skip to main content
Intellection: Highlights From Your CliftonStrengths 34

Intellection: Highlights From Your CliftonStrengths 34

Webcast Details

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

Join Jim Collison and Maika Leibbrandt as they talk about your Intellection 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. Theme Thursday is a Gallup webcast series that dives deep into the CliftonStrengths themes, one theme at a time. Today, it's Intellection. If you're listening live, we'd love to have you join us in our chat room. The live link is still on the new live page; it's just above the video now. Before it was below. Take you to the YouTube channel that has the chat room in it. We'd love to have you out there. If you have questions after the fact, you can also always send us an email -- I don't get enough of these emails, by the way: Maika Leibbrandt is our host today. She's a workplace consultant here at Gallup with me. Maika, always great to see you on Thursdays. Welcome to Theme Thursday.

Maika Leibbrandt 0:51

Hey, best part of my week, Jim. You know those CliftonStrengths at the top of our profile -- you and I were just looking at our full 34 -- the ones at the top are the most powerful. It can be really easy to, as we were doing in the chat just now, describe what color your tail is or to start to think about which ones you don't have. But your real power and your best chance to succeed at work or in life lies in understanding and intentionally leveraging those themes at the top. Those themes that always describe how you think, feel and behave are what we call your dominant strengths. And there is infinite possibility for growth there. So today, if one of your dominant strengths is Intellection, or you care about somebody who has it sort of toward the top, this podcast is for you.

Jim Collison 1:32

Discipline, Focus, Consistency, very bottom for me. So thanks for that reminder. What does it mean to have Intellection as my top talent theme?

Maika Leibbrandt 1:40

Well, it means there's a lot going on inside your head. You are introspective and appreciate consideration and exploration of ideas.

Jim Collison 1:49

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

Maika Leibbrandt 1:54

Ideas and thoughts are real and powerful for somebody with high Intellection. You might be able to sort through all the activity in your brain. Or it might seem overwhelming, but you acknowledge either way that it's there. And that it begs your exploration. You might be able to entertain yourself easily without other people. I've got a good friend with high Intellection who tells me he's never alone, because he always has his thoughts. Ideas and opinions become more clear to you with time. Without Intellection, I think people can sort of take an idea or a thought or an opinion and it it feels almost static in their understanding of life. But for people with Intellection, the more they spend chewing on it, thinking on it, ruminating, the more clear it becomes. And it's because as you're doing that, you're actually doing work with high Intellection. It is that idea of -- if an idea is like a ball of clay on a potter's wheel. To people with Intellection, that clay becomes something the more they spin it. You feel more prepared. And this might be similar here, you probably feel more prepared if you've had a chance to spin or to sort things out. You also might appreciate intellectual discussions. You perhaps enjoy being challenged for the sake of discovery. And you rarely take an idea at face value. You know there's always more to the story. There's always the opportunity and enjoyment of exploring possible alternatives or additional details.

Jim Collison 3:24

This season, we've been spending some time looking at the All 34 report. It has a new section in it called blind spots. And so as we think about that section, what might hold people back from excellence that have high Intellection?

Maika Leibbrandt 3:34

Yep, everybody loves blind spots. Let's remember, when you're reading this, you're not reading research that we have 70 years of data on. This is just sort of the artistic version, that coaching portion of your All 34. The research that we have decades and decades on is on defining those themes and personalizing them for you. The blind spots are in addition to that -- kind of bonus coaching content to say, you also need to be aware of of some potential hazards that you might throw in your own way. Specifically for Intellection, you're comfortable with silence and with solitude. You're likely using it to do a lot of work internally to process, but to others, it could look like you're not present or like you're not interested. Now, there's no guarantee that that would happen. But it's important to acknowledge that, so ask for the introspection that you need. Don't promise something that you'll never naturally deliver. That sentence could go for everybody, by the way. Stop promising things you won't naturally deliver. You might say if you've got high Intellection, "Hey, I'd love to give you some feedback. But I need a certain amount of time to prepare that feedback really well." Or, "I'm going to spend some time reviewing what we covered in this meeting. I do this best alone, so my door's closed right now." It's it's even worth I think blocking "think time" on your calendar. You might need to remind people if that feels too selfish or it doesn't feel socially acceptable, it's worth reminding people about the value of what they get, once you've had time. And you do that by describing, you know, previous successes -- times when your Intellection has brought forth perspectives or ideas or solutions that the team otherwise would have missed that they truly benefited from. You -- another blind spot, perhaps, for Intellection, is that you can make things too complex for other people to digest. So in critical group conversations, when it really matters that other people are tapping into what's going on in your brain, consider offering two versions of what you know: a headline version and a full-chapter version. And then ask others to help you navigate to which they really need.

