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Create a Culture That Inspires: 22 Ways to Embed Strengths

Create a Culture That Inspires: 22 Ways to Embed Strengths

Webcast Details

  • Gallup Called to Coach Webcast Series
  • Season 8, Episode 43
  • Jessica Dawson joins the webcast to ideate on practical ways managers, executives -- and you -- can sustain a CliftonStrengths focus in your organization's culture.
  • Interested in learning more on this topic? Read more about how to improve teamwork in the workplace.

Jessica Dawson, Learning and Development Consultant at Gallup, was our guest on a recent Called to Coach. In Part 2 of a webcast series focusing on Creating a Culture That Inspires, Jessica shared (at least) 22 ways in which organizations, including managers, executives and individual employees, can start CliftonStrengths conversations and can sustain a focus on strengths in their culture.

Access Part 1 , Part 3 and Part 4 of the Create a Culture That Inspires 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 May 8, 2020.

Jim Collison 0:17

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 individuals, teams and organizations around the world. If you're listening live, love to have you join us in our chat room. There's a link right above me available for that. Log in and let us know you're there. If it's after the fact, you can send us an email: Don't forget, if you're on YouTube, you can subscribe to us ("Like" the video, too, while you're down there; that's always helpful). And if you haven't caught us on a you -- on a podcast yet, those are available on your phone. You can take them as you're walking the dog -- I used to say, "On a train, in a plane, in a car." We're not doing much of that at the moment. So maybe walking the dog, doing the dishes, walking around the block, something like that. You can get those available as a podcast as well. Jessica Dawson is our host today. Jessica is a Learning and Development Consultant here with me at Gallup. Jessica, always great to see you. Welcome to Called to Coach!

Jessica Dawson 1:07

Thank you, Jim. I'm excited to be here with you and talk about this cool topic.

Jim Collison 1:11

Yeah, no. And so we just spent some time in Part 1 of this, kind of talking through the framework of "Name it. Claim it. Aim it." Really set the kind of set the table, so to speak for now, you know, we have a -- we did a series on the 5 things you can do or the 5 things you need to build a strengths-based culture. We're now embedding this in; we're giving some practical advice on how to do that. That was Part 1 of it. Now we're getting really tactical. So if we think about, and you know what, sometimes this can be a daunting task, right? When -- it's been fun talking about it, but now we actually have to do it. And so we're going to give some practical advice on doing that. How would you? Where's a good place to start?

Jessica Dawson 1:51

Yeah, you know, I, I think that you'll want to think about what is the type of support that you have? Have people that are -- come into my classes all the time, and, you know, it'll just be them. Or maybe they have a handful of people. And they're looking to create a strengths-based culture. And they're in an organization of maybe [5,000] to 10,000 people. Right. And so I think it's thinking about the support that you have initially and also not feeling like you have to boil the ocean. And it's OK to start small with this. For sure.

Jim Collison 2:29

So let's, let's dig in. If we're thinking about starting small, where are some small places to start?

Jessica Dawson 2:35

Yeah. So I think thinking about ways that you can start to change the conversation is a good place to start. And when I think about some initial ways to get people talking about strengths, there's a couple things that come to mind. You could, you could go online and select a picture that describes your strengths and share with your team. So like, maybe you take -- you, you allow for your team to go on, take their assessment, they have their report. Now what? A great next step would be, go online and find a picture that actually describes your themes, and then share out what you found. Right. That's a, that's a great way to start to have some conversations.

Jessica Dawson 3:16

I think another small thing that you could do might be putting your strengths in your email signature, or make them visible on your office door or your cubicle door. Or, since we're virtually, you know, maybe if you're in a Zoom call, you put your Top 5 on there, or the first (I actually just heard this today) -- putting the first three initials of each of your Top 5. So if you are placed in a breakout room or something like that, people can actually see your Top 5. So great ways to generate some conversation. People may be inclined to ask what the strengths mean, or people can get to know the strengths of other people through -- throughout the institution informally, right.

