- Gallup Theme Thursday Webcast Series
- Season 5, Adaptability
- 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 Adaptability.
Join Jim Collison and Maika Leibbrandt as they talk about your Adaptability 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 July 11, 2019. Theme Thursday is a Gallup webcast series that dives deep into the CliftonStrengths themes, one theme at a time. And today's theme is Adaptability. If you're listening live, we'd love to have you join us in the chat room that's available there on YouTube or email us with your questions after the fact -- firstname.lastname@example.org. Maika Leibbrandt is our host today -- she's a workplace consultant here at Gallup. Maika, always great to have you on Theme Thursday and welcome back!
Maika Leibbrandt 0:42
Thanks, it's great to be here. I'm really enjoying our Season 5 kind of shortened sprints through everything. So Jim, today, of course, we are following the Season 5, all 34 themes through basically the same cadence as that CliftonStrengths 34 report. So if you have all 34, it can be a little bit intimidating. We want to encourage people to remember that the themes at the top of your profile are the most powerful, they represent your unique makeup of potential, not just whether or not you're talented, but they answer that how question of how can you be excellent, you know, your greatest chance to succeed, whether you're thinking about at work or at home, really in life, is strengthening what you naturally do best and doing more of it. So today, we're talking about Adaptability. And if you have a lot of Adaptability, if it's one of your dominant talents, or you care about someone who does, today's podcast is for you.
Jim Collison 1:31
And so how, what does it mean to have Adaptability? What does that mean, Maika?
Maika Leibbrandt 1:35
So I would say this is one of those words that can be a little bit misleading, because I think we use the term to mean a lot of different things -- be adaptable, it's, you know, there's the phrase, adapt or die. So it's not like there's a whole lot of negative connotation with the word "adaptability." And so I think there is a lot of pressure for everybody, regardless of their themes to hit that output of being able to adapt to what's happening to them. When we think about people who actually possess the CliftonStrengths theme of capital "A" Adaptability, it describes something very specific. It really means that you tend to live in the "now" -- that you don't just notice what's going on in the moment, but you react to it, and you confidently and enthusiastically are willing to be led by what's going on in the moment. It's this desire to follow and connect right here, right now.
Jim Collison 2:26
And how might people with this dominant Adaptability notice it in their life, what would be some specific things they may notice?
Maika Leibbrandt 2:32
Yeah, if you've got Adaptability, you might feel sometimes like you're more in tune to what's going on than other people are around you. Maybe at certain points in your life, you've looked around at other folks and thought, "Well, didn't -- didn't you all just catch that? Like, was I the only one that that noticed exactly what's going on right now?" You might also notice that times when you prepare more, you actually do worse. You might have your best ideas, your best relationship connections, or your best performance and in the moment, on the spot. You also might feel a surge of excitement when plans change, or enjoy requests that are that have to be urgently carried out. So having somebody ask you, "Hey, I know we didn't plan this, but can we do XYZ?" You might realize that you're more up for that, or at least a whole lot less jarred by it than other people.
Jim Collison 3:24
You know, I've never heard that description about being more in tune to what's going on around you. Would you dig into that for just a for just a second more?
Maika Leibbrandt 3:32
Yeah, and you know, what, I think we can learn a lot about it when we think about the role that Adaptability plays in relationship to the other themes. Adaptability is a relationship-building theme. And it is about this, this ultimate desire to react to the people around you, regardless of what you have planned, regardless of what else might be in somebody else's head or on somebody else's agenda. And it's about that, I think Adaptability at its core is about presence. So you might notice that you can absorb things that other people aren't. Now, let's not confuse it with Empathy. Empathy is about feeling what other people are feeling. Adaptability is about having your eyes open to the environment, to the people in the environment and to what their needs are.
Jim Collison 4:12
I love that description. Because I've mentioned on previous seasons of this, and my middle son has Adaptability. I struggled with it from the outside, because I saw it as laziness. And I saw because he would just go with the flow could be in a group and do anything that they wanted. And I misinterpreted that. So I really love kind of a new clue for me of seeing the benefit in that and seeing the being more in tune to what's happening and being able to then adapt kind of based on the needs or the feelings of others. Is that accurate?
Maika Leibbrandt 4:43
So here's my Adaptability and Communication working together. I had not thought about this till just now. But Adaptability is jazz. It's not classical. It's not even well-rehearsed rock. Adaptability is I'm picking up the, you know, the rhythm and the chord from other people. And I'm being led by where I feel like that music should go. In order to go with the flow, you've got to first be in tune to the flow. So if you know somebody with Adaptability, it's not that they maybe are lazy. Now they might be -- let's let's not use let's not use CliftonStrengths to like forgive or or mask poor behavior. Anybody can be lazy, right? But Adaptability might look like they don't care when really they care more about what's happening in the moment than maybe they did preparing for that moment, or what's going to happen after that moment.
