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CliftonStrengths Restorative Theme: Teams and Managers

CliftonStrengths Restorative Theme: Teams and Managers

Webcast Details

  • Gallup Theme Thursday Webcast Series
  • Season 6, Restorative
  • "Strong themes, stronger teams": Learn how your team can own its Restorative talents and become stronger, resulting in improved performance, organic growth and better wellbeing.
  • Interested in learning more on this topic? Read more about how to improve teamwork in the workplace.

We discover how the Restorative talent theme relates to your manager and your team in this Season 6 episode of Theme Thursday. When we improve teams through owning our CliftonStrengths, we improve performance. When we improve performance, that's how we get to the kind of organic growth that allows us to have stronger economies, a stronger world and better wellbeing. And great managers hold the key: As they move from boss to coach, they help team members understand who they are already and hold them accountable for being even better, maximizing the team's engagement and impact. You might even be a manager in ways you never thought of! So join Jim Collison and Maika Leibbrandt for Season 6, as we focus on teams and managers -- including a new talent-mindfulness challenge at the end of each webcast. Strong themes, stronger teams.

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 0:01

I am Jim Collison, and live from the Gallup Studios here in Omaha, Nebraska, this is Gallup's Theme Thursday, Season 6, recorded on February 27, 2020.

Jim Collison 0:21

Theme Thursday is a Gallup webcast series that dives deep into the CliftonStrengths themes, one theme at a time -- this season based on developing teams and managers with CliftonStrengths -- and today's theme is Restorative. If you're listening live, we'd love to have you join us our chat room. There's a link on the live page, just literally right above me up there. Click on that; it'll take you to the YouTube page. Sign in with your Google account. You can join us in chat room. Many of you have; we have about 30 out there right now. By the way, if you're not joining us live, you should! The most fun on these is live. If you are listening to the recording, it's OK, no, no recording shame. You can send us an email: Don't forget, if you're listening on YouTube, subscribe; there's a Subscribe button below. Or if you're listening in the podcast app or you haven't checked out podcasting as a way to do it, we're available in all the podcasting apps; just search "Gallup Webcasts." Maika Leibbrandt is our host today. She's a Workplace Consultant here at Gallup. Maika, it's always great to see you on Theme Thursday. Welcome back!

Maika Leibbrandt 1:12

Thanks, Jim. It's great to be here.

Jim Collison 1:15

We are diving into Restorative today. Let's talk a little bit about it.

Maika Leibbrandt 1:19

Yeah, you know, this season, we really are, as you mentioned, looking at that -- every theme -- through the lens of a team. And we know from our studies that when we focus on what makes a great team, typically 5 things tend to bubble up. Now great teams have a lot of things going for them. But we're going to use these 5 Truths of Strong Teams -- that's from a lot of the research that ended up in the book Strengths Based Leadership -- as a jumping point to explore every domain, theme by theme.

Maika Leibbrandt 1:44

If you're listening in sequence, you'll know that this is our last theme of the Executing Domain. But I hope, as we unpack Restorative today, you can walk away hearing more than just, "Oh, people with Restorative like to do because they're Executers." I hope you can listen for some nuance; some ideas of, if you work with somebody who has this or maybe you manage somebody who leads with this theme, some insights of how you can honor that theme a little bit better. Restorative does fall into the Top 10 most frequently recurring themes in people's dominant strengths. So chances are pretty high that you will know, love or work with somebody who has Restorative.

Maika Leibbrandt 2:20

The short definition, if you have Restorative, is that you are adept at dealing with problems. You're good at figuring out what's wrong and resolving it. And I love that piece around Restorative and that understanding of the theme living in the Executing Domain because it is about progression toward something. And for Restorative, it's a progression toward a solution.

Maika Leibbrandt 2:41

The first truth of a strong team is along the lines of conflict. And we hear this very often when coaches say, you know, what do you have to help my team solve conflict, or sometimes even the reason that somebody would bring in a coach into a team is to address conflict. But we know that something that's true about really great teams is that conflict is not the center of what they focus on. And the reason it's, it's not is because they know that conflict is not going to destroy them because they stand for something bigger. "Strong teams focus on results instead of conflict."

