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CliftonStrengths Ideation Theme: Teams and Managers

CliftonStrengths Ideation Theme: Teams and Managers

Webcast Details

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

When somebody says, "What's that Ideation one all about?" I say, "Out of the 34, it's probably the closest that we have to describing genuine creativity."

Maika Leibbrandt, 12:44

In your areas of talent, you find abundance. You're not going to run out. For Ideation, you won't run out of more ideas, so you don't have to own them if somebody else executes them.

Maika Leibbrandt, 8:24

You get the benefit of Ideation during conflict. Especially when the team keeps coming back to the same impasse, they can offer a break in the conversation with some divergent thinking.

Maika Leibbrandt, 3:01

Jim Collison 0:00

I am Jim Collison, and live from our studios, our virtual studios, I say around the world, but really here in Nebraska, this is Gallup's Theme Thursday, Season 6, recorded on August 6, 2020.

Jim Collison 0:23

Theme Thursday's 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. Today's theme is Ideation. If you're listening live, love to have you join us in our chat room. There's a link right above me to the chat room. It's available for you there; take you to YouTube. Just sign in and join us in chat. If you're listening after the fact and you have questions, send us an email: Don't forget, if you're on YouTube, subscribe. Click the Like button; that's always helpful to us. And if you want to listen to us as a podcast, you can subscribe. Just search "Gallup Webcasts" in any podcast app -- both iPhone and Android have them -- you can find us there. Maika Leibbrandt is our host today. Maika is a Senior Workplace Consultant and my best friend at work. Maika, welcome to Theme Thursday!

Maika Leibbrandt 1:02

Oh, I love you, Jim. What a great day!

Jim Collison 1:05

It's always great to be with you.

Maika Leibbrandt 1:06

I should probably say, "I love you," without the "Ah"; I feel like I actually do love you. This season, we are exploring each theme through the lens of a team. And we know from our studies in leadership that strong teams have 5 things for certain going for them. And they are not the makeup of strengths. So we're using these 5 truths as a way to talk about the specific theme of Ideation. This season, we've gone domain by domain, and it's really allowed us to marinate in, I think, the, the richness of the difference between these themes, even if they all live within the same domain.

Maika Leibbrandt 1:40

So we are in the midpoint of Strategic Thinking right now. And we get to talk about the Ideation theme. So I hope by the end of our time together, you're not just seeing Ideation and instantly ending the idea of, "Oh, it's a thinking theme," but you can start to answer that question of how might Ideation contribute to creating a stronger team?

Maika Leibbrandt 1:59

Here's the short definition: "If you have Ideation as a dominant theme, you are fascinated by ideas. You're able to find connections between seemingly disparate phenomena." I've never seen those three words together anywhere else other than this short definition, but it is like tattooed to my own brain: "seemingly disparate phenomena," meaning when things seem pretty different, you can see the link between them. The first truth of a strong team is how they handle conflict. "Conflict does not destroy strong teams, because strong teams focus instead on results."

Jim Collison 2:32

And what does that term "focus on results" mean when -- for someone with high Ideation?

Maika Leibbrandt 2:36

They have a desire to do things in new and innovative ways. They're likely more inspired by taking on a new challenge, or at least offering a new spin on an old one, than they are driving toward the same expectations and results the same way as before. So if you think about this in terms of, How do they focus on results instead of conflict? Ideation can offer different ways of considering a challenge. You get the benefit of Ideation during conflict. Especially when the team keeps coming back to the same impasse, they can offer a break in the conversation with some divergent thinking.

Maika Leibbrandt 3:14

Ideation -- we talked about this a little in the short definition, but it really brings two main things. One is new thoughts. Two is new connections between thoughts. So if we need to move from conflict to forward progress, ask them to offer perspectives on one of these two. Maybe it's How could the team take a totally different direction? Or maybe it's Hey, what themes or similarities are you seeing on either side of this conflict that, that we're facing?

