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Input: Highlights From Your CliftonStrengths 34

Input: Highlights From Your CliftonStrengths 34

Webcast Details

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

Join Jim Collison and Maika Leibbrandt as they talk about your Input 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.

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

Jim Collison 0:00

I am Jim Collison and live from the Gallup Studios here in Omaha, Nebraska, this is Gallup's Theme Thursday, Season 5, recorded on September 26, 2019.

Jim Collison 0:21

Theme Thursday is a Gallup webcast series that dives deep into the CliftonStrengths themes, one theme at a time. And today's theme is Input. If you are listening live, we'd love to have you join us in the chat room. We won't know you're there unless you say something. So go ahead and do that. Or if you're listening to the recorded version after the fact, you can send us an email: Maika Leibbrandt is our host today. She's a workplace consultant here with me at Gallup. And Maika, always great to see you. Welcome back to Theme Thursday.

Maika Leibbrandt 0:44

Thanks, Jim. Great to be here. I like the idea of a podcast all about gathering information about gathering information. So today's going to be especially fun around Input. You know, those CliftonStrengths at the top of your profile are the most powerful. These themes represent your unique makeup of potential -- not just whether you're talented, but really what flavor of talent you bring to the world. Your greatest chance to succeed at work or anywhere lies in strengthening, understanding and doing those things that you do naturally even better. So today, if you possess a great deal of Input, you've come to the right place. If you care about somebody who does, this podcast is also for you.

Jim Collison 1:19

All right, let's dig in. What does it mean to have Input as one of my top talent themes?

Maika Leibbrandt 1:23

It means that you have a need to collect and archive. Now that might mean that you're into absorbing information, maybe it's ideas, artifacts or even relationships. What distinguishes Input is the limitless collecting, the open-minded desire to gather more.

Jim Collison 1:40

And so what -- with with those who have this dominant, what might be noticed in their life with it?

Maika Leibbrandt 1:45

You're probably some kind of a collector. Now, I when we had -- years and years ago, our short theme definition even involved like bug collections or stamp collections. The more people I coach around Input, the less that resonates with them. But if you've got Input, you probably collect something. So think about what do you have collections of? You can see the value in something quicker than other people can because your definition of values expanded into the future. So you might not need what you're collecting right now. But you can think easily about possible utility in the future for yourself or for somebody else. You're probably the people, the person that other people come to as a resource. You also might feel that real moment of delight and and lightness when you can answer a question with an artifact, whether it's a nugget of research, a blog post or an introduction to an expert. Being able to be the answer that other people are looking for, or be the curator of that answer probably really, really resonates with you if you've got high Input. It means that you look outside of yourself to solve problems. First gather, then sort and make sense.

Jim Collison 2:58

It's funny you mentioned stamp collecting. So my dad was a big stamp collector. My dad, of course, wasn't alive to take CliftonStrengths, but he he had just stamps everywhere. And so I inherited the collection -- my my my brothers want me to sell this thing. And of course stamp collecting right now is not a big deal. So we won't for a while. But his -- he had some blind spots with this where he would gather maybe too many things in too many places. And so on a 34 report, we have this idea, this concept of blind spots. Maika, with Input, what might be some blind spots that we could have?

Maika Leibbrandt 3:30

So this isn't a real popular space in the 34 report. It's not a scientific diagnosis, there's no guarantee that you're going to hit these blind spots. But I think it's important that if you ever want somebody to change, they might have to be a little bit uncomfortable. So it can be uncomfortable for us to talk about blind spots, but it is describing the nature of how could you get in your own way of your greatest, you know, possible potential? Specific to Input, Input alone, by itself, doesn't discriminate. This can mean open-mindedness. It can also mean your open collection can lead to intellectual or physical clutter. The size of the collection really doesn't matter if you can't experience it, or you can't -- or if it becomes so cluttered or so -- if the quantity keeps growing and growing, growing without you being able to even sort through it. So if you've got high Input, it's a great idea to find a way to sort or catalog what you already have. Maybe even you know turn into that Input by saying, "What am I missing?" So that might be a way to encourage you to really just make sense of what you already have.

