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Tying Strengths to the Whole Person: "Truly Human" at Accenture

Tying Strengths to the Whole Person: "Truly Human" at Accenture

Webcast Details

  • Gallup Called to Coach Webcast Series
  • Season 8, Episode 56
  • Learn how Accenture is connecting CliftonStrengths with what it means to be "truly human" as they seek to sustain high performance through developing the whole person.
  • Interested in learning more on this topic? Read more about how to improve teamwork in the workplace.

Bob Easton, Chairman and Managing Director of Accenture Australia, and Claire McCaffery, Talent and Leadership Lead at Accenture, were our guests on a recent Called to Coach. Bob and Claire shared how their large, 500,000-employee organization is seeking to sustain high performance through:

  • Thinking about and treating their employees holistically, as individuals
  • Helping employees discover their CliftonStrengths and leverage them to operate at their highest level
  • Fostering a mindset that values complementary partnerships to drive individual and team performance and engagement

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

One of our key values is respect for the individual. And I see "Truly Human" is about thinking about a person as an individual, their whole self, what they bring, what they need.

Claire McCaffery, 17:26

We get great performance when we have people operating at the intersection of their strengths and their passions -- their strengths under some sort of challenge -- and they're connected with meaningful conversations around them.

Bob Easton, 24:33

It's kind of a relief to think, "I don't have to be good at everything. I can have different strengths in different areas and other people can help me" -- recognizing what you're really strong at, partnering with someone else who's strong at something else, it's a relief.

Claire McCaffery, 37:52

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 July 7, 2020.

Jim Collison 0:20

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. And I think that won't be the last time you hear the word "Maximizer" on the program today. If you're listening live, love to have you join us in our chat room. That link is just above me there on our live page. Check in, let us know where you're listening from. If you're listening after the fact and you have some questions, you can send us an email: Don't forget, if you're on YouTube, there's actually a Subscribe button down below there. If you subscribe to the live page, you get a notification every time we go live. Just make sure you never miss one of these. And of course you can listen to us as a podcast. Just search "Gallup Webcasts" on any podcast app. Anne Lingafelter is our host today. Anne is a Learning Solutions Consultant with Gallup out of our Sydney office. And, Anne, I say this every time, but I kind of wish I was -- even though it's a little chillier, I kind of wish I was in Sydney with you guys today. Welcome back to Called to Coach!

Anne Lingafelter 1:15

Thanks, Jim. Look, we always wish you were here too. We were hoping that you would have that visit. I have to say I was missing the U.S. this last week, over Fourth of July. Had a little bit of a celebration here. We tried making a pumpkin pie. We tried making an apple pie. And, and even though it's winter, it's not too bad here in Sydney. So we had a pretty lovely day. But, yeah, one of these days, we'll get you over here and we'll do a live Called to Coach with you from the Gallup office. So --

Jim Collison 1:43

Looking forward to it.

Anne Lingafelter 1:44

Yeah, Jim, I have wanted to do this interview for quite some time. And then last month, Accenture received Gallup's Don Clifton Strengths-Based Culture Award as part of our 2020 annual summit. The award recognizes organizations that put the strengths of leaders, managers and employees at the core of how they work every day. Today, I am fortunate to be joined by Chairman and Managing Director of Accenture Australia Bob Easton, and Talent and Leadership Lead Claire McCaffery. Claire is also a Gallup Certified Coach. They're going to bring to life the story behind the award, how it started, what happened and where to now. Bob and Claire, welcome to Gallup's Called to Coach!

Claire McCaffery 2:31

Thanks, Anne.

Anne Lingafelter 2:32

Really happy to have you guys here. I -- Bob, one of the first things that I heard when I first met you for the first time was that you were one of the reasons that Gallup was partnering with Accenture around this, and, and I do want to get into that and I'd love to hear about, you know, you -- for you to tell the audience about your time at University of Pennsylvania and all of that. But I want to go back because I know that your real experience with strengths began before strengths with a capital "S"; it was really about just strengths in general from something that happened back in your, in your history that, that sort of gave you a I guess a love or an interest in in strengths with a capital "S." So if you don't mind, start off by telling our audience your Top 5 and and a bit of that story when you were in the army.

Bob Easton 3:29

OK, thanks, Anne. So my, my 5 strengths are Maximizer, Learner, Strategic, Command and Individualization, which is an interesting set of -- an interesting set of strengths. So, yes, I told you the story the other day. So I was in the army for 20-odd years. I joined the army when I was 15 years of age, and the army's a pretty -- from a performance management perspective -- pretty direct. And you often get told all the things that you're doing wrong. And I remember I was I was an instructor at Officer Cadet School and I went to get my annual performance review. And the the colonel in charge was a Colonel Bob Story.

Bob Easton 4:07

I, I don't know whether Bob is still alive today, but -- because it was a long time ago. But he gave me the performance review and and through the entire review, he focused on my strengths and what I was good at. And I noticed this and I said to him, "But Colonel, you haven't told me anything that's wrong with me, and, and what I need to improve on." And he said, "Well, Bob," he said, "I believe in focusing on what people are good at, and what your strengths are." And he actually used the word "strengths," because he said, "Those you can elevate. Whereas your weaknesses, you should leave and get people around you that can help with those. But for now, what I want you to do is think about your strengths, and how you can improve and maximize on those." Which got me thinking for quite some time and it's really, really stuck with me. And I saw Bob about 10 years ago at a reunion, and I thanked him for that and he got pretty emotional about it when I told him, you know, the impact that it had had on my life. So that was really the sort of first start. And it tells me, you know, just how big an impact someone can have on you when they focus on your strengths and what you're good at and remind you of that, as opposed to telling you all of the weaknesses and things that are wrong with you.

Anne Lingafelter 5:19

Yeah. And how did you -- from many years ago, when you were introduced to that concept, how did you -- when did you first start bringing that into the workplace?

