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CliftonStrengths Futuristic Theme: Teams and Managers

CliftonStrengths Futuristic Theme: Teams and Managers

Webcast Details

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

Someone with Futuristic can embrace what we might be good at in the future that we wouldn't dare take on if we were basing our boldness on our current capability.

Maika Leibbrandt, 12:54

When we think about the future, we sometimes put limits around it artificially. ... Being able to think ahead ... sometimes expands our thinking and allows us to ... come up with ideas that don't have boundaries.

Jim Collison, 6:05

Someone with Futuristic can be very calming in times of chaos, because they spend most of their mental time really ahead of the current challenge.

Maika Leibbrandt, 8:59

Jim Collison 0:00

I am Jim Collison, and live from our studios around the world, or at least here in the state of Nebraska, this is Gallup's Theme Thursday, Season 6, recorded on August 6, 2020.

Jim Collison 0:22

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. And today's theme is Futuristic. If you're listening live, love to have you join us in our chat room. There's actually a link right above me on the live page; there are about 40 of you in chat right now. Love to have you do that. And if you have questions after the fact, you can send us an email: Don't forget, if you're on YouTube, hit the Subscribe button down there. Just it gets you a notification whenever we go live, or on our recorded page, whenever we post a new video, you'd want to do that. And, of course, hit the sub -- you can subscribe to us as a podcast as well on any podcast player. Just hit or search for "Gallup Webcasts." Maika Leibbrandt is our host today. Maika is a Senior Workplace Consultant with me here at Gallup, and Maika, always great to see you. Welcome back to Theme Thursday!

Maika Leibbrandt 1:06

Thanks, Jim. I love a good Thursday. And today is going to be a great Thursday because we get to talk about Futuristic. Of course, we're talking about every theme this season, not just by the theme, but going domain by domain. That is because really the aim of the season is to help us discuss strong teams that get there through stronger themes. So we know that strong teams really have 5 things going for them. And it's not so the makeup of strengths that show up on that team as it is what are their ways of working together? We're going to use these 5 Truths of a Strong Team to dive into Futuristic today. So I hope by the end of our session, you don't just see Futuristic, see that it lands in that Strategic Thinking Domain and think, "OK, it means they think." But instead, you can start to answer that question of "How?" How can Futuristic contribute to a stronger team?

Maika Leibbrandt 1:56

Let's start with the short definition. If you have Futuristic as a dominant talent of yours, this is the definition that you'll find on your CliftonStrengths 34 report: "You're inspired by the future and what could be. You energize others with your visions of the future." The first truth of a strong team is how they handle conflict. So "Strong teams don't get hung up on conflict, because instead they're focusing on results."

Jim Collison 2:21

Maika, one of my sayings is "Where two or more are gathered. there will be conflict." And so teams always have that. So when we say "focus on results" in in the context of, of, you know, of conflict, what, what does that mean -- to focus on results?

Maika Leibbrandt 2:35

Sure, for someone with Futuristic, having somebody with that kind of lens on your team, you'll probably notice that they're less interested in the results or the progress directly in front of us and more inspired by the ripples that that creates into the future. Now, if we think about that nature of conflict, how do they approach conflict? How do they think about it? It probably means that they come toward conflict on a team with a perspective again of what can be. It's in the definition itself, almost as if their feet aren't really touching the ground of the conflict, but they're hovering around it from somewhere in the future. What kind of a value does that bring? Well, it means that they can help your team consider the implications into the future of the results that we choose to pursue today or thinking about how are we going to settle this conflict based on, Where's that going to get us in the future?

Jim Collison 3:26

Because those events may be -- that thought maybe in the future, this question of How do they track progress is important, right? Because I don't think it's intuitive, so kind of clue us into that.

Maika Leibbrandt 3:36

Yeah, we've been asking this about every theme, and I find the deeper we get into Strategic Thinking themes, the less I'm able to give you a direct answer to this question, Jim. But Futuristic tracks progress by extending their understanding of what can be. Someone with Futuristic tracks progress against improvements and changes that they can imagine. Not to be too 1990s fabulous, but they're kind of good at chasing waterfalls. So before you get frustrated that someone with Futuristic is just never satisfied or is always looking for the next thing, just put on their glasses for a second. You'll notice that they see progress adding up to something beyond what most people are considering. They're looking toward not what needs done right now. They're not worried about even the conflict that we're pursuing today, but what should we be tracking? What should we be aiming for down the road? There's a bit of imagination to Futuristic, and I think that can help them elevate beyond just the progress that's directly in front of us.