Maika Leibbrandt 4:35

It might be asking for more memory on your computer, or organizing your collections into a subject, a theme or potential utility. Another blind spot for Input -- to somebody with Input, more is usually more. But if you're communicating with people who don't have high Input, sometimes more is just confusing. So ask permission if you're going to go off script and into your archives. You might say something as simple as, "Hey, that's a really good question. What problem really are you trying to solve?" So that before you go into that mental space of giving them all the information you have, you know that what you're about to add is relevant to what they're looking for. Or maybe it sounds like saying, "Here's the shortest answer. Would you like to know more?" And being OK, when people say, "No, I've got it!" You could -- I mean, I think it also sounds like, "You know what, I have a lot to share on this subject. What do you think would be most helpful?" So it's not just being the archivist, but also being the receptionist to the archives. ...

Jim Collison 5:39

Did you get all the way through that section?

Maika Leibbrandt 5:41

I did.

Jim Collison 5:42


Maika Leibbrandt 5:42

Yeah. Sorry. I added the last part, because I was thinking, you know, you're not just the cool guy in the end, who's like, "Let me see what's in the back room!" Before you run off to the back room, just tell people where you're going.

Jim Collison 5:53

One of the -- I was mentioning my dad. One of the really special moments as I've been going through his notes; so you know, he tried to keep -- you mentioned about kind of keep track or index where some things are. And I've watched his attempts to index it through his notes, which has been really, really special to get some insights on his brain and the way his brain worked, just through the notes in kind of the way he filtered through that. That's been super great. You know, we often in one of the seasons of Theme Thursday, we talked about, or I talked about, how some of these themes have an inward focus, and some of them have an outward focus. In other words, you know, some of these really talk about who we are inside and the things we do; others, other of these themes talk about how we influence other people or how they, how they work on other people. Input to me seems very inward-driven. And yet it has to be part of a team. Like there are people on teams who have Input. What does that role play -- Input --what kind of role can it play on a team, Maika?

Maika Leibbrandt 6:49

I think it's interesting to think about it that inward versus external. The way that Input definitely works within your brain is external first. So it's looking for artifacts, credible sources, other ideas that -- outside of yourself first. But it is a Strategic Thinking theme, which in many cases means you can thrive without having to partner with other people. So in that way, it is sort of an internal piece. Page 21 in your CliftonStrengths 34 report will map out, visually, your Top 10 across those Four Domains of Leadership. And you'll find Input highlighted if it's in your Top 10 as part of Strategic Thinking. Those themes are the ones that describe people who make sense of the world through considering it, through studying it, through really doing thinking work. Input is a collector, not just of anything, but a collector with a heart, kind of with a mission and a belief or an intention that what they're collecting will be useful now or in the future. That's an important piece that we don't want to take for granted. On a team, this means that somebody with Input brings information and perspectives they've gathered into places that that bring it to the awareness of the group. You may need to invite them in, again to that internal versus external motivation. But they can be the encyclopedia of the team. Chances are, they probably know a little bit about a lot of things, and that they love being asked to share what they've collected, or what they've come to learn, or even just, you know, share the ideas that they have cultivated by looking outside of their own brain.

Maika Leibbrandt 8:23

To compare other Strategic Thinking themes, the two that I see show up often -- all the time, and that intellectually get, I think, cross-pollinated, quite often, in terms of how well do we understand the differences -- is Input and Learner. Input is about the information excites me. Learner says the processing of that information into mastery -- or the journey from going from naivete to mastery or from knowing -- from not knowing to knowing -- that's what Learner really is, is lit up by. It's a little bit like saying the the class that you take would be Learner. And the books that you need for the class would be Input. Probably too far of an oversimplification, but if it helps you understand the difference, just different motivations between those two.

Maika Leibbrandt 9:10

I also want to look at Strategic and Input. Strategic might say, What are the options? And how do they align? Input would say, What is the information? And what can -- what more can we gather to better solve the problem? Input is a curator and Strategic is a mapmaker. They could work together, but they they solve problems from a slightly different way. And today, we're recording live; we're recording Intellection next. So I wanted to add these two -- two Strategic Thinking themes. Intellection offers thoughtful perspective from consideration within yourself or within your own brain. Input offers additional perspectives from outside sources. In partnership, Input can can bring a lot to a partnership. Input can expand your opinion on an idea if you allow them to, by offering more information. Again, because they look outside themselves to understand things, they can push you beyond your own opinion. They probably have a great appreciation for credible sources. And that can -- that can be sort of a mind opener in many ways. Input can collect nuggets of information about you, if they're your partner, that would help build that strong bond in collaboration. They can act as a resource. Jane Miller, our COO says she stores her knowledge in her friends. If you have a friend with Input, chances are they're storing some knowledge for you that they're they're willing to share in the future.

