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CliftonStrengths Command Theme: Teams and Managers

CliftonStrengths Command Theme: Teams and Managers

Webcast Details

  • Gallup Theme Thursday Webcast Series
  • Season 6, Command
  • Strong themes, stronger teams": Learn how your team can own its Command 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 Command 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 our home studios here, this is Gallup's Theme Thursday, Season 6, recorded on March 19, 2020.

Jim Collison 0:22

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 Command. If you're listening live, love to have you join us in our chat room. There's a link right above me up there, it'll take you to a YouTube page that's got the chat room in it. We'd love to have you log in and ask us your questions there. If you have questions after the fact, you can send us an email: Don't forget, if you're on YouTube, right below Maika there, there's a YouTube Subscribe button. Subscribe to us so you get notified; hit the bell too, so you get notified whenever we go live and you never miss a program. If you're one of the cool kids and you're listening to podcasts, you can do that that way as well. Search "Gallup Webcasts" on any podcast app. Maika Leibbrandt is our host today. She's a workplace consultant here with me at Gallup and Maika, welcome to Theme Thursday.

Maika Leibbrandt 1:10

Thanks, Jim. Happy to be here. You know, this season, we're exploring every theme through the lens of a team. And we know from our studies in leadership that strong teams have 5 things going for them. We're going to use these 5 truths as a jumping point, to get into the detail of all 34 of our CliftonStrengths themes, domain by domain. And today we're in that Influencing Domain. We're talking about Command. But I hope by the end of our session today, you don't just look at Command and think, "Oh, that means they're an Influencer." But you really can dive into the nuances of what makes Command truly influential.

Maika Leibbrandt 1:44

So the definition of Command: You have presence. You can take control of a situation and make decisions. Going off of that definition -- and if you still want to know a little bit more about just what is Command, I invite you to listen to Seasons 1 through 5 of Theme Thursday. But the first truth of a team, so how might Command show up there, is it's about how strong teams handle conflict. And it's that "Conflict does not destroy strong teams, because strong teams focus on results."

Jim Collison 2:16

And what, specifically, when we say "Focus on results," what does that mean for someone with Command?

Maika Leibbrandt 2:20

For Command, it -- this one is about more than just the focus on results. It's also the ability to rise through conflict. So as I was, I was thinking about this, that, that truth is about conflict and focus. And I think for Command, they might even look a little bit more at the conflict piece. In, in many cases, Command embodies the connection between tension and progress. So they can use conflict to address what needs to be addressed really head on, leaving openings, leaving encouragement, leaving space for other people then to focus more freely on results.

Jim Collison 2:58

And how could Command track progress in what it's doing?

Maika Leibbrandt 3:01

Someone with Command might see opportunities for progress, especially when other people see barriers. So if you're coaching someone with Command, maybe focus there. Say, "What is getting in the way of other people's progress?" Because that Influencing theme, again, it's, it's not just about their own barriers and their desire to break through them. It's about that awareness, almost those feelers out of, Why are we getting stopped by some of these things?

Maika Leibbrandt 3:26

So part of Command is the ability to break down commonly held assumptions of what's holding us back. And a major part of Command is also the ability to fill a leadership void if it exists; to make the call when other people won't or can't; to try something and to tell people how to join and how to get involved. So in this case, as with I would say many of those Influencing themes, tracking progress is probably less about counting how well we're doing or how fast we're going. It's also about how smoothly people are collaborating and jumping in and getting involved.

Jim Collison 4:01

OK, let's look at No. 2.

Maika Leibbrandt 4:02

No. 2: "Strong teams prioritize what's best for the organization and then move forward."

Jim Collison 4:08

And so how does someone with Command focus on the larger goal, something, a purpose greater than their own?

Maika Leibbrandt 4:15

Help them align to the most important outcomes that the organization is trying to achieve. And then offer them the autonomy or authority to voice how they think they could be accomplished. That's very different than saying just put them in charge. Right? They can create openings for movement when other people are stalled. They can offer certainty where there's doubt. Ask them to join maybe a cross-functional task force, or to represent their team on an organizational goal. They don't have to own the entire project -- just lend that powerful vibe long enough to shake things into a more confident, more efficient, more focused direction.

