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CliftonStrengths Maximizer Theme: Teams and Managers

CliftonStrengths Maximizer Theme: Teams and Managers

Webcast Details

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

What should I look for in a job/career?

Jim Collison 0:00

I am Jim Collison, and live from our home studios, this is Gallup's Theme Thursday, Season 6, recorded on April 9, 2020.

Jim Collison 0:20

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 Maximizer. If you're listening live, we'd love to have you join us in our chat room. There's a link right above me there. Click on that; it'll take you to YouTube. You can sign in there and ask us your questions live, if you'd like to do that. If you have questions after the fact, you can send us an email: Don't forget to subscribe if you're on YouTube, whatever -- wherever you're at in YouTube, just down below, it's actually below Maika, there's a little Subscribe button. Click on that, and you'll get notified every time we create something new. And if you're doing what the cool kids are doing, and listening to podcasts -- those will come back too -- you can subscribe. Search "Gallup Webcasts" on any podcast platform. Maika Leibbrandt is our host today. Maika's a Workplace Consultant here with me at Gallup. Maika, always great to be with you on Theme Thursday. Welcome back!

Maika Leibbrandt 1:10

Thanks, gosh, it's great to be here. This season, we are exploring every theme through, as you mentioned, the lens of managers and teams. And we know from our studies in leadership that strong teams have 5 things in common. We're going to use what we call these 5 Truths of Strong Teams to unpack every theme, and we're going domain by domain. Right now, we're just over halfway through the Influencing Domain. And so today, I hope as you listen and really explore the Maximizer theme, which is in that Influencing Domain, you walk away able to think about how does this theme impact a team? If you have somebody with Maximizer on your team, or you lead somebody with Maximizer or you are somebody with Maximizer, I hope by the end of our time together, you can walk away and understand more than just "Oh, it's an Influencing theme."

Maika Leibbrandt 1:56

So the definition -- the short definition of Maximizer is this: If you have dominant Maximizer, you focus on strengths as a way to stimulate personal and group excellence. You seek to transform something strong into something superb. An important piece about that is it's not just focusing on strengths with a capital "S." It's about focusing on what's already working, and being able to see how it can be even better.

Jim Collison 2:24

So is the -- go -- do the first one.

Maika Leibbrandt 2:27

The first truth of a strong team is how they deal with conflict. "Conflict doesn't destroy strong teams, because strong teams focus instead on results."

Jim Collison 2:36

And what does it mean to focus on results for someone who's a Maximizer?

Maika Leibbrandt 2:40

Well, you know, Maximizers really focus on the goal, but then they go beyond it. For a lot of Maximizers, the goal is sort of their starting point; it's where they really kind of kick it into gear and think about how can we do even better than what we had set out to begin? It might be important for a Maximizer to define layers of success, like a "victory parfait." Meaning they ask maybe what is the minimum viable product? What will impress your most important stakeholders? And what resources and/or time do we really have to outdo ourselves?

Jim Collison 3:14

Yeah, I like that "outdo ourselves." That's that element of overdoing that we talk about -- I've often talked about during Maximizer here. How does Maximizer track progress?

Maika Leibbrandt 3:24

So progress isn't just whether something is complete or on track to becoming complete, but if it's going to end up better than the original expectation. That's different for Maximizer. They'll see ways that we can enhance or polish the work that we originally set out to do. So chances are, the closer a Maximizer gets to a goal, the more they expect excellence. I think if you're going to help a Maximizer track progress, ask them to talk not just about where we are, but the difference between our first draft and our final product. Don't lose sight of the good work that has been done simply by finding ways it could be better. Lean into that Maximizer's ability to see enhancements and notice potentials for amendments by asking for what those ways really are.

Jim Collison 4:13

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

Maika Leibbrandt 4:14

The second truth of a strong team: "Strong teams prioritize what's best for the organization, and then they move forward."

Jim Collison 4:22

So how does a -- how does someone with Maximizer kind of focus on that larger purpose, larger goal larger group?