Jim Collison 5:41

So really important, I think, you know, when we think about these themes in the context of a team and how they play out, because I think they can have exponential benefits when we do it that way. So what role does Intellection play on a team?

Maika Leibbrandt 5:52

So it lives in that Strategic Thinking domain, which probably doesn't surprise anybody at this point. These themes are the ones that describe folks who bring their best power from within their brain. Intellection is introspective; it can bring a depth of consideration for a team, if what they consider has an avenue for getting out. So if you're just sort of spinning your wheels, thinking about something that doesn't have relevance to the problem your team is trying to solve or the goal they're trying to achieve, then I think you're just -- you're just depth kind of alone. But if you can make sure that that depth is underneath the relevant problem, you bring more to the table than your team would ever achieve on their own. Team members and team leaders can invite that kind of perspective from their teammate with Intellection simply by asking. Intellection can also be a proactive thought partner. I think because Intellection naturally speaks that language of inquisitiveness and of consideration, perhaps Intellection can ask smart, probing, challenging questions in a way that nobody else can. They can be a real mind opener to discovery and to solutions.

Maika Leibbrandt 7:02

Let's compare this to a couple other of the of the Strategic Thinking themes. In my experience as a coach and as an individual, Intellection is one of those more invisible themes. It's not quite as easy to draw a cartoon of, and contrasting it to other Strategic Thinking themes should make that definition a little bit more clear for you. First, we're gonna look Intellection-Analytical. So Intellection is curious about potential discoveries. Intellection sorts through rabbit trails of "What if?" Analytical is curious about proven facts; Analytical sorts through evidence to find "What is." That was my best moment, by the way, the "what if" versus "what is"! Looking at Intellection and Context, Context says, you know, where have we been before? Takes clues from the past to inform the future. And Intellection says, Hey, what should we be considering? Creates time to do that considering, thinking, and informs the current perspective. Ideation and Intellection have a lot of overlap. Ideation is connecting thoughts to each other through a shared theme or a similarity, and creating new ideas. Intellection explores existing ideas, including the idea itself, and the connection to other theories, creating that solid perspective. So Intellection could come up with brand-new creative thoughts, but it's because they were born off of something that they already started with. Whereas Ideation is a little bit more in tune to do that blank-slate, quick brainstorming. In partnership, Intellection can encourage you to think deeper. They can go through the complexity of thought to bring a more stable perspective. They really do that "hard think" work, so that when they share their opinion, it's it's well thought-through. They can also be a very thoughtful listener. I think about Intellection as being the person who just enjoys the process of consideration. And that can make an excellent partner when you need somebody to sort through things with you. They won't just hear what's being said, but because they're constantly flexing that muscle and going through the sort of mental cross-training, they're probably really good at hearing what's not being said, or hearing deeper levels of what's being shared than just the words themselves. In partnership, Intellection can participate in conversation and in dialogue, and really raise our collective understanding.

Jim Collison 9:32

I love when you do the "what if -- what is" sections like that. Curt-esque.

Maika Leibbrandt 9:36

Sometimes I channel our friend Curt [Liesveld] and I have a couple good "golden nugget" moments, and that was one of them.

Jim Collison 9:43

Good and easy to remember too. Any clues or advice on communicating well with with Intellection?

Maika Leibbrandt 9:50

Expect that they might hear your words more than one way. Give them a chance to come back and ask you questions and really clarify what you were saying before you agree on a way forward. Clarity is kind, and they can provide that. So allow for time and kind of that openness to brew. I would also say, allow for thinking and musing time. If you'd like to be part of this musing and have the capacity to let it be messy -- and that means not expecting project planning or executing or totally formed opinion sharing -- then go ahead and ask to join that that thought process.

