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Personalizing Development Through CliftonStrengths

Personalizing Development Through CliftonStrengths

Webcast Details

  • Gallup Called to Coach Webcast Series
  • Season 8, Episode 10
  • Learn as Jessica Dawson shares how development happens, plus catalysts -- such as practice, relationships and mission -- that can move you from talent to strength.
  • 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 2 of this 4-part series, Jessica brought additional insights about how coaches can move their clients -- and how you can move yourself -- from talent to strength. She shared the benefits of having a personal Board of Directors in addition to a coach; of studying what excellence means for you; and several catalysts that can propel you toward turning your talents into strengths.

Access Part 1 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 individuals, teams and organizations around the world. If you're listening live, love to have you join us in our chat room -- right above the video window there and it'll take you to YouTube instance and you can log in. If you are listening after the fact and have any questions at all, just send us an email: Don't forget to subscribe if you're on YouTube. You can subscribe, make sure you get an update every time we publish a new video. If you're listening or you're -- you listen to podcasts, we have a bunch of these available for you on any podcast player. Just search "Gallup Webcasts" and you can find this Called to Coach there. Jessica Dawson is our host today. Jessica's a Learning Development Consultant here at Gallup with me. Jessica always great to have you on Called to Coach. Welcome back!

Jessica Dawson 1:07

Oh, excited to be here, Jim. Thanks for -- Thanks for having me!

Jim Collison 1:10

Yeah, we are talking today about personalizing development through CliftonStrengths. And as we get started, let's just kind of ask if the -- kind of the basic questions, like, How do we define -- define development? And how does personalizing development help?

Jessica Dawson 1:25

Yeah, great questions. So super important to understand what development means. Rosanne Liesveld wrote a blog post, and it was called Encouraging You to Go Beyond Name It, Claim It, Aim It. And it -- I think she really just knocked it out of the park. And she, she basically is encouraging us to go beyond the first step, right. So I do think that Name It, Claim It, Aim It is a fantastic framework. It is a great preliminary step for you to understand what your strengths are, have an awareness of the power and edge, and then also be -- be able to aim your strengths.

Jessica Dawson 2:13

I think what sometimes can happen is, there can be a misconception of what "Aiming It" is and what development is, right. So "Aiming It" is more so what's happening in the moment, right? And then development is what's happening over time. And it really is a lifelong occurrence. Right? So going from what's possible to excellence. It's very different than what's just happening in the moment. So we know that excellence is developed by repeating a strength, right. And so, development is that process of exploration and also the journey of unpacking your strengths. We know that they endlessly unpack, right? There's, I mean, I know I took my strengths back in 2009. And I still have a new discovery every single day. Right? I mean, partly because I do a lot of teaching and coaching and I'm kind of immersed in this stuff. But then also just because our strengths are really boundless. So, I think it's important to make that distinction.

Jim Collison 3:23

Any athlete knows the, the value of practice. Professional athletes around the world, whether it's American football or football, you know, around the world, or cricket or any of those sports, they know -- I'll throw rugby in there for our Australian friends -- they know the importance of practice. When we, when we think about the actual performance being the Aiming, when we come back to practicing this, in your opinion, in your view, in the past, what does that practice look like? I mean, how do people practice these before the actual performance? What kind of things they -- can they be doing, what kind of activities can they be doing, to really drive this practice forward and, and not have it to be able to separate the two between practice and Aiming?

Jessica Dawson 4:07

Yeah, you know, I think one of the first components of really getting it right is to understand when you're actually at your best and what that looks like. So I know in Part 1, we talked a lot about this, this notion of the mental rehearsal. I think that that's a really important thing to do -- just be able to take time to study what excellence looks like for you. And also understanding, what does it look like when my strengths fall flat? Right? And having an understanding of what that looks like. Because really, when you take the delta of when you're at your best versus when my strengths are falling flat, that's going to be monumental in terms of the practice.

Jessica Dawson 4:51

One of the things that we don't want to do is practice -- practice in a way where our strengths are being flat. Right? So if we're going to take an athletic example, if, if I'm a person, and maybe I like to run track, right, and I'm really good at running track and getting to the finish line, there's a big difference with, you know, running up on my heels, which is the correct way to do it and then running, you know, flat-footed. You know, I'm still getting to the finish line, but am I doing it in a way that -- am I practicing in a way, rather, that I'm in that space of excellence? Right? So understanding when you're at your best is important.