Maika Leibbrandt 4:29

Maximizers will see every goal through that lens of improvement, really pushing into not just what can be done but what can be done with true excellence, or at a world-class level. They're likely drawn to teams and organizations that are at the top of their game. They're more attracted to working on areas of great potential than they are filling deficits or gaps or fixing what's broken. You can inspire a Maximizer and really feed that drive by linking them to what your team or your organization does best. They're going to connect to other people and other bigger ideas other than their own, based on their ability to notice potential and to really identify opportunities for excellence.

Jim Collison 5:14

And what else inspires someone with Maximizer to take action?

Maika Leibbrandt 5:18

Areas, like we said, of really strong potential. And sometimes that means that Maximizers are inspired to really go into the zone at a point when other people think the project is complete. Maximizer really responds to quality and responds in a way that they can amplify that into something even greater. So they're not just offering a "polishing coat" to something or shining something that's already bright simply because they are well-positioned as like the final step. They're offering it because typically that kind of high-quality, high-level final polish work really happens when someone else is finished enough to, to stamp something as complete. That's really when, when a Maximizer kind of lights up. And so it is about being able to sort to where other people may be finished and think that it's good enough. That's where Maximizers can take it even further.

Jim Collison 6:12

Yeah, I always think, in my own case, to take action, you know, when you're inspired to take action. When someone tells you they want to finish a marathon in under -- or a half-marathon in under 2 hours, you get inspired to action, right? That was, that was one of those moments for you and I all those years ago, to, to, to get better, right?

Maika Leibbrandt 6:29

Who told you they wanted to finish a half-marathon in 2 hours?

Jim Collison 6:34

So, No. 3.

Maika Leibbrandt 6:34

That was me. Yeah, you know, but that's a really good point about Maximizer, Jim, of what inspires action is a big challenge. A big goal, an op, like an invitation to say, "This is going to be significant and excellent!"

Jim Collison 6:49

Yeah, and when you had never done it before, I think was the case, and you wanted to get it done. And of course I was -- I didn't know you that well. And it was, for me, the Maximizer kicked in like, "Of course we can do that! Like, we can do that; we can do that well. You're gonna finish this, this is gonna be great for you and we're gonna make a big deal about it. And so it was, it was a ton of fun to just make it up on that day that we did it.

Maika Leibbrandt 7:09

Well, halfway through, I remember thinking (I didn't have Maximizer and don't really have super high Maximizer, but I remember thinking) Hold on, maybe that goal was just an idea. Like maybe that isn't important. I can let this go. We can just like keep going. You know, my, maybe my goal was just to get to the finish line. But literally with you running next to me, you had that in mind. And it's about chasing, not just getting it done, but getting it done with excellence. And really, that I think there's a resilience to Maximizer that stays on that track too.

Jim Collison 7:37

Yeah, and not just you that day. I think I drug in 10 or 15 people.

Maika Leibbrandt 7:42

Everyone else in the Lincoln half-marathon!

Jim Collison 7:44

It was super because we had to get everybody in. Right. It was one of those kinds of things of doing more and doing it well, right. So that was great ...

Maika Leibbrandt 7:51

And that's why Maximizer lives in the Influencing Domain. It's not just about doing your own work well; it's about pressing others on to that world-class level. The third truth, here, of strong teams, is probably about we're talking about right now. It's that "Strong teams are as committed to their personal lives as they are to their work."

Jim Collison 8:08

And so how does Maximizer show up in somebody's personal life?

Maika Leibbrandt 8:10

They have high standards. Maybe they're the person you'd most not like to disappoint. It's likely that they're an "all in" sort of person. Because, again, if -- I think I borrowed this from you, Jim, on Maximizer, anything worth doing is worth --

Jim Collison 8:27


Maika Leibbrandt 8:27

Overdoing! They're probably someone who appears to perhaps even demonstrate a similarity to the Focus theme. Because when they see something of quality, and a way that quality can be enhanced, their insight for improvement, it can -- it's almost like making a magic spell or putting them into a trance -- that focus on sort of going "all in" on something because they know it can be excellent.