Bob Easton 5:28

Well, I think from -- I started trying to do that, you know, sort of, sort of stuck with me. Unfortunately, like many people, I have a range of things that I need to improve on. And I'm not always good at that. But my hope and, and ambition is to try and focus on that when I have conversations with people, so it's sort of stuck with me. I will, I will admit that at times, I do get -- we're sort of drawn to focus on weaknesses, and so you have to challenge yourself to do that. So yeah, so, so I think from that day on, I've tried, and I've tried to understand more about strengths and I've tried to actually live with an affirmative strengths-based approach. But I'm not always successful at that.

Anne Lingafelter 6:15

Sounds like a Maximizer to me. Somebody who's definitely wanting to, to go from, from good to great. So what about you, Claire? Let us know a little bit about you and your, your history with strengths before we get into the nitty gritty of of strengths at Accenture.

Claire McCaffery 6:34

Sure. So I mean, just my Top 5, right Individualization, so same as Bob, Relator, Strategic (same as Bob), Arranger and Learner (same as Bob). So we've got 3 of the same but 2 quite different. When I actually did my first strengths survey, it kind of made sense to me. Like you know, I'd always thought of myself as a bit of a chameleon. I could work with different people from different walks of life, different backgrounds. I didn't really understand what that was. So when I looked at my strengths, it was like, that makes so much sense to me. Even my Strategic thing, my kids always used to say to me, Mom, you're going too fast; I don't understand why, you know, when I try and teach them their homework. And I understood that actually, that was really helpful to think about being mindful about your strengths and your talents. Because sometimes, you know, you having a talent, other people can be left behind.

Claire McCaffery 7:28

So doing that first survey was really impactful for me. And then I was given the opportunity to go to Malaysia actually, to get trained as a Strengths Coach, not the timing, I've been in HR for 20 years. And so I thought, This is great, great opportunity, I love to learn -- Learner's No. 5 for me. But it was really, that was all it was, you know, thought I'd go and do this and learn about strengths. Well I came away thinking, Wow, that is, that's really impactful. And I want to figure out how I can be a really good coach, how I can take the knowledge I have around strengths and actually really translate it into supporting and helping other people. And that was when I'm, when I talk about this -- and I really, truly mean it -- it changed my life. It changed my career, but it also changed the path of my life because it made me really interested in coaching. I signed up to do my master's in coaching psychology, at Sydney University, which has literally been transformational for me as a person and has made me the person I am now, which, you know, when I talk to people at work, they say, oh, yeah, Claire, this -- you're the coach, you know.

Claire McCaffery 8:39

So it's, it's helped me to figure out what is it, what my passion was actually, and actually then be able to realize it because with the support of Accenture, not only am I doing an HR role, but I'm also coaching with strengths, which is, which is amazing. So the journey is incredible. And it's not only impacted me; it's impacted, you know, people that I coach but also my children. I've, I've got a strengths grid for my whole family. My -- all my children understand their strengths and they talk about them and they recognize them. And I think that's, that's, that's the start. You know, my daughter's -- and she's happy for me to talk about this -- after the coaching session, she actually decided -- she was thinking about which university, what she should do. And she had it in mind she was going to do one subject. I think she was going to do English, but then after coaching so she said, Mum, I've got Learner No. 1. I just really need to be having something which I'm -- it's making me learn all the time. And then she, she shifted toward science because she felt that was more aligned. So that's how impactful strengths campaign has been for me anyway.

Anne Lingafelter 9:49

Yeah, fantastic. Bob, I'd love to hear a bit about your academic background and, and what happened at U Penn, and even some of the other work, too, that you've done around trust and wellbeing at Case Western Reserve. Can you share a little bit of that, please?

Bob Easton 10:05

Sure, Anne. Well, I've always had an interest in, but, you know -- a Learner -- you know, I joined the army when I was 15 years of age, so I didn't even graduate from high school. And I started, I had an epiphany at a very early age to, you know, to want to learn. So I started studying and ended up doing a business degree first and then a postgrad in psychology. I think I started reading my first psychology books when I was about 13 or 14. I don't know what it was that interested me in it, but, but then, I think was 2012 -- between 2010 and 2012, I had I had a lot going on in my life. And I decided to sort of get back and try and understand a little bit more.

Bob Easton 10:54

And I went to -- I was lucky enough to go to U Penn. I was living in, in Princeton at the time, which is not too far away from U Penn, to the master's of applied positive psychology, where I was just very lucky to spend 12 months of that time with an amazing group of people, with Martin Seligman and a number of others, learning about positive psychology, which had a very big strengths basis. And I started working with David Cooperrider, who was really the father of appreciative inquiry, and did my capstone project on trust and the connection of trust to wellbeing, which, which I'm happy to happy to talk about. And from that, sort of my learning, my Learner took over. And while I was working, I decided to go to Case Western and do the Ph.D., which I am sorry to say I still haven't finished -- all my colleagues that I joined have, have finished, but I finished all my coursework. But I was studying flourishing organizations and really, you know, my focus was on trying to look at measuring collective flourishing as opposed to individual flourishing.

Bob Easton 12:01

And during that time, I had a one semester -- I took some time off and I went and studied, to live in amazing organizations in the U.S., doing some qualitative research where I talked about -- where I talked to them about -- I surveyed about 52 people, 4 to 5 people in every organization. These are organizations from 500 people through 90,000 people. And Gallup was one of the organizations that I was lucky enough to interview people there. And what really came through in that was the connection of the importance of strengths and trust and wellbeing and that whole, that whole connection. Yes and, and, you know, I continue to, continue to, when I find time to work on my research. And when I retire, I will make sure that I complete my, my, my Ph.D. But, you know, learning, I'm -- every opportunity I get to read or think, I do that and yeah, Accenture provides a sort of applied laboratory to see what's the application of this. And we're just happy enough that we work in an amazing organization that set about to try and create the most truly human organization in the digital age. Yeah, we can talk more about that if you'd like.

Anne Lingafelter 13:11

Absolutely. It certainly seems like a perfect fit for, for both you and Claire, but I have to stop and ask you, Bob, please to give a little bit of context for those who are listening or watching about the size of Accenture, and, and I'm talking globally. And then also the responsibilities that you have here in Australia for your team of, what, 5,000? I mean, when you're talking about the extent of research that you've done, the study that you've done, and then your other -- then your day job, I wonder if you ever sleep! But I think the thing that's most impressive is that if you'll, if you'll talk a bit about, about Accenture and give us that context and then really to talk about how in a role as senior as yours, you've been successful in bringing in what are your underlying passions for, for this, you know, truly human organization?

