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CliftonStrengths Competition Theme: Teams and Managers

CliftonStrengths Competition Theme: Teams and Managers

Webcast Details

  • Gallup Theme Thursday Webcast Series
  • Season 6, Competition
  • Strong themes, stronger teams": Learn how your team can own its Competition 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 Competition 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 0:00

I am Jim Collison, and live from our home studios around the world, this is Gallup's Theme Thursday, Season 6, recorded on April 2, 2020.

Jim Collison 0:22

Theme Thursday is a Gallup webcast series that dives deep into the CliftonStrengths themes, one theme at a time -- and this season based on developing teams and managers with CliftonStrengths -- and today's theme is Competition. If you're listening live, we'd love to have you join us in our chat room. There's actually a link for it right above there, will take you to a YouTube page where there's a chat room. Log in; I love to have you there. If you're listening after the fact, send us an email: Don't forget, if you're listening on YouTube -- Maika will point to it -- there's a little subscription button down there. You can click on that, and that'll subscribe you to our live page. Get a notification every time we go live; might be helpful to you. And if you're going to do it all -- what all the cool kids do and listen as podcast, any podcast app anywhere, just search "Gallup Webcasts"; you will find Theme Thursday there. Maika Leibbrandt is our host today. Maika's a Workplace Consultant who works with me here at Gallup. Maika, always great to see you. Welcome back to Theme Thursday!

Maika Leibbrandt 1:10

Great to be here, Jim. As you said, this season, we're exploring each theme through the lens of managers and teams. And we know from our studies in leadership that strong teams have 5 things going for them. If you want to read more about these five, they come from the book Strengths Based Leadership. We are going to use these as jumping points to unpack the theme today of Competition. Really, the goal of our season is to help you understand your team as more than just those 4 Domains of Executing, Influencing, Relationship Building and Strategic Thinking. So at the end of our time together today, I hope you can look at somebody with Competition on your team and instead of saying, Oh, that means they're an Influencer, you can really dive in and understand how Competition influences.

Maika Leibbrandt 1:50

So the short definition here of Competition: You measure your progress against the performance of others. You strive to win first place and revel in contests. First truth, I can dive in here, sorry. The first truth of a strong team is "Conflict doesn't destroy them because strong teams focus on results."

Jim Collison 2:11

I think it's really important, as we think about Competition, this is one of those that brings conflict. And I think a lot of folks oftentimes misunderstand that conflict. And so it's gonna be really important as we think about this theme and conflict, what does it mean to focus on results, Maika?

Maika Leibbrandt 2:28

Yeah, and I wouldn't, I would say, you know, Competition as we understand it as a colloquialism, or as a larger society, can sound like something that brings conflict. Having somebody with strong Competition doesn't necessarily equal conflict. And you'll understand that a whole lot better as we go through this, but really, that focus on results for somebody with Competition, it means that they are measuring success relative to the results of others.

Maika Leibbrandt 2:52

So you could see in that way that why I want to win over everybody else -- that could cause some conflict, but when you look further into the truths of strong teams, it really is about how a person might contribute to the results of their team together, rather than stumble on any internal or intrateam conflict. So what someone with Competition can bring to your team, in terms of results, they can help the entire group look at progress through the lens of comparison. And that I also think leads to through the lens of relevance. So they can say, Hey, we might each be running a race against each other. But here's how our competitors are doing and how we're stacking up as a team, as an industry, as an organization against others who are also in the arena.

Jim Collison 3:35

How else does or how does Competition track progress?

Maika Leibbrandt 3:39

Progress for someone with Competition is about keeping score. That's because they're constantly aiming for improvement and winning through comparison. So they'll keep their eye not just on their own personal record. That's probably more of an Achiever piece of did I do better than I did previously? Instead, they'll also look at How am I doing comparatively to others who are also playing the game?

Jim Collison 4:01

All right, let's look at No. 2.

Maika Leibbrandt 4:03

The second truth of strong teams is that "They prioritize what's best for the organization and then they move forward."

Jim Collison 4:09

Yeah, I think this is really key people understand how to do this. So how does someone with Competition focus on the larger goal rather than just themselves?