Jessica Dawson 5:31

I think the other thing to just be mindful of is there are certain catalysts that can really take you from talent to strength. Coaching is a great way to do that because we know, again, that strengths operate best in relationship to other people. So coaching is going to be great for stretching your thinking around your strengths, holding you accountable, helping you to get unstuck and maybe have a more, more of an ability to define what your strength is, right?

Jessica Dawson 6:06

I also really love this notion of having a Board of Directors, right? So I know, you know, Don Clifton talks about this in the book, Soar With Your Strengths. And by the way, I mention that book a lot a lot, because it's one of my favorite books in life. But even this notion of having a career board and a few people where you can just kind of have this back-and-forth dialogue about your strengths -- how you're, how you're utilizing that strength towards a goal, right? And it's a little bit different from coaching. Because coaching is, is more so that coach is pulling the potential out of you. In these Board of Directors conversation, it may be a little bit more consultative. And it may also be a little bit more of, like, banter, right? Just banter back and forth, where maybe you are helping that person and that person is helping you. There's a vested interest on both sides. And there are these conversations about, in general, how are our strengths showing up in our lives? And how can we be more intentional about doing that?

Jessica Dawson 7:12

So I think the relationship piece is a great way to develop strengths. And also from a personal standpoint, right? Relationships are very personal, right? So you're going to be personalizing, you're going to be customizing, you're going to be showing a level of vulnerability as you're deepening those relationships with those people as well.

Jessica Dawson 7:32

And I think, lastly, mission is another great catalyst. So strengths develop just monumentally from the aspect of personal mission, right. Personal mission really does fuel strengths. If you've ever talked to someone who's maybe really goal-oriented, maybe they, you know, I've coached a lot of people that, you know, their life from the outside really looks like it's all together. Right? But when you pull back the onion layer, there's a deep yearning there; something's missing. There's a learn -- there's a yearning for deeper meaning in one's life, right? So understanding what your personal mission is can also be a great way to personally develop your strengths. Because anytime you add, you can take your strengths and aim them toward your mission, you're not only going to deepen your talent, but you're also going to leave your unique and personal impact on the world.

Jim Collison 8:35

Yeah, I love the idea of mission in the context of the Board of Directors. Because I think as you're looking, some people will say, Well, how do I find this Board of Directors? Like, where are they? In, in the financial space, right, Board of Directors' job is fiduciary responsibility for organizations as they grow. And they're required because they're, they're public companies, right? That's kind of how it exists. Well, I love that idea of bringing people in in your life who have -- and maybe it's not just fiduciary, but maybe it's also, it's, you know, they share a common purpose and some common goals. And they have your best interest in mind, right?

Jim Collison 9:09

And by the way, if you ask somebody to be on your personal Board of Directors, that's always an honor. So like people aren't going to say "No," right? They're not gonna say "No" to that. We have this form in our kit that helps do this. Again, you don't have to have the form to get it done. Our coaches know how to do this really well. This is where getting a coach is helpful. But these, these Board of Directors then are there to really help in that area. Adding mission to that and gathering a Board of Directors that's kind of has a common purpose, common goals, common mission, I think is a great way to start. Any thoughts on that, Jessica, as we think about actually forming that Board of Directors?

Jessica Dawson 9:45

Yeah, you know, I think it should, it should feel, it should be people that you feel comfortable around. It should feel authentic, and also, it may just be something that happens naturally. Right? So if you think about the people in -- at your, if you're, if you're, if you work, there's likely people that are your "go-to people" -- maybe people that you like to bounce ideas off of; maybe people that when you have a hard day, they're, they're the people that you can go, you can go to and really have a candid conversation to re-level-set.

Jessica Dawson 10:18

It could also be people outside of your, your work. So friends and family that really kind of "get" you, and again, have a vested interest that is genuine in you, and want to see you win. Right? So I know in Part 1, we talked a lot about the feeling, but a lot of times you can pick up on whether or not, when you're having a conversation with someone, is it all about what they can get out of the conversation? Or do they also authentically care about you? Right?

