skip to main content
5 Steps to Building a Strengths-Based Culture, Part 3

5 Steps to Building a Strengths-Based Culture, Part 3

Webcast Details

  • Gallup Called to Coach Webcast Series
  • Season 8, Episode 30
  • Learn how to build a strengths-based culture in your organization via building an internal network of strengths coaches, in Part 3 of this 5-part series.
  • Interested in learning more on this topic? Read more about how to improve teamwork in the workplace.

Robert Gabsa, a Gallup Workplace Consultant, was our guest on a recent Called to Coach. In Part 3 of a 5-part series on Building a Strengths-Based Culture, Robert shared the third step in this process: building an internal network or community of strengths coaches. The organizational benefits of having such a network or community include that internal coaches often know the organization better than external coaches would; and that they can provide ongoing support through more frequent, even daily, contacts with the organization, including teams and executives. For organizations that are unable to afford the number Gallup-Certified Strengths Coaches they need, there is the option of using Strengths Champions instead. And Robert explained some best practices and recommendations for organizations seeking to build such a network.

Access 5 Steps to Building a Strengths-Based Culture, Part 1, and Part 2, Part 4 and Part 5 of this 5-part series.

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

What should I look for in a job/career?

Jim Collison 0:00

I am Jim Collison and live from our virtual studios around the world, this is Gallup's Called to Coach, recorded on April 17, 2020.

Jim Collison 0:19

Called to Coach is a resource for those who want to help others discover and use their strengths. We have Gallup experts and independent strengths coaches share tactics, insights and strategies to help coaches maximize the talent of teams, individuals and organizations around the world. If you are listening live, we have a chat room available for you. Just click it there, it'll take you to a YouTube instance -- the video will just start over again. Join us in the chat room; three little dots -- pop that chat out and we'd love to have you there. If you have questions after the fact, send us an email: Don't forget, if you're on YouTube, you can subscribe to us over there in that corner. There's a little Subscribe button -- notify you whenever we go live. Make sure you hit the notification bell, and like the video when you're down there; that helps us with some discovery on YouTube. Robert Gabsa is our host today. Robert's a Workplace Consultant at Gallup here with me. Robert, always great to see you. And welcome back to Part 3 of Building a Strengths-Based Culture!

Robert Gabsa 1:07

Yeah, thanks, Jim. I'm excited to keep this series going. We've had a couple of the initial steps or stages of building that that type of a strengths-based culture. So this is, this is great. I'm looking forward to today. Thanks for having me.

Jim Collison 1:19

Let's, let's take a second -- it's great to have you -- let's take a second (to) review, just quickly, 1 and 2.

Robert Gabsa 1:25

Well, the first one, you know, that we talked about before was getting, you know, executive sponsorship, or if you can really, I mean, preferably, get that CEO, right, start with the CEO. It's so important to get that top leadership buy-in to get their involvement, so they really kind of align strengths with the culture of the organization. And we talked a little bit about just how important it is that, that they say it's important to the organization. I mean, that's, that's really, you know, really, really critical for everyone else to, to kind of get into it.

Robert Gabsa 1:52

And then, and then that second step that we talked about on the last session that we did was this idea of like, OK, if we're going to have this as part of our culture, then everyone needs to take the assessment. Everybody needs to kind of get into the strengths initiative or whatever you want to call it. But in order for it to become part of the culture, everybody has to, everybody has to be a part of it. It becomes a language. And it becomes this way of cultivating and developing, you know, positive, a positive workforce that's really kind of aimed in the same direction and all speaking on the same page.

Jim Collison 2:22

Yeah, gives everybody a common framework to -- to work off. OK, so 1 and 2. What's Part 3?

Robert Gabsa 2:28

Well, you know, Part 3 is -- OK, so you've got the executive leadership there, and people have now taken the assessment. And, you know, I think, like I said before in the earlier session, just taking the assessment is like getting your palm read. I grew up in California, go to Venice Beach, people get their palm read. And it was, it was more for entertainment. It's like, wow, that's neat, right? We talked a little about that. But now what do you do with it? You know, if it's like if I have this but, but I don't know what to do with it. It's so, it's so important to build this internal network or community of network coaches, I mean of strengths coaches, and sometimes that's from external. A lot of organizations just have external coaches; private coaches come in and do work. And a lot more organizations are doing it internally because they can really partner with managers, with leadership to make sure that the strategic direction of why we're using strengths, what we're using strengths for, you know, that's a real, that 's a real critical piece of it.