Maika Leibbrandt 4:16

Two ways. First, they're a great supporter of people who are competing. They recognize the effort that it takes the grit, the hustle that it takes to win, and they enthusiastically cheer people on who throw their hat in the ring. The second way is with clarity on how they can contribute to the performance of the organization against other relative competitors. They can be a driving force to bring people along with them. It's the "Hey, come on, we can do better than the others" and "Winning is fun!" kind of energy. So think of people who inspire action, who inspire hard work when they can bring the team's focus beyond just how they're doing so they can bring an awareness of how other people in the game -- be it competitors within the industry, individual top performers or really standout contributors -- can, can help make those contributions internally that in, in turn, help us all perform even better.

Jim Collison 5:12

What inspires Competition to take action?

Maika Leibbrandt 5:15

Something to win -- a game, a way to measure their contribution against others. Or another thing that's pretty inspiring is awareness of top performance. So they tend to be inspired by, depending on other themes, could be historical top performers, or could be other winners or people really at the top of their game. They're -- they have this filter, I think, for noticing really outstanding talent. So if you're thinking about How do I inspire someone with Competition, help them know what success looks like. Offer them glimpses into stories of excellence, autobiographies, connections with mentors, podcasts, or even just books about, really, I think, high performers is something that's going to be able to mobilize that energy in a great place.

Jim Collison 6:02

Before we go to No. 3, I like that you use the word "excellence." I think sometimes when people get stuck on winning, if they replace the word "excellence" with "winning," it makes a lot more sense. They are able to see and find excellence, which oftentimes rises to the top. So maybe a great replacement word, if you're struggling with that "winning" word -- for some people, sometimes that's a struggle -- replace it with "excellence" and see what else happens.

Maika Leibbrandt 6:25

Yeah, both of them have that -- what's true about winning and excellence, that's also true about the Competition theme is it's about narrowing your focus, and really saying, We're not motivated, or Competition is not motivated by what everyone is doing.

Jim Collison 6:40

Yeah, we spent a bunch of time and I forget which season, talking about this idea of sorting. Right. And so this, this idea -- with excellence, it's the ability to sort that excellence and that's a very, very powerful talent. All right. How do we think, oh, let's do No. 3.

Maika Leibbrandt 6:56

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

Jim Collison 7:01

Yeah. So how might this show up in someone's personal life?

Maika Leibbrandt 7:05

You know, they typically way their interest in an activity against their ability to achieve excellence in that activity. So if they can be a top performer, if they can win, if they can experience what that takes, then they're more likely to begin. Or if they realize they can't win, they'll do well with the explicit declaration of being an onlooker or a supporter, rather than being a contributor or a competitor. They may enjoy activities where progress is measured. They might especially enjoy that if it's measured against others. Personal records are probably again gauged against other people more than against their own previous performance.

Jim Collison 7:42

What questions might a manager ask to kind of draw this out of them?

Maika Leibbrandt 7:46

You could say, What are you tracking? Where are you currently top of your game? Where are you gaining on top performers? What are you winning today? Who are your role models? Who do you admire? Who are you learning from? Who should our team be cheering on?

Jim Collison 8:04

Some great manager questions indeed. No. 4.

Maika Leibbrandt 8:07

"Strong teams embrace diversity." We know diversity is a big issue. We're not trying to say here that, you know, diversity equals different CliftonStrengths themes. But we do know that having a team composed of individuals who look at issues similarly, who've been the product of comparable backgrounds, and who have experience with similar track records and approaches is not a sound basis for success.

Jim Collison 8:29

What are a few descriptor words that we might use with Competition?

Maika Leibbrandt 8:33

Yeah, for somebody high in Competition, you might hear these things being said about them and hear Oh, wow, I can spot that. It's a great talent of Competition. You might hear that they're focused, relevant, competitive, connected, inspired, success-oriented.

Jim Collison 8:51

I'm seeing a lot of this in the chat room right now. But when we think about the unique perspective that Competition brings to a team, what would you say?

Maika Leibbrandt 8:58

I would say -- and this is interesting, because there's a lot of energy and a lot of emotion about it -- so I'm calling it an enthusiastic, but almost dispassionate approach to winning. Part of what Competition can do is take the emotion out of the energy and into the performance. So by focusing on the score, they can narrow their, their energy toward something. So it doesn't have to be about all the waves of emotion that we get as we're moving toward something; it can really be about, Let's just focus on how we win. And that can be hugely powerful for a team. Jim, what did you want to add there?