Bob Easton 14:09

Yeah. So let me just go back one step because I do have to, I do have to say that when I was at U Penn, and this you'll sort of catch with the connection of Gallup, when I was at U Penn, I was lucky enough to meet Tom Rath. Tom Rath came in and, and this was, this was a, I think, life changing for me to listen to Tom talk about strengths. And I got to, I was lucky enough to get to talk to Tom afterwards. And that's sort of, I sort of met was what made the connection between Gallup and I. But, you know, Accenture is over 500,000 people. And just an amazing organization that's growing rapidly and working with all-- you know, many of the largest organizations in the world, solving complex problems. We're people from all over the world. So it's a very diversified culture, we call it a culture of cultures.

Bob Easton 15:06

In Australia, I was, I was lucky enough to, to be asked to lead our business in Australia about 3 1/2 years ago, 4 years ago now actually. And we have about 5,000 people here on shore, so inside Australia and New Zealand, serving our clients here, and about 9,000 to 10,000 in offshore locations supporting our clients here. So you can imagine it's a very fluid, large, diversified organization with what I would say a culture of cultures.

Bob Easton 15:35

And to talk about Accenture. I feel very humbled to be here today because I was only one very small cog in this, you know, very large organization. And we're just lucky to have the leaders that we have. Really the whole "Truly Human" movement was first inspired by our global CHRO, Ellen Shook, and our CEO, who passed away, Pierre Nanterme. They're the ones that actually sort of started the catalyst for creating the Truly Human movement. But our, our aim is to really, we're a very high-performance culture. So our organization is all about high performance. And we can talk more if you, if you like, Anne, about the connection of high performance with sometimes what people call this softer, truly human side that we're trying to create. But that's, that, does that answer the question around the sort of size and complexity we are?

Anne Lingafelter 16:32

No, absolutely. And I think that that's such a key, a key point to say that, you know, you can, being truly human and being a high-performing organization can coexist. And, and so if you, if both of you could talk through that process about how you've made that so at Accenture, what you've done through performance achievement, through "Inclusion Starts With I," through Truly Human -- all of the different, well, they're not even programs, right? They're just ways of being the ways that you have tied those concepts into your systems and processes. So, yes, if you can, either one of you, Claire, Bob?

Bob Easton 17:15

Claire, why don't you, why don't you start?

Claire McCaffery 17:18

Yeah, I mean, you can add on. I mean, look, it certainly starts with our values, I think. If you think about I mean, one of our key values is respect for the individual. And I see "Truly Human" is about thinking about a person as an individual, their whole self, what, what they bring, what they need. And that's why wellbeing comes into that as well. So it's, it's broader than what you do at work. And that's what Truly Human is really about. It's actually about understanding people, understanding, having conversations with people, having meaningful conversations, and that's what performance achievement was originally about. It wasn't really about changing a performance management approach; it was thinking about How do we pivot to actually be more aligned to the way the world is moving? You know, being more agile, being more focused on purpose. And if you, I know a lot of the studies that Gallup have done around millennials shows that, you know, millennials are just looking for purpose. I think my view is most people looking for purpose.

Claire McCaffery 18:26

And, you know, so I think performance achievement was actually around that; it was around How do you actually focus on the individual? How do you focus on people but then thinking about more broadly in their teams? So it started with yourself, it started with reflection, and strengths is an amazing way to reflect on yourself, to be mindful about yourself and think, what are my talents? And how do I need to pivot those talents? So it's not, it's not strength isn't about your -- you do everything well, and there's no issues. Strengths is actually around understanding what your underlying talents are, and then thinking about how do you build on them? How do you invest in them? And when I do workshops as well, I talk to people about, like, talent times investment equals strength.

Claire McCaffery 19:07

You know, when you talk about, when you look at athletes, yes, they're talented, they have to invest a lot. And we in Accenture have to invest a lot to build our strengths. So I think that's critical. And then thinking on how do you take that to teams, you know, so once you understand yourself, how do you then expand that your teams and make it more systemic? And I, actually, the way we did that was really thinking about, OK, we've got our strengths, but then how do we measure engagement? And that's where Gallup came in, I think, the opportunity to partner with Gallup to say, well, we can actually measure engagement now. We used to do just these big, you know, cross-, cross-company surveys. But actually doing it at the level which engagement happens, which is at the team level, I think is really helpful.

Claire McCaffery 19:53

And I love, I love the, the line, which I learned from Gallup, which was It's not about raising the numbers, it's what the numbers raise. It's having a conversation, it's having a meaningful conversation. And most things start with, with, with conversations. And I think if you have good conversations, quality conversations, it influences the organization, it influences systematically. So that was what performance achievement's about, that's what Truly Human is about is actually thinking about people holistically, thinking about them as as human beings, understanding their strengths, helping them focus on themselves, and on their teams. And then, you know, taking action because, you know, it's, it's all about growing. And as a coach, one of the things I know is that the way that you help people develop and grow is actually keep them accountable, help them to grow, help them to have some action plans. You know, like, it's all very well reflecting. But if you don't come out with anything to say what is going to change, things don't change. So that was really part of the journey, and I think they, they work perfectly together in terms of those these two approaches. Bob, I mean --

Bob Easton 21:05

Yeah. So maybe if I pick up on, build on some of those things. So Accenture had a long-standing performance management model, and, as I said before, a very high-performing business culture. And as the nature of our work and workforce was changing, we found that the performance management model needed to change. And it needed to better accommodate a very diversified business model, shifting demographics and generational mindsets and the increasingly global and digital workforce. And in 2014, the question we asked ourselves, in the course of our performance management discussion, was How do we help the people of Accenture achieve their best performance, which is very aligned to, to positive psychology in terms of how do we help people, you know, be the very best they can be?

