- Gallup Theme Thursday Webcast Series
- Season 5, Strategic
- 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 Strategic.
Join Jim Collison and Maika Leibbrandt as they talk about your Strategic 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 November 7, 2019.
Jim Collison 0:20
Theme Thursday is a Gallup webcast series that dives deep into the CliftonStrengths themes, one at a time, and today's theme is Strategic. If you're listening live, love to have you join us in our chat room. There's a link right up -- right there above the window. Join us on YouTube and sign into the chat room. Let us know where you're listening from. If you're listening after the fact, send us an email -- or have questions -- send us an email: email@example.com. 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 0:46
Gosh, great to be here, Jim, thanks so much. Those CliftonStrengths at the top of our profile are where we have the greatest potential. Our most power and our opportunity to succeed -- whether that's at work or anywhere -- really lies in being able to understand what they are and use them more intentionally. If at the top of your profile you find quite a bit of Strategic talent, or if you care about somebody who has it at the top of their profile, today's podcast is going to be helpful for you.
Jim Collison 1:11
We are excited to dig in. What does it mean to have Strategic as your top talent theme?
Maika Leibbrandt 1:16
It means that you think in terms of options; that you create alternate ways to proceed. Faced with any given scenario, you can quickly spot the relevant patterns and any sort of relevant issues and how they relate to that theme or that pattern.
Jim Collison 1:30
And how might people with this dominant theme see this or notice this in their life?
Maika Leibbrandt 1:35
You quickly have more than one plan that you can go to. So you can adjust to Plan B or Plan C easily because you make sense of a problem by understanding where those patterns are leading you and thinking about different ways to go about it. You might notice trends that other people think are hidden. Everything -- to somebody with high Strategic -- everything is a clue. Whether that's early foreshadowing in the plot line of a movie, or thinking about ways that people tend to behave over and over again, it all shows up for people with high Strategic as something that's going to aim them toward toward the end goal, toward something bigger.
Maika Leibbrandt 2:14
If you've got high Strategic, you might be able to predict the end of an activity quicker than other people. And it's not because you're somehow -- I don't know -- magically talented or you can see things that are that are connected to the universe in a different way. It's really because you are paying attention to those bread crumbs. You are making sense of things constantly by understanding how things fit together. You're probably rarely surprised because that experience of sorting out how how all the pieces connect is where you are spending your most mental energy.
Maika Leibbrandt 2:48
It also might be true that you rarely feel totally defeated. You know that there's always an alternate path that you can take or an alternative that you can create, and chances are you've already considered what that alternate path is. You see a problem best from a bird's-eye view. It's less about the details along the way and more about, What are the significant steps that you're going to need to take in order to get to your goal? And you might think in not so much of a linear sort of pattern. Strategic really is about sometimes doing much better when we start at the very end of a problem and work our way backwards.
Jim Collison 3:27
Throughout the season, we have been focusing on the All 34 report available -- has this new section called blind spots. And of course, how does Strategic get held back from excellence maybe as we think through the lens of these blind spots?
Maika Leibbrandt 3:39
So these blind spots aren't a diagnosis. They're not a scientific guarantee, but it is our responsibility to think about how the theme shows up in the eyes of people who don't have it, and how our own behavior or our own inclinations might get in our own way. For one of those blind spots with Strategic, you can easily see different ways to proceed. Which means you could come across as critical of the plan that others have chosen to take. So, and we've offered this as a remedy to a lot of blind spots for the season, but one thing -- one way to make sure that this doesn't hold you back is to ask permission. Offer your advice for creative alternatives once you've been invited to. And it might sound like, Hey, here's what I like about the way that we've chosen to go or, Have you thought about doing it any other way?
Maika Leibbrandt 4:27
Another blind spot for Strategic is you think super quickly and often you're able to skip over details that you are noticing are going to be irrelevant in the end. But those details that don't fit that pattern or that theme or that process that you've identified as being the best, you don't pay a whole lot of attention to. You can translate your "pattern identification talent" into predicting and planning so quickly that other people get lost, or perhaps other people don't trust that you've really done the due mental diligence that you need in order to trust where you're going.
Maika Leibbrandt 5:01
So take cues from people around you on how much detail they need in order to confidently follow you. Do they need you just to highlight the end result, remind them where we're going? Do they need you maybe to backtrack and explain an option that you discarded and why you discarded that option? Or sometimes do they just need to know what the most important next step is?
Jim Collison 5:24
What about their role on a team? How does Strategic really fit into or play this role on a team?
