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CliftonStrengths Connectedness Theme: Teams and Managers

CliftonStrengths Connectedness Theme: Teams and Managers

Webcast Details

  • Gallup Theme Thursday Webcast Series
  • Season 6, Connectedness
  • "Strong themes, stronger teams": Learn how your team can own its Connectedness 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 Connectedness 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 virtual studios around the world, this is Gallup's Theme Thursday, Season 6, recorded on May 21, 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 Connectedness. If you're listening live, there's a live link right above us to the YouTube page. Love to have you in the chat room. And we'd love to have you join us live, if you've never done that before: We list them all; you can sign up for them. We'll send you a notification; we'll send you a reminder. We'll also let you know when it's been posted. So sign up over there. If you have any questions after the fact, you can send us an email: Don't forget, if you're on YouTube, click the "Like" button and subscribe over there to the right. We'd love to have you get notified every time we post these. Maika Leibbrandt is our host today. She's a Senior Workplace Consultant with me here at Gallup. Maika, always great to see you on Theme Thursday. Welcome back!

Maika Leibbrandt 1:03

Thanks, Jim. Great to be here. So it's been really fun this season getting to go Domain by Domain through all 34 themes. We're exploring them through the lens of what makes a strong team. If you want to know more about the 5 Truths of Strong Teams that we use to structure Season 6. You can find that in the book Strengths Based Leadership. We're really using these as a jumping point to explore every theme. And right now, we're in the Relationship Building Domain. So I hope as you explore and really dive into these, theme by theme, you leave better able to think about how can somebody with this theme really serve and adhere to the great network within a team, instead of just saying, "Oh, that's a Relationship Building theme." So today we're diving into Connectedness. The short definition of Connectedness is this: You have faith in the links among all things. You believe there are few coincidences and that almost every event has meaning.

Maika Leibbrandt 2:01

The first truth of a strong team is how they deal with conflict. So the truth is, is this: it's that "Conflict does not destroy strong teams, because strong teams focus on results."

Jim Collison 2:13

And what does it mean, "focus on results" for Connectedness?

Maika Leibbrandt 2:16

You know, they might have more patience with results, understanding that progress is made in, in -- when progress is made in any direction, it will eventually flow toward the place that they're supposed to be. Now this can sound, at worst, directionless, or disconnected, but lean into this; understand, it really is just the opposite. It's a holistic approach to results. It's forgiving any missteps along the way and raising up sort of our level of understanding of How are we focusing on results to be able to see the big picture?

Jim Collison 2:51

How does Connectedness track progress?

Maika Leibbrandt 2:54

They'll likely notice human interaction in pursuit of a goal. They'll track not just whether we did what we set out to do originally, but what did we actually do? Moments that the team followed the plan as well as moments the team followed their own instincts. Somebody with Connectedness trusts all of those things as part of something that needed to happen. So you can collaborate with Connectedness through clarity. Check in often about what the most important end result is and explore whether each milestone along the way carries equal weight, or if those, those milestones, maybe that we say at the beginning of a plan, still truly support the ultimate goal.

Jim Collison 3:40

It's good advice. Let's look at No. 2.

Maika Leibbrandt 3:42

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

Jim Collison 3:48

And how does someone with Connectedness focus on a larger goal or purpose, rather than just their own?

Maika Leibbrandt 3:54

How specifically? Sometimes it's just by getting quiet and listening to their intuition. Connectedness shines in moments of clarity that happen organically. And I heard from somebody this week the definition of organic -- I love this: "derived from living matter." So, with Connectedness, it's about taking clues that are really found in the human experience and evaluation of that experience. Sometimes, that's a clarifying moment of calm in the midst of chaos. Sometimes it's a glimpse into the future or the past that ties together seemingly independent people or events in a way that makes you kind of exhale and say, "Oh, it all makes sense now!" That's a Connectedness moment.

Maika Leibbrandt 4:42

Connectedness is not just about the links between people. I find that, even as we've evolved through 6 seasons of Theme Thursday, the world outside of CliftonStrengths has tended to place a value in a definition on the word "connectedness" to mean "really good at networking," or "very connected." That's not quite the definition that we use when we think about the research that really led to CliftonStrengths. This version of Connectedness is about seeing, feeling and noticing and anticipating links between people and places. So it's not just that you've got the most followers or the most, you know, connections. People with Connectedness, it's almost like moments when you can rewatch a really complex movie. And all of a sudden, the second time you see it, you notice all those clues you miss the first time. People with strong Connectedness are sensing those the first time.

