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Focus: Highlights From Your CliftonStrengths 34

Focus: Highlights From Your CliftonStrengths 34

Webcast Details

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

Join Jim Collison and Maika Leibbrandt as they talk about your Focus 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

I'm Jim Collison and live from the Gallup Studios here in Omaha, Nebraska, this is Gallup's Theme Thursday, Season 5, recorded on September 5, 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 Focus. If you are listening live, we'd love to have you join us in our chat room. It's available for you right below the video. Or you can send us your questions: Maika Leibbrandt is our host today. She's a workplace consultant here with me at Gallup. Maika, always great to see you. And welcome back to Theme Thursday.

Maika Leibbrandt 0:41

Thanks, Jim. It is my favorite day of the week and really great to be here. You know, those CliftonStrengths at the top of your profile we know are the most powerful. So you if you've seen your CliftonStrengths 34, you know, you've got a rank-order of 34 different talent themes. Those that always describe how you most naturally think, feel and behave, we call your dominant theme. And your greatest potential for success, either at home, at work, in life, in general, really comes from understanding and investing in those dominant themes. So if you possess a great deal of Focus talent or care about someone who does, today's podcast is for you.

Jim Collison 1:15

Not very high for me -- it's pretty obvious -- but it is for some. And so what does it look like if to have Focus as your top talent theme?

Maika Leibbrandt 1:22

If you've got dominant Focus, it means that you can take a direction from start to finish without distraction. You prioritize, then you act, and you're great at making corrections that help stay on track.

Jim Collison 1:35

And how might people with this dominant theme notice it in their lives?

Maika Leibbrandt 1:40

You might notice that time disappears when you're working on a task; that you get laser-focused on one thing at a time. You also might notice that you've got energy to keep going and going, and excitement about the flow of the continued process that you're in. You might be someone who's hard to distract; maybe you can easily fall into the zone where everything around you kind of goes blurry, metaphorically, and it's just you and what you're working on. You might also make sense of your day one task at a time, instead of looking at an entire list of to-do's. You also, and I think this one's interesting, you probably notice that you improve as you go, that you narrow your attention as you continue to progress. So working hard doesn't wear you out. In fact, it replenishes you and kind of helps you continue to move forward.

Jim Collison 2:33

Maika, we've been spending the season talking about the All 34 report available as an upgrade, if you just have Top 5, you can just purchase the upgrade code to get you there as well. Or if you're starting for the first time, you can just purchase the code to do the All 34 -- it's in the report. But we think about Focus, there's a new section in the report about blind spots. And so what are some potential blind spots for Focus?

Maika Leibbrandt 2:51

Yeah, people love this blind spot section. And really the reason this exists is to help us think about what is it in our natural makeup that could get in our way of that natural makeup being being the very best? So this is not a diagnosis, not a scientific guarantee that we should say, Hey, this is a black spot on you. It's not. It's just that awareness and the responsibility that we have to really understand how our themes could be perceived by others who don't have them, or perhaps how they could get in our own way. Focus specifically thrives really in isolation, with that ability to say, I'm going to harness the power of of being in one space or on one task -- one project with lots of moving tasks, even. And it can be easy for you to carry that burden alone because you are so good at just sort of taking it and moving it forward. That might mean that you miss potential opportunities to collaborate with other people. So, in order to turn that into an opportunity, or something you do more purposefully, I think it's important to make it a specific action to review the moments that are giving you the most joy, the most energy, maybe even the most efficiency. And have a thought partner -- maybe that's your manager, or an accountability friend -- who can help you consider things that you might offer to colleagues as opportunities to build collaborative sort of talent-sharing relationships. So again, it is about just shining that pearl toward doing more of what you do really, really best. You might not do it on your own because of your Focus. But if you can make it something that you execute to stop and have that look around, you'll be more likely to do it.

Maika Leibbrandt 4:25

Another blind spot is you just might not notice the needs of other people in the moment. So the change or the "what to do about that" is tell people how to work with you when they need you. I'm reminded of stories you've probably heard in previous seasons of Focus, where people will just go straight into work and get busy and miss the fact that they were being smiled at by somebody in the hallway who really needed that rapport-building moment. Or maybe they were really into a task that they knew was the priority. And the priority shifted around them. But it's almost -- Focus is so powerful that it's sort of like being on an airplane where you are without Wi-Fi. By the time you land, the world might have shifted a little bit, but you're in the zone. So, you might even just tell people, Hey, if you need me, here's how to get ahold of me. I'm not ignoring you; I'm just actually not seeing you. We -- I have to bring up Hess Dyas, who was a colleague of mine who had super high Focus. And he had a chair that had a an airplane seat belt installed on it as a clue to other people that he was in Focus mode when that seat belt was buckled.