Jim Collison 10:27

This is an area as a leader I've really grown in because I don't have any of this. And and so of giving people time, like, here's our problem. And they're like, I need to noodle on this; I need to think about this. Well, good, back away and begin to do other things around it, not to be, you know, not to get impatient with it. But to give them -- back away and say, "Just come back to me when you're ready." And that's been such a valuable exercise for me to allow that. Now there are times maybe you need to set time limits or some of those other things to get practical pieces out of it, Maika, but it has been really, really helpful to me to do that. When we think think about other help -- and I think it's good for them -- as we think about other ways to inspire ...

Maika Leibbrandt 11:03

Before you go there, I would even say -- even an upgrade on "Come back to me when you're ready" is acknowledging that their thinking is their next step. So saying, "When are we going to talk about this again?" and setting that date. I think in that way, the accountability doesn't have to come across as I'm trying to stretch you into an Executing space. But being able to say, "Hey, what do you need from me?" Or "What information can I give you? And when are we going to commit to revisiting that?" You're really honoring the fact that they are doing by noodling.

Jim Collison 11:33

Yeah. And I really, almost too much give the -- put the responsibility of follow-up on them. So I'll say, you know, so much so, "Hey, when you're ready, just get back with me." And I probably I need to maybe have a little hybrid in that as we think about having that ticker, that follow-up as well. So there's some opportunities in that but it's been a good learning lesson for me and I'll just let people noodle in that space when we see that talent that's there. How else can I inspire or motivate someone with high Intellection?

Maika Leibbrandt 11:58

Get them involved in the front end of projects so that they can explore where all the thought trails of potential might lead. Again, you know, Jim, to your point about letting them noodle, they can be noodling while other people are tinkering. So get everybody to start at the same place. The opportunity to share their opinion or their views with other people -- they bring a wisdom that others can benefit from without other themes to get Intellection out of their head, they probably won't naturally love the sharing aspect. But think about just the the tapping into their their understanding and their wisdom is really what you're looking for. Also have a detailed discussion with this person about their own strengths. Let them lead the self-discovery pathway. Put them their self and their own natural talent at the center of what they're noodling on. That could be a conversation that would yield dividends, not just for you, but for them.

Jim Collison 12:50

On the way back from Dallas last night, perfect example, I'm watching Marvel's Avengers end game. So if you haven't seen that yet, no spoilers here. But I won't spoil it. But they give Tony Stark this problem that he says "No" to. He's like, "Nah, I can't, I can't do it. I'm not going to do it." And he cannot -- so as the movie progresses, he cannot stop thinking about it. And so he, you know, he begins to really spend time thinking about and solving that problem. Maika, I think that's kind of a good example of this, this idea of Intellection, it just, you almost can't walk away from it and I've got to spend some time. When we think about Intellection, how else can we practice this talent every day?

Maika Leibbrandt 13:28

Think about asking questions that help other people think. Come up with your three favorite short, open questions, and ask them more often. If you've got high Intellection, give your busy brain a chance to offload the ideas that they've processed. Take 20 minutes today and write down something that you've been musing about. You might be surprised at how fully formed it actually is, once you're challenged to get it out of your brain.

Jim Collison 13:55

And then so as we think about practice, we've been doing these talent-mindfulness exercises throughout the season. You have another one lined up for us. So what do we have today?

Maika Leibbrandt 14:04

So talent-mindfulness is how we improve. You don't improve by naming your talents alone; you do it by diving into them, understanding them and applying them toward a personally meaningful goal. You know what, you woke up today, we might as well be amazing! So talent-mindfulness is one way to do that. The next 3 to 5 minutes will help you focus on yourself, with or without the CliftonStrengths theme of Intellection. Now this exercise is designed for you to just listen. But if you find that you want to pause and come back later with a pen and paper, or take notes after you're done listening, you're very welcome to do that.

Maika Leibbrandt 14:41

We're going to start by internalizing our focus. And I'm going to try something slightly physical. So you are 2 inches taller than you give yourself credit for. So to really center our focus, we're going to begin with the with an acknowledgment of this great body, this great being we have. And then that'll help us really bring our thoughts inward. So I want you to take your right hand and reach it out as far away from your body as you can where you're sitting right now. And as you reach it out, reach it up over your head, and lean into that diagonal, really making a long line from the tips of your fingers all the way to your hip. And then all the way back and let it go -- shake it out so that you see that kind of release, that you already feel longer on that side. Let's honor the other side as well. With your left hand, I want you to reach as far out as you possibly can, if your arm is completely out kind of in line with your shoulder, just reach a little bit farther. You might even lean into it, and then pull that arm on over your head. Some nice dancer fingers, if you have them, lean into that other horizontal diagonal and back the same pathway that you that you traced the first time, shake that out from the shoulder. There we go, we feel a little bit refreshed, right, a little little more focused on this beautiful vessel that we have.