Jim Collison 3:12

And what specifically does that focus on results mean for Restorative?

Maika Leibbrandt 3:16

So for Restorative, remember they're driven toward solutions. They're not just looking for creating something or achieving something in isolation, or based on their own internal drive. You can already hear how that might be a little bit different than some of those other Executing themes. Restorative's pretty collaborative in how it likes to progress forward. It's really about trying to solve a problem that already exists; perhaps maybe even solve a problem that's really important to other people on your team. The progress toward something for, for Restorative is in relationship to improving the current problem; in relationship to getting us past where we are today and into a better place.

Jim Collison 3:55

Yeah, and I think it's important to track on this one. So how does Restorative track progress?

Maika Leibbrandt 3:59

Yeah, they're probably going to think about how close we are to fixing what's broken, to addressing the issue, or to even creating different habits that, that we can adapt or adopt or or start, start practicing, that really better serve what it is we're trying to accomplish. So it might be about looking at the overall organization's goals, which we'll talk about in the second truth, in relationship to what sort of tangles or snares or speed bumps do we need to overcome in order to progress toward that bigger goal?

Jim Collison 4:30

Yeah. And what is that second truth?

Maika Leibbrandt 4:32

"Strong teams prioritize what's best for the organization, and then they move forward." Sometimes we talk about strong teams being able to set goals that have, almost like a three-legged stool, it's that it's right for my team; it's right for my organization; and it's right for me as an individual. And then they can really aim their energy toward that.

Jim Collison 4:51

In teams, we've been talking about taking it from the "me" to the "we," right, we got to point towards the team. How does someone with Restorative focus on a larger goal or purpose other than their own?

Maika Leibbrandt 5:00

Restorative -- you know, I love just picking apart even the word, that, that idea of restoration. It's about bringing something back to life. Maybe it's even breathing new value into something that others might have discarded as broken or as unusable. Their calmness with what can be sticky or messy or chaotic might mean that others are attracted to them. They are someone who's probably sought out on your team, to offer support; to offer help; maybe to offer a solution. They might also be attracted to problems on their own without even people serving the problem up to them because they've got this sense about them where they can, they can sense a solution that is going to help the group move forward.

Jim Collison 5:43

The beauty in Restorative, I think, is that ability to find value in something that has been devalued or is valueless, right? So what inspires someone with Restorative to take action?

Maika Leibbrandt 5:55

I like to remind us that there's a certain amount of tinkering that, that comes with Restorative -- kind of that courage to just get in and play with the components and see if you can just shake something out. I think that translates sometimes as a confidence in their own ability to change the course of action. They might not need a lot of encouragement to act, especially if they're acting on problems that they know how to fix.

Maika Leibbrandt 6:21

Now, if you really want to mobilize someone with Restorative, be explicit about a few things. 1) What is the most desirable end goal that you're hoping for? So I think part of that means, Don't minimize your expectations based on what you currently think is possible or impossible. Because it comes back to what we had just talked about, that Restorative can see potential where other people see brokenness. So avoid the temptation to say, "This doesn't ever have to be perfect again; just make it work." If, if it is a "just make it work," be clear about that, but maybe don't, don't put a ceiling on what they can see as possible in terms of fixing or, or finding a solution. 2) Be real clear about what level of authority they have in, in tinkering or in fixing. Are they completely in charge? And if they're not, who are their stakeholders? And what do those stakeholders care about? And No. 3) Help them understand what we've tried in the past and why it didn't work.

Jim Collison 7:19

Maika, what about No. 3?

Maika Leibbrandt 7:21

No. 3, the third truth of a strong team is about personal lives. It's that "Members of strong teams are as committed to what happens outside of work as they are what happens at work, professionally."

Jim Collison 7:33

And so how does Restorative show up in someone's personal life?

Maika Leibbrandt 7:36

They might be more likely to stay the course on a commitment, even if that commitment isn't working. This sounds like a potential vulnerability, and it might be. They'll, they'll likely believe a solution is possible, even when people around them have abandoned it. If you think about it that way, maybe it's an ability instead of a vulnerability. I think it can make them hopeful, calm, confident. It might also mean that they need partners to help them understand which problems are most important to solve, or permission to let go of a mess that does not need to be straightened out.

