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Lean Into the Right CliftonStrengths Theme at the Right Time

Lean Into the Right CliftonStrengths Theme at the Right Time

Webcast Details

  • Gallup Called to Coach Webcast Series
  • Season 8, Episode 9
  • Listen to Jessica Dawson's insights on some powerful ways to lean into your own strengths, and how this can help you maximize your effectiveness at work and in life.
  • Interested in learning more on this topic? Read more about how to improve teamwork in the workplace.

Jessica Dawson, a Learning Development Consultant at Gallup, was our guest on a recent Called to Coach. In Part 1 of this 4-part series, Jessica gave coaches new insights about "leaning into" their strengths and what that looks like. These include using your past to fuel your future and discovering the power of your emotions -- and how both can help you maximize the way you deploy your strengths to reach new goals and overcome obstacles, in the workplace and in your personal life.

Access Part 2 of this series.

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

We've created the ultimate guide to improving teamwork in the workplace!

Jim Collison 0:00

I am Jim Collison, and live from the Gallup Studios here in Omaha, Nebraska, this is Gallup's Called to Coach, recorded on February 14, 2020.

Jim Collison 0:20

Called to Coach is a resource for those who want to help others discover and use their strengths. We have Gallup experts and independent strengths coaches share tactics, insights and strategies to help coaches maximize the talent of teams, individuals and organizations around the world. If you're listening live, we'd love to have you in our chat room. If you're on our live page, just there's a link right above in the video window right up there. You click on that, it'll take you to YouTube, and there's a chat room that is there. You can log in and join us in the conversation there. If you're listening to the recorded version of the podcast and you have questions after the fact, you can send us an email: Don't forget to subscribe. If you're on YouTube, subscribe there, you'll get a notification whenever we publish anything new. And if you are a podcast listener, search "Gallup Webcasts" in any podcast player and you can find us there, Called to Coach. Subscribe and you'll never miss an episode. Jessica Dawson is our host today. Jessica is a Learning Development Consultant here with me at Gallup. Jessica, we've done this before, but welcome kind of the first Called to Coach this way. Welcome!

Jessica Dawson 1:16

Well, thanks so much, Jim. I'm excited to be here and hello to all the coaches, all the strengths enthusiasts listening in. I'm excited to be here with you to discuss this really interesting and great topic.

Jim Collison 1:30

Yeah, over the next 20 minutes, we're going to talk about leaning into the right themes at the right time. Let's get right to it. Where's a good place to start in figuring this out? And how do you know you're leaning into the right themes?

Jessica Dawson 1:43

Yeah, excellent. Excellent question there, Jim. You know, I think a great place to start in thinking about this is actually doing the exploratory work to really understand the tools that you have in your toolkit, right. I remember -- this is back into 2018 -- and you and Dean did a great 3-part series on strengths training basics, what's next? And I think we've got some great -- a great framework called Name It, Claim It, Aim It that's in a lot of our courses. And it's great for doing some of that exploratory work. And I love Don Clifton's analogy of we are really the carpenters, right, and our strengths are our tools, right? And we need to understand what those tools are to be able to apply them effectively.

Jessica Dawson 2:33

So it's doing that exploratory work, and it's really exciting because that work doesn't ever end. Right. So if you're, if you're not familiar with Name It, Claim It, Aim It, it's a developmental process where you start with understanding your strengths, and then moving to a deeper under -- awareness and appreciation of your strengths and then actually applying that strength, right. And what I love about the framework is that it's not linear; it's cyclical. And you can easily be at Aiming It, where you're applying your, your strength or your talent, have a new Aha! epiphany or discovery and have to go right back to Naming It.

