No.1 question asked around strengths all the time. And it is a little confusing. I think in some cases, it hurts more for someone high in Competition to lose. That's a big, that's a big difference. With Woo, it doesn't always hurt. I mean, it does, but it doesn't hurt as bad. And I move on pretty fast.

Maika Leibbrandt 10:42

Well, I think the loss for somebody with Woo is more losing the favor of others, maybe.

Jim Collison 10:48

Yea, favor or your -- in my case, I'm a recruiter. And so I want them to come work at Gallup. And when they say "No," that hurts, that part hurts. So there is some there is still some hurt in there. I just I like that the idea of a little bit of a different motivation where Woo is really going after the influence idea -- people -- how am I winning people over? And in influencing them that way, where Competition is how are we moving forward and being the best?

Maika Leibbrandt 11:15

And important to realize that they could both be about the team, right? So think about two leaders, the person with Woo is, How am I influencing the the charisma, the hospitality, the welcome of this group? Whereas, you know, Competition might create hospitality and welcome by saying, We're going to win this -- come on in and win it with me!

Jim Collison 11:37

Yeah, and Ivan makes an interesting as we're talking about maybe even Maximizer -- oh, I got Ralph in there. One second -- backup on that one. For my combo, Maximizer and Competition, winning a gold medal is not enough if I don't beat my best performance ever. So almost a double win -- I have to be the best AND beat my best performance. So some great ideas. We mix these together and those nuances. They really play nicely.

Maika Leibbrandt 12:02

Yeah, yeah. And you can see they change really quickly when they when they when we start to mix them together. That's that idea of team dynamics and something a coach can help you figure out.

Jim Collison 12:10

Yeah, for sure. Let's keep going. I think there's a final thought you had?

Maika Leibbrandt 12:14

Sure. It's just what role can Competition play in partnership? I think, and I say that because I'm a real stickler for not trying to attack an entire team with coaching. But really, looking at that stepping point of looking at partnership, I think there's a lot to be learned there. In partnership, Competition can focus the team's goals on relevant work. So I've probably mentioned this in previous podcasts, but I think in a lot of ways, Competition says, Let's not just look at ourselves. But let's look out the window, let's see who else is competing against us. And let's compare ourselves there. I think Competition can also -- this is pretty straightforward, but -- add tracking or performance metrics to things that might seem less trackable. So they might even already be noticing what can be rated, ranked, sorted or counted. They also I think, are great noticers and supporters of others in the ring. So in our -- I don't even remember which season it was, maybe even Season 1, I remember talking to one of my colleagues to prepare for Competition. And she said, you know, one of her favorite things to do is to show up to sporting events that she doesn't play, but her friends do, because she still feels that same catharsis of getting to cheer somebody on by seeing the effort that they're putting into taking that competition so seriously. And she's the first person to reach out and give you a high five. So it's important to realize that Competition is is always seeing and speaking the language of competing, so they're in it, and they're they're going to be great supporters if you give them the chance to be that.

Jim Collison 13:47

And it's "in it to win it." I think some of these themes act as accelerants to activity -- in other words, how what kind of things can we do to speed things up or get things moving or get them off center, whatever? And I love that Competition can be that accelerant, right? It can move things, right? It can get stuff going. And so I love that. When we think about communicating with this, right? Some that's that's a great one. Last week, we had Communication and communicating with Communication made sense. But when we think about Competition and communicating, what kind of advice or clues would you give there?

Maika Leibbrandt 14:18

Well, I think it's important to understand that they see their performance in terms of how it relates to others. So to someone with Competition, performance is always relative. So get to know who they look up to; get to know who they're comparing themselves against; and ask how they're defining success. That's going to be a shortcut to you being able to speak the same language they're speaking. Also, I'd say, Don't invite somebody with high Communication to play games for the sake of playing them and expect them to really take it seriously. To somebody with high Competition, that destination matters. It's not just the journey. I would say don't, don't take their competitive spirit lightly. It's not something that's like a joke or a game to them. So ask for their input on what the team should be doing. Who should we be watching out for, what should we be aware of? Sometimes it's easy to caricaturize this. And I think when we feel uncomfortable about it, we tend to giggle about it. But it is such a powerful thing, and not something to be seen as just this sort of recreational need that they have.

Jim Collison 15:21

What about inspiring and motivating and so on with, with Competition?

Maika Leibbrandt 15:25

It's probably too easy to give this answer here, but games -- games inspire and motivate people with Competition. Not that it has to be a joke, right? But I think part of what what people with Competition might enjoy is that there are clear rules that apply to everybody that help almost level the playing field, so that you can say it's more about the effort. And it's more about that result at the end. Another thing that might motivate and inspire someone with Competition is imagining that Winner's Circle. Talk about how life might be different once they complete a goal. What reward are they excited about working toward? Or how might they think about sharing the joy of winning with other people once they get there?