Jim Collison 5:35
Yeah, no, thanks for digging in with that with me. Adaptability has been one for me that's been a struggle. And so I appreciate the extra kind of the extra help with that. New to the 34 report -- potential blind spots. We have a section in there where we talk about it. How, how might this work out with folks with Adaptability?
Maika Leibbrandt 5:52
Yeah, now let's remember, we do have a section in that report that I think people we got a lot of feedback that people really appreciate. The best way to understand the blind spot is how could your own strengths perhaps hold you back from them being their very best. Chances are within your strengths, you're already better at that than 10,000 other people. But those blind spots, or perhaps some awareness that we need of either how it could hold you back, or how it could be misinterpreted by others. There's no diagnosis in these blind spots, there's no guarantee that you're going to experience this downside, but it is our responsibility as we grow and, and get better that we understand how that theme might be perceived. So with all themes, it can be really difficult to notice if you have it for a couple reasons, but one of them is because you might fail to see the uniqueness.
Maika Leibbrandt 6:35
I think regardless of whether you're talking about Adaptability, or maybe you know 33 other themes, you can live your whole life with that lens and think that everybody else has the same lens. With Adaptability, acknowledging that that's unique to you is something that can help you overcome a blind spot. So understand that other people probably don't experience the same positive surge of energy from a change or from urgency as you do. So it doesn't mean you need to tamp your excitement down around change or your excitement around responding in the moment. But I think you should not expect it to land quite as joyfully to other people as it does in you. I would also say that there is this beautiful willingness to I think about Adaptability sometimes as like having an amoeba or, to be really on point, slime, to these days, kids create slime, it adjusts to the container that it's in. And sometimes adjust -- that willingness to let the boundaries be set and then adjust to them can lead to a struggle, even within your own self, when it comes to knowing your priorities and honoring them. So Adaptability does not mean that you have a lack of values. I think it's important for folks -- anybody, but especially with Adaptability -- to name what it is that you stand for. Keep it honest, keep it simple, and a way you could do this is just by asking yourself, what are your nonnegotiables. And then tell others so that they can understand when to ask you to flex, so that you're not completely shapeless, you're not slime, you've got -- you definitely have some structure, you definitely have some things that are always incredibly important to you. It's just important to name those and help other people understand them.
Jim Collison 8:18
I think that's a really important point, Maika. And when we think about the role that Adaptability has on a team, can we talk a little bit about that?
Maika Leibbrandt 8:24
Yeah, so page 21 in the CliftonStrengths 34 report is a beautiful graphic representation of where your dominant themes fall in relationship to all 34. And they're classified under the four domains of leadership. Adaptability lives in the relationship-building domain. And as somebody with dominant Adaptability, I kind of struggled with understanding that because I felt in in lots of cases, it feels like strategic thinking, or maybe it feels like executing. It has -- it has the quickness of Strategic, and the willingness to move forward of many of those executing themes. But it's also packed with a willingness to sit still, a willingness to move backwards, a willingness to just be where it is. So above all, Adaptability is this desire to stay present with other people. And that's why it lives in relationship building. Just to compare and contrast Adaptability with a couple of the other themes that also live in relationship building -- the first one I think about is Connectedness. Adaptability might say, "I adjust to the moment and I don't require a lot of preparation." Whereas Connectedness says or might say, "I trust that the moment is happening for a reason. And I don't require a lot of proof or fact." You could have them both. You could have one or the other. They're going to show up a little bit differently. I want to try this out, Jim, let me know what you think. Here's what I think about three themes walk into a bar. Three CliftonStrengths themes all say, "I've got this!" What is it that they're responding to? If Adaptability says, "I've got this!", they probably mean, "I'm going to take the group where they need to go right now based on their current needs." Harmony would say, "I'm going to help the group reach neutral territory based on conflict or potential conflict." And Positivity says, "I'm going to help set the emotional tone for the group based on opportunities for celebration." So you can see they're all very similar. They're all responding to other people. They're all really living in that space between human beings. But they are picking up on different filters, they're picking up on different clues, they're picking up on different things that they might classify as important. What do you think, Jim? Did I just tell a crazy strengths joke?
Jim Collison 10:43
I do like it.