Jessica Dawson 3:13

So, you know, I think just doing that work is super, super important. I also think it's important to explore nuance, and the intricacies of those tools. Right. So we know that our strengths can really help us, but they can also get in our way. Right? So paying attention to when you're more susceptible to those behaviors that may hinder us. Right? So it may be just sitting and looking in totality at that strength and thinking about, What are the ways the strength helps me, and then, What are some things that I may need to just be more mindful of? Right. I think a lot of times, when we get our report, it's definitely the starting point. And it's almost like holding up a mirror to yourself, right. And for some of us, we are validating what's in the mirror. For others of us, it may be more of we are looking at ourselves for the first time. And it's easy to almost stay at that face value. But what the exploratory work really does, it allows you to take that same mirror and angle it and see your strengths at a different angle; angle it again and see your strengths at another angle. Right? So it's a continuous journey. And I think that that's really a great starting point.

Jim Collison 4:36

We've been I've been watching a lot of YouTube videos recently and especially in the DIY space. And, you know, a lot of the times when we think about the tools that we use, you know, I like to watch people build things. And they're, they're constantly sharpening their their tools, right. And you can tell, and they can tell when something gets dull. And, you know, even before the conversation today, as we were prepping to come on live today, you and I were going through that exercise. You know, I've been at Gallup almost 13 years now. And you would kind of think I would know. But you were quizzing me before, you were like, "Oh, where's that coming from? And why do you do that?" And we were kind of having this kind of, this conversation, right, kind of back and forth. This is one of the things that lots of times people ask, "How do you keep strengths going?" -- well, you know, in organizations. And you have to, I think you also have to keep talking about them.

Jim Collison 5:29

You were using the mirror analogy, you were asking me to look in the mirror as you were quizzing me about these, right? You had this kind of curiosity about me. We know each other. We don't work together as often as some other folks. But I love that idea of you bringing a mirror up to me just in a conversation of saying, "Oh, where's that -- where's that coming from?" or "How are you using that?" you know, as we think about leaning into these themes. So how are you using that? And that was a genuine question, right, that kind of forced me in -- into this looking at the mirror again today. Now nothing we had, right, nothing we had scheduled. Not a coaching session, right? In your experience, how important are those just those conversations between folks where strengths comes up in the language and allows that to develop without it necessarily being planned?

Jessica Dawson 6:24

I think it's it's extremely important. I think part of the exploratory work is staying curious. And those questions enable for someone to go deeper, right. And it also allows for you to strengthen the relationship that you have with that person. I know in the next part of this 2-part series, we're going to -- I am going to talk about the fact that strengths develop best in relationship with other people. It's one of the strengths catalysts. You know, Don Clifton talks about that in the book, Soar With Your Strengths, so that back and forth just dialogue are great ways to kind of go down the rabbit hole on, on your strengths, for sure. And I love your callout of -- I didn't even realize it. But I guess I was kind of holding up the mirror.

Jim Collison 7:14

Yeah, no, you definitely were. I think we realized this on Theme Thursday. How important you said, you know, we say, Stay curious, right? How important is the emotional connection to these as well, even in the workplace?

Jessica Dawson 7:30

The emotional connection is huge. Our emotions are really our guidance system. You know, we know from a senior scientist and emeritus that used to, you know, be a senior scientist here at Gallup, Dr. Daniel Kahneman, through his research, that we are more emotional than we are rational as human beings. Even those human beings that like to think that they're really rational and not logical, at the end of the day, when you make a decision, it's emotionally rooted more than it is rationally rooted, right.

Jessica Dawson 8:01

So, I think a lot of us have been taught to suppress our emotions or to ignore our emotions. But the more that you can actually tap into those emotions, that's where your power is. Right? And also, you know, I call them the 4 E's: of Ease, Excellence, Enjoyment and Energy. And when you are feeling those, those 4 E's, you're exhibiting your strengths, right? You're utilizing those tools in the toolkit, and so, I think that we cannot ignore emotions. Because when you use your strengths, you feel good, right? We know from a wellbeing standpoint in our stats that people that use our -- their strengths every day, from a wellbeing standpoint, they have a higher quality of life. Right.