Jim Collison 3:45

Ideation is the one Strategic Thinking theme that I have in my Top 10, by the way, but I lean on it super heavy in certain circumstances. I have a partner that I work with, she'll ask me, "OK, I need you to turn on your Ideation. I need 3 ideas; Go!" And it's so great. That's like the best day. So sometimes we don't -- much like I mentioned with Futuristic (and by the way, I think these two are great to look at together -- Futuristic and Ideation). But when we look at Ideation, how do we track progress? Sometimes it seems like just a plethora of ideas. That's how some people see it, but we can't. How do we track progress?

Maika Leibbrandt 4:20

Yeah, they can't. But this -- and this also might be a really great distinction between Ideation and Futuristic. Futuristic is about the progress that we're creating today and how that's going to take us somewhere better; Ideation -- I'm not sure they're as excited about progress as they might be about the novelty that progress can provide. So they're drawn to creative solutions. They're not so much thinking about where that's going to get us into the future, just like Futuristic might be. But I think the creative solutions might be your, your entry point for how Ideation gets excited about progress. Not How much have we accomplished? But What new approach are we trying? They're inspired by adoption of ideas. Talk about progress as implementation of brainpower, and you'll really get them fired up.

Jim Collison 5:08

Let's look at truth No. 2.

Maika Leibbrandt 5:10

The second truth of strong teams is that "They prioritize what's best for the organization, and then move forward."

Jim Collison 5:16

And how does someone with Ideation kind of focus on the larger group rather than just their own goal?

Maika Leibbrandt 5:21

Ideation can notice connections between ideas that other people might miss. So anytime you think, "Well, that, you know, that might be a stretch," in conversation with someone with high Ideation, it just might be that you're working with someone who sees these other sort of thoughts very obviously. They might be even just feeling out potential similarities between goals, between groups of people, similarities that are just less obvious. So the drive for Ideation, or the motivation behind Ideation, is not commonality. But commonality across different ideas leads to links and connections. And those connections lead to new and creative ways of understanding and, and different ways of thinking. And the thinking, the idea generating, the creative "drop zone" -- that is the drive for Ideation.

Jim Collison 6:15

Yeah, and what might inspire someone with ideation then to take action?

Maika Leibbrandt 6:19

Jim, you mentioned and I think your eyes lit up when you said, "Give me 3 ideas. Go!"

Jim Collison 6:26

I like that. I do like that a lot.

Maika Leibbrandt 6:28

Yeah, that is, that is inspiring. Sometimes someone with Ideation might offer 100 ideas or 100 ways to proceed, and maybe one of them is good or relevant or even remotely practical. But they're inspired by that quick thinking. They can likely offer you the 100 ideas in, you know, a hot second, and, and be -- enjoy the invitation to brainstorm like that.

Maika Leibbrandt 6:50

I would say also, and this is almost, almost counter to the question you asked, but typically, action on those ideas isn't necessary or isn't driven from the Ideation talent. And honestly, the greatest value someone with Ideation brings to your team might not be Executing talent. If you need to inspire someone with Ideation to move on an idea, give them space to operate differently than we've operated in the past. Give them specific rules. Make sure they understand what cannot be breached or broken. And when it comes to the invitation to be creative, don't say that like you're giving them permission; say it like you're expressing the desire for creativity.

Jim Collison 7:35

When I was younger, I would get -- because I'm terrible at Executing. And so I would have all these ideas, and someone would take one and run with it. And I would get jealous that -- Hey, that was my idea! Until I realized that I needed those Executing partners. I needed those people and then I could actually give it away. And that was the power of it. Right? It's to be able to give the idea away and let them run with it. Let them, as we think about tracking that progress the taking action, in my case, was almost always taken by someone else. Having to learn to live with that, to share in -- this is, when we think about teams, and share in that team success, I think is key. That's what definitely takes some time. But

Jim Collison 8:15

We've talked about this as "the me to we" or "the raw to mature," but I think it's also moving from scarcity to abundance. In your areas of talent, you find abundance. You -- you're not going to run out. For Ideation, you won't run out of more ideas, so you don't have to own them if somebody else executes them. You know, and, and so it's realizing where do you have the deepest well of resources? And, and knowing that maybe the best thing you can do is just to keep, keep going back there.