Maika Leibbrandt 10:45
So if you think about what Adaptability can bring to your team, really in partnership, Adaptability can keep other people calm, especially in the face of change or challenge or emergency. Adaptability can also be comfortable jumping to action, when other people are a little bit paralyzed by reaction. Adaptability can sort really well and react to the most urgent needs of the group.
Jim Collison 11:09
Any clues or advice on communicating well with Adaptability?
Maika Leibbrandt 11:14
I think it's, it's helpful to shorten your timeline of discussion, talk about what's happening today or as close to today, if you want it to feel real and relevant. It doesn't mean you shouldn't ever make plans with somebody with Adaptability, but maybe understand that their perception of what's going to give them their most joy, their most reality and their best understanding is things that are closer to the moment. Also build rapport on where you are right now. That's a fancy way of saying, just be open. And and don't feel like you have to gloss over things or worry about too much, or hide things that are happening in the moment, because that's where they live. I think, be ready to share in a place of openness. And that'll create a much better vibe with someone with Adaptability. Also, ask permission. Don't assume that that someone with Adaptability just has no agenda. Instead of saying, "Wow, you've got Adaptability, can you can you drive me to 7-11 for Slurpee Day?" You might say, "Would you like to respond right now?" Or "Is it OK if we adjust course?" I think it's important to realize that Adaptability is one of those superpowers, it's not a lack of interest or a lack of power.
Jim Collison 12:28
I think one of the best things we can do ever is ask for permission, a lot of times, in these areas. Sometimes in the "super strengths mode" that we're in, we think we understand somebody and then we can kind of abuse that relationship, knowing those are the themes. And I love that you bring this out in Adaptability and saying, "Hey, can we?" or "How does this make you feel?" Kind of ask for permission before you do it. How -- how might we inspire or motivate somebody with Adaptability?
Maika Leibbrandt 12:52
Look for opportunities that they have to respond quickly. That might mean ask him a question and stick around for the answer, instead of having to preview things for a long time and expect a response later. Think about offering or asking for their insight on what are their most pressing or urgent challenges, and not just a filter for "What do you think is pressing?" But, "Hey, this experience is happening to me right now. What do you think?" Look for chances where there is a tight turnaround from idea to execution.
Jim Collison 13:23
What can Adaptability do to practice this talent every day? What kind of things can we deploy to help us?
Maika Leibbrandt 13:29
Yeah, come back to that idea of Adaptability being jazz. Jazz happens best with an ensemble. And I think that there's this idea of perhaps a social ensemble to your day, that works really well for Adaptability. I had originally thought about this as a texture to your day -- give yourself, if you've got high Adaptability, give yourself opportunities to be with other people, to need to respond, maybe to be some version of "on," but also some time alone. Maybe if you've got a real packed day of things that you need to do, give yourself shorter time to do different kinds of activities. It's not just about variety, for the sake of variety, I think it's about that burst of creative energy, that burst of effectiveness, maybe that stroke of genius that you get in the transition points, when you've got high Adaptability. So create some of those transition points in your day. I would also say lean in, raise your hand when an emergency happens. Practice high-stakes calmness. That means looking for opportunities where your natural ability to adapt is something that people need. Maybe it's teaching, maybe it's being present with a really difficult client, maybe it's planning an event or speaking in front of people or diving into something that feels a little bit ambiguous. Go there, look at it as a leadership opportunity and debrief with somebody you trust about how you could do even better.
Jim Collison 14:55
I really love that sentence, "Practice high-stakes calmness." That -- that's there's a little that's a little genius in there, Maika. That's pretty, we should --
Maika Leibbrandt 15:03
Thank you very much.
Jim Collison 15:06
All right. All right. Speaking of practice, what can we do? We've got it, we got an exercise to help folks out.