Jim Collison 4:39

Yeah, I think some of those ideas of looking ahead, like, get captured in that way. So let's look at truth No. 2.

Maika Leibbrandt 4:46

"Strong teams prioritize what's best for the organization and then move forward."

Jim Collison 4:50

And we've asked this question all season too: What does someone with Futuristic focus -- How do they focus on the larger goal, rather [than] maybe just looking at themselves?

Maika Leibbrandt 4:58

You can ask them to think about who they see in the future world that they're picturing. They're good at imagining what isn't yet real. People who tend to be good at imagining also tend to like questions that inspire imagination. So ask them questions that bring other people with them; kind of reel them into the future, where they're spending their mental energy. You might say something like, Hey, what communities will be important in the future? Or what kind of talent do you think we will need? Which partners might be the most meaningful? How will our organization or our team contribute? So the long and short of it, Jim, on how does somebody with Futuristic expand their focus beyond themselves? They probably already do on a timeline. What you can do to honor that talent in pursuit of the, the second truth is to help them populate that timeline with a cast of characters.

Jim Collison 5:52

I think Disney had a position or role -- they may still have this -- called "Imagineers." I think that's what it was called, right? We think about people who are always thinking about the future. I think some of those, in some cases, when we think about the future, we sometimes put limits around it artificially. Like we don't need to, but we do because we're so used to in the, in the real world, having those boundaries, right. And so being able to think ahead without boundaries sometimes expands our thinking and allows us to think through things or come up with ideas that, that don't have boundaries. And I think it's, it's really, really important. So when we think of these ideas, how does someone with Futuristic then take action?

Maika Leibbrandt 6:34

Jim, you and I were talking about this in the preshow. And this is not in our notes; totally going off book here. But I love what you just said about kind of removing those boundaries. People with high Futuristic might do that already. We're also, I mean, it could be similar to people with high Ideation or who naturally gravitate toward concepts that aren't yet realized. Sort of that, that conceptual thinking or that creative thinking means that they don't adhere to a lot of the mental boundaries that maybe other people do or that other people need in order to understand things better.

Maika Leibbrandt 7:06

So what inspires someone with Futuristic to take action might be what inspires anyone with a creative streak to take action, which is removal of those boundaries. In many ways, what we went through here in 2020 is like all the concepts of what used to work and what used to be real suddenly got lifted, all at once. And so a lot of these boundaries of what we thought had to happen or the ways that we thought we had to work were removed all of a sudden. So if you want to inspire somebody with high Futuristic, you might have to out loud say, "Here's the rules that we are going to worry about, and here's the ones that we aren't." Really the moment that they're inspired to act is when they discover a connection between what needs to be done today in order to create the future they envision tomorrow.

Maika Leibbrandt 7:51

And you can spark this moment on purpose, and you'll know that you've done it when their eyes light up. It's when they very clearly see what needs to be created or what needs to be brought into reality now that hasn't been before. And maybe you're doing that by planting a seed, because they envision a garden someday. Or maybe it's having a tough conversation because they're envisioning a strong partnership. What inspires that kind of action is when they can notice the first step. And for them, that means kind of working backwards because, remember, they're already into the future.

Jim Collison 8:26

Let's look at -- that's such -- there's so many things to say there, by the way. But let's look at truth No. 3.

Maika Leibbrandt 8:32

"Members of strong teams are as committed to their personal lives as they are to their work."

Jim Collison 8:36

And how does Futuristic show up in someone's personal life?

Maika Leibbrandt 8:40

Well, maybe they appreciate things like Imagineering, Jim. They're probably that friend you have who asks you about the future a lot. And maybe that's planning vacations that you haven't yet, you know, plotted out or thinking about how you're going to celebrate goals that you've barely started working toward. Emotionally, I think someone with Futuristic can be very calming in times of chaos, because they spend most of their mental time really ahead of the current challenge. It's almost as if the present moment is already in the past to them. So -- and the other piece around Futuristic, is this, this belief that the future is better. And I think that translates into hope. You might also notice that they're interested by new, creative solutions. They're excited about what can be, not only for themselves, but for people around them.