Maika Leibbrandt 5:29
Well, it probably won't surprise you -- the theme Strategic falls into the Strategic Thinking category. It's really I think Strategic can sound a lot like Executing because it sometimes does have that forward progress to it. But the thing about Strategic alone is it does not have to move something tangible in any direction. And it doesn't have to get something accomplished by itself. Strategic really is about being conceptual; identifying patterns that relate to a plan and sorting through different imagined alternatives.
Maika Leibbrandt 6:03
I think we said in a previous episode, comparing Strategic and Arranger is like Strategic is sorting through things in our in our mind that might happen, and Arranger is making the best use or the best configuration of tangible resources that are already here. On a team, Strategic can can help people zoom out, see that bird's-eye view, really understand the full picture. Where are we going? What are the most important factors that we need to get right in order to get there? And I think Strategic brings a certain sense of resilience to a team because people with high Strategic really delight in exploring options. So chances are, when you're faced with a challenge, you can turn to someone with high Strategic for 3 other ways that we can proceed. It's like a mental flexibility.
Maika Leibbrandt 6:48
Let's compare it to other Strategic Thinking themes. I think this piece has been some of my favorite of our entire season, because it's important not to just lump all these together and treat them exactly the same way. Hopefully, if we contrast Strategic with some of those other themes in the same domain, it will help you hear and kind of train your ear for what's special and unique about Strategic. First, I want to compare Strategic and Learner. Strategic is noticing how things connect to a greater concept; following a common thread through a story or through a plan. Learner is noticing what is known and what has yet to be understood. And people with high Learner are really drawn to investigating those areas for potential development.
Maika Leibbrandt 7:32
Looking at Analytical and Strategic, Analytical will simplify down to the smallest provable element. Strategic will simplify by eliminating details that aren't part of the theme. One that is actually, I think, kind of difficult to differentiate sometimes because it can look very similar is Ideation and Strategic. Ideation creates new, never-before-considered "takes" on a problem. Strategic goes around the problem to get to the end goal. Now they both identify commonalities. Ideation is imagining connections between different things -- the difference or the disparity or the creativity in how you can see something be similar, even when everyone thinks it's not, is a challenge and a delight that people with high Ideation really are drawn to. Strategic is about noticing patterns, noticing clusters, really the theme or the pattern goes first. And the joy is in noticing how those things connect to the pattern.
Maika Leibbrandt 8:35
So it's almost like inside-out Ideation in that way. The other piece is Strategic doesn't have that element of Ideation of genuine creation of new things, new ideas. In partnership, Strategic can help you keep your eye on the bigger prize. Strategic can spot relevant patterns. And that can mean that Strategic might have very little patience for steps that they've defined as being irrelevant. Strategic can keep you from getting stuck in details that really won't make much of a difference in the end. It's it's permission to "let go." Also in partnership, Strategic can probably speed up your process by offering a slick way forward that eliminates unnecessary work. Strategic can, can follow thinking even when you think you're rambling or you're working backwards or you're going in circles. Because Strategic is about picking up those mental crumbs -- probably because they're starting to form those mental crumbs together and understand they're all part of a big cookie. They can help you outline or organize your thoughts in an order that really makes sense.
Jim Collison 9:40
I'm sorry, you said "big cookie." I didn't hear a word you said ... after that.
Maika Leibbrandt 9:45
Did I say "cookie"?
Jim Collison 9:46
Did you say "cookie"? Any clues and advice on commun -- communicating, there we go, maybe if I can say the word, communicating well with Strategic?
Maika Leibbrandt 9:54
Don't try to self-edit. People with high Strategic are going to find patterns in your story even when you don't. So let them ask you questions. And don't go through too much work first before you speak with them, of trying to figure out what you think the most important parts are. Just really be present and allow them to help you navigate through what you're communicating. Start with the end in mind. If you're giving instructions to somebody with high Strategic, make sure you're talking about the objective first. Then, allow for some flexibility in how they approach that challenge. Chances are, they can see 8 or 10 other ways to go about it than you've even imagined. So be real clear about what success looks like and then and then be flexible.
Maika Leibbrandt 10:34
Trust their insights. You can be a great partner to helping them bring more of those insights to the forefront. They are naturally wired to notice clues. So help them review what they're seeing and where they think it's leading.
Jim Collison 10:47
We often sometimes think of those Strategic Thinking themes as not act -- not action, not activity, right? And that it's -- it's it's in our brain. But how do we motivate or how do we inspire someone with Strategic, when that word "inspire" seems so action-oriented?