Jim Collison 8:43

Yeah, no, it's great. Let's look at truth No. 3.

Maika Leibbrandt 8:46

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

Jim Collison 8:52

Yeah. And how does Ideation -- my family can, can attest to this -- but how does Ideation show up in someone's personal life?

Maika Leibbrandt 8:58

Did you read ahead? Did I get it right? I said, They might be the friend -- oh my gosh, I did get it right. I wasn't even thinking of you, Jim. But yeah, the friend who always has a new gadget, or a creative solution, you haven't heard of. Jim may or may not host another podcast about that very thing.

Jim Collison 9:19

It's very true.

Maika Leibbrandt 9:20

They get excited about the opportunity to create. And this might be expressed through art, through writing, through tinkering, through podcast hosting, engineering. Maybe they just have the most original TikTok account, but there is that element of creation or creating to them. You'll also notice a spark when they're in "what if" mode. They likely have exponentially more ideas than they ever act upon.

Jim Collison 9:47

Well, you -- were you spying on me when you wrote that?

Maika Leibbrandt 9:49

It's so funny because I also have high Ideation, and I wasn't, I wasn't thinking about me or you, but it describes us both pretty well!

Jim Collison 9:57

We've said this before: You and I really enjoy as a team getting together and just ideating. And nothing ever sticks. Maybe we get 1 good idea out of 100. But that one good idea works.

Maika Leibbrandt 10:06

You know what we talk about with ourselves and how we take action. When, when you asked me, "How do we take action?" Maybe we should have just thought about how do we do it? Which is we both know, if the same idea comes up over and over and over again, that that's probably our clue to what we should act upon.

Jim Collison 10:20

Yeah. The other thing we've, we've done is started getting those ideas earlier, so they have more time to work themselves out. We've kind of learned like, Hey, let's, let's think start talking about the 6 months ahead of time instead of 6 weeks, or 6 days, or 6 minutes. In some case, yeah. What questions would a manager or coach ask to help kind of tap into this personal side?

Maika Leibbrandt 10:42

What have you created lately? What cool alternative have you discovered? What's a solution you love that we should know about? When do you have your best ideas? (By the way, the answer is usually "In the shower." People always say that.) What's an idea that you've come back to over and over again? How many different ways can you tackle this problem? Or even this one, Hey, I'd like your react -- your first reaction, as many thoughts as possible.

Maika Leibbrandt 11:09

So really, I think it's about how do you capture that, that wealth of ideas that somebody with high Ideation has? By the way, these questions are unique to Season 6. But if you're ever searching for questions to ask somebody based on their CliftonStrengths themes, the CliftonStrengths Resource Guide has tons of these as well.

Jim Collison 11:29

Yeah. Let's look at truth No. 4.

Maika Leibbrandt 11:31

No. 4: "Strong teams embrace diversity." What we mean by this is having a team composed of individuals who look at issues similarly, who have been the product of comparable backgrounds and who have experiences with similar track records is not a sound basis for success. What we do know works in strong teams is if they're all coming from different angles. And so I think it's important for us to embrace that, in addition to other ways to describe diversity.

Jim Collison 11:59

And what are some descriptor words we could use for ideation?

Maika Leibbrandt 12:02

Yeah, what's different about and diverse about Ideation versus those other themes? If you have someone with high Ideation on your team, you might describe them as being a quick thinker, curious. This is a phrase I made up, but I want to go with it: an intellectual chameleon, meaning they have this ability to see things from a bunch of different stands -- standpoints or to adopt a bunch of different ideas. That's -- I'll probably bring that back for Intellection because it is that perspective piece. Conceptual, a problem-solver. There's a mental energy or a spark when they're in brainstorm mode. You could call them original or creative, and really the short answer when somebody says, "What's that Ideation one all about?" I say, "Out of the 34, it's probably the closest that we have to describing genuine creativity, where you're coming up with something that hasn't yet existed in a mental space before."