Jim Collison 4:59

So what does inspire someone with Command to take action?

Maika Leibbrandt 5:03

You know, in previous seasons, I'm sure I've said this, but I think about Command, if it was on a playground and it was a child, it's the one that those other kids just tend to look to for direction. That doesn't mean that Command is the same as being bossy. It's also not the same as being "the boss." To use modern words, there is a certain magic in Command that always approaches life like a boss, meaning an attitude of ownership of what they themselves are doing. But when it's about ownership of your own experience, I think Command's influence is aspiring -- inspiring afar, but not directed outwardly on purpose.

Maika Leibbrandt 5:46

So that outward influence shows up and leads to action when there's a conflict, when there's a challenge, or when there is a perceived or actual void of leadership that really does need filled. So, the other thing about Command is that, stepping up into a leadership position for someone with Command, it doesn't have to be on paper. And it doesn't have to be permanent in order to be powerful.

Jim Collison 6:10

Yeah, I got a statement, you know, "If you're leading and no one's following, you're not really leading." And so there's, there's an opportunity in this. I think we spend time -- it draws people, right. We're not telling; it draws in that. And, and somebody mentioned in the chat room a second ago, it really, it's really about the best interests of others as well. And so thinking, right, we think about that. OK, no. 3.

Maika Leibbrandt 6:33

No. 3: "Members of strong teams are as committed to their personal lives as they are to their work."

Jim Collison 6:39

And how does Command show up for someone in their personal life? This is interesting! I'm -- I can't wait to hear what you have to say about this.

Maika Leibbrandt 6:46

I think about Command, again, that idea of presence, elements of certainty are woven into their relationships. I have a couple best friends with Command. And they're the ones who say, "You've got this!" and you truly believe that they're right. They might be the ones that others tend to look to for delegation, for direction, for decision-making. They may demonstrate a natural ability to rise over the immediate emotional reaction that others are having and focused on long-term influence. That probably depends on their other themes and the values that they hold.

Maika Leibbrandt 7:22

You know, sometimes leadership happens not by position, but leadership happens when people make bold decisions. I've been watching "Frozen 2" a lot recently, and one of the main characters, she sees an answer that nobody else sees. And she believes that that answer is, is right. And you can notice that she believes it with her whole heart. And because of that, she takes charge and she makes it happen. And it's likely many others in this story may have also seen the answer, but we're too intimidated by how that bold move would have been received in the beginning, that they never even reached the end. And I just think it's such a beautiful leadership story of the ability to see what needs to be done and take it.

Maika Leibbrandt 8:08

That means sometimes that you're the one taking it, but also for Command means sometimes you're offering the kind of reassurance and delegation that other people need in order to act. A P.S.: If you know the scene that I'm talking about, you can hit me up on Instagram @strengthstalk. We'll see if we're on the same page about Disney movies.

Jim Collison 8:27

And, and what questions could a manager tap into to get to this personal side of Command?

Maika Leibbrandt 8:33

What's one thing you can't live without? Who can you not imagine a world without? Again, both of those questions have that element of certainty to them. When do you feel most certain? Who are your best thought partners? What's something you are sure of? And whose influence inspires you?

Jim Collison 8:51

Ooh, I like that last question: Whose influence inspires you? That is a great question. All right. No. 4.

Maika Leibbrandt 8:57

"Strong teams embrace diversity." We know that having a team composed of individuals who look at issues from similar places, or have been the product of comparable backgrounds, or who have experiences with similar track records, is not a sound basis for success. So when we talk about diversity here, it really is about what does Command bring that other themes don't?

Jim Collison 9:17

And what are a few descriptive words we might use describing somebody with Command?

Maika Leibbrandt 9:21

You could call them decisive, direct, clear, logical, persuasive, a decision-maker. And I also just love the word "presence" when I think about Command.

Jim Collison 9:31

What unique perspective do you think -- on a team, what does Command bring?