Robert Gabsa 3:27

And, and sometimes, you know, they know the organization better than others, you know, they're in it. So there's a credibility factor and there's just a familiarity with the organization that helps them, I think, so building this internal network in some way, shape or form is, is really important. They can provide more of that ongoing support, more of those daily contacts, and really kind of work strategically with specific teams and, and at the end of the day, they can coach, right, they can coach executives, they can coach managers, they can coach individual contributors. But when you have this internal network, you really have a kind of a support system. And even if it's not, you know, some people say, Well, we can't really have that many Certified Coaches, or we can't afford to do it with our budgets, or we just have too many people in the organization, you know, 6 coaches and 4,000 employees, you just can't get it done.

Robert Gabsa 4:18

And so then I say, OK, well, if they can't be Certified Coaches, you know, then, then there's such a thing that we call Strengths Champions. You know, you can still have people -- managers, other, other functional folks that are still advocates for it, that are still using it, that are still believers in it and supporters of it, and they don't have to be certified. But building that internal network, I think is, is really critical, because now you've got the players, but you need someone to come in and say OK, now here's how we're going to do it. You know, here's how we're going to use it and, and we're here to help.

Jim Collison 4:51

Mmm-hmm. When you think about best practices that we've, you just mentioned one of those. It doesn't, you know, necessarily following the lines of having everybody certified. We recommend that. But what other kind of best practices and recommendations do we have around building that internal network?

Robert Gabsa 5:08

Ah, yeah, that's a good question. I think from a just from a general best practice standpoint, the organization has to really set clear expectations for the role. If we're going to have some internal strengths coaches, the leadership needs to be able to say, "OK, you know, here's what we're doing," and agree upon that with the coaches. "Here's what your role is," because most of these coaches, I mean, Jim, they're not, that's not always their full-time gig, right? They're doing something else and they're a coach. And they might be an HR, they might work with HR VPs. And some have the luxury of being full time, but usually it's part of their job.

Robert Gabsa 5:44

So it's also really important, as a best practice, that the organizational leadership as part of the culture supports them in that, gives them the extra time, maybe takes a few things off of their plate, gives them the tools and resources, gives them the ongoing learning and development, maybe they're going to take some advanced coaching courses. I mean, they've got to get behind it. Just sending somebody, you know, to get a certification -- it can't stop there. Best practices is where you know, the organization continues to support it structurally. And I think, most importantly, to work with those coaches at making sure that the coaches are staying in tune with individuals, teams, departments, whatever at making sure we're aiming this.

Robert Gabsa 6:33

You know, what a coach does, right -- one of, one of the things a coach does is takes this idea of, I've discovered my talent; I've taken the assessment. But how do I turn that into a strength? You know, coaches help with that, they help with that investment, and how can we, how can we make sure we build that into an actual strength? How can we look at the hindrances? How can we look at how it helps and make sure that we're using it for positive outcomes? And then how we're aiming it. They're helping aiming it, so with the organization, best practice is to work at making sure we're aiming it towards the same things or even with a manager, that we're aiming strengths towards the right outcomes.

Robert Gabsa 7:09

Because, as you remember, again, in one of the previous sessions, I still say, you know, engagement is the "Why," right? Because we're going to get performance at some point. That's what we want. That's what organizations do; we want higher performers. Well, if we have higher engagement, we're going to get higher performers. And one of the ways to get that engagement is to work through strengths. When somebody is working in their strengths, they're more engaged, and they're just going to perform better. So when organizations look at that whole path, and don't just stop at "Take the strengths assessment so you know your Top 5," it's got to go further than that. And that's what these internal coaches, you know, can really do. And so I would say that -- and, finally, celebrate! When there's impact, when there's something that happens, you know, celebrate it! Call it out, show it, you know, communicate it. Get people fired up about that this isn't just kind of a flavor of the month.

Robert Gabsa 7:14

In a lot of organizations, they may struggle to identify those Strengths Champions. And, and when we think about that process -- and Robert, you've probably actually seen this in action -- what, what could they be looking for in the organization? What kind of people might be looking -- before, before we talk about some actions for them to do, what would be your advice or your recommendation on what are some things you can be looking for in people that may identify them as a Strengths Champion or a potential coach?

Robert Gabsa 8:33

You know, I think if you're in tune with people, you can get a sense for who has passion for for developing people, right? I mean, strengths is a development tool, right? It's not a selection tool. It's a development tool. And when people are passionate about developing others, and they're not looking for it as any type of a -- I want to say a selfish motivation -- but they're really looking at How can I help others? And that's that's one thing that I find with, with coaches universally is, is I'm in this because I love it. I love helping others become better versions of themselves. You look for people who have that passion.

Robert Gabsa 9:18

If people have some kind of background, I listen, I, I will tell clients sometimes, you know, you'll -- you can notice. Who are the ones that are very inquisitive? Who are the ones that are good at asking questions, right? Who are the ones that let others learn on their own? Who are the ones who just naturally tend to put the spotlight off of themselves and, and help others grow? I think there are people that just naturally are fit for this type of work. And those, those are the type of people I think organizations really should start looking towards.