Bob Easton 21:53

And the answer to that question wasn't in any existing model or traditional approach to performance management; we had to shift the conversation from systems and processes toward a greater focus on the individual. And so we set about to reimagine our performance management system -- this is sort of how we got focused on, on strengths -- that would enable, at that time, 400,000 employees to have personalized experience around strengths. And so we went about some research. We had a team. And I'm humbled also to be here because I'm just one small cog. We've a whole team behind this of people that just set about to make the world better in Accenture, and within Accenture, and then through Accenture, through the connections that we make as a real vision for us to really improve the way the world works and lives and this is, this is one way to do that.

Bob Easton 22:43

And we knew that what we needed to do was route whatever we did in what we called universal strengths and science. And so team researchers set out and through that they came up with what they call sort of universal truths. And we found that based on the research, that great performance happens when we bring the best, the best of who we are and what we do by firstly -- and there were 5 or 6 things here -- understanding, so when people understand their strengths and the application of their strengths to their work, have clear expectations in their roles and focusing on a few pivotable priorities. And if you, as you listen to these, think about the Q12 and the sorts of questions, have meaningful conversations during the performance process, create engagement within teams and take a forward-looking actions for growth, instead of catching people doing something wrong and, you know, focusing on what they've done wrong. It's about focusing on what they could do this we call it achievement going forward.

Bob Easton 23:42

And that led to what I, what really stuck with me is the Truly Human high-performance DNA culture that was, that was sort of architectured, that we've created. And there were 4 components to it. And Claire's touched on some of them. The first one was our conduct counts, which is really the table stakes around our values. So it's living values like integrity and respect for the individual. And, and the second, the second one was around performance achievement. And, and we recognize that we get the best performance when people are able to operate at their strengths, and those strengths -- at the intersection of their strengths and their passions. So what they're good at, and what they're passionate about, which comes back to purpose. And when those strengths are under challenge, because strengths that are not under challenge atrophy. And so we said, you know, we get great performance when we have people operating at the intersection of their strengths and their passions -- their strengths under, under some sort of challenge -- and they're connected with meaningful conversations around them.

Bob Easton 24:44

The third element was wellbeing and truly, truly human, so mind, body, spirit, soul. And what we recognized was that actually to get, you could get high performance but to sustain that high performance, to sustain the leveraging of strengths, you needed to make sure you looked at the whole person. And you created culture and tools and processes and language that would enable people to operate, at their best, at their best level of well being.

Bob Easton 25:12

And the fourth element was leadership, having the leaders really focus on walking the talk, because it starts with leaders right down at the, at the manager level. And there's no point the leader looking after their wellbeing and having -- operating at their strengths if they weren't actually enabling that for those that they lead in their team. So conduct counts, performance achievement and focusing on strengths, wellbeing, and, and leadership -- these were sort of the 4 components. They all come, they all connect together. And that's why I think you can see through that, Anne, the very strong connection between that hard-driving, high-performance culture and what people would say these soft elements of looking after people, helping people strive to be the best they can be. And what we recognize is that these things live -- it's things are symbiotic. I get high-performance culture is enabled through, is enabled through helping people be the best they can be.

Anne Lingafelter 26:15

No, fantastic. But, you know, I love, I love -- of course, you're preaching to the choir here. But you know, when we talk to a lot of folks, they often organizations will say, you know, love your research, love, love the, the idea of a strengths approach. It's, you know, having these ongoing conversations, these constant conversations in, in-time conversations makes a lot of sense. But it often will go in the "too hard" basket, because, you know, where is the time? How do you find the time to do that in a busy world? I'd love to hear how Accenture has done it because most certainly, high performance, as you say, is a huge focus for Accenture, and you and, and a result. I mean, you guys have been hugely successful. So can you talk about, Claire, can you talk a bit about, you know, what is, what does strengths coaching look like at Accenture? What does, you know, we're talking about -- I think the, the last data point I saw was over 300,000 current Accenture employees have taken their strengths. And then what? You know, how do they get -- do they get coached on that, you know, how does that then go into the system or into the process? And Q12, the same, right? Hundreds of thousands of people are doing that. Claire, can you talk a bit about the more granular steps?

Claire McCaffery 27:41

When people come on board, you know, our new hires, everybody does their strengths survey, I think, as you quoted down 300,000 of our 500,000 people globally in Accenture, that's 84% of people who have done that, and so it's -- we get a lot of take up with that. We do that actually as part of the integration process, so we actually get them to do their strengths in the integration process. And then we have a session within integration, our new hire integration process, where they actually talk about strengths. So we get automatically some buy-in because they have to do the survey as part of the process. And then they talk to their peers about it. So that's the starting point, Anne.

Claire McCaffery 28:26

Then after that, I mean, it varies. The journey varies. We do offer strengths coaching, and we have coached and Gallup have also done some coaching for our managing directors, who -- managing directors get, get offered a coach as soon as they come on board. But we -- there is a sort of network of strengths coaches within Accenture; I'm one of them. There's a few more of me in, in A and Zed, and we offer strengths coaching. We started off with more at the leadership level. But we've been expanding that now, and to people who want to be coached. And so I often get requests to be coached. I think of myself and a few other coaches have coached most of the HR team. But we also offer that more broadly.

Claire McCaffery 29:09

So there's individual coaching. But we also build strengths into many of the programs that we do. So for instance, we have many leadership programs. When you get promoted, for instance, or a high-potential, we have a program called Leading Extraordinary Teams, which Truly Human Extraordinary Teams, which is all about actually building leaders and managers of the future. We build strengths into all of those programs. So it becomes in the vocabulary. So people understand strengths, they talk about it, they discuss it, they -- it's something that is, is very normalized, I guess. And actually, many people, including myself, put it in the bottom of our email signature.

Claire Mccaffery 29:51

And one of the first things I do when I start a new team is I get people together and say, OK, let's look at our strengths in the grid. What's amazing about performance achievement as a tool, we actually have the tool around performance achievement, is you can actually set up a team in performance achievement and you can pull in everybody's strengths and see them in a grid immediately, as long as they've accepted the team. So that's incredibly powerful, to be honest. And that's something that we teach to our, to our managers and to our leaders. And every time I do a coaching session with an individual, I will say to them, "Have you got a team?" And they usually say, "Yes." "Well, have gone through the strengths with them?" "No." Then I encourage them to go and talk to your, your individual, your counselor about their strengths, but also look at your team strengths. And think about how your strengths come together. And that is where it becomes more systemic, I think -- when you can actually get that sort of ripple effect where people are taking it and translating it into their teams.