Maika Leibbrandt 5:41

So in a team, if you want to help someone with Connectedness, focus on a larger goal than their own. Give them a runway to explore where their strongest energy connection might come from. Explore the similarities that they see between their own goals and the goals of the organization. It might not be a straight line between the most important organizational goal and their most important personal goal. But straight lines don't really exist in nature. So it's OK to allow that to grow and twist and sort of exist before it's solidified and really lands.

Jim Collison 6:13

Wait a minute -- straight lines exist in my yard, on my lawn, when I mow 'em straight, right? One of my favorite things to do is to watch this happen in people. I just love Includer and Connectedness, those themes, as people are doing them. How do they, how does someone with Connectedness really take action?

Maika Leibbrandt 6:33

It likely flows through other people. So I think about Connectedness taking action when they're making sense by noticing what other people can't or don't notice. Being inspired by the talent of other people. Catching small actions that people can take that add up to making a meaningful difference. Sometimes they probably see these all the time, and it's important for the people with Connectedness to realize other people aren't noticing that. So maybe your version of taking action is maybe one step removed. Maybe it's working through others by being able to say, Hey, because you asked that question in that meeting, that allowed the other person over here to have a light-bulb moment. And I saw that and I know that that was meant to be. Or Hey, I know you're struggling right now, and I just want to let you know it's part of something bigger.

Maika Leibbrandt 7:21

And it's, it's easy to see Connectedness as being this like mystical, almost clairvoyant sort of thing. That's, that's really not the essence of it. The essence of Connectedness is that they're seeing links between things that others are missing. And sometimes it might be obvious, or it might be in the form of a thoughtful question, a developmental nudge, or just a really well-placed "Thank you!"

Jim Collison 7:44

Gonna become more important as we think about its magic on a team here in a second, but let's look at No. 3.

Maika Leibbrandt 7:49

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

Jim Collison 7:55

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

Maika Leibbrandt 7:58

There is an element of mystery; it doesn't have to be --

Jim Collison 8:02

You just said there wasn't.

Maika Leibbrandt 8:03

No, I said that's not the whole picture. But there is -- it doesn't have to be like frolicking through fields, although who wouldn't enjoy a good frolic! It doesn't have to be spiritual. It doesn't have to be loose. It can be incredibly practical. It can be super logical. But the common thread that makes it Connectedness is, no matter which balance or life experience it's wrapped up in, that ability to see, sense and act based on consequences or anticipation of consequence. They might be a spiritual person; they might be a conspiracy theorist. They might always have more questions. They're likely to be led at some point in their life by an indirect consequence, that, that sort of moving through their, their human experience with an understanding that all things have a ripple effect to them.

Jim Collison 8:58

Never thought of tying that to conspiracy theory. I'm going to have to think that one through. But as we think about questions that managers could use to kind of tap into this superpower, what would they be?

Maika Leibbrandt 9:09

Let's remember that, I think Curt called Connectedness part of a "time package." It's, it's the one that links past, present and future. You could ask, What experience does this remind you of? What are you sensing? What do you think this will mean for us in the future? (That was past, present and future. I didn't realize I did that!) What's the most important thing you're focused on right now? How do you feel most in touch with your own intuition? How do you feel in touch with the universe? What is your gut telling you or what are you reading from others? It's almost like inside-out Empathy -- sometimes Connectedness is. It's less about just hearing their own voice and more about tapping into the voices of everyone around them, in order to make sense of it in a way that they weren't told. So maybe it's even, What are you noticing about our team? Or what are you noticing about our performance?

Jim Collison 10:06

Sunday was the anniversary of that date for Curt, and all the Connectedness people right now are freaking out that you just tied all that together. So let's look at No. 4.

Maika Leibbrandt 10:16

"Strong teams embrace diversity." This does not mean that having different CliftonStrengths themes means your diverse. Diversity is a bigger issue than this. But it does mean that what's valuable about diversity is true when it's, when it's tied to teams as well; that having a bunch of people with different ideas gets you farther than having a bunch of people with the same experience and the same ideas.

Jim Collison 10:39

And what are some descriptor words we can use for it?

Maika Leibbrandt 10:42

You could call somebody with Connectedness, oh, I like this. Kelly says, "an acute observer." I'm going to say that. Intuitive. A global thinker, independent, spiritual, patient, calm. There's a sense of wisdom to Connectedness that almost seems like it doesn't come from this world. Like it's, it's wisdom that isn't derived from books or or even from experience. It's from somewhere else. And I think it's just because they're, they're paying attention on multiple levels -- almost like being a global listener of, of people and of events at the same time.

Jim Collison 11:24

And what unique perspective does it bring to a team?

