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CliftonStrengths Developer Theme: Teams and Managers

CliftonStrengths Developer Theme: Teams and Managers

Webcast Details

  • Gallup Theme Thursday Webcast Series
  • Season 6, Developer
  • "Strong themes, stronger teams": Learn how your team can own its Developer 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 Developer 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, recorded on May 28, 2020.

Jim Collison 0:07

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 Developer. If you're listening live, love to have you join us in our chat room. There's actually a link on the live page right above me there. Click on that; it'll take you to YouTube. Sign into the chat room and you can post your questions live. More important for the mid- and postshows, but we'd love to have you do that as well. If you have questions after the fact, you can send us an email: Don't forget to subscribe on YouTube if you're there. There's a little "Like" button down there too. You can click on that. That helps us get discovered. And then, of course, if you want to listen to us as a podcast, any podcast app, search "Gallup Webcasts" or "Theme Thursday"; that'll get you there as well. Maika Leibbrandt is our host today. She's a Senior Workplace Consultant here at Gallup with me. Maika, always great to see you on Theme Thursday. Welcome back!

Maika Leibbrandt 1:04

Thanks, Jim. Great to be here. I'm excited to dive into Developer today. But before we do that, just a reminder of what we're doing this entire season. This is Season 6. And if you've just found Theme Thursday, you have hours of delightfulness in front of you if you want to go back and binge. Really what we're talking about in this entire season is not just How do we identify one of the 34 CliftonStrengths themes? But how do we dive into what that means in the context of managers and teams? So we're exploring every theme through the lens of team, and we know specifically from our studies in leadership and in team performance, that strong teams have 5 things going for them. So there's not a scientific link between every single CliftonStrengths theme and each of these 5 Truths of a Strong Team. But we are, we are definitely going to use these 5 truths to unpack the "How" behind Developer today, answering that question of how do they build relationships? They are a -- Developer is a Relationship Building theme. And very often with those 4 Domains of Leadership that in Season 6, we're exploring one at a time, it's, it's super helpful as shorthand, but sometimes it stops there. And people just say, "Oh, you do, you influence, you build relationships, or you think," and it's not that simple. People are pretty complicated and beautiful. So I hope by the end of our session today, you can say more than just, "Oh, they build relationships." But you can really understand how Developer does that and honor the Developers on the team that you might be a part of.

Maika Leibbrandt 2:29

Let's start with the short definition. You can find this on your CliftonStrengths 34 report. If you have high Developer, you recognize and cultivate the potential in other people. You spot the signs of each small improvement and derive satisfaction from evidence of progress. So let's use that to dive into the first truth of strong teams, which is how strong teams deal with conflict. "Conflict doesn't destroy them, because strong teams focus on results."

Jim Collison 2:59

And for Developer, what does that really mean, to focus on results?

Maika Leibbrandt 3:02

Developer describes the talent to spot progress, no matter how small or incremental that progress might be. So someone with dominant Developer talents will think about results in terms of what they mean for the personal growth or personal improvement of the people involved. So rather than saying, Hey, how close are we to checking off that milestone or achieving our goal? Someone with Developer might natural -- naturally see, Wow, how are we getting better as we pursue that goal?

Jim Collison 3:32

Yeah. And so dig in a little bit on that, when we think of tracking progress. What would be a good -- a great a great example?

Maika Leibbrandt 3:38

Well, remember that the dividing lines between those 4 Domains of Leadership are more like curtains; they're less like brick walls. It can be helpful to think about how a theme might meet the demands that we commonly associate with those 4 Domains. So basically, what we're saying here is how does Developer execute? Which, to be honest, is a really helpful question to ask even across all 4. It's a great way to think about how somebody with Developer might track progress.

Maika Leibbrandt 4:05

Now a specific talent that someone with dominant or high Developer brings toward executing, whether or not it's on their own part or as part of a team, is that ability to spot, to notice and to just never ignore signs of improvement. Think about this -- without Developer, you might wait for the flower to bloom, instead of with Developer, where you'll see the sprout has, has begun. So sure, the talent of Developer really is rooted in relationships -- that desire to see other people change and grow. But it's also about paying attention and value to that growth, even if it's in the moment, even if it's in a way that nobody else sees it. So they might be more likely to see progress toward a goal as a continuum, not a binary, "Did we accomplish or did we fail?" But maybe it's speaking up for the positive gains that we did make, regardless of where that landed us.