Claire McCaffery 30:45

So it's, it's quite broad. The other thing we've done is it sort of digital strengths journey, which I think, globally, 100,000 people have taken, which helps you work through -- walk through your strengths. And we've also linked it to other important programs, such as Truly Human and, and our leadership DNA. And so, for instance, we've got a whole site where you can actually look at your strengths, and how it relates to our leadership, or what we call DNA, to the leadership behaviors that we expect, and, and how you can focus on your strengths to support building some of the leadership DNA.

Claire McCaffery 31:17

So by building into programs, we're making it more systemic, I think. I mean, that's strengths generally. And then when we think about your Q12, or we call it the Q14 now, because we've added 2 more questions, which is the engagement survey, bringing that together with strengths brings the power, You know, I love looking at team grids, but then looking at engagement, you know, so, you know, you might have a team of Learners who the opportunity to grow is quite low. Obviously, you know, where to focus. Help them get some training, help them get som,e some, you know, new opportunities to grow. So, actually having that as well -- and that's also in performance achievement -- really gives us a bit of power. I think people are amazed, actually, when they see how easily we can do that. And that's something I'm trying to get out to everybody. This is, this is a tool that everybody can use. It's really powerful. If you can use it with your teams, you can actually build teams look at their strengths, look at engagement so easily, and actually have conversations around it. And I think that's, that really makes a difference. So those are just some of the things that we do.

Claire McCaffery 32:22

We've also actually activated what we call a, the strength corps, like an army corps. So they're a group of people who are passionate about strengths on accounts and things like that, but they're not strength coaches. We've given them some training and situation happened the other day, where one of the managing directors who was in that when the strengths called sessions that we ran, contacted me and said, I'm doing some follow-up sessions. I really want to get deeper into strengths. Can you give me some other exercises? Because, you know, we talk about strengths all the time, and but we want to understand how we can bring it to life a bit more. And that was probably a year after we'd done the initial session. And that, I mean, that's what I call the "sleeper effect." You know, it's like you did a session a year ago; somebody's still taking that forward with their teams, working through it, how it can be impactful, how it can use strengths to reach goals in a team environment. I mean, I think that's where you see the difference.

Claire McCaffery 33:21

So, but, I mean, we are a big matrixed organization. I think one of the big challenges is how do we get to everybody? You know, how do everybody know about this? You know, we've got people on clients who, you know, they're very head-down, working on, on the accounts, you know, and some people might think, Oh, haven't, haven't got time to think about this. Usually, what I find, though, is when people do think about it, they get really engaged with it and really interested in it, but it's just opening their mind, having the time to think about and saying, this is a priority for me, I think.

Anne Lingafelter 33:53

No, 100%. But I think one of the other things that I -- as I was preparing for this interview, I happened to jump on YouTube this morning and I watched the video Inclusion -- Inclusion begins with I -- yeah, yeah, it starts with I. And, and it's, if you're watching or listening to this and you haven't seen that, I suggest that you go and, and look at it, audience. But it's you know, there's so much about Accenture that's really focusing on, you know, equity, on diversity and inclusion. And, and, and I think, what, what I was struck by is strengths is another way to do that. And certainly we talk about identity diversity and we talk about cognitive diversity; identity diversity being who you are when you walk in the room, right? Are you male or female, young or old? But cognitive diversity is where strengths lives; it's, it's where, it's, you know, everyone has different patterns of thought, feeling and behavior. And so if we can put some language to that and start to include folks who think differently than we do, then, then we can have great results, right? More, more innovation, that sort of thing. Do you see that, Bob, playing out at Accenture? Do you see strengths being used sort of in that way?

Bob Easton 35:16

I do, I but I think it's in combination. We have a number of programs so that, if you think about those 4 things, the leadership focus on inclusion and diversity is great. But I think what, by having conversations around team strengths, and opening people up to understand that cognitive diversity, I really think starts to open up and unlock some of the unconscious bias. So I think it is a, it is a very good tool for doing that. And I know Claire, you have some perspectives on this. Maybe you want to share those.

Claire McCaffery 35:52

Yeah, I mean, I see this every time I do a strengths team session, which I do quite, quite a few of. And often I'll find that a team will lead with a particular Domain like Relationship or Influencing, and, and when you look at the grid, you'll see these commonalities. And people go, "Oh, look, we're all this; we're all that." And but then you might see someone who brings a point of difference, someone who's quite different to the team. And you often do that and often look for that, because I think it brings that diversity, that cognitive diversity that it moves away from groupthink. And so, for instance, a good example would be you might have a team who's really, really strong in Relator. Now often, I've seen that, you know, Relator, Includer's generally lower down on the list. But you might have someone in their team who's it's No. 1 one for them. You know, I really like to explore that. How does that person bring their Includer into the team? What do they do? How do they support the team, what complementary partnerships?

Claire McCaffery 36:49

The other one I often see a lot is Harmony and Strategic, you know, which often, if you're high in Harmony, you're low in Strategic. And you see a group of, you know, people who are very high in Strategic, Harmony's -- could be quite low. But then you've got somebody who's got Harmony No. 1, or something like that, who really bring the team together, look for the different perspectives. If there's a real power in that, when people see that, and then they start, I love actually those complementary partnerships. I love the fact that people start celebrating each other's strengths and saying, Oh, yes, you know, you're really like that; I can see that you bring that. You really help us do that in a team. And that happens over and over and over again. The power of those conversations is so important.

Claire McCaffery 37:32

And genuinely, every time I do one, I come out and somebody will say to me afterwards, "Oh, that was just so helpful to understand other people." And I know that part of actually a high-performance team is actually understanding each other. So that's, that's the first part. So that's what I see as cognitive diversity. It's actually bringing different strengths. When -- it's kind of a relief to think, "I don't have to be good at everything. I can have different strengths in different areas and other people can help me," you know, like recognizing what you're really strong at, partnering with someone else who's strong at something else, it's, it's a relief. And then everybody's happier because everybody's playing to their strengths, so they're more likely to be intrinsically motivated and passionate and engaged.