Jim Collison 12:56

Yeah, and what unique perspective or diversity in thought does Ideation bring to a team?

Maika Leibbrandt 13:01

About that spark, there's this energy that tends to surround people with Ideation, especially when they get to just run free in a brainstorm. They will rock your team off the way things have been done before. If your pace or productivity is at a plateau, ask someone with Ideation to liven up the approach that you're taking. You might even just take a break and think about potential to go about things differently. Know that if you do invite that kind of spark, or that sort of shift and shake-up, you don't have to apply their ideas, and you probably shouldn't, because they won't all be good. But it's kind of like recalibrating to the energy that you had when you started. Because someone with high Ideation can offer a reset through freshness of mental energy that feels new and inspires others to kind of get back into it or remember why they started.

Jim Collison 13:58

Let's look at truth No. 5.

Maika Leibbrandt 14:00

"Strong teams are magnets for talent." Isn't that cool? Like think about even just a visualization of what a talent magnet might look like. The best way you can attract talent is to have a strong team. So this, this truth is more about looking for those places that everybody wants to be a part of.

Jim Collison 14:16

And what are others attracted to in Ideation?

Maika Leibbrandt 14:19

They don't have to be embedded in an activity in order to bring it value. The, the shallow entry point to involvement of Ideation means that someone with high Ideation can offer creativity and input and ideas without having to do a whole lot of homework. I think this can feel friendly and open and quickly adaptable. They can offer, and enjoy offering, ideas that add to where you've been even without going on the journey with you. And that certainly adds to the attractiveness of Ideation.

Jim Collison 14:53

What about that, what about that idea -- what gift does it bring to a team that others might want more of?

Maika Leibbrandt 14:59

It could be the gift of a refresh when things are stale. They're alert to outside ideas, staying relevant as a team by keeping their eyes open to different potential or different ways of operating. Also, I think, Jim, I just think about you and Home Gadget Geeks. It probably makes you in many ways, an early adopter of, maybe it's like, you know, the next best toaster, or maybe it's the next best way to talk to people. You know, and, and because of that "ear to the ground" for creative solutions, it -- I think it brings an openness to change. And they can certainly lead others because of their ability to see the value in creative or divergent approaches instead of being disrupted by them.

Jim Collison 15:43

Yeah, that's always been, I've always been an early adopter to things. I do them way before -- almost too early, in some cases. I'm done with it just about the time everybody's kind of accepting it mainstream. And actually, the way I like it, that's great. I move on to the next thing while everybody else adopts it, so it works out perfect.

Maika Leibbrandt 16:00


Jim Collison 16:01
What is the -- what are those 5 again? Why don't you remind us.

Maika Leibbrandt 16:04

1) Results, not conflict; 2) Do what's best for the organization and then move forward; 3) Work and personal lives are equally important; 4) They embrace diversity, and 5) They're magnets for talent. So you might use those 5 to evaluate your own team, sort of as bench points or benchmarks. And ask yourself, ideally with a coach, where are you currently doing great? What are you stumbling upon? And how can you honor the talents that already exists within your team in order to solve those challenges?

Jim Collison 16:35

Maika, it might be tough to top the talent-mindfulness you did in Futuristic, because it was really good, but you've got one lined up for us now.

Maika Leibbrandt 16:42

Well, I knew it was gonna be hard because I remember last season -- Season 5 -- Ideation was your favorite. So we'll see how we do.

Jim Collison 16:51

All right. Get us started today.