Maika Leibbrandt 11:27

I love the word "perspective" -- let's just say that -- for Connectedness, because it is all about perspective. They can elevate beyond what the team sees right in front of them, and help them think about larger ... in any direction on a timeline, so they can offer some sense-making from past events or plant seeds of thoughtfulness about future plans. They -- oh my gosh -- Jim, I didn't even like think about this when I was writing it, but I'm really happy that you mentioned Curt. Curt was really into bridges, like didn't even think about this when I wrote it. I also have Connectedness No. 6. So I'm having a moment. Yeah. OK. Listen, this is so cool. This is what my notes say. They're like a bridge you maybe didn't know you needed. Bridging between -- jeez, you might have to read this.

Jim Collison 12:20

You can do it. You got it.

Maika Leibbrandt 12:24

Bridging between time, bridging between people, bridging from the chaos and uncertainty to the comfort of mystery. There you go. That's pretty cool.

Jim Collison 12:39

Yeah, no, it's cool indeed. No. 5.

Maika Leibbrandt 12:44

"The final truth a strong team ... "

Jim Collison 12:46

Here, let me say -- this part I'll say for you. So the final truth like, "Strong teams are magnets for talent," right. Another way to spot a strong team is to look for teams that everybody wants to be on. We spent a little time in the mid-show kind of talking about this, right, and maybe why. So what is it about Connectedness that others are attracted to?

Maika Leibbrandt 13:10


Jim Collison 13:11

Exactly. Yeah, you don't you don't get a little -- more genuine -- than this. For sure.

Maika Leibbrandt 13:17

Yeah. So I mean, there's so much that's so beautiful about it. And I think it's a hard theme to understand. And I think, I think when you have somebody with Connectedness on your team, realize that it's probably always switched on, even if you don't hear it, because it's always switched on in them, even if they don't know it. But having those moments like we're having right now, where it is, it's sort of like all of your, all of your senses, all of everything that you can hear and think and sense and smell and feel. When they all come together at the same time, that's Connectedness -- in your imagination and your reality at the same time. And it can be hard-hitting and direct in the way that somebody with Connectedness shares reminders that no event stands alone -- you don't forget those times. I think that's what others are attracted to.

Jim Collison 14:07

Well, and like the chat room is saying, it's kind of what's happening right now. We're experiencing that -- those connections. By the way, totally unscripted. Like we did not --

Maika Leibbrandt 14:15

Oh yeah, we ditched our notes about a page ago. But I want to come back to the notes because this last paragraph is really darn good. Listen to this sentence: People with Connectedness, Jesus, it's all, it's all working right now. People with Connectedness can remind us of our humanness. They can be forgiving and inspiring, and deflate times of seriousness or worry by helping us establish trust in the unseen or even trust in the unknown. And they're courageous because they're not as intimidated as others might be to go places that seem uncertain, if you give them the chance. I'm laughing at this now because I wrote this like a week ago, when I was not having this moment. If you give them the chance, they'll bring you along with them into that kind of courage.

Jim Collison 14:24

Yeah, yeah, it takes a little bit of courage to --

Maika Leibbrandt 15:08

You're gonna have to say the 5.

Jim Collison 15:11

Yeah, so do that. So the 5 that we've been talking about, right, 1) Results, not conflict; 2) Best, what's best for the organization, then move forward; 3) Work and personal lives matter. And I think that personal life piece is really, really important. 4) They embrace diversity; and 5) They're magnets for talent. Yeah. Maika, we have been spending some time this season working through some talent-mindfulness. You gonna be able to, gonna be able to do this?

Maika Leibbrandt 15:35

I'm gonna go totally off book and yeah, yeah. Lean into it. Why not?

Jim Collison 15:41

You have the power. I'm going to turn it over to you. You ready? You sure? I'll be here for you. I'm going to be behind the scenes. All right. It's all, it's on you.

Maika Leibbrandt 15:48

Talent-mindfulness, if you haven't tuned into this before, if you haven't tuned in this before, I hope -- I'm not going to explain any of it. You should just know that, like, we're real people and we care about real people. Talent-mindfulness is a practice for everyone. It's meant to tune you kind of out of your brain and just into your talents. So we're going to take the next 3 to 5 minutes.

Maika Leibbrandt 16:07

Today I'm ditching what I had planned. I'm going to offer you a visualization. Sometimes talent-mindfulness is a bunch of, to be honest, super good coaching questions that you should be stealing and using. Sometimes it's reflection; sometimes it's a breathing exercise. Today, I'm just gonna ask you to chill and maybe close your eyes, if that's available to you, and we're going to go through a visualization. I won't ever hold your -- hold, hold your feet to the fire and expect you to share with anyone what this brings up for you. And I hope you give yourself that same forgiveness.