Maika Leibbrandt 8:08

I think about using Restorative to amplify an action -- probably means you're getting that person closer to the action. So get them in touch with people who are experiencing the problem; don't just sort of float the stories of the problem up to their level and expect them to have the same level of energy that they would have if they were really there with the people who are experiencing trouble. Again, tinkering is important, even in a, in a personal situation. So think about this two ways. Maybe you're coaching somebody with Restorative, and they've got a goal to get healthier. They're more likely to evaluate the stumbling blocks in their current diet than they are to adopt a brand new diet. Or at work, they're more likely to dig in and identify the broken link in the existing process before they're going to be excited about building a completely new platform or adopting a completely new system.

Jim Collison 9:00

What's -- when we think about how a manager could take advantage of these tendencies, these, these themes, with Restorative, how would a manager go about that? What kind of questions could they ask?

Maika Leibbrandt 9:09

Yeah, so I've got specific questions for all 34 themes this season, but really, they all boil down to just helping the manager focus on that person's specific kind of energy. With Restorative, you might say, what's the long-term project that you have new energy about? What solution are you excited about? What are you fixing or toying with? What do you most like to restore? What does problem-solving look like in your hobbies or your interests? How would your family or friends describe your solutions?

Jim Collison 9:40

Yeah, I love that question of, What are you currently fixing? Or, you say "toying"; I'd say "tinkering" in a lot of ways, right. And I think that can help us kind of get to the bottom of what kind of things are interesting? What kind of things do you find -- what kind of problems do you find interesting? Now, I don't think all problems are created equal, by the way, and I don't think everybody wants their problem solved all the time either.

Maika Leibbrandt 10:01

I love that, "What kind of problems do you find most interesting?" That's great.

Jim Collison 10:04

Yeah, no. OK, No. 4.

Maika Leibbrandt 10:06

No. 4 is a bigger issue than just we're going to talk about, but it's "Strong teams embrace diversity." Really what we know about this is that people with differing perspectives, bringing those perspectives in a way that honors those differences, ends up getting you farther than people who have the same perspective. I know diversity is bigger than just the makeup of CliftonStrengths themes. But in this, in this truth, we're going to use it as an opportunity to say, What is special and unique about that theme?

Jim Collison 10:33

So ...

Maika Leibbrandt 10:34

So let's do it!

Jim Collison 10:35

So we got some describing words, right? We, these are, these are really fun when we think about the ability to kind of summarize it. So how do we see this theme based on this Restorative talent?

Maika Leibbrandt 10:45

Yeah, you could call that person patient, involved. I made up this word, but "systems aware," because, remember, they're ...

Jim Collison 10:52

What do you mean by that?

Maika Leibbrandt 10:52

What do I mean by that? They're probably aware of what have we tried before? What is the expectation of how something works? And what is the -- like you said, not all problems are created equal. Not all solutions are created equal, either. So probably that person with Restorative on your team understands what kinds of solutions are at play. Maybe "solutions aware" would have been a better way to put that. But ...

Maika Leibbrandt 10:53

I like both I like "systems aware."

Maika Leibbrandt 11:14

There's, yeah, there's, there's an element of, I think, trial and error, to Restorative -- the courage to attempt something in a different way and get that instant feedback of what they're experimenting work with. I think there's also a memory of what works; that ability to recall a solution that worked in one area and try it in another one. Now, don't get this confused with, say, Strategic, or Analytical, even. It's not so much about the joy of the solutions happening in your brain. It's more about realizing which solutions help us progress best, and that desire to move forward. In that same vein, you might call them a detective, committed, calm. They anticipate hurdles and they sense problems.

Jim Collison 11:57

And then, what unique perspective does Restoratives bring to a team?