Jessica Dawson 3:56

Another idea that I love is this idea of a strengths artifact show. So this was with a, a nonprofit, and they actually had team members actually show something from, from their home that represents a strength of theirs. And you can show this virtually, or you can have them bring it in and show as a group. The other thing that you can do is maybe you take a picture of the artifact, and you can, you can create like a collage on the, on the wall. And that's what this nonprofit did: They actually created a collage on the wall. And it was a great conversation starter just to get those conversations changing, and also to generate some curiosity about what strengths is.

Jim Collison 4:40

Jessica, I love the idea. You know, we sell these picture cards, and for the longest time, you know, there are -- there are 35 of them, whatever, in a stack. And, you know, we just found 35 pictures and, and did it. Oftentimes, a question I got all the time was like, you know, I shipping's expensive. I can't get those. That's not the pictures that are magical. It's the conversation that goes around with it. And I love the idea, especially in a virtual setting, where someone -- you say, Go find, you know, use Google search and go find a picture that represents this, right. And then bring that picture up and then share that on screen -- on Zoom; we're here on StreamYard; I could do that here if I wanted to. Could do it in Teams, any of those communication, you know, soft, the software that we use, allow for that. I love this kind of thinking outside the box and idea of, OK, I can't do it, and I can't pass out cards to people, but how can I get those pictures to people?

Jim Collison 5:33

I love the show-and-tell artifact idea. Like, just as I think about the background that I have here, I've probably got some items that I could quickly grab and say, You know what this represents? I mean, just this hold on, let me see right here -- this is a, this one right here, is the logo for my tech show. Right? And so, you know, that kind of represents this Woo, Communication I've been doing. That's actually why we do what we do here is because of that show there. It started there. And so it doesn't have to be limited, right? These early ones don't have to be limited to a very specific way; you can get creative with them. I like the one you said about your team, where the 5 minutes -- repeat that one again, because I think that's underutilized. 5, 5, say it again. What was it?

Jessica Dawson 6:21

For the, for the -- I'm trying to think of which one you were --

Jim Collison 6:25

The 5, you said like 5 at 5 or the 5 minutes or the 5

Jessica Dawson 6:28

Oh, the Take 5! Yes, yeah. So just 5 minutes. So I think you know, especially in this time where we're working remotely and maybe those social interactions have kind of basically gone away. You can re-create that by intentionally doing the Take 5. We did, we do this actually on my team. I think it was Robert Gabsa who thought of it, but you -- the idea is you just call someone in for 5 minutes. You have a social interaction. And I think it could be interesting, like with your strengths, maybe you have a question of the week, right? So maybe it's, How have your strengths helped you in the last 2 days or something? Or in the last 24 hours? Or how -- what's one strength that has really helped you within this pandemic? Right? It's a way to start to put a positive spin on where we are today. But then also keep -- change the conversation, change the narrative, maybe you get to know someone in a different way than you, than you did before. And it's just 5 minutes within your day, right? So yeah!

Jim Collison 6:56

I think sometimes we make that too complicated. It can, it can be the first 10 minutes of a meeting. We do that in some of the groups that I'm in. It's like, hey, the first 10 minutes we're gonna allow to be social, no work. Let's just be social. How's your day going? How are things? Because we do that anyway. That's what we do when we are together. OK. So lots of great ideas on getting things started. I would say don't let barriers get in the way. If you did it one way and that's not available, figure out a new way to do it. What about sustaining the conversation? So we've got some things going; it's easy, for especially for us Activators, easy to get things going; harder to sustain. Give us some ideas of how to sustain this.

Jessica Dawson 8:04

Yeah, for sure. I think what, from a sustainability standpoint, you want to think about, What are some things that we are already doing that we can enhance? So, for example, you should already be doing recognition with your team, right? We know that recognition is a great way to showcase the behaviors that we want to see our teams do again. And it also is a great way to show appreciation for the hard work that people are doing. A lot of times, it also doesn't cost any money and it can make people be a lot more engaged. So if you were to set up a recognition initiative where people are able to call out the strengths, and recognize strengths in action, that's a way that you can make it ongoing. I love your callout of the team meeting, Jim, because you could even do the first 5 to 10 minutes of our team meeting, we're going to do peer-to-peer recognition.