Maika Leibbrandt 16:53

So talent-mindfulness is the last 3 to 5 minutes of our podcast, and it is a shift from where we've been. So no longer about just learning about the theme and, and being a good steward of that theme; it really is just about you participating. So I'll admit, today's exercise maybe would make a great worksheet if you wanted to replay it in the future. But please don't try and turn it into that right now. Please just allow yourself to follow along. Don't worry about getting the instructions right or answering in a black-and-white way or doing the right or wrong thing. Just close your eyes this first go around; know that you can always come back and replay it or share it with people in the future. Whatever you think about is going to be the right thing right now.

Maika Leibbrandt 17:39

So do something to shift your focus from where we've been for the past few minutes. Maybe that's standing up or sitting down or closing your eyes or even just stretching, taking a big breath. I'd like you to visualize a partner in your life who you need in order to succeed. Someone who's different from you. If you know their CliftonStrengths, pick a partner whose themes you do not have in common. What attracts you to this partner? What do they provide that you would not otherwise have? ...

Maika Leibbrandt 18:29

OK, good. You like them. Now let's go there. Which of this partner's strengths causes you some friction? What is different about this person than you that you have to account for? When do they challenge you or maybe even cause you some frustration? Let's sort your thinking. I've got 2 sentences that in your brain you can finish. The first one is, "I appreciate this about them." ... And the next sentence, "I tolerate that about them." ...

Maika Leibbrandt 19:26

And now I'm going to challenge us. You knew this was coming. What if you could focus even more on your difference, the thing you said you tolerate? What if the strength of theirs -- the one that describes friction or frustration, the one that at some point in your relationship, maybe you didn't even like -- what if that became the secret to creating even better outcomes for you as a team?

Maika Leibbrandt 19:57

And I don't mean it as you liking that partner more by, by liking their difference; not just you benefiting from that partner, but you both standing shoulder to shoulder against the world, and together, accomplishing something better. Here's this week's challenge: Turn "tolerate" into "desire." Focus on that friction point. Ask yourself, What does their strength hunger for? What habits or ways of working would really feed that strength? And now go out of your way to honor, feed or nourish your partner's talent. Do it on purpose. Do it without expectation. Do it on top of or outside existing commitment.

Maika Leibbrandt 21:05

We often talk about being stronger together. Perhaps what we're describing here is the very truth that human beings develop in relationships. Accepting the truth of that statement that we are stronger together does not mean we just make room for our differences; it means we learn to crave them. That's your talent-mindfulness for today.

Jim Collison 21:41

Sorry, you caught me in the moment there. A couple reminders. Want to remind everyone to take full advantages of all the resources we have available, including all these webcasts. Like if you've been looking for them, they're all available out there. Actually Search works really well. So if you're looking at a topic, head out to There's Search; you can sign in, it'll take you right to the -- actually, from that page, it'll take you right to the Strengths Dashboard inside of Access. A great way to stay up to date with everything that's going on. If you, if -- maybe this is the first time you joined us live, or you'd love to join us live, a couple ways you can do that. One, head over to and sign up, make an account and just follow us there. Great way to -- you'll get an email every time I post something new, and we got plenty of new material, including some new stuff Maika and I have been thinking about for 2021. So you might want to sign up today. Just do it now. Like stop goofing around, and just get it done now.

Maika Leibbrandt 22:31

Just sign up.

Jim Collison 22:32

Just sign up. If you have questions on anything, you can send us an email: If you want to join us in our Facebook group: There's plenty of other groups, but you can join that one and get to the rest of them from there. You want to join us on LinkedIn, it's "CliftonStrengths Trained Coaches." Just search for that, and then you'll find the group. Ask for permission; I'll let you in. I want to thank you for joining us today. If you enjoyed it -- and I think you did -- go ahead and, go ahead and like it on Facebook as well as share it. Is that too presumptuous? Little Jedi mind trick.

Maika Leibbrandt 22:53

Enjoyed it. Little Jedi mind trick -- enjoyed it.

Jim Collison 23:03

That's right. Mark's gonna enjoy transcribing that. With that, we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.

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

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