Jim Collison 8:52

We're focusing on teams and managers this year. How could a manager, knowing this -- someone's personal -- how could they bring that in or use it to help the team?

Maika Leibbrandt 9:01

There's a lot of questions here that I wrote that I noticed in my language are about really narrowing to the very best or really the extreme. So what have you improved? What's the best thing about our team? What's the most promising thing about your community? What do you like best about your weekend? What strength have you made even better? If you needed to do only one thing with world-class results, what would you be focusing on? Or what are you "all in" on right now?

Jim Collison 9:32

Can you get me in another 2 hours? That'll do it too. No. 4?

Maika Leibbrandt 9:37

Yes, yes, you can; you can do it with excellence! No. 4, "Strong teams embrace diversity." This is huge, and diversity is huge and definitely an issue that's bigger than simply having a variety of CliftonStrengths themes on your team. But when it comes to the research of what we're really talking about here, it is that wherever you find diversity of opinion, of pedigree, of experience, of ideas, that -- bringing that together is stronger than having just sort of a one-track approach to things.

Jim Collison 10:04

So we have some descriptor words that we might use for Maximizer. What would you, what would you call those, what would you use?

Maika Leibbrandt 10:10

So thinking about, you know, what is the diversity that Maximizer brings? What -- how could we, how could we name a Maximizer to determine what they contribute to the team? You could say that they're selective. There's an element of perfection that they're attracted to. I think that perfectionism has a negative connotation. So check your connotation there. Ask yourself what's negative about it. Don't use it if it's negative, but, but if it describes you, it's that idea of realizing nothing's ever going to be perfect, but the pursuit of it is noble. There's, I think words like excellence, world-class, they could be a quality checker, someone who's very polished, a finisher and creative.

Jim Collison 10:48

What unique perspective does Maximizer bring to a team?

Maika Leibbrandt 10:52

There's this ability to see improvement, to, to see opportunities for extra finishing touches or imagine what could be better, even when other people can't. And that's what, what makes me say "creative." They bring this kind of almost artistic quality, the consistent ability to see potential, to go farther, to aim higher, to influence more, and to believe that it can happen and to also dance in that space. It's where they're most comfortable. So their high standards of excellence -- that can be contagious. Even if other people can't see or quite imagine what they're describing, they can know that they have a Maximizer on their team who isn't going to let good enough, be enough. And that I think inspires hard work in other people and pride in the team or in the work that the team is doing.

Jim Collison 11:37

No, it's, it's a great point. No. 5, and my favorite?

Maika Leibbrandt 11:41

"Strong teams are magnets for talent." The way that this is described in the book Strengths Based Leadership is, Another way to spot a strong team is to look for the teams that everyone wants to be a part of.

Jim Collison 11:53

And with Maximizer, what are they looking for? Like what -- what's attracting them?

Maika Leibbrandt 11:58

Maximizer appreciates what's most promising, and this can make them excellent strengths spotters. There's something attractive about working with someone who sees the good in other humans and other projects; who can quickly name opportunities to invest. Really, it's about noticing those places that are going to be your farthest bet or your best bet for a great return on investment -- those opportunities for excellence to be truly outstanding.

Jim Collison 12:26

I notice when I'm talking to people, and I'm having a Maximizer moment, and I'm inspiring them to do more, like Let's -- Hey, this could be so much bigger! I can actually see it in their eyes. Like I can see their eyes change, I can see their facial expressions change, and I know I've hit something. How might -- How else might you describe that gift that Maximizer could bring to a team that kind of attracts those people?

Maika Leibbrandt 12:49

I think sometimes we misunderstand Maximizer and we confuse it with Achiever, where it's about "do more" or "o better," or accomplish, you know, beat your personal record. There's something, I think about those moments I've had with you, Jim, where you're in your Maximizer moment. And what's inspiring to me is that you're focusing that energy on me and what I could do, but it's never do -- it's never about just, Gather more things. It's usually about, Set aside something that you're not going to be great at. And that will give you the capacity and the, and the availability and the resources to focus farther into what really speaks to you. In my notes, I describe this as "excellence goggles."