Jessica Dawson 8:55

Now for some people, peer-to-peer recognition is some of the best recognition that they've ever received, right? You could also do it if you're the manager, or even the skip-level recognition can go a long way as well. But whatever it is, it will allow for people to start to have a basic understanding of what people's strengths are. So it's a little bit more in step -- in depth -- but it's ongoing, because based on the cadence of those meetings, right. So it should be every single time, so that after a while, we just start to do it naturally. Another thing that you could do is show -- do some showcasing of managers that are using strengths and getting a positive return on a team's performance. Right. So we know that stories really start to create our cultures. And showcas -- showcasing the managers that are doing it right is a really good way to highlight what we, what we want for all more managers to be doing within the organization. So it's a great way to demonstrate the characteristics, from an expectation standpoint, that we want you to be doing.

Jim Collison 10:07

Jessica, let me just say, too, around managers, they're just getting beat up right now. Like, we already knew our managers had bad jobs before this situation hit. And these, under these times of stress, they're also in an enormous stress because they're having to furlough, lay people off, right? They're having to deliver the bad news during this time. Having that extra, you know, and I don't, and I think cultures can learn from recognizing their managers. I mean, I think sometimes we think they don't need it. Like, "You're a manager; you don't need to be recognized." Like, couldn't be any farther from the truth. And so, you know, we don't want a culture where it's just them, but certainly, you know, everybody in the organization needs this. And so, but a great opportunity, especially there during these times, when we, we're seeing a manager using their strengths and in a way that's, that's helping their team's performance. That certainly needs to be called out and recognized.

Jessica Dawson 10:59

That's right.

Jim Collison 11:00

Yeah. What else?

Jessica Dawson 11:00

Also, also a great opportunity just for best practice sharing, right? Because maybe that manager can share out actually how they did it. The other idea that's coming to mind is, again, that staff meeting, you could also use it to introduce one theme. So maybe you have a theme of the week or whatever your -- the cadences that you choose, but you can do sort of like an overture, kind of like what you and Maika do when you're when you're doing the Theme, the Theme Thursdays, and then anyone that has the theme can actually speak about it as well.

Jessica Dawson 11:35

So this is more of a way to showcase a theme and also to educate on how it shows up and how different people within the team utilize that theme. So again, you've got that ongoing sustainability because it should be based on the cadence of the staff meeting as well. And then in terms of the, the strengths collage that I talked about before, this also could be thought of as a sustainable way to keep those conversations going. Because the collage isn't going anywhere, right? Once you put up that collage, and you keep it in the hallway, it's a way to continue the conversation well after we actually put up the, we put together that collage as a team.

Jim Collison 12:22

Yeah. And, you know, we're not together today. And in a lot of cases, we are in some. We have to remember, like, not everybody went home. We still have, we still have people working in very stressful environments. We have people, you know, there are still people coming together. So those, in fact, some in some places, they need that today more than anything. I mean, we're going to need to come behind and do some healing in some of these teams, right? That can also be done virtually.

Jim Collison 12:47

And I just think, you know, we did our Recognition and Roundtable -- our monthly -- we do that every month at Gallup. And the teams -- we had various teams put together videos of Hey, here's what's still happening at the office, which was super cool, right, to see some of the things. We still have some folks on the ground in Omaha working from the office; they're being very, very careful, very diligent with that. We got some pictures from them, right? We had some of our teams in Europe, in Asia, send in some pictures that we created videos out of and shared those internally with our, with our organization. So, again, when you think of a collage, can be real, can be virtual, right? Don't, don't let that, you know, don't let that stop you. What else? What else can, what else can we sustain?

Jessica Dawson 13:31

Yeah, so this is something that I saw with an essential oil company that I, that I worked with, where actually, each of the C-Suite members shared their strengths publicly with the employees, right. This does take a good amount of guts to do, for sure, but it sets the tone. And then after the C-Suite members do it, and maybe it's in like a quarterly leaders meeting or an annual conference or something, keep it going while by starting to feature other senior executives. Right? So maybe once the C-Suite members do it, maybe we rotate. Right? So again, that continual efforts.