Robert Gabsa 9:54

And then, of course, you have to make sure they have the capacity. Because if somebody's got a job, and they're already overworked, and their plates are super full, and they've got, you know, high Achiever and high Responsibility. And they just, they're saying, "Yes, I want to be a coach, because -- " or they're Learners or whatever, they have these reasons, organizations have to be very careful with putting more onto them. Because let's face it, when we're passionate about something, and we have the opportunity, we'll want to place that as a priority. So let's make sure, again, that we're, we're working strategically within their job role to make sure that it, that it, that it makes sense for these people to do it and that they're going to, that they're going to be the ones that, that can carry it forward.

Jim Collison 10:33

Yeah. And we just -- you may see them emerge as the first ones to post their Top 5 on their cube or add it on their office or begin to talk about it in the break room or, you know, begin to have those conversations kind of naturally. And, and that may be an indication, right, of Hey, we may have a Strengths Champion. We hear from a lot of them in our networks. They -- a lot of them come and listen to Theme Thursday or listen to Called to Coach, and they're trying to get strengths going in their organization. That's maybe another grassroots where you're seeing it being pushed up from down below; those may be some of those natural Strengths Champions. As we think about some very specific actions that, again, to kind of, kind of wrap this section up, what can organizations do specifically -- steps that they can take specifically to, to move forward on this?

Robert Gabsa 11:23

Well, first and foremost, you know, identify the right approach and the right structure, based upon your organization's, you know, kind of purpose and culture, where it exists already. I think you need to create a strategy: How are we going to do this? You know, how many people are they? Are we dispersed? Are we departmentalized? Do we have natural kind of structure that would allow for, for this to happen? Are we going to be doing a lot of coaching over the phone because we have remote workers? I think you have to really kind of get your arms around, What's the architecture going to look like? And then you can kind of get into I think that selection process. Yeah, we can work on, on different ways of kind of evaluating or giving kind of these best practices on selection, but internally, come up with your selection process or work with Gallup or talk with someone about, you know, how would we select the best coaches or the better coaches or champions that we would want? Because that's going to be important.

Robert Gabsa 12:17

Once you get that, and you get them selected, you know, develop a roadmap. OK, how are we going to develop them? Are they going to get certified or going to something through courses? Are they going to do sessions as teams? What kind of training, learning, you know, all of those things, you have to set that into action to get them, you know, prepared to do the best job they can as coaches. And then finally, I think you just have to establish kind of an ongoing system for making this an organic part of the culture and a regular part of the day. Take this internal network and, you know, plan for this ongoing alignment, being able to kind of revisit, recalibrate, review. And continue to build the capabilities and share tools; then you're really kind of off and running. But you have to, you have to start, you know, at the beginning with just, just a strategy.

Jim Collison 13:10

Robert, any, any closing thoughts? And then give us a little hint of what we're going to look at in Part 4.

Robert Gabsa 13:16

Sure. You know, closing thoughts, I say, Man, if you're an internal coach, thank you for what you do. Keep it up. It's, it's, it's sometimes a long process to build that full network. We get a lot of clients that they're, they're ones, or twos or threes, or maybe I'm a private coach, and I've been hired to come in and, you know, and we're trying to figure out how to get other people involved internally. I say, Don't give up. Don't get discouraged. Keep it up. Enthusiasm breeds excitement. And when people hear from others that there's something going on, and they want to, they want to participate, you know, that's a great way to start (to) build that groundswell.

Robert Gabsa 13:53

As far as what's coming up next, you know, the next step will be, How do we integrate strengths, once you're in an organization, at the end of the day, we want to figure out -- and a lot of our clients now are saying -- How do we integrate this into our performance management system? How do we integrate strengths there? Because performance management is far from perfect. So how do we make that strengths-based?

Jim Collison 14:12

Awesome. We'll look forward to hearing from that here in Part 4. With that, we'll remind everyone to take full advantages of all the resources we have available for you. And actually, we've got a lot of this listed on our website. So get if you want to kind of work through some of the materials we have. Of course, we make these available for you. If you haven't signed up for the CliftonStrengths Community Newsletter, you might want to do that as well. Available at the bottom of the page; you can just sign up and get access to that as well. If you have any questions on this, or your organization's struggling with this, or you just want more information, you can always send us an email And then of course, if you want to join us for our live webcasts, you can head over to as well. And sign up over there, follow us and I'll send you notifications every time we publish something new. Join us in our Facebook group: And on LinkedIn, you can find us by searching "CliftonStrengths Trained Coaches." Want to thank you for joining us today. If you're listening to this as a podcast, I bet Part 4 is available for you; just continue to hit "Play." It'll be right there. If you're listening live, stay around. With that, we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.

Robert Gabsa's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Ideation, Woo, Futuristic, Strategic and Maximizer.

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

Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A
+1 202.715.3030