Jim Collison 5:02

In previous seasons, we've talked about the "me versus we." And I think Developer is one of those "we," right, it's outward-facing; it's looking at other people instead of focusing on ourselves a lot of times. What's the second truth?

Maika Leibbrandt 5:15

The second truth of a strong team is that "They prioritize what's best for the organization" -- works well on that "we versus me" piece, Jim -- "and then they move forward."

Jim Collison 5:24

Yeah. And so how does someone with Developer focus on the larger goal or purpose rather than just their own?

Maika Leibbrandt 5:30

They're naturally zoomed in or tuned in to other people. They really take delight in those "Aha!" moments that other people have. Someone with dominant Developer talent is inclined to share their discoveries, translating them into lessons that they can offer other people. If you have someone with Developer on your team, you can help them harness what's best for the organization by turning it into an opportunity to share, to teach, or to challenge others. Ask them to get to know the values are the goals of the people that they're working with. Maybe someone that they're helping, someone they're advising, someone they're mentoring, or even just somebody that they're working alongside, because remember, Developer is going to see everybody through that lens of, Wow, this is somebody that I could help have an "Aha!" moment.

Maika Leibbrandt 6:17

You might ask them what they think the most important value or mission of the organization is, and what they wish they'd known about the team when they first joined. Remember, what we're trying to pursue here is that idea of How do you look outside of yourself and prioritize what's best for the organization? So position someone with Developer to take on what's best for others. And in doing that, you're really tapping into what they truly do best.

Jim Collison 6:40

So what inspires someone with Developer to really take action?

Maika Leibbrandt 6:44

Someone with Developer I think about as always scanning for opportunities to inspire or opportunities to teach. You can move them toward action by offering a platform to do that or making the platform more easily accessible that they already have. So think about ways that you can remove just one more barrier between them and the people they can develop. Maybe it means adding more short conversations, encouraging one-on-one quick connects with their colleagues, or even maybe depending on their other themes or what they really love to do. You might ask them to write a paper on something that they've learned, or host a weekly Learn at Lunch or even just offer, give them a bunch of questions to develop some appreciative inquiry among the people around them about what's working, or what improvements we should really be aiming for. In short, I think the best recipe for encouraging action for a Developer is going to be found at the intersection of a growth opportunity and the means to connect with other people in order to inspire that growth.

Jim Collison 7:48

OK, let's look at the third truth.

Maika Leibbrandt 7:50

The third truth: "Members of strong teams are as committed to their personal lives as they are to their work."

Jim Collison 7:56

Yeah, and how might this show up? And I have a little story, but how might this show up with someone who has Developer in their personal life?

Maika Leibbrandt 8:01

You can't tell me of a story and then not tell it. Do you want to go?

Jim Collison 8:04

You know, for me, I mentioned either preshow or at the beginning of the show that, as a manager, this is an area I need to really practice in. And I actually saw a lot of it with my own kids. Like I practice this idea of developing my children in this way, of pouring into them to, to see them grow. And that helped translate, for me, that helped me translate into the the manager role. I would think, OK, if these were my children, how might I manage them? Now, you manage other parts of it completely differently, but it still gave me that idea of growth, right, of pouring into someone else's life to see growth and development in them. So an example from me, Maika. How else might that show up in someone's personal life?

Maika Leibbrandt 8:44

Lisa just asked in the chat, do Developers like teaching groups as well as individuals? And I'm not sure that the Developer talent on its own would answer that question with, with a Yes or a No; an Either/Or. What they really love is they probably see the individuals within the group, always. You know, it's that when they see a group, it's a whole bunch of opportunities to help people develop. So you might notice this and how it shows up in people's personal lives. I bet they make great use of the voice that they have to help other people. Maybe that means they're serving in their community as a supportive parent who shows up to, you know, to kids' activities or a teacher. Maybe they do attract a large group, depending on the other themes that they have. But the, the piece that you can say is definitely attributed to Developer is that awareness of how people can improve and that desire to create that improvement or to connect the people to their own improvement.