Jim Collison 16:03

And with people with high Competition, how can they practice this talent every day? What are some clues there?

Maika Leibbrandt 16:08

Yeah, get clear on what race you're running, and then add ways to win. So think about your most important goal and look for even just one more way to measure your progress toward that goal. I would also say get closer to the other players. Join fan groups of similar topics -- that might mean podcasts or professional groups or social teams or community groups, teams at work. Get even just one friend who shares a passion about a goal that you are you're going toward. Really what you're looking for is that ability to stay in contact with the spirit and the energy of the topic. You might just find it on your own because you're competing toward everything. But just feeding yourself with a little bit more of that, that that energy, I think is certainly a way to practice Competition.

Jim Collison 16:53

So speaking of practice, we've been working on this talent-mindfulness exercise. Maika, we've been getting a lot of positive feedback on this. So if you're just joining us for this podcast, and you haven't listened to the ones prior, you might want to go back and listen to those as well. These are always at the end of the show and available for you. Maika, what are we going to do today?

Maika Leibbrandt 17:10

Yeah, so we're about to go into take about 3 to 5 minutes, it is that opportunity to say -- Don't go think about strength later. But you're right here, you are already invested about 18 minutes of your time anyway, invest the next 3 to 5 to think about yourself. This is not meant to be prescriptive to Competition. This is just because you're already here, I want to help you use some time very wisely. It is worth it to get to know ourselves a little bit better. So we're going to take, it's going to feel a little bit different. This is not something that's going to have a right or wrong answer to it. This is no longer an interview between me and Jim. This is now your time to focus on yourself and your themes. So regardless of where Competition falls in your profile, I invite you to sit back, take a really deep breath in. … Hold it at the top. … And exhale anything you're thinking about. Just let it all go. …

Maika Leibbrandt 18:10

People with strong Competition talent feel a special burst of energy when they win. Now you might not have Competition. But there is a time in your life when you feel similar bursts of restorative, life-giving energy. So for those with Competition, it might feel like a sequence in a horse racing movie, where your underdog racehorse starts to come from behind and overtake that favored front-runner. The music swells, the ambient noise goes away. You feel moved by seeing the reactions on all the onlookers faces. There's joy, there's elation, there's excitement, pride, power, there's connection. And there's often that moment in that Victor's Circle when the winning horse gets showered with flowers, and you're just sort of awash in the glow of positive energy. Think about a time for yourself in the past 30 days, when you felt positive energy, joy -- even if it was fleeting. When was your horserace movie victory montage? Maybe it was solving a problem, connecting with a friend, comforting someone, making a big plan. What were you doing when you felt replenished? Like even if it was only in your head it was worthy of perhaps a movie clip. … Let's take another deep breath in -- this time, inhale all that joy, that restorative spirit from that moment. Let it fill your lungs and your brainwaves for just a little bit. As you exhale, breathe out any doubt you have about yourself and your talent. You are powerful. You are worthy of a victory lap. … And that is our talent-mindfulness for Competition.

Jim Collison 20:16

So great. Yeah, I've really enjoyed these. You know sitting here it's tough to go through it with you. But if you've you've maybe you're in the car you didn't get a chance to do it. Stop it. Pause Now come back to this rewind. You know go back two minutes and and spend some time doing this. I've got a story for a while we'll do in the post show. This I got a story about how I used this recently. So we'll do it in the post show. With that, 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. Send us an email,, and don't forget to visit the Coaches Blog -- lots of resources and some changes coming with that. But for today, you can go to If you're looking for a list of courses you can take from us to become a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach or any of our courses that are available, you can go to If you want to join us live, you can sign up for the live sessions of these if you want, they're absolutely free to come to. And if you want to be a part of them, go to -- go to and you can sign up there to get the reminder. Then don't forget to join us out in the Facebook group will get you there. Follow Maika on Instagram @strengthstalk and Maika, I just changed my Instagram account. It's @

Maika Leibbrandt 21:29

I noticed!

Jim Collison 21:30

Did you see it?

Maika Leibbrandt 21:31

I did.

Jim Collison 21:32

@therealoldjc. So that is available -- used to be @therealjc.

Maika Leibbrandt 21:36

I have to tell you something in the post-show.

Jim Collison 21:38

We'll do it. We'll do it the post-show. I want to thank you guys for joining us today. And with that, we'll say goodbye, everybody.

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