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CliftonStrengths Intellection Theme: Teams and Managers

CliftonStrengths Intellection Theme: Teams and Managers

Webcast Details

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

If Futuristic tracks progress by comparing it to where we will be, and Context tracks in comparison to where we have been, Intellection tracks progress on a continuum that includes both plus the present.

Maika Leibbrandt, 3:47

They're big thinkers, and [by "big,"] I mean they think big, detailed, all-encompassing, holistic thoughts. And they can pick apart a topic into more idea molecules than most people.

Maika Leibbrandt, 5:55

What we know strong teams have in common is not the makeup of talents. It's how well they honor the talent that's already there.

Maika Leibbrandt, 14:18

Jim Collison 0:00

I am Jim Collison, and live from our virtual studios around the world -- or at least here in the state of Nebraska -- this is Gallup's Theme Thursday, Season 6, recorded on August 13, 2020.

Jim Collison 0:21

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 -- and today's theme is Intellection. If you're listening live, love to have you join us in our chat room. There's a link right -- maybe you came late -- there's a link right above me that'll take you to the chat room. Sign in and put your questions there. If you're listening after the fact, you can always send us an email: Don't forget, subscribe to us on your favorite podcast app. Just search "Gallup Webcasts," or hit the subscription button right there in the corner on YouTube. Love to have you subscribe; you get notified every time we do something new. Maika Leibbrandt is our host today. She's a Senior Workplace Consultant with me at Gallup. Maika, always great to see you. Welcome back to Theme Thursday!

Maika Leibbrandt 1:00

Thanks, Jim. Great to be here. You know, this whole season, we've been exploring every single of every single one of our 34 CliftonStrengths themes through the lens of team. And we know from our studies and leadership that strong teams have 5 things going for them. We're going to use these 5 Truths of a Strong Team that you can read more about in the book Strengths Based Leadership as a jumping-off point to explore the detail of every theme, domain by domain. So as you listen and explore with us within the domain itself, I hope it gives you a lot more insight into what your people need, whether you are a manager or a member of a team, in order to thrive. Right now we're in the Strategic Thinking Domain. And so I really hope by the end of today, as it, as it relates to Intellection, you can walk away thinking more than just, "They think a lot." So we're going to dive into Intellection and use these 5 truths, really, to describe the magic of how someone with Intellection contributes to the strength of your team.

Maika Leibbrandt 1:02

"If you have dominant Intellection, you are characterized by your intellectual activity. You're introspective and appreciate intellectual discussions." How's that for using the same word like 3 times in one short definition?

Jim Collison 2:10

Ah -- doesn't really work. But I think we get the point, yes.

Maika Leibbrandt 2:12

Try and expand upon that without using that word "intellectual" too many times! The first truth of a strong team is that "Conflict does not destroy them because strong teams focus on results."

Jim Collison 2:23

And with Intellection, what does it mean? I mean, "focus on results"? What kind of results do you get out of thinking?

Maika Leibbrandt 2:29

All of them, if you have high Intellection! Results are what happen, for someone with high Intellection, after careful consideration, or perhaps what restarts the cycle of things to consider. A focus on results rather than conflict means that someone with Intellection can strengthen your team in the way they approach conflict. When it comes to their consideration of a situation, they play the mental "long game." It's not just about thinking fast or thinking slow, but about thinking from every possible angle; thinking in a way that embraces the full symphony of facts and opinions in their fast and slow and hot and cold kinds of rhythms and tones.

Maika Leibbrandt 3:10

A part of a team -- when somebody with Intellection is part of a team who prioritizes results over internal conflict, I've seen Intellection offer its best simply by listening, especially during times of conflict; by not coming in with a right or a wrong answer but with a thoughtful distillation of what they're learning through the conflict. Maybe even just of a thoughtful question that helps people move through conflict and on to results. I think in that way, to answer your question, Jim, thinking can certainly help us focus on progress.

Jim Collison 3:44

No, absolutely. And how does Intellection then track progress?