Jessica Dawson 14:16

Another idea is using the team strengths grid, or the "Best of Us" activity, which is that quadrant activity, "You get the best of me when ... You get the worst of me when ... Here's what I need from you. You can count on me to ..." So that and/or the team grid, having it electronically available to all team members. And also you as the manager, or whoever is the leader of the team, just calling it out, right. So if we are maybe doing a project, maybe we start with the team, like the smaller team grid or the Best of Us, as we continue to do our projects. And before we dive in, we're taking some time to explore how each person is "showing up" to that project. Right. So again, sustainability, but, but making it in electronic and in a place where everybody has that visibility. So when people are partnering or pairing, they can come back to that information and restart or reignite those, those conversations.

Jessica Dawson 15:23

You can also incorporate strengths into goal setting, right? It's a great way to create some accountability on strengths usage, while also incorporating it into expectations within the conversation. So strengths can continue to be the conversation about performance, and it is continuously carried forward. So we're having the conversation as we set that goal. But then as you're, you're looking to reach those goals, and maybe we're doing some check-ins on the goals, strengths is now still a part of the conversation. It's not sitting out on an island, but we're focusing it on some that you actually care about, something that's really important to you and also the team's performance.

Jessica Dawson 16:06

And then the other thing is using strengths to project -- to project-plan with a team. So you can actually have each person on a project talk, talk about what they want to do, and which strength they will use to do it. So another great way to share out strengths, what we're talking about a common goal that we have. And it's also just really interesting to see how collectively the strengths of the team are going to work towards a common goal or project. I think what's important about this idea is making sure that if you're the people leader, you're not just assigning people based on their strengths, but you're allowing that person to actually have a voice and articulate the part of the project that they want to own, based on the strength that they have.

Jim Collison 16:54

Yeah, no, I think, and that's actually really, really essential as we think about that and their place on the team and why, right, a great example. One more, and this is an important one. We won't spend a ton of time on it, because you talked about it in other places, but this idea of values, can you talk a little bit about that?

Jessica Dawson 17:10

Yeah. So you know, every organization will likely have a mission statement, or core values that they live by. And it could be really interesting to do a play on the values activity or the values exercise that we do in a lot of our strengths courses. But turn that into -- from an organizational values standpoint, how do your strengths show up? Right? How do you align with our organizational values? And how do your strengths maybe even help us as an organization to live out the values? Right? And then, in terms of carrying that forward, maybe it's once a year we revisit it. Because your role is going to change; perhaps the organization is changing. How are you staying connected to those values? So that could be a really fun one too.

Jim Collison 18:02

It really could be. Take -- it takes a little more effort, and it really is pulling in resources from all around to do that. But, man, I think it can be powerful when it's pulled together. We're going to do a quick "lightning round" as we think about closing this up. There's some ways, some different ways organizations can kind of dedicate resources when we think about actually some things available to them to do. Jessica, in the few minutes we have left, kind of quickly walk us through those resources.

Jessica Dawson 18:28

Sure, I'll give you kind of like my top ones here. I think it's building inter -- internal capabilities. We know that taking your, your assessment is not enough. Coaching brings this development to a whole new level. So investing in having some internal coaches can go a long way. Also having a strengths-based champion network. You know, champions can sometimes be coaches, but they don't necessarily have to be. They can just be people that are really enthusiastic about the initiative. So getting them to ideate and think about ways to permeate strengths into the organization, and also, they should be at different levels of the organization so that you can have an understanding about how are different things landing within different departments? Also, I think doing internal -- an internal Theme Thursday is a great way to feature different people, just the same way that you and Maika do it. It could be interesting to have one internally, where we're talking about different strengths featuring different people. And then, lastly, I think, a hard-hitting way to do this, it does take a little bit more effort, but having a strengths introductory course, where people get to actually learn about their strengths, learn about other people's strengths, and do some activities that really shore up the learning.