Jessica Dawson 8:50

So super important to follow those, those instincts. You know, I do have high Empathy. So I love to emote. But I think that many of us are just running from those emotions, and the more that you can tap into them, the more that those clues to talent are going to really pop out for you.

Jim Collison 9:10

Jessica, when we think about past experiences, and, and -- how can we use our past to fuel our future? And how important is that in this "leaning in" concept?

Jessica Dawson 9:23

Yeah, you know, our past experiences are a great way for us to do something called mental rehearsals, right. And in our courses, our strengths courses, as well as some of our other just strengths discovery courses, we do this activity where we allow people to do a mental rehearsal, right, and study moments of success. And studying your, your, your successes, you actually transcend back to that moment in time and relive the emotions -- you relive that success. And it's a very powerful way to be able to understand, When am I at my best? And also, How do I re-create more of those successes? Right? So, in terms of this, just this question of, you know, leaning into the, the right strength at the right time, your past successes will give you a lot of the intel and the know-how to be able to repeat it.

Jim Collison 10:28

I think everybody does this a little bit different. When, when you do it, how do you -- what kind of mechanisms do you do to practice that, or to relive that or to kind of generate that emotion again?

Jessica Dawson 10:40

Yeah. So I love to actually close my eyes and think about that moment, right, where maybe I was operating on all 5 cylinders. Perhaps I impacted other people in a positive way. And I, well, actually, and I do lead with Futuristic, so it's easy for me to vision things. But I will actually envision what happened again, in my mind. And I think once you envision it, it's then good to talk about it. Right? So there's something very magical that happens when you're able to say, out loud, that vision that you have in your mind, and you're able to either talk about it with a coach, or talk about it with someone who knows you well. The coach is likely going to be really great at prompting and asking great questions for you to go deeper. And then those that know you really well, they may actually add more to the story that maybe you forgot. Or maybe that you missed, right. So that's usually how I do it.

Jim Collison 11:46

Yeah. And I like to -- and maybe it's just because I have high Communication, I actually like to talk about it first. I like to relive it with people, right, and with it, the Woo doesn't hurt to influence people, right. But I take the other groups of people together and then relive those moments, right? And not only for myself, so a good reminder of, of how it is impacting me, but also to relive that among, you know, among the group, and have that group kind of example, and allow the group to lean into that.

Jim Collison 12:18

"Remember when we were ... ? Remember when this happened? Remember ... ?" You know, you, we were the, to the back to the Dean reference, when Dean Jones was on, and he did the strengths training. You were asking me about that. And I went back to those videos, and I was watching him again. And I was like, Wow, this is really good. Like, you know, Good job, Dean! Those are, those are moments to relive, right, and to, and I think both individually and in the team setting, we really get this great opportunity to kind of relive those moments. I like to come at it from a -- I just speak first, right? That's just to get that the kind of out.

Jim Collison 12:54

I love the fact you kind of bring up, as you're leaning into it, of finding those individual themes or your own Top 5 or Top 10 or whatever, right? And say, How do I do that? How do I -- how do I remember? How do I remember those moments? And then how does the role of a coach play in with, with us when we think about leaning in? What can a coach do to help with that as well?

Jessica Dawson 13:17

Yeah. So a CliftonStrengths Coach, what they can do is, as you're telling that story, you're actually dropping bread crumbs for the coach. Right? So they're going to be able to hear your strengths and your talent in action. And it makes for great ammunition for those questions that the coach is going to come back with. Right? So it's likely that you can, you know, hear a few talents at play, and if the coach actually opens up with, like, What, what strengths do you feel like were at play? And then maybe you ask, you know, to share an observation -- like I just want to share this observation: I'm hearing X, Y and Z strengths; what are you hearing? Right?

Jessica Dawson 14:00

You could, you could do something like that, where you're actually able to stretch the understanding of that person in terms of what their strengths are, what their talent is, what was actually happening in that moment. It's a way to kind of almost break down the experience into the elements that led you to that success. Right? And then now, if you're, if you're working on a goal, or if you're working on an obstacle, it's now, How do we take those parallel moments and apply that to this new goal or obstacle? And what strengths can you lean into?