Maika Leibbrandt 9:37

They bring emotional clarity. That's not my words. It's actually from the CliftonStrengths Reference Guide. Emotional clarity, think about that. They crave that kind of emotional clarity that will challenge others to be realistic, and that will challenge others to be honest. They can defuse emotional fluff, both positive and negative, and really get to the heart of what needs to be understood.

Maika Leibbrandt 10:03

The fifth truth to round this out is that "Strong teams are magnets for talent." And that really talks about when all 4 of these are working, here's the outcome: It's a part of a team that everybody wants to be on.

Jim Collison 10:15

Hey, we had a little internet blip. And I want to make sure everyone heard that. Because it may not have come through. So again, repeat No. 5 for us?

Maika Leibbrandt 10:23

Where do you want me to start, Jim?

Jim Collison 10:24

No, just, just No. 5. What's the fifth thing that we want to talk about?

Maika Leibbrandt 10:28

The fifth truth is "Strong teams are magnets for talent." And that really comes as an outcome of getting the other 4 truths right. It describes that team that everybody wants to be a part of.

Jim Collison 10:39

And what, what are others attracted to when we think about Command? I think it, I think it has a special attraction.

Maika Leibbrandt 10:45

I love it. I'm married to someone with it. So I definitely have a special attraction to Command! I would say they don't get wrapped up in the emotion of the current moment. They see opportunities to cut through it, and they're not afraid to say what others won't or can't in order to gain and promote an honest, shared understanding of what the situation is. Yeah, the other thing here, one more thing, they really can fight for a cause and help persuade others to do the same.

Jim Collison 11:14

Yeah. And how might we describe this gift when we think of it in terms of a team? How would you describe it?

Maika Leibbrandt 11:20

I think there's something about Command -- that element of being an open book: You know where they stand. And that's attractive to people. It's a very quick way to build trust and stability. They create clarity through polarization, meaning they're cutting through that in-between gray area and creating an either/or, and that can shake people into seeing things differently or create opportunities for, for productivity, for collaboration. Think about somebody with Command on your team and how they can ask really good questions within the walls of that team. So that that team's better prepared to face questions when they face their clients or their constituency or their stakeholders.

Jim Collison 12:02

OK, let's review the 5 again.

Maika Leibbrandt 12:03

Yep, 1) Results, not conflict; 2) Do what's best for the organization and then move forward; 3) Work lives and personal lives equally matter; 4) Embrace diversity; 5) Magnets for talent. So again, those 5, you can find in a bunch of our research that led up to the publishing of the book Strengths Based Leadership. You can also find it in the book. I'm looking over here because I have a right here. But if you're working with teams, I suggest that you -- maybe -- there's a lot of our frameworks that translate really well to teams. One favorite framework I have is the 5 Guiding Principles of Strength. But another one is these 5 Truths of a Strong Team. And so you might ask your team, you know, which of these we're consistently best at and not just stop there, but also say, what do we do that leads there? And you might even say, how do we honor the talents of the people that are already on this team in order to be even stronger?

Jim Collison 13:00

Throughout all of Season 5 of Theme Thursday, now in Season 6, we've been completing these episodes with a talent-mindfulness exercise. I'm fading fast; Maika, save us!

Maika Leibbrandt 13:11

I got it, I got it! Talent-mindfulness is a practice that will take 3 to 5 minutes toward the end of our podcast. It's meant to shift you from your brain space right now into focusing on your own talent. We can talk about talent, we can unpack it and leave it in our head by learning everything about it. But that doesn't change performance; that doesn't change economies or communities. What really changes it is when we embrace our own talent; we do something to improve it. So this is a practice. This is just for you. If this isn't something that you enjoy, you can skip ahead about 3 minutes and hear Jim sign off at the end. But I invite you right now just to quiet your mind. ...

Maika Leibbrandt 14:01

Life is complicated. Our days are busy. Things happen that we didn't plan for. And the beautiful thing about talent is it describes human resilience, our ability to navigate confusion. Right now I want to help you explore your individual talent profile, and how it relates to your navigation from confusion to clarity.

Maika Leibbrandt 14:35

When was a time recently that you knew just what to do? A moment of certainty. Maybe you asked a great question that made other people stop and think; maybe you served another person in a way that was especially meaningful. Maybe you offered a simplified approach to a complex problem; maybe you just made the best darn peanut butter and jelly sandwich in a moment that that was what people needed most.