Maika Leibbrandt 15:11
Yeah, so this has up until now been all about Adaptability. In Season 5, what we also want to offer is an opportunity for anybody who's listening to any of our 34 themes to really understand that you need to consistently, routinely almost make a practice of your own awareness of your talent. So for the next 3 to 5 minutes, we have a segment called talent-mindfulness. This feels slightly different from the rest of the podcast -- this is probably the newest risk I think we've taken in any of our seasons. And it is meant for anyone, regardless of where Adaptability falls in your profile. It will focus on the present, which is something people with Adaptability might find that they're very good at. Today's exercise is best done with the ability to hear outside, you can still do this indoors, that's fine. But if you have the ability right now to press pause, and go open a window or move yourself outside, press pause and do that now and then press play when you're back outside. Again, this will take about three to five minutes, and then we'll wrap up. So even if you have dominant Adaptability, I think it's all too easy to get swept up in what we have planned and kind of miss the "now." So today is just a listening exercise -- what's going on right now. So let's do this together. Let's take a deep breath in. … And let that all out. And just be here in the moment. I'm going to be more quiet than I think you've ever heard me be. And I just want you today to listen. Start as close to yourself as you can get. Listen to the sound of your own breath. … What are the sounds just 10 centimeters around your own skin? …
Maika Leibbrandt 17:06
Now we're going to press a little farther out, I'd like you to focus on hearing any movement, any sound that's happening within 10 paces, 10 steps around you in any direction. What do you hear moving? … What's happening? …
Maika Leibbrandt 17:29
You don't need to react to any of this. You don't have to fix it. Just hear it. …
Maika Leibbrandt 17:40
Now let's go a little farther. I want you to pay attention to your ears and just think how far can you hear? Focus on your listening at maybe the end of a city block, or as far as you can see what's happening there within that bigger space? …
Maika Leibbrandt 18:13
All right, let's come back to ourselves. Just realize there's always something going on. There's usually a lot of things going on -- most of us are absorbed in our own agendas or our plans. We don't always notice what's happening in the moment. This is not a call for everybody to have Adaptability; this is a call to, as you go throughout the rest of your day, pay attention to what's happening. And pay attention to your own perspective. What are you noticing? What are you hearing? What talent -- what your talent filter is picking up is different than what other people are going to pick up. You might have just done this with somebody sitting right next to you and probably heard different things, had different visualizations in your mind of what it was you were hearing, what was you were noticing. What seems obvious and loud to you, others may miss altogether. That's why we need you to understand your own talent filter, we need you to have the courage to share what you notice with other people. Notice what you hear and listen for it often.
Jim Collison 19:19
Maika, that's a great exercise. I often do something similar when I travel. So when I'm in an airport or the metro or waiting for a bus or waiting for a train, whenever -- look around and and listen, see what's happening around me. The other night, I got the opportunity -- I posted this picture on Facebook, it's funny -- the neighbor cat was sprawled out on the deck rail at our house, just chilling out there. And I went out and sat down next to him. And I just I was like, "What are you looking at?" And so I just was quiet for, I don't know, 10 minutes, and we just sat there. And he looked around and I looked around. And it's amazing what just goes on around you if you just stop for a second. And I really appreciate you pulling that into the Adaptability piece, like seeing it for more than just flexibility, seeing it for more than just in-the-moment decision-making. But being able to know all the awareness that's happening around you so you can do that. I think that's really the essence of the talent -- anything else that we'd add to that?
Maika Leibbrandt 20:17
I just think that it's beautiful to see Adaptability for being a driving presence and not just a reacting presence. I have -- my Adaptability isn't quite as high as it used to be, but it's still dominant. And I noticed that it definitely takes on the flavor of of what I'm doing that day. But I mean, in the moment, my Adaptability, if everybody else is paralyzed by change, it can almost look like Command. It's that, "Hey, I know exactly what needs to happen. I'm going to go about it in a very calm way. It's not going to feel like it's a wave that's happening all around me; it's sort of that "eye of the storm" peace. And I think Adaptability isn't always going to look like that; it's almost one of those that like gets activated and and moves forward when it's needed.
Jim Collison 21:01
Nate says in the chat room, "That could be a good Connectedness exercise" -- could be a good exercise for a lot of things, Maika, thanks for walking us through …
Maika Leibbrandt 21:07
Well, and that's the point. None of them are meant to be prescribed to a specific theme. I'm just challenging myself to write 34 of them.
Jim Collison 21:15
No, I like it available for you. You can always go back on those so there's a probably a 15-second skip button that goes backwards, and you can go back back back and pause and do it again, if you'd like. We'll remind everyone to take full advantages of all the resources we have available at the Gallup Strengths Center just gallupstrengthscenter.com. Don't forget, that's changing here shortly -- my.gallup.com will be the new link for that. For now, hang tight with it, though, gallupstrengthscenter.com -- you can send us your questions or comments. If you want to send those to us in an email, email@example.com. You can also catch the recorded audio and video of this program. Hard not to find it, wherever you're at -- but the links today: coaching.gallup.com. If you're interested in becoming a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach, or any of our courses, they're available on our courses page, courses.gallup.com. And of course, you can follow us on all the webcasts that we do -- gallup.eventbrite.com -- follow us there and you'll get a notification whenever I post a new live event. Join us on our Facebook group, facebook.com/groups/calledtocoach. We want to thank you for joining us here today. If you're listening live, stay around for the second edition of this. With that we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.