Jim Collison 9:30

And what questions could a manager or even a coach ask to kind of tap into this personal side of Futuristic?

Maika Leibbrandt 9:36

I always ask people with Futuristic when I'm coaching them how far into the future do you spend the most time? So maybe you extrapolate that question by saying, How, you know, how far into the future do you like to dream? What specific improvement excites you most? What milestones are you looking forward to in your family or in your community? What will your retirement, your graduation or your next big celebration be like? What do you imagine we are capable of that we haven't yet noticed? Or what next project are you most inspired by?

Jim Collison 10:11

That second question -- What specific improvement excites you the most? -- I think is just such gold to ask, in a lot of circumstances. It'll work in Ideation; we're going to cover that next. But really gives a great indication, right, and let people, and I think this is where, even on video or in person, you see it in their eyes. Like when you've hit it, you know. When they're talking about it, you know. You don't have to kind of guess; you know, they're excited about it.

Maika Leibbrandt 10:37

And that is the essence of strengths coaching, regardless of which theme you're talking about, is How do you continually mine for those hot buttons?

Jim Collison 10:44

Totally. Let's look at question No. -- or truth No. 4.

Maika Leibbrandt 10:47

Yeah, truth No. 4 is that "Strong teams embrace diversity." Diversity is an important topic that goes well beyond just what are our makeup of strengths. But this truth really helps us understand that having different ideas attack a problem always gets you farther than having, you know, the same sort of perspective of trying to, trying to create a solution.

Jim Collison 11:09

And what are some diverse descriptors that we might have that would explain this?

Maika Leibbrandt 11:14

Thanks. We're gonna use this truth really to say what's unique about Futuristic? What's, what's diverse about it, compared to other themes? If you've got someone with high Futuristic on your team, you might describe that as being divergent, innovative, a disrupter, inspiring, creative, a forecaster, imaginative, cutting-edge or bold.

Jim Collison 11:37

I want to be a forecaster!

Maika Leibbrandt 11:38

Don't you?

Jim Collison 11:39

I do. I do. Maybe that's my attraction to weather. You can see the weather that's going on right here over me now. I, you know, I love that. And, and for me, I love the idea of Futuristic. It doesn't live out there as close as Ideation does; that's much higher for me. But I just love that -- for folks that have the ability, I love it. And it because they bring a unique, a unique perspective to a team, what, what kind of unique perspective do they bring?

Maika Leibbrandt 12:03

They'll stretch your team's perspective beyond what's urgent today. They can be patient with what needs to be done if it has long-term effects. But I think spend too much time on inconsequential goals or goals that they don't see sticking around in the future, and you'll probably lose their interest. That in itself can also benefit your team because they can elevate toward what will be meaningful, long-term. They will ask questions about impact, about implications that help expand your team's perspective. And they can help you plan future celebration. I think you probably hear a bit of my Positivity when I describe Futuristic. But yes, because it's not just thinking about where are we going in a black-and-white, fact-based space, but there is a bit of imagination to Futuristic, I think it can have a little bit of that celebration element. So someone with Futuristic can embrace what we might be good at in the future that we wouldn't dare take on if we were basing our boldness on our current capability.

Jim Collison 13:03

Yeah, no, some really great insight. Let's look at truth No. 5.

Maika Leibbrandt 13:06

"Strong teams" -- this is Jim's favorite -- "Strong teams are magnets for talent." Another way to say this is that if you, if you're really looking for a strong team, look for the one that everyone wants to be on.

Jim Collison 13:17

And what is it about that that makes it so attractive?

Maika Leibbrandt 13:19

You know, there tends to be a hopeful element to Futuristic. It doesn't have to be overly positive. It's not just that they're good at forecasting a future based on exactly what we're doing today. That could look doom-and-gloom pretty quickly. But somebody with high Futuristic is thinking about what will happen and what can happen. And that does have more of a creative, imaginative slant to it. There's room to believe when you have high Futuristic that the best can still be in front of us.