Maika Leibbrandt 16:43

If this feels too weird and not like something you want to go into, it's fine. This will be the last part of our podcast and you can just skip to the end and hear Jim and go about the rest of your day. But if you're up for it, do something right now to minimize distraction and turn your attention inward. If you're comfortable with it, go ahead and close your eyes. You're worth the next 3 minutes with your eyes closed.

Maika Leibbrandt 17:08

You know, we, we talk about talent all the time. And I think sometimes it either becomes magical and unreachable, or so commonplace that we forget just how potent it is. Truly something so concentrated, so great, so beautiful can be really hard to conceptualize. And so I'm going to help you through this visualization as a goal of getting one more angle of understanding, one more way of getting, getting a glimpse of just how powerful you truly are. Imagine yourself standing somewhere alone. Maybe you feel most at home in the mountains or on the beach or in a field. But imagine you've gotten away from the rest of the world and away from other people. And as far as you can see, there aren't other people. It's nature. It's plants and animals and rocks and trees and sounds. Maybe the wind is blowing a little bit. Take a deep breath in, and as you inhale slowly, just realize how big and expansive this imaginary space is. ...

Maika Leibbrandt 18:33

Imagine yourself, if you could turn around and see that even behind you, that space is still open and vast. ... Want you to pay attention to your breath, and imagine that every inhale allows you to, as if you were a drone, allows you to go up, float up into the air and look back down on your imaginary self in this big open space -- first to the tree line, then to the clouds, then above the clouds past the altitude where there'd be air traffic, safely above the clouds, as if you're floating with every inhale up into space. ...

Maika Leibbrandt 19:40

Imagine you get to the point where you safely are floating up so high that you can see stars. ... And just continue to breathe here. You're up so high, that if you were to look up, you'd see stars and blackness. As you're sitting here, go ahead and make a fist as if you're holding on to something -- not too tight. If it was a paper, you don't want to crumble it. But physically make a fist, and then feel yourself float very safely back down. Maybe one big exhale helps you float all the way back down into your body, still in this imaginary space.

Maika Leibbrandt 20:06

As your feet safely touch the ground, imagine opening up your hand and bringing something with you, from the blackness, from the stars, from the vast expanse of, of nature and the universe, as if you have pulled all the way from outer space a little bit of magic, a little bit of dust. Little bit of that reminder of just how huge you are. And as you continue to breathe normally and bring yourself back to the fact that you're not in outer space, you are just listening to a podcast. Please take this as a reminder that you're traveling through a vast universe, but there is also a vast universe of potential within you.

Maika Leibbrandt 21:04

And the next time you need a reminder of just how big and real your potential is, imagine looking down into the palm of your hand and seeing a little bit of that dust you brought back from outer space. As you journey through this, you are paying attention to talent, you are evaluating your presence and your potential. Sometimes all you need is just a reminder that it's there. That is your talent-mindfulness for today.

Jim Collison 21:56

You did it. Good work. Good work. With that, we'll remind everyone to take full advantages of all the resources we have available, now in Gallup Access. And the easiest way to get to that: will get you there as well. If you, if you log in from that site, from right there, it will take you right to your Strengths Dashboard. So if you want to stay connected with us while you're there, there's a link at the very bottom to our CliftonStrengths Community Newsletter. Love to have you sign up for that. We won't spam you; once a month, send you some information on what's going on in the strengths community. If you want to follow us, there's a whole bunch of different ways to do this. One is at Follow us there, and you'll get notifications whenever we post new shows, live shows. That's where you want to come. You can go out there right now and see what's coming up. We've posted everything through the end of June, and so you might want to get signed up for some of those as well. If you have any questions, you can send us an email: You can join us at the CliftonStrengths Summit that's coming up June 2. if you're listening live, it's about the only chance you're gonna get to respond to this, but You can purchase that 20 hours of learning available for you for the next 3 months. We'd love to have you get signed in; a couple thousand of you already have. And love to have you join us for that event coming up here: If it's after the fact, we'll probably do this again in 2021. So you might want to bookmark that site: Join us on our Facebook group: I'm always surprised how many actually do that from what I just said. It's the very last thing I say, except for this one: If you want to join us on LinkedIn, search "CliftonStrengths Trained Coaches." Want to thank you for joining us today; a very special Connectedness. Stay -- if you're listening live, stay around for a little bit of a postshow. With that, we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.

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