Maika Leibbrandt 11:03
I love that you phrase that question that way! Because I think really what this this helps us understand with Strategic or any of these other themes is, What does it look like out loud? That didn't make sense! What does it look like when you can see it? Or what does it sound like out loud? What does it do? With high Strategic, I think some inspirational opportunities are having a clear definition of success, with a "blank slate" on how to get there. Whiteboarding sessions, where they're asked to outline potential strategies, maybe even where they're challenged to say, you know, come up with more than one option. Don't necessarily make them own the execution. Even just the freedom from ownership of execution could be motivating and inspiring.
Maika Leibbrandt 11:43
An invitation to investigate a complicated issue with exposure to all the evidence they need or to all the stakeholders that they will need to speak with. They can notice patterns that other people will miss. Permission to ask lots of questions without having to own the follow-on action. I think sometimes, and not using the theme Communication here, but Strategic could make people really thoughtful communicators. It depends on your other themes, but Strategic really might be great at naming what's important and developing a plan for how to tell that story.
Jim Collison 12:17
Early in the in the webcast -- we do this for all of them, by the way, if you're coming to this and you first maybe first time you've listened to one of these; throughout Season 5, we have a very definite pattern we follow. We talk about how they notice it. This section -- I haven't called this out all year -- but I think when we think about how we practice this is super important, right, the Name It, Claim It, Aim It, it was really our our attempt to get you using this, right. And so, Maika, as we think about practicing, how would we practice this talent every day?
Maika Leibbrandt 12:46
So if you have high Strategic, get your fast conceptual thought nuggets out of your head. Maybe that's finding a thought partner who can talk through ideas with you or just giving yourself 3 minutes of time to just journal at the start of every day. It's a practice in paying more attention to your insight and and realizing that you're picking up on patterns all the time. So you might need to clean out your antenna and really ask yourself what you're noticing so that you can proceed in a way that feels more aligned to the options that you see.
Maika Leibbrandt 13:17
Another way that you can practice and do your Strategic is to review your past successes and look for themes. Look for patterns. What would you say you've contributed to that which was a success in the past month? Examine what patterns you noticed about that; ask yourself what you can predict about the next month. You're likely to be right! And that's pretty powerful.
Jim Collison 13:40
I like that idea of reviewing your past successes, which I think -- not just for Strategic but for all of these, as we think of these -- is write those things down! Make a note. List them somewhere. Record it in a video. Whatever it takes is a great opportunity, as we have these successes, to remember these things. The Ebenezer that we talked about, so to speak, is this idea of a remembrance of like, OK, when I'm -- when I'm questioning, when I'm thinking about this -- this is the whole idea here -- where have I had success in the past?
Maika Leibbrandt 14:10
Gosh, you know, it's huge. And I didn't do this intentionally; I probably should go through all the themes we've done in Season 5 and just see where the gaps are. But that idea of answering the question, How do we practice it? One is just looking at the action within the theme. But in Strategic, what you just heard, the second, you know, piece of advice I gave you was to turn the theme on yourself. And you know, for Strategic, it's look for patterns in yourself, and be able to understand that when you're stuck, it's probably because you're not feeding your talents.
Maika Leibbrandt 14:40
I'll never forget the the first real flop I ever had as a facilitator. I was teaching a class in D.C. and it was a real tough group. And I had done all of the reading and all the preparing -- I never said it out loud. And I have high Strategic and high Communication, and for me, that remembrance of like when am I at my best? Is when I've turned that theme on myself and I have prepared in a way that honors my natural patterns. So, you know, even when you just said, like, what is it you need to remember? Really that's what we're trying to help you do when we answer that question of how do you practice? It's understanding yourself and giving yourself some real guidelines and a real plan for the sorts of things that your themes hunger for.
Jim Collison 15:21
Real pop -- popular segment that we've been doing throughout the year is this idea of talent-mindfulness, and Maika, you've got a exercise that you have put together for us today. Why don't you walk us through it.