Anne Lingafelter 38:16

And how do you guys know that it's working? I mean, I hear your anecdotal stories, I hear you talking about the, you know, the, the sessions that you do, Claire. But as far as, as the, you know, is there some data out there? Do you guys -- have you done some Business Impact Analysis to see that the investment and the time that obviously has been immense has -- is making a difference?

Claire McCaffery 38:37

We have and we work with you to do that, which has shown that, you know, people who have done the assessment more likely to just stay, which is, which is really impactful. And also people who have been coached are actually more likely to stay. And, and, and also, I think we -- some analysis around engagement. So people are actually have the opportunity to grow looking at some of the engagement questions are more likely to be engaged. So we've, we've seen, we've done some of that analysis from a qualitative perspective. I think we also do see some, you know, just from the numbers of, you know, we still have people who, who want to do the, the Q12; we still have people who just the uptake on our strengths, I mean, especially in Australia, it's like 84%. And I know that's probably from the process, but we do see follow-up on that.

Claire McCaffery 39:24

And then I think there are many stories, though, which -- more of the qualitative things, which, which I hear all the time as a coach. And often, you know, I might coach somebody -- might have been 2 years ago, you know. And they come to me and say, well, that, you know, I can, I know a particular situation -- somebody came to me and said to me, "That coaching session we had 9 months ago, it, it made me think about my role and what I was doing, and I realized in the wrong place. And so it helped me think about what is it -- what is my passion?" Where is it I want to be? And moved roles within Accenture, but they found their place and were really happy. So some of those stories, they're more difficult to measure. But as a coach, you hear them a lot.

Claire Mccaffery 40:09

I mean, I coached a team. And I came out of that session, and I thought that one of the people in there wasn't very engaged. And he came up to me afterwards and said, I really realize now I actually need to think about my each of my individual people and the different needs they have and the different strengths they have, rather than just, you know, just applying a one-size-fits-all, and this is what I'm going to do. So some of those, I like to call them "sleeper and ripple effect." You know, they happen all the time; you hear them as a coach. So yes, we've got high input uptake.

Claire McCaffery 40:46

We continue to coach people, people continue to love it, but I think it's, it's some of the stories that, that we hear that make the difference to me and make me -- give me the passion to keep doing it, to be honest. Because I do it -- it's not my job; it's my plus-one job. But, you know, every time I hear one of those stories, I think, well, actually it made a small difference in someone's life and helped them think about something differently or, or grow in a small way. So --

Bob Easton 41:15

Maybe, Anne, maybe I'll build on something what Claire said. So, I mean, I think even though we've been on the journey, what, about 5 or 6 years now, it's still, it's still relatively new. But we think that, you know, the response to strengths and performance achievement has been, you know, very positive. The qualitative findings that we have is that strengths provide a framework for people to bring the best of who they are and what they do. They provide compelling language that has been critical to our culture change. Teams find new ways -- when you, when you, when you build strengths into teams, they find new ways to build trust and align work for maximum impact. Our people have more frequent, forward-looking, actionable conversations. Talent and reward decisions are improved. You can see -- is it working -- in the adoption numbers, I think, actually, 490 -- last stats I saw -- 490,000 people, Accenture people, have taken strengths (because some people have, you know, come and gone).

Bob Easton 42:13

And then there's the, the business impact. We are studying, you know, studying that. We, we still got more work to do on that. But we do see, you know, correlations with higher retention and performance rates for those focused on strengths. We see correlations between the adoption of strengths influence achievement behavior in key measures like retention. Now, I know when I look at, when I look at the sort of, I asked Gallup, probably 6 months ago, how do we in Australia, New Zealand get to be an "A," and I looked at some of the data, you know, related to, you know, the studies that you've done around the connection with sales, performance, retention, and so forth. These are all pretty hard. There's, you know, real scientific evidence over time that you've shown the relationship between, you know, direct business impact. And I know we have that. It's just that we still need to, we still need to study that some more, and we are doing that.

Anne Lingafelter 43:17

Yeah. I think it's pretty remarkable, really, when you look back at the timeline of when this was introduced, given the, the, you know, how enormous Accenture is, that, that they were able to go through the research and then through the piloting and testing and then rolling it out to such a large population so quickly. Because I think when I looked at your timeline, it was something like the initial rollout, official rollout happened over just 12 months, which is huge. And then to have it continuing to, to grow and change and be brought into the priorities, to be brought into, you know, the different things that are key to, to, you know, your high performance is, is quite something. And I also like the fact that your focus is very much on progress, not perfection. And, and certainly that's, you know, that's a great attitude to take. It does take time, doesn't it? As you look back at it -- sorry, go ahead.

Bob Easton 44:17

Well, I was just saying, it might be good for some of your listeners to, you know, if I just sort of outline quickly the sort of stages that we went through. So there was an experimentation stage. Then we did employee-centric design, then we had agile releases. And you're right, we said progress ... perfection, both experience and technology, then there was a miss of training. We started with senior leader training. And then there was sort of the "surround sound" of transparent employee communication, you know, multichannel social, that sort of Champions Networks that Claire's referred to. And we did adopt this mantra of progress greater than perfection.

Bob Easton 44:56

And if you look at the timeline, it was sort of October to December 2014 was a research sprint. Then January to May 2015 we, we prepared experiments. Then the next sort of 3 or 4 months, we did some experimentation. And then, you're right, by December 2015, we did a full launch. And that began with immersion sessions with senior leaders. And throughout 2016, you know, and then beyond, we, we started driving this and infused over '17, '18, '19 we infused the whole performance-achievement habits, strengths and behaviors into our ways of working. So it's been a, it's been a journey, as they say, the, the, you know, the first steps -- the, the journey starts with the very first steps. And, and, you know, it's so whilst we lost some people, we didn't actually achieve it in 1 year. We got it kicked off and launched in 1 year.

Bob Easton 45:53

When you look at the uptake now and the number of people that strengths has impacted -- over 500,000 people -- and the impact that it's had on our culture, it's been quite dramatic over this time. And we, you know, we have a long way. But the connection of strengths and the whole Truly Human movement with our values and our leadership behaviors has been a sort of really critical step in our development and evolution.