Jim Collison 5:30

Yeah, that's a good story. I also with really low Focus, if you're listening on the Speaker livestream, audio only, I forgot to hit "Play" early on because I was a little distracted by all the things that are going on -- for those of us low. And I think in the chat room we're getting some folks who are admitting that out there -- a little bit low. So if you're wondering, on Spreaker, I just came in -- What are we doing? We are covering Focus. Yeah, you missed the early parts, you may have to go back to YouTube to get it. When we think about Focus in the role of a team or what kind of role it plays on a team, how can Focus really benefit a team?

Maika Leibbrandt 6:03

In the CliftonStrengths 34 report, page 21 is where I find a lot of my clients really love to camp out and do some great exploration. That's where you'll find your Top 10 themes colored in across the Four Domains of Leadership. There's also a brand new algorithm that tells you where your most dominant domain of leadership is. Focus falls in the Executing Domain. These are the themes that describe people who make sense of the world by doing. So on a team, Focus can be the catalyst for energy toward a goal when everyone has given up or gotten distracted, they can be the one who continues to move forward. And I think specific to Focus, there's this sensitivity to when we deviate from the pathway that's going to get us to completion. Focus can act almost as a progress referee that keeps the team on track. It can be -- they can be trusted to really pour energy into projects that take longer to complete than your typical work cycle. Likely great at working independently or having specific tasks that they have autonomy and authority over the effort that is required.

Maika Leibbrandt 7:10

To compare Focus to other Executing themes that you would also find in that domain, I think about a racehorse. Focus is the blinders that keep that horse really targeted in on their own race; Achiever is the desire that horse has to race again, as soon as they cross the finish line. Focus might say, I keep the team free from distraction; Deliberative would say, I keep the plan free from risk. Focus is progress on priorities; Responsibility is delivery on promises. You can see how you can think about Focus really amplifying a lot of these other themes or working in great partnership, but it does have a slightly different motivation to it. Speaking of partnership, Focus can bring a couple things to great collaborative partnerships. One is Focus could be a strategy filter -- an eye for whether new commitments that you're asked to take on might take away from your current priorities. They can also sort toward talent. Imagine this is almost an Influencing, maybe even a Relationship Building extension of Focus. Highly concentrated energy on priorities can mean that you could concentrate that energy toward advocating for working on fewer deliverables that yield better results, instead of spreading your energy across too many different promises or priorities.

Jim Collison 8:36

So good advice. Speaking of that, any advice clues to when we think about communicating with Focus?

Maika Leibbrandt 8:41

You know, be as clear as possible when you are noticing connections between actions. Ask yourself where these connections are. It could be that you're assuming that you're being super clear. For example, if something sounds like a subcategory, like a different stakeholder interview that is attached to the overall mission of providing a project analysis, these topics to you might sound like they all kind of fold up like Russian nesting dolls into one big deliverable. But to somebody with Focus, you might need to talk about them as having separate measures of success. Or if there are obvious connections where one part of the project's success is really dependent upon another, you might need to just make that clear, because it may not sound as intertwined or interconnected to someone who really executes free from the sort of adherence to connection to other things. I would also say when you're communicating with people with Focus, ask them what they're currently excited about. Don't listen for quantity, but for content and for energy. And intentionally get permission to go into conversation. You might say something like, Hey, is now a good time to brainstorm? Can we talk about this specific challenge? Or something as simple as, I don't need anything specific from you, but I'd really love to connect. Are you free?

Jim Collison 10:03

That's great. We talk about that a lot in these the context of these themes of asking permission. And I think this is one that doesn't only fit just Focus, but oftentimes going into these conversations when we think about communication, I think very, very wise to ask permission. But we can't do that unless we know them. So I think it's important that we post these, we get them out, we talk about them. That's the importance of continuing to talk about them on a team. What might inspire or motivate someone with Focus?

Maika Leibbrandt 10:30

In many ways, autonomy and permission to lead the charge on executing something. The the more red tape you can slice ahead of them, so they can just run forward and get it done, the better. I would also say reward them on the end goal, not just the process that that they took to get there. When you're fast or efficient at the doing, it can be frustrating to equate how long it takes with how well something is done.

Jim Collison 10:56

So what can people with Focus practice every day? This would seem, you know, when you think about Focus, zeroed in, do they really need to practice? But yes, how could they practice this talent every day?

Maika Leibbrandt 11:05

Yeah, we really we all really need to practice I think, and I love that this is what question that we're asking in this season. Because I hope that when you listen to your Top 5, you actually go off and do some of these things. These are from the CliftonStrengths 34 report. No. 1, attach timelines and measurements to your goals, and keep track of your progress. It's about that idea of regularly meeting your objective that's going to prove that you're moving forward and remind yourself about how powerful your Focus really is. I would also say, try putting a daily "Power Hour" of complete Focus into your calendar every week. And so it only needs to be an hour out of your entire week. But it's an hour for you to just dive into the beauty of that talent; it should feel almost luxurious, if you really have Focus. This is an hour where maybe you think about putting everything that could distract you into airplane mode, just moving forward on one important goal and nothing else. If you do have Focus, you probably need to set some sort of an alarm or a timer to bring you out of that Power Hour. But it's a fantastic way just to flex that muscle. I'd also say just refer to your goals often as well. Again, keep keep that reminder that you are in control of what you find to be important, and really fine-tune your ability to decide what makes it to the top of your priority list.