Jessica Dawson 10:50

So I think that you got to look for that authenticity. And there may be some trial and error here, right? And it's OK not to get it right all at once. The other thing I'll say is, you can have people that are on your Board of Directors that serve as different purposes, right? So maybe you need to have those tough conversations. Maybe you want to have a soft conversation. Maybe you just want someone to ideate with, right? So you can have people that serve different purposes, much like in the fiduciary sense.

Jim Collison 11:21

Yeah. And I think this is the difference between coaching and consulting is that your board of directors can have some true consultants on it, who are really just going to say the -- not that coaches don't say the truth, but their purpose is a little bit different, right, in what they're trying to dig things out of you and self-discovery and getting you to work some through some things. With a Board of Directors, you can get some true consultants who just say, "Hey, in my opinion, this is the way you should get it done." And that's your choice, whether you take it or not, but that consulting role, it's in there. The -- "This is my advice, and I think you should do it this way" can be very, very helpful in your own personal development.

Jim Collison 11:55

Again, that can work in concert with a coach and saying, "My consultants or my Board is telling me this." And a coach can work through that with you. "How do you feel about that? How did that make you feel? How did that -- " right, those, those types of questions to be able to work it through. So I think that concert of coaching and consulting, and the consulting coming from -- that doesn't mean those those lines can't blur or cross. But, Jessica, I think you've set us up really nicely as we think about those roles in there for continued development in what we're doing. How else can we, as we think about this idea of practicing, right, of practicing this, what, what other tools or what other tips do you have, as we think about moving forward with this?

Jessica Dawson 12:34

For sure, you know, I think where we go from here is getting really tactical, right. And we said this in the, in Part 1, but I think it's just such an important point to constantly stay curious about who you are at your best. And stay tuned in to those times where maybe you fall flat. Or maybe you fail, right. You want to be practicing those successes, right?

Jessica Dawson 13:05

It's so funny. Yesterday I was on site with a client, and we were just talking about, like, how our strengths can sometimes be superpowers. Right? And I don't know if anybody has ever seen the movie "X Men." I know it's super popular, so likely. But if you remember, like, Cyclops, which is the guy with the eyes, right, when, you know, when he, when he was really young, and, and his superpower was underdeveloped, he would just open his eyes and he would just like blow things up. Right. And it took a little bit of time and refinement to really harness that power. Right.

Jessica Dawson 13:39

So I think the practicing when you're at your best -- so Cyclops was at his best when he was maybe blowing up a building that maybe stopped an enemy, right, as opposed to just letting it kind of free fall or free flow, rather, right. So I think that it's understanding how to really harness your strength, but also consider when you're at your best, right? So environment, right, and culture, right? So you may have times where you were in an organization and you just didn't thrive, or in a department where you just didn't thrive. And all it took was you to either switch to a different organization or switch to a different division or department within that organization, and you took off, right?

Jessica Dawson 14:28

So paying attention to the environment, the culture, the people that you are around. Who are the types of people that are around when you're at your best? Are you someone that's maybe really great at being in a "fight or flight" type of situation where maybe people are doubting you? Maybe it's a little bit more fast-paced, maybe it's a little bit more challenging, right. So who are the people that you need to surround yourself with? I think that also ties back to the Board of Directors. Right? What is the impact, right, that you're making when you are at your best? And for some of you, it might be, I'm making an impact on people and changing lives of people. And maybe it's a little bit more selfless. For others of you, impact may look a little bit different. And then again, I know we talked a little bit about this before, paying attention to how you feel, right?

Jessica Dawson 15:20

So when you're practicing, taking all those things into consideration is important, just to make sure that you are practicing in a way that when you have the repeat behavior, you're creating the environment and the situations that are going to get you that success.

Jim Collison 15:37

From, from a tools perspective, you mentioned the IDP, but we've got some great stuff in the All 34 report that I think sometimes gets overlooked as well. You want to just highlight those quickly as we kind of bring this in for a landing?