Anne Lingafelter 46:19

Excellent. I know that Jim Collison is going to join, come back and join us, and that he's probably going to have some questions from the folks in the chat room. So before he does that, I would love to understand what's on the horizon. So what's next for your strengths and engagement work? Can you give us a glimpse as to where you're headed?

Claire McCaffery 46:40

I mean, I can, I can touch that one. And I think it is a journey, you know, so I love the progress over perfection, which is what we've talked about. What I love about it is also the fact that it's 4 years on, and we're still talking about, they're still using it, right? But we know that it's, you know, we're, we are in a big, complicated matrixed organization. And it's hard sometimes to reach people. And so we want to think about how we can reach more people. So the way that we're planning to do that is through focusing in our account. So we're starting with a large accounts, we've actually done a number of sessions already with some of our larger accounts, looking at strengths, looking at leadership, looking at strength across the teams we're on, and how they compare, looking at engagement, to look at benchmarks. Then also looking at the small teams as well within those teams.

Claire McCaffery 47:29

So that, as I say, we've done a couple of those in A and Zed at the moment, and we're looking to expand that further. And I think continuing to embed strengths and engagement into, into our everyday vocabulary, if you like, and everyday processes. I've really got a passion around developing the manager. I know It's the Manager was a, was a key book for Gallup last year, and I really resonate with that. And actually really helping and supporting our managers to become better leaders is another thing that we're looking at. Can we give them more of a deep dive into their strengths to help them build their teams. So Bob, I know you might also have a perspective.

Bob Easton 48:05

I think you've covered it there, you know, for the, for the listeners a significant portion, over 50%, of our people and our revenue comes from a very small number of very large accounts -- what we call our diamond and platinum accounts. And, you know, they just have very large numbers of people. So here at ... , for example, we have two very large accounts, and those are the two that have actually started to do this, where the account leads are working with both engagement and, and strengths, and we know when we get it out to those big people, there will be, you know, there'll be a ripple effect through everything else. And I was having a conversation this morning with one of them, and one of the managers -- this is how it sort of starts -- one of the managers created something called Project Courage, which was having the courage to be your best, to strive to be your best. And when, when you know it's working when you have managers that are, that are working with it, and I think from It's the Manager, that book, which I love that book. And for those that haven't read it, you've got, you've got to read it. But I think 70% of the variance in team engagement is determined solely by the managers. And the managers can be as small as 5 people. And, you know, that, that I think the research that Gallup's put out on that is, is, is fantastic.

Anne Lingafelter 49:27

Fantastic. Jim, do you have any questions for us?

Jim Collison 49:32

Yeah, we got, we got a few. Holly asks, How open are new managers to being coached? Or is coaching more accepted in Australia than maybe what she's seeing in Southern California? Do you get much pushback when you offer that, Claire?

Claire McCaffery 49:44

I can take that. And people seem to love it here! So no, we, we don't really get much pushback. I mean, I've done many, many coaching sessions. I think I've only had one or two people who have ever said, "No, thanks." You know, like, most people seem to be really open here. I don't know if that's Australia different, or, but no, not so far.

Bob Easton 50:04

I think, I think the challenge comes with, the challenge comes for some managers and more senior leaders and working out the priority and actually making this connection between Truly Human and strengths being soft, and achieving high performance. But I agree with Claire. When you offer this, it's -- people seem to be very open. So I'm not quite sure what's happening in Southern California. ... And we're both surfing cultures, so I'm not quite sure what's going on.

Jim Collison 50:32

I know what's going on in Southern California.

Claire McCaffery 50:35

We're very, we're very high-performance, achievement focus. So we're just always looking to grow and get better, always. Maybe it's something in our culture.

Jim Collison 50:44

Justin asks an interesting question, you know, there's a maybe a fine line between being a high-performance culture and being a tough culture. And how has strengths in the last 4 years, as you've been going through this, has it, has it changed that in any way of being, you know, of being a tough culture being an aggressive culture has it made it any different?

Bob Easton 51:06

So I don't think we are an aggressive culture. I think aggression, the word "aggression" is -- it doesn't necessarily need to be associated with high performance. By "high performance," we don't mean aggression. By "high performance" we mean getting the best out of, out of our people; helping people bring their best selves to work, and unlocking, I mean, unlocking the capacity that is often lost through, through a lack of wellbeing. So, so our focus is on lock, unlock, unlocking that tremendous capacity that gets locked up through not caring for people, through not having meaningful conversations. So I would say what it's done is, is actually helped unlock more capacity for doing good and focusing on our purpose, which is improving the way the world works and lives.

Bob Easton 51:58

I don't think we had aggression to correct in the first place. So, I mean, and I truly believe that. I've been here 20 years and, you know, we're just about getting a job done, and focusing and getting that job done. I mean, there's a lot of Maximizers in Accenture. Right? And, and our clients, our clients rely on that. What we -- I think this comes back, Jim, if I, if I might, I might also make the comment about the overuse of strengths because this is something that I've learned myself, and it's a really important thing for all all your listeners to understand. That strengths -- you know, it was Aristotle that said that strengths, when either underused or overused, become vices. So too much courage and you're reckless; too little courage and you're, and you're, you know, a coward. And humor, too much humor and you can be cruel; too little humor and you're boring. And I think too much Maximizer, too much Strategic.

Bob Easton 52:03

So this is really important for people to learn that, so maybe the aggression can come out when, when people are overusing their strengths. So if -- when we create the language of overuse and underuse, it helps people actually understand when they overuse some of these strengths that some of those, some of those negative things can come out. So it has helped us tremendously, I think, to soften. But it's more softening around helping people understand in the context of that high-performance DNA, that if you want sustained, if you want to get performance, you've got to give the opportunity for people to work at the strengths of their passions and put them under challenge. And at the same time, if you want to sustain that, you've got to focus on their wellbeing.