Maika Leibbrandt 15:32
So CliftonStrengths is a tool. It's rooted in this bigger concept of positive psychology. And it's important that we know that the experience of strengths doesn't end when you take the assessment. Real strengths-based development is just that: it's development. And that takes time, it takes purpose, it takes practice. Talent-mindfulness, what we're about to do over the next 3 to 5 minutes, is a practice we've designed for your talent -- to sort of adjust your focus, realign and stay tuned to those natural patterns that make you really powerful. As I mentioned, it will take 3 or 5 minutes. Whether or not you lead with Strategic, this is for you. You might find that you want to come back and play this podcast, this part of the podcast later with a pen and paper. But I specifically for this one, you might even want to set your morning alarm to it, because it might be best first thing in the morning. For now, I invite you to just be in the moment, don't have any expectations about taking notes. Listen as as fully as you possibly can.
Maika Leibbrandt 16:31
Our world is lousy with input. It is easier to receive messages from others -- whether that's people, companies, politicians, products -- than it is to hear our own thoughts. When was the last time that you were in your own head without other people influencing your thoughts in some way? All that input, from your family to your social media feed to your email -- what if it was all generating actual noise? I want you to imagine everything that has vied for your attention today having a sound to it. Some of those sounds are going to be louder than others. And chances are, if they're all playing, all at the same time, it's not exactly going to be working in harmony.
Maika Leibbrandt 17:17
So I invite you now take a deep breath in, thinking about all the noise that you've been exposed to today. Hold that breath in at the top. And really hear that noise build, maybe even to a roar. As you exhale, imagine turning that volume down. You don't have to silence everything; you're not going clear to zero but adjust that volume dial all the way until it's almost off, but not quite. First, just enjoy that silence with one more inhale. Breathe in a sense of freedom and independence. And exhale. Continue to breathe normally, and allow the noise in your mind right now to be your own voice alone. Your ideas, your thoughts, your patterns.
Maika Leibbrandt 18:20
I'm going to give you 3 prompts to fill your brain with your own insight. And I'm going to challenge you to be very, very specific. What is one thing you're grateful for right now? Don't just say health or my dog. Be real specific. Over the past 10 days, what have you noticed yourself doing better than you did before? ... What's one thing you need to focus on today? One task that deserves your full attention; something you can accomplish, so that by the time you go to sleep, you can cross it off and consider it a success. ...
Maika Leibbrandt 19:32
In a moment, I'll set you on your way for your rest the rest of your day. The volume of things that are fighting for your attention is going to go back up naturally. So you don't have to touch that dial. It will do it on its own. But your instincts have a place in this world, and you are better when you can hear them. You might find you want to focus on these prompts first thing in the morning, when you're at your most impressionable. I would even challenge you, if you're somebody who sleeps with your cellphone in your room, to think about these three prompts before you touch your phone -- when your alarm goes off.
Maika Leibbrandt 20:05
So here they are, one more time: One thing you're grateful for; one thing you're doing better than before; and one thing you need to focus on. Inhale, one more time. Breathe in your own power, your own resilience, your own answers. ... And exhale, ready to take on the rest of your day. That's your talent-mindfulness.
Jim Collison 20:38
I hope others have enjoyed those as much as I have this season as we work through. It's a little sad -- one more -- and we'll record those here in a few minutes. But I'm excited as people walk through the -- had a great idea, by the way, I'll share that in the mid show around this.
Jim Collison 20:52
So with that, we want to remind everyone to take full advantages of all the resources we have available now on Gallup Access. Really the best way to get those, and we have a ton of resources available for you on gallup.com/cliftonstrengths -- all one word. Send us your questions or comments. You can email those to us: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also catch the recorded audio and video of this program as well as all the past ones really a couple different ways -- one is on YouTube. Just go to YouTube and search "CliftonStrengths" -- that's a great way to get it done. Or if you listen to podcasts -- and all the cool kids are, so why wouldn't you -- any podcast player, search "Gallup Webcasts" and you'll see all of our podcasts. We have 7. We have some in Spanish; we have a brand-new one coming in Japanese. We are super excited about what we're doing out there and you can find those if you have any questions on getting to that again: email@example.com. Don't forget, if you want to see a list of all of our courses that we have available for you, you can take those, become a certified coach. Get some great manager training, boss-to-coach stuff, all kinds of great stuff is available out there for you: courses.gallup.com. And if you're like, "Dang it, I never make the live shows and I want to make them!" you can get a complete list of everything we're doing live, including the new Called to Coach available December 4, live from The Shard in London, which I'm super excited about! Coming up, we will -- which which is a sold-out event -- but we will post those at gallup.eventbrite.com. Join us on our Facebook group: facebook.com/groups/calledtocoach. Want to thank you for joining us today. If you're listening live, stay around for Woo -- the best theme -- with that, we'll say, Goodbye everybody.