Jessica Dawson 15:48

Yeah, the All 34 report is great with action items -- action items, and then also blindspots. So I think it's a great place to start to do some exploratory work. And I think a lot of times, the action items spark ideas of other things that you can be doing to really ignite that strength and really bring it home. And then, you know, aside from the full, the CliftonStrengths All 34 report -- this is something that Jacque Merritt, one of our master coaches, has done in the past. And I think that it's so powerful and I'm challenging myself to do this this year. So she actually will, will -- and she does have high Focus, by the way, but she will focus on one theme for the entire year. Right? So she will -- might have a year of Achiever or a year of Connectedness or a year of Focus, right? And it's actually being really intentional about building that strength throughout the year.

Jessica Dawson 16:56

So for me, you know, my 2020 is all about connections, right. So I am going back and rebuilding my Board of directors. I'm getting in touch with people that I have lost touch with -- just over the years and rebuilding those connections, both internally at Gallup, but then also outside of Gallup. Right? So this year, that's part of what I'm doing. I'm also you know, Connectedness is a lot about questions, right. So I do a lot of yoga, I do a lot of meditation. So I'm kind of like leaning into this strength to practice utilizing it. So that's something else that you might utilize.

Jim Collison 17:35

I'll also throw out -- we've been doing, Maika's been doing, some talent-mindfulness exercises at the end of both Season 6 and Season 5, complete series there, on Theme Thursday. And so I think that's another great way -- those are not necessarily driven or made for one specific theme. But as you're focusing on those themes, through this idea of talent-mindfulness, there's some exercises that you can do there as well. So if you're coming across this and you're new to Theme Thursday, there's another opportunity to kind of practice, practice your themes that's in there. Jessica, anything else you'd add before we close it up?

Jessica Dawson 18:13

Well, I do think sometimes it can be hard to wrap your head around how to practice. And if you're getting questions about it, as a coach, I think it's very personal to understand what to practice and when to practice and how to practice it. So take the pressure off yourself, if you're getting these questions, and, and pose some questions to the client, right to try to see how we can narrow down, What does -- what does it look like to you? And I think that that's a great spot for us to be in as coaches to keep our clients curious.

Jim Collison 18:52

Great advice. Jessica mentioned a bunch of things in this, and you're like, where's all those links?! We actually have a post, the edited version of this will have a post available. If you're on YouTube, just look in the description. If you're in the podcast player, just look at the notes for the podcast itself. And we'll have a link to the post that has a full transcript. And all the links to everything we mentioned here. So if you're wondering how to get to these things, we've made it pretty simple for you on the edited version, we'd love to have you go out there and do that as well.

Jim Collison 19:21

With that we'll remind everyone to take full advantages of all the resources we have available. We'll have these links in there too. If you want to take advantage of our new Gallup Access platform, head out to A lot of great written resources, blog posts, webcasts, just about everything that's out there is available out there at If you're on YouTube, subscribe to us so you get notified when we post something new. If you're on the podcast side of things, don't forget "Gallup Webcasts" -- just search that, any podcast player, and you will find us. You can do "Called to Coach" too. That's another way to get that done. Sign up for our new CliftonStrengths newsletter that's, that's available over there on the site as well. Monthly updates of everything that's going on in the community and just a great way to stay connected if you like to read and do it that way. If you have any questions about anything we talked about today, send us an email: Come to one of our courses or come to the summit! We're doing a pretty awesome Summit June 1, 2 and 3 here in beautiful Omaha, Nebraska. And May in, in Omaha is actually, or I mean, June in Omaha is absolutely fabulous. So you want to come out and join this: Get signed up, come out and join us. We'd love to have you do that as well. If you want to stay up to date on everything that we do from a live perspective, is the place to go. Just follow us out there and I'll send you an email whenever we publish something new. Jessica said early in this, really strengths grow best in the context of a community, like when we're doing this stuff together. Let's do it together on social. So join us on Facebook: Or, if you're not Facebook -- and that's OK if you're not -- no, no judgment, no shame. If you're on LinkedIn, join us: CliftonStrengths Trained Coaches. You don't need to be necessarily one of our trained coaches, but you can join us in that group as well: CliftonStrengths Trained Coaches. Search for that on LinkedIn. Want to thank you for joining us. Jessica, thank us -- thank you for these -- this series.

Jessica Dawson 21:08

Of course. My pleasure.

Jim Collison 21:09

Great to have you today.

Jessica Dawson 21:10

Great to be here.

Jim Collison 21:11

For those who joined us live, thanks for joining us. 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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