Maika Leibbrandt 9:40

You might also notice this in somebody's personal life, just the people who write the most inspirational social media posts that tend to be others-focused, not just "Here's what I -- here's the sandwich I had for breakfast," but "I encourage you to go make a great sandwich," right? There's a difference there of turning that -- the way that you communicate inside out. A Developer is always thinking about, What can this mean for somebody else? How can I help somebody discover that, that moment that makes a difference in their growth?

Maika Leibbrandt 10:09

On a more personal level, I think about Developers as being -- very often, not all the time, but -- very often they're the friend that you feel most comfortable asking for help. And knowing that sometimes asking for help means admitting that you don't know something. They're likely to have earned that kind of comfort by sharing the discoveries that they've had or sharing the lessons that they've learned, which also probably means sharing, you know, what they used to think that they realized is now not right. Or that the -- in looking back, maybe they wouldn't have offered, you know, how different they were. I think it's not just their own quest for understanding that they're, that they're putting out there. But it's more about creating that for other people and creating that kind of comfort.

Jim Collison 10:50

What kind of questions could a manager use or ask to help kind of bring out this personal side of Developer?

Maika Leibbrandt 10:56

Who has helped you grow and how did they do it? Tell me about a time you helped create understanding. What topic could you teach without prep time? (By the way, I stole that one from Ryan Wolf in our Fitness Center, who asked it of our Fitness Center all-stars. That was a great question.) What do you think people really need to know? How do you think people change? Tell me about something you've introduced to someone lately.

Jim Collison 11:22

Yeah. All those clues to that talent. That's so great. Let's look at truth No. 4.

Maika Leibbrandt 11:27

No. 4: "Strong teams embrace diversity." I'm very aware that this is a huge issue and increasingly important, the issue of diversity and that it is much bigger than just having a difference of CliftonStrengths. So I'm in no way trying to say that if you have Developer -- and I don't -- that we equal diversity. But what we do know about this truth here, and what we're going to use it to really explore is that acknowledging the differences that people bring to the team, including their life experience, where they come from, what kind of education they have, the way that, you know, the way that they were brought up and the way that they think -- the way that they naturally behave and feel -- that having a difference of those experiences leads to a stronger team than having a team that's more homogenous. So what we're going to do with this diversity idea is really explore what's different about Developer that could stand out and be appreciated?

Jim Collison 12:22

Well, as we think about those differences, what are a few descriptors we might use for this theme?

Maika Leibbrandt 12:26

Your Developer on your team could be called practical, growth-oriented, embraces change, others-focused, hopeful, a challenger, a guide, a teacher or a helper.

Jim Collison 12:40

And what unique -- with that in mind, what unique perspective does Developer bring to a team?

Maika Leibbrandt 12:45

When you think about how a Developer addresses a challenge, they're going to see just how we can adjust and grow in order to meet it -- meet that challenge with the people resources we already have. They're probably more likely to say, you know, "We've got this; we just need to tweak some things" than to say, "We don't have the right people in order to do this." So I think that's a unique perspective of hope and an openness to change that Developer brings.

Maika Leibbrandt 13:10

There's also no limit to what they believe people can learn, which can add this lens of resilience to the team. There's a patience to Developer. They might be more willing to forgive under the lens of learning and development, rather than judge really quickly and assume that everything is permanent.

Jim Collison 13:29

Let's look -- and I think, for Developer, what this idea is super strong, but let's look at truth No. 5.

Maika Leibbrandt 13:36

No. 5 is Jim's favorite. It's that "Strong teams are magnets for talent." What we mean by this is, if you want to spot a strong team, look for the one that everyone's scrambling to be a part of.

Jim Collison 13:47

Yeah, and I think it's kind of a no-brainer, but what will others be attracted to with Developer?