Jim Collison 9:39

Well, also thinking that the maturity level in this is when when high Competition wants to win for the team's sake and not just their own. There was a comment about sore losers, and that may just be an underdeveloped talent as we, as we -- the -- not as mature. I'm struggling with the words a little bit here, but, you know --

Maika Leibbrandt 9:58

Yeah, let's also figure out, like, what, whose lens is calling them a sore loser? And what is the impact? Right? Is it -- are we trying to manage emotion because it's bothering us or because it's causing a problem? And are we trying to -- I think it's important to realize that you can't mask CliftonStrengths themes with poor behavior. If there actually is poor behavior happening, it's not the fault of the theme. It's, it's something that needs to be addressed by the human.

Jim Collison 10:27

Well said! All right, let's look at, let's look at -- that's what I was trying to say. No. 5.

Maika Leibbrandt 10:31

I'll just say it. Yeah, you know what, another thing is thinking about that unique perspective. And then I'll go to No. 5. I think somebody with Competition can keep the whole team's heads up. You know, rather than getting stuck looking down at, you know, how did we do last year? How did we do -- how are we doing together? They can really help us evaluate how are we doing relative to other players in the game? I'm reminded of a kindergarten teacher I coached once who had high Competition, and she said, You know, I accomplished what at the beginning of the year I thought my children needed to understand. I helped them develop to these milestones. But I was the only person on my team of teachers who realized they were really trailing when we compared them to other schools in our district. And that's something that I think is, is beautiful about Competition is that ability to say, you know, we can set our own goals, but we should also be comparing those goals against the highest performance, because that's how we move forward. That's how we make the difference that we need to make.

Jim Collison 11:33

Yeah, that's that sorting. So No., No. 5.

Maika Leibbrandt 11:36

No. 5: "Strong teams are magnets for talent." This is probably an outcome of the other four going really well, but it's really about How do you find that team that everybody wants to be a part of?

Jim Collison 11:45

And what, what is it? What will others be attracted to with Competition?

Maika Leibbrandt 11:49

The celebration when they experience a win, especially a shared win. Gosh, it's, it's intoxicating when you've got somebody with high Competition who experiences a win. Their ability to celebrate other hard workers and champions, I think, can lead to resilience among the team. Nothing hurts when you win, if you're somebody with high Competition. And they can bring that kind of a stamina, that, that energy, that hustle that keeps them going beyond when others might have given up. It's also, I think, an acceptance of discomfort. That because they know that that is part of the journey toward, toward what it takes to be top of your game. That's why that's powerful.

Jim Collison 12:29

Describe -- it is; it is indeed, and describe that gift then, that, that gift Competition brings to a team that others will really want more of.

Maika Leibbrandt 12:37

Powerfully and tirelessly working toward excellence. They often bring others along with them who wouldn't be explicitly up for the challenge of winning or competing, simply because they create kind of a forward wake of emotion that other people want to be a part of. As we've been going, I've been interchanging the word "winning" with the, with the word "excellence," but I want to be careful that we don't go too far to defining a different theme just because people don't like the word "win." You know, it sounds a little bit like Maximizer, too. It's that ability to say, you know what, we can do better; we can, we can be more polished. I can add that sort of extra level of shine that brings us to excellence. And that really is a Maximizer trait. It's -- what's true about Competition is the comparison to other people.

Jim Collison 13:21

Yeah, no, right on. I think a good, a good explanation. Let's review the 5 again.

Maika Leibbrandt 13:27

1) Results, not conflict; 2) Do what's best for the organization and then get going; 3) Work and personal lives both equally important; 4) They embrace diversity, and 5) They're magnets for talent. So you might think about those 5 as some great starting points to evaluate your own team or to help a manager evaluate their team. And really don't just say, Where are we strong? Where are we struggling? But say, where are we strong and why are we strong? And how can we borrow from that to lead to some of the other truths that maybe we're aiming for?

Jim Collison 13:54

We've been spending this season, as well as Season 5, wrapping up the podcast with this idea of a talent-mindfulness exercise. Maika, lead us through this one.

Maika Leibbrandt 14:01

So our talents describe our best lane, our strongest opportunity to contribute really at our highest level to perform. One way we often describe these patterns of feeling and thought and behavior is to pay attention to what we're doing when we experience three things: ease, excellence and enjoyment. These are different than Gallup's 5 Clues to Talent, but I think they're a really nice way to sort of spend some time in that area. Today, we're going to unfold these three E's for yourself. This is about you; this is not about you unfolding Competition any farther. So talent-mindfulness will take about 3 to 5 minutes and it's meant to just be a practice for your own talent.