Maika Leibbrandt 13:31

Maximizers can have an eye for detail; it can also be about just having the courage to push beyond what's currently accepted as good. That kind of ability to see what other people don't, to imagine world-class performance or to really drive toward additional excellence -- it also brings with it a belief that we can meet and max out our own high standards. It's not just a "You should do more." It's not just a "You should do better." It's "We can be better!"

Maika Leibbrandt 14:01

And I mean, you talk about it like that, and you can't help but see that it's this Influencing theme. It's something I want to follow, something I want to be a part of. Maximizer is about finding speed and joy and building upon what's already working. It's not about having patience for fixing what isn't working. So without a Maximizer, I think we carry around a lot of broken pieces, with the hope that someday we might fix it. But Maximizer can help us see the value in letting all of that go. And, and that can be really freeing.

Jim Collison 14:32

I always like to start those questions with, "You know what could be cool? You know, and you just kind of -- they look at you, and then you get some opportunity to speak, speak in to them. What are those 5 again?

Maika Leibbrandt 14:44

Yeah, the 5 Truths of a Strong Team. So this comes from Strengths Based Leadership, which I think sometimes people pull off a shelf thinking it's about like me as a leader. But to be completely honest, it's got so much applicability when you want to learn about how to strengthen your entire team, which is really what great leaders do. But the 5 truths are: 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. And that fourth one, or the fifth one, might really just be a result of the other four really firing on all cylinders. But I think they make a really great rubric for where to start. If you're consulting with teams, or if you're leading your own team, evaluate which ones are really strong. And don't stop there. Ask yourself what are you doing that's making them strong?

Jim Collison 15:29

In the current situation we're in, we all can probably use a little talent-mindfulness. I'm struggling a little bit myself today. So I'm looking forward to digging in on this one with you, Maika. What do you have for us today?

Maika Leibbrandt 15:39

I got you, Maximizer friend.

Jim Collison 15:41

We'll see about that!

Maika Leibbrandt 15:42

So talent -- thanks! Talent-mindfulness is a short practice that Jim's going to do right now that I invite you to do as well. It's meant to turn your attention inward toward your own talent. If you're new to Theme Thursday, we started this in Season 5, and so there are 34 of them for Season 5. In Season 6, where we are right now, there's eventually going to be even more than 34 because we've got a couple bonus episodes this season. But it really is just 3 to 5 minutes at the end of every episode for you to focus on yourself. And we'll have some reflective questions and some exercises that are not about learning the theme that are just about practicing your own awareness of your talent.

Maika Leibbrandt 16:18

So, to begin, I invite you to close your eyes just a moment. You don't have to leave them closed. Pay attention to your body. This is a really great way to quickly tune into yourself. I'll be quiet while you take two full breaths. ...

Maika Leibbrandt 16:54

If it helps you focus your attention inward, you can keep your eyes closed. If not, you're welcome to, to open them back up. We're gonna start today with a few quotes. You don't have to analyze or judge them. Just listen. The first is from Michael Jordan. "My best skill was that I was coachable. I was a sponge, and aggressive to learn." The next quote is from Christopher Cumby: "You must always be the apprentice, even when you become the master." And the last quote is a compilation of something I've learned from a collection of my own motivational influencers: "It doesn't get easier. You just get stronger."

Maika Leibbrandt 17:47

As you're soaking up those "word gifts," I want you to personalize what those quotes really mean. So I'm going to ask you a few questions now about yourself and your own patterns of being. You might want to write these down, but you certainly don't have to. You can always come back and just replay this and maybe journal it, maybe use it as something that you share with others.