Jim Collison 12:27

Maika, we have been spending the season thinking about this idea of talent-mindfulness. You have an exercise for us that's available here. I'm going to put you full screen mode. And we'll ask, Yeah, here we go, we'll ask folks, as we dig in a little bit on this idea of talent-mindfulness with Focus.

Maika Leibbrandt 12:42

Sure. I'm really excited about this one. Talent-mindfulness is a practice for you to spend time understanding and harnessing the power of your own talent. Whether you have Focus or not, give the next 3 to 5 minutes a try. It might be something you you play back later with a pen and paper. But for today, I invite you just to listen. Let's take a deep breath in. ... Exhale as if you are "full screen." We live in a world where the word "priority" has been stretched a little bit farther than I think it was intended to. Too often we're aiming for 5 or 10 or even more priorities. But when it comes to getting things done, there is power in placing your energy in only one place. The same is true for talent. Today, I want you to be brave enough to consider even just momentarily what it would mean to put all your eggs in one basket: that of your highest potential. So let go right now of whatever it is that keeps you clinging onto the safety of diversifying your talent investment. You are not a mutual fund; you do not do better when you're trying to cover all the the bases at the same time. You do best when you focus on your very, very best. So let's take one more deep breath. Inhale the courage to think about that. ... Exhale fear; let it all go. And one more. Inhale courage. ... Exhale worry. Now think about how you spend the typical work week. What are 3 to 5 contributions you normally make? What do you produce, think about, attend, do? If you're struggling to answer this question, think, How would you describe what you're spending your time on during a typical work week to someone who knows nothing about your industry? ...

Maika Leibbrandt 14:58

Of those 3 to 5 contributions, which ones do you enjoy the most? ... Which ones give you the most energy? ... What happens during a regular cadence of a typical work week that you always look forward to -- that moment that gets you through the rest of the week? ... Now let's narrow your focus a bit. Out of everything that you typically do, if you could only do one of those things, and you are guaranteed to succeed at it, what would you do? If you were doing only one thing, offering one specific contribution, and you were succeeding at it, what would that mean for the people around you? ...

Maika Leibbrandt 16:13

We spend way too much time trying to sort out how we fit among a team; how we meet a need that somebody else has. When if we would just get better at understanding what we offer and trusting that others would do the same and then offering it, we would all be better. As you go about your week, I want you to look for one opportunity to say "No" to something and honor your best and highest "Yes." You'll be making an improvement for yourself and for everyone else. Take one more deep breath in ... and out. ... That's your talent-mindfulness for today. Jim, I'll hand it back to you.

Jim Collison 17:05

Thanks, Maika. I always feel like I have to come back in with maybe my NPR voice on for for the end there as people are kind of coming out of that moment. We hope you've enjoyed those. We're getting great feedback on them and appreciate you guys going through those exercises as well.

Jim Collison 17:21

With that, we'll remind everyone take full advantages of all the resources we have available at the Gallup Strengths Center -- not for too much longer, as we record this September 5th of 2019. We have a major conversion coming where we'll be migrating everyone on Gallup Access. And you can find Gallup Access if it's after that date, if it's post-September 20. And chances are, many of you are going to listen to this after that. Head out to the new site, our new Gallup Access site available for you: is probably the easiest way to do it. Or you can go will get you there as well. Many ways to do that. Lots of things moving around and lots of moving parts; good time to pay attention to all the things that are going on here. If you have any questions at any at any point, need any help on anything, you can send us an email: Coaches Blog is moving as well. Today, all those resources available at As of September 20, those will move as well to Doesn't work today; nothing's there today. But as we convert on the 20th, all the content, all the coaches' content, a bunch of new pages coming, a bunch of new information for you available there on our site. So head out to -- all one word -- love to have you come out there. If you'd be interested in becoming a Gallup-Certified Coach or see any of the courses that we have available for you, and we have a ton of them, you can get them on our courses page, just will get you there. If you want to join us live to these, like I can never remember, head out to our Eventbrite page:; follow us there. And every time I put out a new -- I just put out two new webcasts, two new Called to Coaches that are coming up, yesterday. And if you are on the list, if you followed us there, you would have gotten notified. And you wouldn't even have to think about it. So full transcripts of the show are now available on the Coaches Blog, like I mentioned, or They'll be in the show notes and you can get them by time stamp as well. You can join us on our Facebook group, if you want,, and if you're writing all this down, you don't need to. Just go back -- you can hear it again and rewrite it, or in the show notes, the links are there as well. For those of us joining live, stay around. And if you're not, listen to the next Theme Thursday. With that, we'll say Goodbye everybody.

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