Maika Leibbrandt 12:01

I think it's -- I love bringing us back to the calmness with problems. I don't have Restorative. In fact, it's 30-something for me. And I tend to go around problems instead. And when I'm working with somebody on a team who has it, it, it prevents the team from getting too spun up or too stressed out about something that isn't working. Because that's really when they can come in and save the day. In many ways, that's when they're really at their best. So think about what that brings to a team. Outside of the Executing Domain, it brings that ability to continue to move forward, even when it feels like there's speed blocks in our, in our way. Within the Executing Domain, Restorative, I think, brings that ability to say, It's not just about what we did today. It's not just about where we're going tomorrow. It's about how we're utilizing all of the resources that we have -- even the ones that maybe we think are broken, in order to achieve something that we haven't yet achieved.

Jim Collison 12:53

Well said. What about No. 5?

Maika Leibbrandt 12:55

No. 5 is "Strong teams are magnets for talent." I'm not sure this is one that you can work on. It's more of a result of what we know about strong teams. It's, if you're looking for a great team, look for the one that everybody's sort of scrambling to be a part of.

Jim Collison 13:10

Yeah. And what pieces of that are that attractive? What are people looking for in those teams that, that based on Restorative?

Maika Leibbrandt 13:17

With Restorative, they're not somebody who abandons ship. They can, this -- I think Restorative can feel like loyalty, like personal commitment. You know, even if the real drive internally for that person is a desire to get unstuck and progress, it can feel relational. They can patiently untangle the mess. They're attracted to problems so you're not bothering them when you admit you broke something. There's a courage, a confidence, a calmness, even when, you know, anything that everybody else says -- sees -- is the answer, "No." Restorative doesn't see a "No" as being finite. They're not swayed by that.

Maika Leibbrandt 13:54

It's not the same creativity as an Ideation or a Strategic but it's more of a belief that nothing is unfixable. At least bringing something back to its original working order, if that helps us accomplish something. It's that belief that it is possible with enough trying. It's also the knack to be able to know what solutions to try. And again, think about this in terms of relationships. It might not always be, but, depending on theme dynamics or that person's values, if Restorative is aimed at relationships, that means they're someone who doesn't give up on people.

Jim Collison 14:27

Yeah. No, that's a pretty attractive -- that's a pretty attractive talent for a lot of people. How might we describe this gift that Restorative would bring to a team? How would you describe that -- this gift?

Maika Leibbrandt 14:39

Yeah, Restorative is a willingness to try. It's a commitment to progress and it's a lens for learned issues. So being able to think what has led to these problems in the past? What solutions can we collect, like, like blocks that we can snap in when we need them?

Jim Collison 14:57

Yeah, I think, Maika, it's been good to remind these 5 again. So let's, before we dive into talent-mindfulness, what are the 5?

Maika Leibbrandt 15:04

Sure. 1) Results, not conflict; 2) Do what's best for the organization and then move forward; 3) Work and personal lives are equally important; 4) Embrace diversity; 5) Magnets for talent. You can read more about those in -- some of the first couple chapters of Strengths Based Leadership. But I also just encourage you to think about how these 5 might expand your ability to conceive of your team's power. Instead of just thinking about what's our makeup, you know, do we have a ton of Executing talent and a little bit of Influencing?

Maika Leibbrandt 15:38

Instead of just looking at what's there, maybe you can use these 5 as targets to aim toward. Because I always think, anytime you're going to look at the DNA of a team or look at what strengths are present, which ones aren't, first, you want to do that in an effort to honor what's already there instead of trying to grab what's not from somewhere else. And second, you want to do it in pursuit of a goal. These 5 can give you a goal. So think about how you can use those to have a great conversation.

Jim Collison 16:02

Before we jump into the talent-mindfulness, just as we've -- we're wrapping up the Executing Domain, and we'll spend some time on it next week -- I want to encourage individuals, if you have teams heavy in Executing, take them through these parts of this Theme Thursday. And, and ask them some great questions about what's true for them in this. And how do they see this playing out? It's great we talk about this, but the power of it is when they begin to express this. And we've given some ideas, some terms, some words -- and I think a great tool for being able to go through. So, Maika, a lot of times, people say, "Oh, I've got this team and they're heavy in ____." During this season, we're going to be looking at each of these domains can be easily pulled out. And they're, they're so short. I mean, these are 12-minute segments that people could play and then get feedback on.