Maika Leibbrandt 15:15

We can think about it -- what was a real moment in your recent life that you knew just what to do? ... Which of your Top 5 CliftonStrengths themes would you say was shining brightest in that moment? ...

Maika Leibbrandt 15:48

When confusion or chaos happens, which it always does, the answer does not come from a playbook. We love the term "best practice," but my friend, best practices are only best because they came from an individualized area of talent. What gets written down, what gets repeated as a plan, what gets said as the best direction to go or the or the way forward is usually just born of some normal human's above-normal moment of talent. And you have that within you. ...

Maika Leibbrandt 16:36

One simple final question for you. Which of your CliftonStrengths could you use more mindfully right now? ... If you're joining us in the chat, type your answer to that last question into the chat. If you're not, write it down somewhere or commit to writing it down somewhere within the next hour. Again, the question is, Which of your CliftonStrengths could you use more mindfully right now? And that's your talent-mindfulness for today.

Jim Collison 17:21

You had me at peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Maika Leibbrandt 17:23

Right. Crunchy or smooth?

Jim Collison 17:27

Crunchy, for sure.

Maika Leibbrandt 17:29


Jim Collison 17:30

You're smooth?

Maika Leibbrandt 17:31

Only in a sandwich.

Jim Collison 17:32

We're different there?

Maika Leibbrandt 17:33

Like crunchy everywhere else, but on a sandwich, I like the smooth.

Jim Collison 17:36

Looking forward to seeing your answers in the chat room as we spend a little bit of time in the postshow. And, you know, we're in interesting times, but they're always interesting. I always think about listening to my parents talk back in the '70s. And they thought it was crazy too. Maika, your advice to, you know, what, which one -- which CliftonStrengths could you be -- which could you use more mindful attention right now to get that question right -- super important. And so, looking forward to hearing your answers, you can drop them on Instagram with Maika; you can send them over to me. If you want to join us in the Facebook group, You can drop it in the LinkedIn group if you want to do it. Just search "CliftonStrengths Trained Coaches" in the group and ask for permission, I will let you in.

Jim Collison 18:22

A couple reminders. Maybe now more important than ever, all our resources are available on our new in our new Access site as well as on our CliftonStrengths pages. So go to, sign in. If you haven't purchased an assessment, you might be listening, maybe you found this and you're like, How do I do this? Well head over to and we'll walk you through it. You can purchase the the assessment right there and take it.

Jim Collison 18:44

Maika, it snuck by us, but we crossed over 23 million a couple days ago, and with everything that is going on, we just missed it. Folks, I think it happened over the weekend. So pretty exciting to see 23 million in there. I'm actually kind of shooting for more of the 25 million number, I think that's our next milestone to do. And so, many have done it and you can get that. While you're out there, and this just came out today, you can get the CliftonStrengths Community Newsletter -- very bottom of the page, there's a signup for it. We'll send that to you monthly. Just came in my email box today; we'd love to have you be a part of it. Just stay up to date on everything that's going on in the CliftonStrengths community. If you have any questions about anything, send us an email: They'll route that to me if, if need be, and I can get your question answered. And we have a lot of exciting stuff coming up, especially around our courses you might want to stay close, so And you're like, "Jim, I can't go anywhere." Yeah, we know, and so we've -- we're creating some really cool stuff coming up.

Maika Leibbrandt 19:39

Don't worry, we're always here. We are always in your computer. We're always on your smartphone. You can come find us anytime. See, see, we're alive right here.

Jim Collison 19:47

We're here. And maybe now you have some more time to join us live, and we'd love to have you sign up for those. Go out to, and I think I have 30 or 40 sessions are scheduled all the way out till May. We'll keep you busy, including all the rest of the Theme Thursdays through the end of May. So we'd love to have you join us for these. Get them on your calendar. Download the calendar invite so that you don't forget it or you don't miss it. If you're, if you're listening live, love to have you stay around for the postshow. If you're listening as podcasts, just go to the next one. It's probably there waiting for you. With that, we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.

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

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