Jim Collison 13:51

And then describe that gift that Futuristic brings to a team that others are attracted to.

Maika Leibbrandt 13:56

There's a gentle stretching beyond today, and sometimes when you're stretching, it's not always comfortable. I think somebody with high Futuristic can challenge a team. There's a lack of dwelling in what has gone wrong, not because it's wrong, but simply because it's gone. For somebody with high Futuristic, it's not that they're avoiding the negative; it's just they're avoiding the past, sometimes. There's, I think, that, that really solid reminder that even the problems that worry us the most today will eventually be in the past. And that can be settling in many ways.

Jim Collison 14:32

Maika, I was talking to somebody, I think on LinkedIn, this week, and the, in the very early parts of the conversation, they were talking about, you know, they were looking for those "basements." And I always, I always have to remind folks, you know, we really want to start with the balconies. We call those "helps and hinders" now, but that terminology is out there. You said a phrase just like a second ago is sometimes when we see these on teams and they challenge the team. And I think a team has two ways to respond when they're challenged. One is to go negative and think like, "You're bothering me!" or begin to start to think, OK, "Why does that -- why is that affecting the team?" And what's the power in it? Because I think a team can quickly switch over when they realize, Oh, this frustration can now become, can now become a benefit when you can start turning those activities into productive activities. I think that's the key to all this as we think through the season of teams and managers. That's the key is seeing it early, identifying, and it's gonna rub a team a wrong way sometimes. But turning that force for good. I think that's the key.

Maika Leibbrandt 15:34

Especially in a team, can we just let go of this "basement" question? I'm -- people are going to go there on their own. And with a coach about your own self, it's very important to understand how your themes could rub somebody else the wrong way or how they could create a weakness, how they could get in your, get in your way or get in the way of others.

Maika Leibbrandt 15:53

But if you're a team, good grief, we need our collaborators, our managers, our partners at work to be 10% more curious about how we can bring our best than even we are. That's where our research is, and that, and that's, that's how you see the kinds of gains in productivity. It's not by saying, I understand the balconies and the basements of every person on my team. No, it's by strongly agreeing that I get challenged to focus on what I do really well; that I get needed for it, that I get supported for it. And that people are asking me to do it, not in a way that just makes me feel better and fills my bucket, but that the people around me are expecting me to be my very, very best.

Jim Collison 16:35

Yeah. Yeah. And I think that changes the spirit and the attitude of a person when they realize that happens genuinely. When someone says, especially in an area where they've been beaten down before, and then that area is embraced, and says, Hey, that can help us -- these questions that you've been asking that managers can ask -- are the key to this, to pulling this out. I just think that's super important. OK, because it's so important, let's review the 5.

Maika Leibbrandt 16:58

I talked about these 5, you know, it's so funny, I thought, Oh gosh, have we said this too many times this season? Like, but then I found myself rattling them off the other day, and it was super helpful. So the 5 Truths of a Strong Team you can read more about in Gallup's book, Strengths Based Leadership. It's that 1) They focus on results, not conflict. 2) They do what's best for the organization and then move forward. 3) That their work lives and their personal lives matter. 4) They embrace diversity, and 5) They are magnets for talent. Probably that fifth one is more like a result of the other 4. But think about how you might, instead of just evaluating your team based on what strengths they have and, and how they show up, evaluate your team based on what those strengths are creating. How true are these 5 truths within your team? And what do we need to do to sustain the ones that are great or maybe fill in the gaps where you, where you have some lack?

Jim Collison 17:47

And coaches, when you're looking, when you're coaching teams in an organization, the ones that everyone wants to be on, it's a pretty good indication that things are going well in there. We've been spending some time this season and last on talent-mindfulness. Maika, you got a dynamite one. I have a little commentary at the end. Let's talk a little talent-mindfulness.

Maika Leibbrandt 18:05

Yeah. So this is for you. Whatever comes across your mind as you participate, I encourage you not to judge it, not to fix it; just to notice it. And this talent-mindfulness is a significant shift from the space we were just in, where you might be listening in order to, to understand, to remember to teach others. But right now, this is, this is a shift. So I invite you to take off that coach hat and allow yourself permission to just be the client, to just participate.