Maika Leibbrandt 16:04

So now I invite you to stretch: one deep breath in. Hold it at the top for just a second, and let that go. Exhale. Now that we feel ourselves present in this world, let's let's continue to minimize the external distraction. Close your eyes or focus on an object, just one object, as you turn your gaze downward, so you're not distracted. Today, we're going to think about your own experience in the recent past, and then we'll focus your intention on the immediate future. In the past 30 days, when did you feel smart? When did you make a discovery? When were you most curious? In the past 30 days, when did you feel or experience a moment of mental clarity? Clarity is where we're going to land and camp out a little bit. You know how your arms feel right now because you just did that stretch? When was the time in the last month when your brain felt that way? Like it was switched on and really working efficiently for you. If you can, focus on a specific time, a specific experience or maybe even just a specific day when you felt mental clarity. ... When was this? Who contributed to your clarity? If someone else was involved, how did they support you? ... What did you contribute that led to this moment? ...

Maika Leibbrandt 18:22

Now let's get tactical. What practice or task or activity brings you clarity? When do you feel most ready mentally to face the challenges that you have to face? ... It is within your power and your responsibility to know what lights up your brain and make it happen. So in the next 7 days, what would you like to feel more clarity, more certainty or more discovery about? ... What can you commit to doing that will serve you best? ... What might get in the way of that commitment? ... How could you make that commitment 10% easier on yourself? ... Again, what is it you're going to do? ...

Maika Leibbrandt 20:08

My friend, there is no greater power than the power that's already within you. We spend so much effort gathering new skills, polishing the peripheral, when our greatest potential to perform and succeed -- to really taste that greatness and dwell in it -- comes from understanding those bigger, more natural, talent-level parts of our core self. Thank you for exploring that power in today's talent-mindfulness. Jim, back to you.

Jim Collison 20:42

Thanks, Maika. Always appreciate those. I hope you're enjoying them as well. And what we've been getting a lot of feedback from you that you do, so we appreciate that feedback as well.

Jim Collison 20:53

With that, we'll remind everyone to take full advantages of all the resources we have available over at the -- I almost said that sentence ...

Maika Leibbrandt 21:00

It's new.

Jim Collison 21:01

I know. I know I went into autopilot there for just a second -- over at the brand-new Gallup Access. You can get to that, or -- get you there. Either way will direct you to the site. Love to have you -- get your feedback on that as well. If you have any questions, you can send us an email: You can also catch the recorded audio and video for this program as well as all the past ones on our new site: And there's lots of ways -- make sure you're not missing the navigation in there. There's tons of new navigation. We have a dedicated webcast page now, although Theme Thursday Season 5 is not out there yet. We're working on that as well. We didn't have it available when we built the pages and it's coming up. But all the other resources listed -- all the webcasts, that's the easiest way to find them is out there. You can also search really well. So if you're looking for an item or something to -- now that the transcripts are there, the search engine on the internal side is going through all those transcripts so make sure you're using that appropriately as well if you just search at Don't forget, you can if you want to take advantage of any courses we have available, they are global and around the world. You can see it the most updated information that we have, where they are, when they are and how much they are: I also mention, many of you have asked me about your kits, and they have not moved -- they've always been there -- but they're also at that courses page: We got some internal things going on to make some things better and so we've temporarily taken that link down from your dashboard. Just bookmark that: And I mentioned full full transcripts now with timestamps; you might want to go out and look -- if you haven't done it, go out and look at the show notes if you like that kind of thing. Join us in our Facebook group: We'll be back two weeks. I think we're off life-wise, Maika, next week, right, you're I think you're out. Is that right?

Maika Leibbrandt 22:42

Yep. We were out anyway. I actually planned my vacation because we were off. So I ... but we're off.

Jim Collison 22:47

Good. We are we, so we are not live next week. Well, for those listening live, we'll see you in two weeks. With that, we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.

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

Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A
+1 202.715.3030