Maika Leibbrandt 16:45

It is -- maybe I, maybe we don't say this out loud enough because it's so ingrained in what we're hoping people pick up on it. But I think it's worth saying, Jim, that this can be fantastic prework before a team conversation. This can be really great supplement before an individual conversation that a manager would have with his or her employee. Give people this as homework. It's a free podcast, you can just play it and say, You know what, I want you to listen for this. But you should also hear that Season 5 and 6, I would say, have gone the farthest away from just diving into the exact definition of the theme and probably the closest to more my creative consulting around how do you be prescriptive around how to treat that theme.

Maika Leibbrandt 17:25

So there might be some things that I've said here -- ways that I've unpacked the theme -- that might not resonate with you if you have it. That's for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that CliftonStrengths is not a labeling tool. And we're not, you know, meant to put you into a box. People are more than one word; they've got some complexity to them. So don't feel like you need to agree or disagree with all of this. Don't feel like you're going to, but do use that as a jumping-off point to say, Here's the pieces that really resonated with me. And I hope what you're building toward -- whether you are a manager or a member of a team or just somebody who cares about other human beings -- is that ability to say, Here's what I bring. And here's what I need in order to bring it. And the courage to ask for that. Because if you don't, nobody will.

Jim Collison 18:09

All right, let's do some talent-mindfulness.

Maika Leibbrandt 18:11

Thanks. Talent-mindfulness is a way not to just think of a strength but to truly practice them. So today, you're going to hear an obvious theme of restoration and patience. You -- but I think it doesn't matter if you have Restorative or not. You're going to access these ideas and experience this best if you can let go of the expectation to learn any specific CliftonStrengths theme. And instead just allow your own talents, your own kind of go-to response to play a starring role.

Maika Leibbrandt 18:41

So this is going to round out our podcast for today. So if it's not for you, skip ahead about 4 1/2 minutes and hear what Jim has to say at the end. But if you're ready to turn your focus inward, I invite you to find some comfort where you're sitting or standing and let's get started. If it's available to you, I'll invite you to close your eyes. Otherwise, do something to separate this practice from what you were doing just a few minutes ago. Take two deep, slow breaths at your own pace.

Maika Leibbrandt 19:19

Today we're going to focus on something that needs fixed. Something that needs a slight improvement, maybe just a little adjustment, but for some reason, has not won enough of your attention to be addressed. Please be kind enough to yourself to pick just one specific thing and experience the exercise. This does not have to be massive or hugely important. You can replay this as many times as you like and tackle other problems, but for today, to experience it, just pick something that comes to mind. Follow where your imagination goes and allow yourself the -- I think the honor of focusing on just one thing.

Maika Leibbrandt 20:00

So with your focus inward, got a quick visualization I'm going to use to kick us off. I'd like you to imagine a wheel. I'm picturing a, like, a perfectly balanced bicycle tire. And imagine this wheel is rolling forward on its own. Strong, steady forward motion. And then it hits a pebble, a small rock. But this wheel is not thrown off of course; it keeps rolling forward -- maybe a little bit more slowly, with a slight hint of a wobble to the left or the right. Now in your mind, as you zoom out, you realize this wheel is moving in a really big circle along the same track, the same path. But because the pebble is still where it was, it hasn't moved, this wheel that you're imagining is going to run over that same pebble one more time. And as it continues around the circle, it's going to keep hitting that pebble. Your wheel is otherwise on a very smooth track, with the exception of this one small, but persistent, pebble.

Maika Leibbrandt 21:14

So in your mind, pick up that bicycle tire. Stop it from moving. Hold it still. Hand that, that tire, that wheel to a friend who's standing nearby in your brain. Walk over to the pebble. Pick it up and throw it as far from you as you can. Now go retrieve that tire or that wheel and give it a little nudge back on its path, newly clear from any clutter or disruption. And see it now -- smooth, strong and steady -- continue that path in a in a big circle.

Maika Leibbrandt 22:00

Keep focusing on yourself. Keep your focus inward right now; I'm going to ask you a few questions that build upon that visualization. This might be the point where you want to take some notes. Just remember, you can always come back and write something down. Right now, if you just want to sit, again with your eyes closed, and think, it might be, might be helpful. During the past week, what is something that you have stumbled over more than once? Nothing that outright ruined your progress or completely knocked you off course but something that slowed you down just a little bit -- a roadblock, a pebble.