Maika Leibbrandt 14:42

Maybe if it helps, I'd like you to do something that will help you focus on your own experience. That could be taking a deep breath, closing your eyes, looking into a mirror, or just turning up the volume on this podcast and drowning out everything else. I'll give you a few seconds to turn your phone focus inward. ...

Maika Leibbrandt 15:10

Whatever you've done in the past week, one thing is true. It was part of your one precious life. Maybe you had huge wins; maybe you had significant setbacks. Maybe it was just like any other week; maybe it wasn't. Today, we're going to focus on that week because it was real.

Maika Leibbrandt 15:39

In the past week, what came easy for you? ... Asked another way, When did you know the answer without having to slow down? When did you have clarity? ... Again, in the past week, what did you do better than others? ... Asked another way, What might a coworker, a friend or a family member say you did especially well? ...

Maika Leibbrandt 16:32

In the past week, when did you experience a moment of joy? ... Now refine that one to think about something you contributed to that moment of joy. ... Asked another way, What about the past week would you go back and repeat again simply because it was fun? ...

Maika Leibbrandt 17:35

Now holding these reflection ideas in your head, let's think about how you'll navigate the week that you have ahead of you. In the next week, what will you do more of on purpose? ... What will you make time for? ... What will you offer to someone else? ... That's it. That's your talent-mindfulness for today.

Jim Collison 18:24

There -- there we go. Well, I won't do that again next week -- to do it better. You know, as we think about this, Maika, I was -- I'm inclined to think, as you were going through this exercise, I'm just inclined to think, we -- during these times, during these really stressful times, we really need to slow down a little bit and, and think through just our actions a little bit clearer. The other day, I was doing some things and I was just making a ton of mistakes, and I was just going too fast. Like I just, for me, I just needed to slow down a little bit and think. And so as people are thinking about these times, we've got these talent-mindfulness exercises for you at the end of these podcasts to help with that. So slow down a little bit -- for you, figure out what that, what that needs to be -- but, but Maika, I find them very, very helpful. I mentioned this before somebody, you know, I get these questions: How's your Woo doing? Like, you know, how are you? Like, we've all -- I shouldn't say, "We all"; many of us have come home. And they always feel like this is a, it's killing the Woos. And I'm like, Are you -- are you kidding me? I've never been busier. And it's never been better! And I'm never getting more communication in the ability to do this. What am I going to do more of next week? This! Like, we're going to do more of this. So, excited to do that for, for everybody that's out there.

Jim Collison 19:48

With that, we'll remind everyone to take full advantages of all the resources we have available, now in Gallup Access. So head out there if you -- the easiest way to get that: Sign in there. That'll take you right to your strengths dashboard. Lots of resources available on that page, including all of our podcasts. And so if you want to subscribe to those, just go to any podcast platform and search "Gallup Webcasts"; you'll see a bunch of ours there. By the way, we have Called to Coach in German now -- just got accepted into the iTunes. In fact, Ralph, who's in the chat room, I recognize him as our very first interview on that, now available in iTunes. So I think that somehow makes it official. Apple Podcast is what they call it actually now; iTunes is the old name. So we'd love to have you subscribe to us as a podcast. If you want to get access to -- we actually have a CliftonStrengths Community Newsletter that comes out each month as well, available at the bottom of our site. You can sign up to subscribe to that and get that delivered to your inbox every single week. If you have any questions at all, you can send us an email: You can also sign up for these webcasts to make sure you're here live; we have a page to do that as well: is the site you would go to. Just make an account, follow us and I'll send you a notification every time we launch something new. Maika, I think I have about 35 or 45 future webcasts out there right now, so folks can sign up for them.

Maika Leibbrandt 21:03

So much good stuff coming.

Jim Collison 21:05

Yeah, it's actually one of my, I look at it, and it just looks beautiful. We've got some great artwork. And I mean, it we've really --

Maika Leibbrandt 21:12

Got this Google Doc that we have and just frames it.

Jim Collison 21:16

No, actually, I like the Eventbrite page. It looks a whole lot better. We want to have you join us on our social groups: -- that will get you there as well. And then search "CliftonStrengths Trained Coaches" on LinkedIn. We want to thank you for joining us live. If you're listening on the podcast, I bet there's another one available for you. If you're listening live, stay around for a little bit of postshow. With that, we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.

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

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