Jim Collison 19:50

Yeah. By the way, internal book clubs or internal discussions or learn at lunches or, right, on any of these things that you can bring people together and continue that conversation around talking about it. We actually have some really great examples of Theme Thursdays that have branched out from that. You know, much like when we started Called to Coach, we had a few podcasts that popped out that look like that. They're all different. And that's great. In fact, we want them to be very, very different. We're seeing more -- I interviewed John Sexton; he came on from Vibrant Credit Union. And they do their version of Theme Thursday as well internally. They do it in the public, like it's in the public space so everybody can see it. It's really designed for their folks internally, and they've had some great feedback on that. John's out there today, and John, appreciate that work on that. We interviewed john on Called to Coach back at the around Christmas time, if you want to go back and see what they're doing. But Jessica, I think those are all great ideas. Anything you forgot or any, anything else you want to highlight as we think about some, some great ideas?

Jessica Dawson 20:52

You know, I just want to just reiterate: This can be a very daunting task to do. So again, you do not have to boil the ocean. A little can go a long way. And some of the best things that we've seen have been more of a grassroots effort that has, that has built up over the years. And I think that when you start small, it's easier to sustain. And then it's also easier to have that little bit of trial and error. So you see what works; you see what doesn't work. So take these ideas and also make them your own, right. So we're giving you suggestions, but, but continue to ideate, based on what we shared.

Jim Collison 21:28

So we said 22 ideas. We're not actually sure if there's 22 in there. What we'd love have you do -- here's what I'd love to have you do: Somebody, maybe a couple of you, go through and count. See what we did. Did we, did we get there? Did we get to 22? Did we go over 22? Or if you're watching this on YouTube, we'd actually have to love to have your ideas in the comments. So if you're on YouTube, if you're listening live, you can't do this right now. You could put them in the chat room if you want. But if you're listening on YouTube, we'd love to have your ideas well down there. Write those down there, and every -- we'll share those with everyone. But we'd love to know -- we'd love to have you go through, What ideas do we have? Let me know: Send me that email when you have the list. We'd love to see it as well. Jessica, thanks for coming on for this 2-part series. You've kicked off, as we think about, about inspiring people. Right? You've kicked off -- you've inspired me. So I appreciate you coming on today.

Jessica Dawson 22:19

Oh, thanks, Jim!

Jim Collison 22:20

Yeah, appreciate that. What that, we'll remind everyone to take full advantages of all the resources we have available, now at Tons of things available for you out there. In fact, we have some great ideas listed on that site as well. If you want to get access to all our webcasts, everything we have is on that site, including logging into Gallup Access. So get that done today: While you're there, sign up for the CliftonStrengths Community Newsletter right at the bottom of the page. We'll send it to you every month, just kind of keep you close to the community. If you have questions about anything -- something came up and you don't know how to handle it -- you mentioned, you know, maybe building a network of internal Strengths Coaches, taking on maybe some, some courses that we have, those are available at If you just want to take a peek at maybe getting some coaches internally for you, Jessica does that. She actually trains them. So that would be pretty awesome as well. But if you had questions on that and you want to talk to somebody, send us an email: Follow everything we do here on a, on a real-time basis. Join us live: We'd love to see it for our 2020 Gallup at Work Summit; it's coming up. I'm getting pretty excited about it. Some shady characters are closing that thing out. So I don't know how that part's gonna go. But the rest of the summit is going to be great. June 2, $195 for everyone to get in. We just want to get as many people there as -- I say we want to sell it out. But it's impossible to sell out a virtual summit. So we'd love to have you there as well: Join us in our Facebook group: And if you're not a Facebooker and you want to do LinkedIn, search "CliftonStrengths Trained Coaches," and we'll let you into that one as well. I want to thank you for joining us today. If you're listening on the podcast, I bet we have Step 3 ready for you. You can just skip to the next one and listen to that as well. With that, we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.

Jessica Dawson's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Futuristic, Relator, Activator, Developer and Individualization.

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

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