Maika Leibbrandt 22:43

To help you think -- if you need some more prompts to consider a specific thing -- try these. I've got 3 prompts for you. 1) If it weren't for this, I'd have gotten slightly more done this week. 2) I'm so used to this slowing me down, but I forgot how productive I could be when I wasn't dealing with it. 3) If I were to go back and redo my week, I'd remove this from the very start.

Maika Leibbrandt 23:18

So let's name your pebble. Again, this isn't a boulder or a momentous problem; it's just a, a slight, slight nuisance. Get clear in your mind about one tool, one habit, a stumbling block that's keeping you from being your very best. And let's be patient enough to focus on that for just a few more reflection questions.

Maika Leibbrandt 23:45

If you could remove, or at least minimize, the impact of this stumbling block, what would be different for you? ... What's the easiest first step you could take to begin to minimize this struggle? ... If you had an extra hour to devote to fixing this, what would you need to spend that hour doing? ... Who cares enough to help you? ...

Maika Leibbrandt 24:46

Before we wrap, let's get a bit more clear about what you're aiming at. Two questions. Those are the last two. 1) What nuisance or speed bump deserves your attention? 2) What will you do about it?

Maika Leibbrandt 25:17

You know, often we experience an imbalance when it comes to excellence. We look at ourselves to be our best, but we look to others to give us the resources to get there. We look inward for talent and outward for engagement. But strengths develop best in response to other human beings. Development happens through relationships. Relevant, creative solutions come to life when we share our experience with others. So today is a challenge to own your own engagement, to deal with your stuff. And to know that both you and your team is better for it in the end. That's your talent-mindfulness for today. ...

Maika Leibbrandt 26:13

Oh, hey, Jim, I can't hear you. Can you hear me?

Jim Collison 26:16

No, I'm just talking because the mic was muted. Pretty powerful message; maybe that was better that there was that long pause in there. Pretty powerful message, in the sense that you need to own your own engagement. And I don't think we can say that enough. We'll maybe talk a little bit about that more in the postshow, as we get there.

Jim Collison 26:33

With that we'll remind everyone to take all full advantages of all the resources -- we have a -- resources? resources we have available for them at the -- now and our new Gallup Access. Go to Really, the easiest way to find your dashboard -- your strengths dashboard, and you can log in there. While you're there, you can sign up for the CliftonStrengths Community Newsletter that just came out for this month. And a great way to stay up to date with everything that's going on in the community. Anybody can get that newsletter. So if you want to sign up for it while you're there, you can do that as well. Don't forget, subscribe on YouTube. If you're watching us on YouTube, you can find this as a podcast in any podcast player just by searching "Gallup Webcasts"; you will see Theme Thursday there. If you have any questions about anything we talked about, you can email us: You can see a complete list of all of our courses that are available at; 15% discount right now for our Summit courses that are happening. Go to and you can see all the courses that are available, sign up, register there as well. There's still some space to join us June 1, 2 and 3, and Maika and I will be there live and in person -- hopefully, we'll be there to make all those -- there's crazy things going on in the world right now. So we'll see how that -- we talk about people getting together. Don't forget the -- if you want to join us live and virtually, the safest way to do us is you can, you can join us if you go to event -- gallup.eventbrite -- sorry, let me say that again: Follow us there and you'll get notifications. And it's just about every day during the week, I post something new out there. So lots of new learning opportunities for you. Again: Follow us there as well. If you want to join us on the Facebook group: On LinkedIn, if you're not a Facebook person, on LinkedIn, search "CliftonStrengths Trained Coaches." You don't have to be a trained coach to be in there with us. That's just our public group on -- I may change the name of that, although I've been saying that now at the end of webcasts, so maybe I won't. Love to have you join us. Stay around for some postshow if you're listening live, as we wrap up the Executing Domain. Next week, live, is a wrap of the whole domain. So you want to join us live for that as well. With that, we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.

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