Maika Leibbrandt 18:38

Today's exercise, we will use a visualization to set yourself up with that kind of shift from the space we were just in to where we're going for the next 3 to 5 minutes. Just let it go with a few long, slow, deep breaths. Relax your shoulders, and, if you like, you can go ahead and close your eyes. I'll be quiet for a few moments while you will settle in. ...

Maika Leibbrandt 19:11

Imagine yourself in a room where you feel safe. And in this room, imagine there's a beautiful mirror. As you gaze into that mirror, you notice it's not just any normal reflection. It's -- there's something kind of magical about it. As you look into this mirror, what you see reflected back is yourself at your very best. Think about what you might see. If this mirror could reflect past moments of greatness, imagine these images in the past week. When were you strong?

Maika Leibbrandt 20:04

In the past month, when were you fearless? ... In the past few months, when were you smart? When were you especially effective? When were you magnetic, attractive, charming? See your reflection in this great mirror of your highlight moments. It's OK if these aren't things that you show up as every day. Greatness can be special.

Maika Leibbrandt 20:57

Now think about your own strengths. What are a few words you might use to describe someone who is at the very peak of those talent themes? What would you say about a person who really emulates the very, very best of those strengths? What kind of adjectives come to mind to describe those talents at their very, very best?

Maika Leibbrandt 21:36

Now, this magical mirror has the ability to also give you a glimpse of your future best self. This time, as you gaze back into the mirror, you see yourself at your very best, maybe as the personification of some of those words you just thought about, but this time, it's in the future. If your eyes are still closed, keep them that way, but do physically sit up a little bit taller. Match the reflection of the kind of pride your future best self is showing.

Maika Leibbrandt 22:20

Just like you are a bit taller than you're giving yourself credit for, you're also stronger than you've been acting today. When it comes to your talent, there is more within than even the best that has been. There is better within than what has been. I want you to keep that taller, stronger posture today, but you don't have to keep it outside of yourself. Take all of that energy and feel it within you. As you move through the rest of your day, carry that. Carry that realization that even greatness improves with time; that tomorrow will be better than today, and that you have the talent to make it that way. That's your talent-mindfulness for today.

Jim Collison 23:24

Such a good exercise. I think -- I'm gonna talk a little bit about this in the midshow. So this will be something only on the live feed. But I think really -- this is, more than anything, this talent-mindfulness you did today, really important exercise for folks. We'll talk about why kind of in the midshow.

Jim Collison 23:42

Want to, with that, we'll remind everyone to take full advantages of all the resources that we do have available now through Gallup Access. Easiest way to get access to Access is through our, through the landing page of If you sign in there, it'll take you right to your Strengths Dashboard, lots of resources. We continue to add things to Access as well. So if you haven't checked that out in a while, head out, head out and do that: Don't forget, you can find us on YouTube; just search "CliftonStrengths." You can also find us on any podcast app by searching "Gallup Webcasts." We're kind of everywhere; it's hard to miss us. Like, I'm just being honest.

Maika Leibbrandt 24:12

We should be in your ears all the time.

Jim Collison 24:14

If you can't find us, you're not trying hard enough. If you have any questions, you can send us an email: Lots of you are doing that. So we appreciate you guys sending those emails in. We actually have a team, and their goal: They, they live to hear, to get emails from you. So they like, they like it when you send them emails: And so we appreciate you doing there -- and they're actually, they're some of my, some of my best friends at work. So I appreciate those guys over there as well. Again, and, and Maika, we've got some courses coming up. Folks, as I -- folks might want to pay attention to all the things we have coming up this fall and maybe next spring, and really we're talking about Q3 and 4 of 2020 and Q1 into 2021: Visit, and you can see a complete list of everything we have available, both virtual and -- soon, maybe someday again, in person. If you want to join us in our Facebook group, go to And of course, on LinkedIn, if you're a "LinkedIner," you can find us by searching "CliftonStrengths Trained Coaches" and I'll let you in there as well. If you found this useful -- and many of you do. I don't have to say this very often: Share it, hit that Like button before we go. And with that, we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.

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