Jim Collison 14:35

Yeah, I -- as we talk about this, too, with the coach, I think a coach can, can lead us to and, and should be opening up those conversations for us to think a little bit beyond what we'd even think. Like we can share those things, but, you know, in the conversation you and I had just this morning, it may open some doors, like, Ooh, I don't know if I've ever thought of it that way! You asked me a question about my Communication. And I was like, I don't know if I've ever thought of it that way! And so those, those intentional moments, right, that kind of open those doors to it.

Jim Collison 15:08

This is where I think recognition comes in, too, as we think, especially as a coach and as an individual, of those moments. We at Gallup do a lot of this, where we give physical representation of something, you know, we call it recognition. But to have those displayed or put somewhere, or I kind of think through, you know, my children all wrote me drops when they -- we were here for family camp. And I've put those intentionally within eyesight; I can see them as I look through my camera here. As that moment, as a reminder, right, as a reminder to me, and not only to me, but maybe even in moments in coaching moments.

Jim Collison 15:43

OK, so as we think about this idea of getting it right and turning these natural tendencies, right, so we have these talents, into deliberate behaviors. Give us some -- give me some insight, like, we say that, but how do we actually see that being done? Like, how do we actually do that?

Jessica Dawson 16:02

Yeah, well, there's there's a couple of different ways that you can think about doing this, right, in addition to everything that we've talked about where you can actually get real tactical, right? So there's, there's a concept called a theme intervention. And you could think about it as a framework, to be able to actually put a strength towards a goal. And where you start is with the end in mind. You start with the goal; you start with why it's important to you; you start with what's going to be the benefit of attaining the goal, right? And really get clear on that. And then you actually will look at what you have in terms of your tools. So you're going to look at your strengths, and I always suggest that people look at their their Top 5, Top 10, even, so that you can get the full picture of what's in your toolkit. And then you're going to actually start to think, What is the strength that, if I really focused in on it, could help me to close that gap. Right?

Jessica Dawson 17:06

So you're going to choose or select that strength, and then you're going to actually put in the steps that you need to take utilizing that strength to put it into action. Right. And I always encourage people to have a measurement. Right. So how will you actually know that you're getting better? So -- if it's a quantitative measurement, that makes it a little bit easier. If it's a quantitative measurement, what will be the evidence that you're actually closing the gap on where you'd like to be and where, where you are now? Right. So I think the theme intervention is a great way to do that.

Jessica Dawson 17:39

And if you wanted to extend out that theme intervention, you could also think about doing an IDP plan. Right? So we're going to talk about this in Part 2, but I think the IDP plan, or the Individual Development Plan, is also a great way to do that where it's the same process of Name, Claim and Aim, but you're doing that process with the sole purpose of aiming at a specific goal. So you can actually, in that framework, use more than one strength, right. And I think that it gets a little bit easier there anyway, because our strengths are always working in concert with each other; they're never operating in isolation. But you can actually put pen to paper and create a plan for yourself.

Jessica Dawson 18:25

And in creating that plan, I think it's important to also pay attention to or to be able to note how you want to feel, right? What are the past successes that are going to help you in this new goal or in this new pathway that you're looking to get to, right. And so it's very tactical, putting pen to paper.

Jessica Dawson 18:48

And the other thing I just, I want to mention is that there are going to be some strengths that you may gravitate more towards putting towards a goal. However, there are 34 pathways to excellence. So you can't really ever get it wrong. Right? So I just wanted to put that out there because I think sometimes us as coaches and then people that we coach there, there's sometimes there's a misconception that only certain strengths can be used to certain outcomes. And that's absolutely not the case.

Jim Collison 19:21

No, I love that I, as I, as I go through the IDP with folks, I love to lean into the Insight Report, which has those custom descriptions, right, they takes into account the 34 themes and their order and intensities. And we create, especially in that Top 5, we create those statements. And I love for, for individuals to be able to go through those statements, circle words that are meaningful, and then move them over to that IDP. And, by the way, you don't need the form to do the IDP, right. You can stay cool, grab the themes, funnel those down.