Maika Leibbrandt 13:51

Well, it's great to work with somebody who cares about how you can be better. The challenge Developer can bring to a relationship can feel honoring. Being around somebody who notices opportunity for improvement, especially when it's asked for, or when there's permission to talk about, OK, how can we get better? That can build a bond of trust and intimacy that, that you don't get otherwise. I think there can also be an element of humility within the person who has high Developer, and -- or that humility can also be cast across a group that we can always be better embracing the idea that, you know, even when we're on top of our game, we're going to ask for feedback. And we're going to open those lines of communication. Typically, with Developer, it shows up as rather gentle and generally inspiring and future-focused.

Jim Collison 14:39

I've noticed on the teams I've been in where there's been a high Developer in there and they take an interest in me, I really want to be on that team like, you know, you're just like, Oh, you're interested in me and my development? I mean, that's kind of the "sweet spot" of that too. I think that's one of those kind of "magic quadrant" themes on a team that really can make it very attractive for folks. How might you describe -- how else might you describe this gift Developer brings to a team that others want more of?

Maika Leibbrandt 15:08

Sure. So, I mean, thinking about how does Developer develop relationships? How does Developer build relationships? The hand that Developer offers is, I see a way we can be better; or I see a way you can be better. You want to know it? So as that Relationship Building theme, Developer is at its best when there's somebody there to take that hand. They're thinking about people; they're working with people; they're challenging and growing other people. So people tend to appreciate the others focus, I think, of that theme. If you think about great teachers in your life, they might be actually in an educational profession, or they might be just advisers or guides or cheerleaders who also connected with you on a human level. If you've had that, then you know the kind of relationship would be something that other people want to come back to, like you mentioned, Jim, kind of time and time again.

Jim Collison 16:01

Let's summarize these 5.

Maika Leibbrandt 16:02

Yeah, the 5 Truths of a Strong Team. And as you're listening to these, maybe think about these as a guide for you to evaluate the teams that you're a part of, and why you're strong in areas that you're strong, or what maybe could be built upon some, some potential in order to make those areas stronger. The first is that They focused on results more than conflict. That in itself is the very reason a lot of people hire a coach. The second is that They focus on what's best for the organization and then move forward. That requires, I think, a team element, the ability to to focus on somebody else other than yourself and to do what's best for the whole. The third is that Their personal lives are just as important as their work lives. The fourth is that They embrace diversity, again, that they look at their differences and honor them. And the fourth is that they are -- or the fifth, sorry, is that They're magnets for talent. You can read a lot more about that in the book Strengths Based Leadership.

Jim Collison 16:58

Anything, anything else you want to say as we kind of wrap this and move into talent-mindfulness?

Maika Leibbrandt 17:02

Yeah, just that it's a, it's a beautiful theme. Did I miss anything, Jim?

Jim Collison 17:06

No, actually, one of the things this as we, as we make that transition, and that's an area, as I, as I think about my own development in this, is really understanding. I'm kind of good on the work side; sometimes they don't bring the personal life, the personal aspects into it. And that's really an opportunity for me in an area to grow when we think about using that Developer theme. So I appreciate that as we think about that, that third truth, right work and personal lives matter. It's an area I can grow in as well. Speaking of growth, we've got a great talent-mindfulness exercise ahead. What do you have for us today, Maika?

Maika Leibbrandt 17:39

Yeah, so this is a practice for you. We're going to right now depart from the challenge of learning and loving and positioning the Developer theme within a team. Instead, we're going to spend 3 to 5 minutes just focusing on you and how you show up in a team. It doesn't matter where Developer lands in your CliftonStrengths profile. I'd like you to do something right now to focus your attention on yourself. Maybe you press "Pause" on this podcast and go sit somewhere different. Maybe you breathe, or just close your eyes. Maybe you're driving as you're listening to this. So just, if you're driving, maybe just sit up a bit straighter and turn up the volume.

Maika Leibbrandt 18:23

Let's get started. I invite you today to think about a great team that you've been a part of. Go ahead, allow your imagination to scan your entire human history. Explore in your mind an actual team. Avoid that temptation to say, "I know where she's going; here's some buzzwords." I want you to think about a real team, one that you've enjoyed being part of. You might be thinking about sports or your family or someone else's family. Maybe you're thinking about a community team, maybe a project team at work, a leadership group, a social circle, a neighborhood. ...