Jim Collison 10:37

That's great. And any clues or advice on communicating well with Input?

Maika Leibbrandt 10:42

Ask them! Ask them if they've ever come across the subject that you're talking about before. And maybe ask them what is it that they find interesting? Offer -- ask to be taken on a tour through everything that they've collected. I would also say cite your sources, if you can -- formally, informally. You'll create sort of a trail of breadcrumbs that they could follow and open up and be really delighted and discover even more than you could alone. Inquire about the topics that they're currently interested in. It's important to ask about people's hot buttons anyway. A hot button is a positive thing that you notice that you've hit somebody's hot button when their face lights up and they could talk longer about it. Specifically for Input, that idea of being consistently curious and always open to gathering more information is a real hot button in and of itself. So just ask -- what is it that they're interested in lately?

Jim Collison 11:32

And what might inspire or motivate somebody that has high Input?

Maika Leibbrandt 11:36

So if you're working with somebody who's got this theme high, make the most of that natural curiosity by asking them to study a topic that's important to you, to your team, to your organization or even to your community. Look for problems maybe that need attention before execution. That's a really good cue that somebody with Input could bring a lot to the table there. I would also say get them closer to the source. If they're interested in a certain topic, find three more ways to expose them to it. Acknowledge that -- and this is true for many of the Strategic Thinking themes -- for Input, thinking is doing. Collecting is doing, specifically for Input, that sort of gathering piece. I have Input much higher than Learner, and when I was working as a journalist, I could interview people for days -- even if it was a 3-minute story. So within reason, help them help them realize that that gathering is how they're starting to solve the problem, even if you don't see it happening. So give them time to do that kind of gathering homework.

Maika Leibbrandt 12:38

I would also say think about putting them on a first-response team when it comes to exploring, What do we know collectively as a team? Maybe they are part of an email intake team for questions about specific topics. I'm on a team of experts, and all the time, one of us will email everybody -- all 35 of us and say, Hey, does anybody know something about XYZ? And I can almost put money on 2 of my colleagues who have high Input being the first people to respond with a source and with something specific. So put them in the -- put them in the front lines for answering some of those questions.

Jim Collison 13:14

So people who have this, how could they practice this every day? What are some practical applications for it?

Maika Leibbrandt 13:20

If you've got Input, right now, I want to challenge you to take that idea of collecting and turn it into curating. It's going beyond just gathering. Maybe that means taking inventory of what you have and how you can position it to be used in the future. Also define something that you're currently interested in and add one more method of absorption or collecting. If you've -- if you're already listening to a podcast, find a book, volunteer, join a club, interview an expert, become an apprentice, write or speak about what it is, if that helps you gather more.

Jim Collison 13:59

You -- and this is a great partnership opportunity, too. Some folks with high Input may not have those themes that of the organizing, the, you know. For others, that comes very naturally. And so you may have an opportunity to partner with somebody who will help you on this. They like doing that; they just don't want to retain it or store it. And you could have a great, great power of 2. So, speaking of practice, throughout the year, we've done this segment on talent-mindfulness and spend a little bit more time on that today. Maika, how could people continue to grow in this area?

Maika Leibbrandt 14:27

So talent-mindfulness is a regular practice. We've designed this in Season 5 just for you to focus on your most powerful, natural patterns. So how you think, how you feel, how you behave. It's this kind of dedicated focus that helps you own who you are and leverage it on purpose. So the next 3 to 5 minutes are not about learning about Input; they're about focusing on you. If you are driving, you might want to focus on the road. But if you're not, go ahead and take a deep breath with me, inhale all the way from the base of your trunk, take a big inhale all the way to the top of your head. ... And exhale. Really challenge yourself to exhale all the way; get rid of all that air. Let's take one more deep breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. Input is a Strategic Thinking theme. But regardless of where your dominant themes fall, whether or not you lead with Strategic Thinking, you do need to think. Now the good news is, by nature, by by the very nature of being human, you are a problem solver. You wake up solving problems, and you proceed to slay your day by overcoming obstacles, even if you don't realize that you're doing it. Even if you don't do it in the way that somebody with high Strategic Thinking does it, you do it. You solve problems. Let's take one more breath in and just think about that. Inhale the power and presence and problem solving; exhale any doubt. ...