Jim Collison 19:54

You said something, and as we, as we kind of come in for a landing here, I want you to expand on this just a little bit before we go. And, and -- you said, How we -- how -- how is this going to make me feel? And I've never come to the IDP with a "feeling" statement. I've always thought about what we're going to do, right, SMART goals, what am I going to get done? When am I going to get it done? How am I going to measure it? Expand a little bit on that feeling here, just as we kind of wrap this. What did you mean by that? Because I'm very intrigued.

Jessica Dawson 20:21

Oh, yeah. Well, going back to, I am, I have Empathy high. So I'm always emoting. And feelings are the way that I put my lens. But I think it also helps you to keep in -- keeping in mind that Ease, Excellence, Enjoyment, Energy -- all of that is going to be ignited when I'm utilizing my strengths. So we can't leave the feelings off the table. Because when we feel good, it's likely that we are, we are practicing utilizing our strengths in the correct way. Right. I think with, with leaning into your strengths, there's, there's one thing to be able to Aim your strengths in the moment. But there's another, there's another component of actually developing your strengths, which is what we're going to talk about in Part 2. But I think you have to always be mindful of, How am I feeling as I'm actually utilizing my strengths?

Jim Collison 21:20

Yeah, yeah, no, I think that's great. I think that's an indicator. I'm going to spend some time thinking about that. Like I, that would be -- I don't do that when I do goal setting. It's an indicator, right? It can be how am I, how am I feeling at this moment? Is it feeling good for me? And while feelings aren't always necessarily 100% accurate all the time, take that into account. Boy, I think it's a great indicator, right? Just -- much like the number of hours I work are not necessarily the only indicator of my productivity. And feelings aren't always the indicator, Did I get to -- am I getting to the goal? I think it is a indicator, and so you've challenged me a little bit on this one. That's a new, like, when I get to the goal, how am I going to feel? Or what kind of feelings could I expect? Or what will this do in that kind of area? So, Jessica, wow, thanks for challenging me on that.

Jim Collison 22:08

You mentioned, you mentioned Part 2. We're going to spend a little bit of time doing that. If you're listening live, just hang tight. We're coming up on Part 2. If you haven't, and we're going to talk about kind of the all the mechanics around individual development, right. And so, if you haven't, we have a Part 2 ready for you, and it's out there; you can go over and do that, Jessica, hang tight for me one second, we will wrap this.

Jim Collison 22:28

We'll remind everyone who's listening take full advantages of all the resources. Some of the things Jessica mentioned are available on our website, go to If you haven't taken it yet, you can do that now. And you can access that through our new Gallup Access. All the information to do that is available there as well. We have more of these -- I mentioned Part 2 -- we have more of these available for you via podcast forum. If you go through your podcast player and just search for "Gallup Webcasts," you'll see our Called to Coach series. It'll be there. Don't forget, while you're on the site, you can also sign up for our new CliftonStrengths Newsletter. We do that monthly. If you just want to be kind of know -- in the know -- of everything that's going on in our community with lots of links, that's available. You can do that as well. If you have any questions about anything we talked about, you can email us: We got folks kind of available 24/7, waiting for you, actually, to send them an email. So we'd love to do that as well. If you missed the webcast, and you're like, how do I join these things? Head over to Follow us there and you'll get a notification every time we go live. Join our social groups on Facebook: -- no, that's And on LinkedIn, just search for "CliftonStrengths Trained Coaches." Don't necessarily need to be a trained coach to be in that group. But that's where we have gathered on LinkedIn. We want to thank you for joining us here for this. Stay around for Part 2, or just go to the next -- if you're on your podcast player, go to the next one. And we are there for you. With that, we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.

Jessica Dawson's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Futuristic, Relator, Activator, Developer and Individualization.

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

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