Maika Leibbrandt 19:22

Other people who are practicing this right now, right alongside you might be thinking about the global team of Strengths Coaches connected by this very podcast you're hearing right now. Again, a team that you have enjoyed being a part of. Strong teams have several things going for them. We've talked about 5 of those things today. There might be moments in time, even for the team that everyone wants to be on, that are stronger than other moments. Those moments when individuals are connected to each other and to the goal in a way that elevates the contribution of each person to something they truly could not accomplish by themselves. Think back to that strong team experience that you have in mind. How did the people on that team, either your colleagues or your leader, how did they honor the individual talent that you brought to the group? ...

Maika Leibbrandt 20:33

That's the big question. I'm going to ask you a few more questions that help you unpack that. What did someone on that team do for you that helped you feel connected? ... What habits did the people on that team have that you really appreciated? ... What always happened? ... What never happened? ...

Maika Leibbrandt 21:20

With all these great ideas sort of swirling around in your brain, reflecting on this team you really enjoyed being a part of, I want to invite you to say, If you had to pick one thing and turn it into a rule that you'd bring to every team; in a dream state, if you truly could have your say, and no -- for no one else, about no one else but just for your own self, what is a rule that you wish everyone would follow if they really want to get the best of you? ...

Maika Leibbrandt 22:02

I'm going to ask it just one other way. How can your team set you up personally, individually, differently from others? How can they set you up to be the very best version of yourself? ...

Maika Leibbrandt 22:32

I asked you a lot of questions today. This was just a few minutes. You might find that you need to simmer on this and you need to come back and sort through it again. You're welcome to play just the last 5 minutes of our podcast again, and take some notes. What we're doing is helping you cultivate not just an awareness of the talent you have, but an awareness of the most fertile ground for that talent to grow. And that is how you go from exploring your potential to really growing and driving high performance. Thank you for doing this. That's your talent-mindfulness for today.

Jim Collison 23:13

That's really good. Thanks for doing that for us. You know, it got me thinking about some of the great teams that I've been on. And I think I'm on a really great team right now. And just a great opportunity to reflect on those pieces as well. If you're listening live, stay around for just a few minutes of, of our, of our mid-show here. With that, I'll remind everyone to take full advantages of all the resources we have available, now through Gallup Access -- easiest way to get access to Access. (I've just been dying to say that!) Head out to Actually, if you log in there, it'll take you right to your Strengths Dashboard. So great opportunity. All our webcasts are posted there. Webcasts now are posted with full transcripts. That hasn't always been that way, by the way. I've gotten a few emails from folks saying Hey, why isn't Season 1? Well, we didn't do it back, you know, 8 years ago. And, and transcripts are not available there. But everything for Season 5, Season 6 of Theme Thursday here so far, as well. And all those resources available at While you're there, at the very bottom of the page, you can sign up for the CliftonStrengths Community Newsletter, just kind of keep you up to date on all the things that are happening. We have a new one of those coming out here at the beginning of the month, so you might want to get registered for it today. If you have any questions about anything, you can always send us an email: If you want to know when the live programs are, and it's more fun to join us live. We're taking a break here during the summit time. And if you want to know about that, head out to our Eventbrite page: If you follow us there, you'll get notifications every time I update. I'll be posting 4th Quarter Theme Thursdays right after the summit's over. You'll get all those notifications so you know they've come out. Follow us: I mentioned the summit; by the time you hear this, it's too late probably to come to 2020, if you're listening to the recorded version. But 2021's probably already posted: is the site to go to; you can see what's coming up next year. If you're listening live, you've got 4 days to register. We'd love to have you come out and be a part of it. There's a bunch -- there's oh, there's about 50 of you out there. Hopefully you're registered and hopefully you're joining us. The 4:00 to 5:00 session is Maika and I. And if you're in Asia, you can listen to us 9 to 10 p.m., just for you. We'll be out there interviewing folks as well. Love to have you join us at the summit:, special price, 20 hours of learning, it's going to be a great year. Don't be the one who says "Ah, I wish I would have missed -- I wish I would not have missed the first year they went virtual." If you want to join us in our in our social groups on Facebook, go to On LinkedIn, go to "CliftonStrengths Trained Coaches" and join us there. If you're listening live, stay around for the mid-show. With that, we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.

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