Maika Leibbrandt 16:10

I'm going to imagine, I'm going to ask you to imagine and visualize something. So if you're comfortable, go ahead and close your eyes. If you're not comfortable closing your eyes, I invite you to just turn your gaze downward so that you don't get distracted by whatever you're seeing. Imagine an empty bookshelf. It can be as big or as small as you like. The key is that it has nothing on it. Imagine what this bookshelf looks like. What color is it? How old or new is it? Is it worn in? Is it from IKEA or an antique store? Focus your attention just on this empty shelf. As you continue to inhale, with every inhale, take in every detail of this bookshelf. And exhale, just focusing on this one piece of imaginary furniture. Continue to breathe normally. And now think about all the problems that you have solved or helped to solve this week. Looking backwards over a week, they might seem small in the grand picture of an entire week. But maybe there were specific moments of breakthrough or very obvious accomplishment. If every problem that you have solved is a book, there are big ones, little ones starting to populate on that bookshelf. Maybe there's some colorful books, some really worn-in books that have been there for a while. Heavy ones. See those books start to line up on that bookshelf? ...

Maika Leibbrandt 18:10

Let's not just think about problems. Let's also consider the questions that you've asked out loud this week. See more books start to line up on that on that bookshelf, representing all the questions that you've been brave enough to ask out loud. ... Now let's add another book for every question that you've investigated on your own through some kind of a search. ... And another book on that shelf for every question that you've wondered about this week, but have not yet explored. Zoom out and see the whole bookcase, the entire shelf; it's now full of books. Again, these books are the problems that you solved, the questions you asked, the ideas that you researched and the wonderings that you have yet to explore. Looking at that whole bookshelf, which one would you most like to further investigate? Which one do you want to pull off that shelf and really dive into? ... What's important to you about that book? ... What do you need to do that will help you focus today on that one book? ...

Maika Leibbrandt 20:02

You have great power. You have an excellent talent to consider, to solve, to improve upon the ideas that fill your world. Maybe you do it best with other people or by working really hard. Maybe you just need to spend some time in your own brain. No one will improve your natural ability to solve problems but you. So I invite you to do it today, just with a bit more purpose. And that's your talent-mindfulness for today. Jim, I'll hand it back to you.

Jim Collison 20:43

Thanks, Maika. That's pretty great. I have an old, worn-out bookshelf on my on my in my mind, so I always appreciate those.

Maika Leibbrandt 20:52

I'll show you the actual bookshelf that was the inspiration for that. There it is.

Jim Collison 20:58

Mine was kind of wood and old and the shelves were worn out from grabbing, you know, grabbing those pieces, those books so much. So maybe even a little dusty. Well with that, we'll remind everyone to take full advantages of all the resources we have available now on Gallup Access. Head out to You can also -- might want to bookmark that, or you can also get it now through; available for you in both places. Coaching blog has moved as well. If you go to, that will now redirect to the new site: is available there. You see the live page has moved as well here; we used to be Again, that will forward automatically now to That's in there and is available for you there. Just bookmark those so you don't have to remember him. I remember them easily because I say them about 8,000 times a week. But you can you can bookmark those; that will not change for a while. If you're interested in -- if you're interested in any of the training that we do, both local, that's available, it's really the best way to take it. It's fun to get together with people. You can see a list of all our courses; some lead to certifications. You can head out to By the way, if you're one of those trained coaches, that's where your kits are. I shouldn't say, "Now"; they've always been there. It's just with the new changeover, the link that was on your dashboard is now gone. At least for now. And so head out to and your digital kits are out there as well. Don't forget, we're doing full transcripts now for this program, and every -- actually everything that we do. Head out to the show notes, again: Maika, the search has really improved on finding these things. So if you put in Theme Thursday Input, you'll see all 4 seasons, maybe 5 if we've already posted this. So a really easy way to get to those. We do have a dedicated page just for the webcasts. And if you go up into the menu, you'll see that under Resources and it says Webcasts; you can find us that way as well. Don't forget to join our Facebook group, and many of you do on that call to action: Want to thank you for joining us today. If you're listening live, stay around for the next one. With that, we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.

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