Jim Collison 53:40

Well, you know, I love, I love an example of a high-performance engine -- that if you tune it too hard, you'll shoot the pistons right out of the block. Right? And so you need to find that "sweet spot" in the engine where everything is working properly, and that you've got it tuned properly for maximum, you know, horsepower that's in there. And so it's just a great -- that's think kind of what I hear you saying --

Bob Easton 54:01

That's exactly what we're saying. We're churning -- we're churning our culture.

Jim Collison 54:05

Yeah, no, and it's a process. Go ahead, Claire.

Claire McCaffery 54:09

I was just gonna say, I find that people really resonate with that when I'm coaching. They really are interested in that, you know how their strengths are overplaying, underplaying, how they can really invest in them because they're interested in growing. So, and I think they find it less threatening, because it says it's a talent of theirs that they can influence. It's not about them. Do you not mean like it? I think it's helpful for them to name it something and say, well, that's my maxim --

Jim Collison 54:34

We'll, we'll bring her back here.

Claire McCaffery 54:36

How do I just --

Jim Collison 54:38

A little, little bandwidth. Claire, if you can hear us, you just locked up a little bit. We've, we've got time. We'll get Claire back in here. And when we got time for one more question, and let me throw that out there. Bob, maybe you know, did Accenture pull a complete Top 5?

Bob Easton 54:54

We did, and we did, and, and I should know the answer to that, but Claire, probably does know the answer to that. But I, I would, I would be making it up right now if I -- given integrity is an important part of our values. Get that back out, we have done the analysis. And we do have those, those top, those tops. OK.

Jim Collison 55:22

Go ahead, Anne.

Bob Easton 55:23

I would say certainly Maximizer's in there. And, and I would say Learner's in there, but we'll get back to the audience on that.

Jim Collison 55:28

Yeah, sounds good. Claire, what -- or Anne, let's do some final thoughts, thank our guests for coming as well.

Anne Lingafelter 55:33

Yeah, absolutely. And, Bob, thank you so much for your time. We so appreciate it. And, and I know how busy you are. I would love to be able to talk for another hour about what you know about well being about trust, and some of the other research that you've done, and I know that, that certainly there's a lot of, you know, interplay between our engagement concepts and wellbeing. And I'm sure that you could probably shed some more insight onto that. But that's got to be for another time. Claire --

Bob Easton 56:10

And maybe while -- maybe Claire can answer that question, but --

Jim Collison 56:14

Claire, is there an Accenture Top 5? Have you guys pulled the team report of all Accenture to have a Top 5 for them? Well, she was there; now she's. She looks great.

Bob Easton 56:27

Maybe she's looking for the Top 5 right now.

Jim Collison 56:30

She looks great. If you're gonna go out, you have to at least go out looking great.

Bob Easton 56:34

She's gonna be really annoyed with us.

Anne Lingafelter 56:37

I'm so sorry, we'll have to -- there she goes. So Bob, leave us with any last words. Do you have -- is there anything that you want to say, sort of, -- is there anything we should have asked you or that you, you wanted to say and didn't get a chance to mention?

Bob Easton 56:50

Oh, I would say for anyone, if they want to contact us, we're happy to help. I want to thank Gallup for -- I would say the reason we went to Gallup, so this is not to advertise Gallup, but the reason we went to Gallup was because of the, the total conservation of assets and science that you have. But really the science -- we wanted to make sure that what we did was grounded in science. So thank you and, and the team for, for what you bring to us. You're really, you've really contributed to our culture development, and we appreciate that -- Claire, are you, are you awake now?

Claire McCaffery 57:23

Yeah. I don't know what happened to my internet. I lost my internet.

Bob Easton 57:28

What are Accenture's Top 5 strengths?

Claire McCaffery 57:32

Oh, we, we actually haven't been told. So we, we don't have data for Accenture. I'd love to get it, to be honest. I've asked a few times.

Bob Easton 57:40

I've seen some research. Maybe we did some research on it ... I've seen Randy do some stuff. We'll get back to you on that.

Jim Collison 57:46


Bob Easton 57:48

OK. Thank you very much.

Jim Collison 57:49

Claire, any, any other final thoughts for you, too, as we wrap this up? Anything we didn't ask or anything you want to add here right at the end?

Claire McCaffery 57:57

Look, I don't think so. I think we've covered everything. It's a journey. We're still, as we are Maximizers, we've got more work to do. But for me, I don't know, strengths, strengths is so impactful for wellbeing and engagement. So we're going to continue using it.

Jim Collison 58:11

Great. Well, if you guys will hang tight for me one second, we'll close this up. Do you guys have a few minutes just to hang as we do that? Great.

Jim Collison 58:18

We'll remind everyone to take full advantages of all the resources we have available for them:, a great place to go to sign in to get access to all this wealth of information that you guys are talking about. That's actually the portal into Gallup Access as well. So have you heard about these things? That, that would be your entry point into the system. If you're -- while you're on the page, you can sign up for the CliftonStrengths Community Newsletter that's available there. If you have any questions at all, you can send us an email: If you want to follow us and these live programs and see the next time Anne is going to do another one of these, which, Anne, you're the best at this. So thanks for do, for doing these as well. You can follow us on Eventbrite: And speaking of that, anything that you want to add or anything that you want to highlight before I do the final close?

Anne Lingafelter 59:04

Gosh, we have an awful lot of courses and things coming about that are based out of Sydney. They're all virtual, so if anyone wants to join us, they can, regardless of what time zone they're in!

Jim Collison 59:14

Yeah, and check, check out our brand new courses site: And there's just -- we're trying to make it easier for you all the time to be able to take our training. And for now they are all virtual. I don't think that's going to last forever. I think eventually we're going to get back to seeing each other in person and, and maybe the elbow bumps will be a little more common, and so we're looking for that Join us in our Facebook group:, and of course you can join us on LinkedIn as well. Just search "CliftonStrengths Trained Coaches," and we'll let you in that group. Thanks for joining us this morning, tonight, today, this afternoon -- whenever it was for you, we appreciate it. If you're listening to the recorded version, we want to thank you for downloading that and listening to it as well. With that, we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.

Claire McCaffery's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Individualization, Relator, Strategic, Arranger and Learner.

Bob Easton's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Maximizer, Learner, Strategic, Command and Individualization.

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

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