Maika Leibbrandt 18:13

First question: This past week, when did you do something exceptionally well? ... I want you to stop here and really think about it because it might not be an easy thing to answer. It's likely something you do pretty naturally; something you do without noticing, maybe something you do without really valuing. So let me just ask it again. This past week, when did you do something exceptionally well? ...

Maika Leibbrandt 18:56

Here's the next question. Who in your life -- at work, at home, in your community or maybe even someone you don't personally know -- encourages you to do better? Who believes in your potential beyond what you are currently demonstrating? ... If you've been following, you currently have two important ideas in your brain: 1) your example of greatness; and 2) a key partner who sees excellence within you.

Maika Leibbrandt 19:39

Now, here's your challenge. It's 2 parts. The first part I want you to do right now. And the second I want you to do within the next week, but I'm going to say 'em in reverse order. So first, here's what you need to plan for in the next week. Your challenge is to spend 10 minutes more than you normally would in the presence of this person, that key influencer, that person who, whose face came into your brain when I asked, Who believes in your presence? Who believes in your excellence? Who believes in your potential beyond what you're currently demonstrating? Spend 10 more minutes than you normally would with that person. Maybe you tell them why, that it's about what they contribute to you. Maybe you just call or text or Zoom with them to say Hello or to say Thank you. The assignment is just to spend 10 more minutes than you typically would with them.

Maika Leibbrandt 20:35

The second part of the challenge is for right now. Imagine this person wears glasses, and imagine you could take those glasses and put them on and look at yourself -- looking through their lens of belief, potential and certainty about your talent. How do you see yourself differently? As soon as we wrap up this podcast, please take 60 seconds to write down everything that comes to mind about how this person sees your potential. That is your talent-mindfulness for today!

Jim Collison 21:36

Have to spend some time with you!

Jim Collison 21:37

With that, we'll remind everyone to take full advantages of all the resources we have available, now in Gallup Access. If you head out to, that'll actually -- and then sign into Access through there, it'll take you right to our -- your strengths dashboard. We continue to add resources to Access and so you, if you haven't been out there in a while, and you haven't looked around in a while, you might just want to. While you're on the page, we continue to add resources out there as well. And lots of them are available for you. So get out there, get that done. While you're at it, go all the way to the bottom of the page, sign up for the CliftonStrengths Community Newsletter, available for you every single month, just kind of your way to stay connected to what's going on in the strengths community. And then don't forget, if you're not listening to us in a podcast, or you haven't subscribed on YouTube, do that right now. It's actually right below Maika, just subscribe to us. This is the live channel that you're on. Maybe if you're listening to the recorded version of it, and the edited version -- that's our edited page. And you can subscribe there as well. Get a notification every time it's done. If you subscribe to us as a podcast on any podcast app, look for "Gallup Webcasts" and subscribe to us there. You'll never miss an episode. We are, for those of you who are listening in the recorded version or on the podcast version of this, we are a little bit behind. We've gotten -- we've gotten that way. You may be thinking, Oh, this is slowing down. Well, come out and join us live. That's the most current stuff that you're out, but with everything that's going on, we're a smidge behind, so I apologize for that as well. If you have questions, send us an email: Don't forget to follow us on Eventbrite. I do and I am now posting new events almost every single day of the week. Follow us -- go to and then follow us there. And you'll get a notification or an email whenever I post something new. The 2020 Gallup at Work Summit is now completely virtual. And so if you'd like to join us for that, you can do that from wherever you are in the world now. You don't have to come to Omaha. We're sad that we're going to miss you but we wanted to see you too, but you can do it 100% virtual with us now. Details are available at And we'd love to see you there. There might be Maika in the in the midshow here. I might have a little surprise for those folks. So just hang tight, some stuff around that as well. And then of course, follow us on our Facebook group If you're on LinkedIn, search Gallup Trained -- CliftonStrengths, sorry -- "CliftonStrengths Trained Coaches" and I'll let you in that group as well. I want to thank you for joining us today. If you're listening live, stay for the next one -- I think Self-Assurance. And with that, we'll say Goodbye, everybody.

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