Maika Leibbrandt 3:47

If Futuristic tracks progress by comparing it to where we will be, and Context tracks in comparison to where we have been, Intellection tracks progress on a continuum that includes both plus the present. So Intellection thinks about progress in terms of the past, the present and the future. Someone with Intellection's superpower is depth of perspective. They can add consideration and ideas that without them, your team would not have.

Maika Leibbrandt 4:17

I think if progress is the topic that is important, or the task that's in front of them, then Intellection can dissect progress on purpose. They can even think about how to track it. But it has to be placed into the center of their thinking with intention. They won't necessarily be attracted to progress or make sense of a problem based on how well they can use it to be productive. They will be enchanted by the idea that we now know more than we used to, or that we are different today than we were before, which, in and of itself, is progress.

Jim Collison 4:52

The way you started that answer, we used to call those a "package." That's kind of cool, Maika. Thanks for, thanks for bringing that back from Season 1!

Maika Leibbrandt 4:59

That's Curt's package. Those packages are not written down or scientific. They're --

Jim Collison 5:03

We don't have lists of them. I can't provide them for you.

Maika Leibbrandt 5:06

People ask us for them.

Jim Collison 5:07

They're loaded in Season 1.

Maika Leibbrandt 5:09

They are. Go back to Season 1. They are one take of perspective, right, on, on CliftonStrengths.

Jim Collison 5:17

Super cool. I just -- it made me feel good when you, when you did those 3 in a package, so appreciate that. OK. Let's look at truth No. 2.

Maika Leibbrandt 5:24

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

Jim Collison 5:29

And how does someone with Intellection focus kind of on -- again, Intellection, we sometimes think of the "me" on this. How do they focus on the group instead of just themselves?

Maika Leibbrandt 5:38

I think they do it if you invite them to think about it. Offer them a specific question to dive into. Maybe that question is as direct as what's best for the organization? And allow them some access to the information that they can digest in order to consider the answer. They're big thinkers, and I don't mean "big," as in the size of their brain or the frequency with which they think. I mean they think big, detailed, all-encompassing, holistic thoughts. And they can pick apart a topic into more idea molecules than most people.

Maika Leibbrandt 6:15

And they truly enjoy thinking or detective works that it takes in order to go from not knowing or to knowing from one direction to truly considering and sort of churning through their mental brain in order to drive that kind of thought work outside of what's right in front of them or think about how do they focus on goals other than their own? Just expose them to new ideas that align to larger goals or purposes other than what's right in front of them.

Jim Collison 6:42

And will that -- or what inspires them to take action, then, will that inspire them?

Maika Leibbrandt 6:46

I bet people with high Intellection can recall Aha! moments that they've had, you know, times when they've contemplated a subject to a point that they can offer insight that highlights or underscores what's already understood. Or those, those discovery moments that -- when they offer a different point that has not yet been made. And those -- that pursuit of those Aha! moments is incredibly inspiring to somebody with high Intellection.

Maika Leibbrandt 7:14

They might also be inspired to act by the novelty of a situation. They're switched "on" by the process of consideration, the process of thinking. So if they get to approach something they know little about, but have a long runway of time or permission to think and learn and not have to be right the first time, they might be more likely to lean into that kind of a challenge.

Jim Collison 7:36

That's super awesome. OK, let's look at truth No. 3.

Maika Leibbrandt 7:39

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

Jim Collison 7:44

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

Maika Leibbrandt 7:46

These are the people who find comfort in conversation, particularly deep conversation. So I often find people with high Intellection will actually tell me they don't like small talk, or that they'd rather be alone with their thoughts than to have to build rapport in a room of strangers. So when I say they find comfort in conversations, it's that they find comfort in evaluative, or really, I think, consider it thought-provoking conversation. They might be the type of people in your circle who are just constantly attracted to being able to ask and then explore "What if?" "What do you think?" or "What About?"

Maika Leibbrandt 8:25

There does not have to be an end to the idea that they're considering. It's not about solving. It's not about mastering. It's simply about deepening the understanding and widening the perspective. You might find that they have habits that allow them space to think. Maybe they go on walks. Maybe they like gallery views, or, or I think about it as like salons with friends who also enjoy considering ideas, but it could also very well be just moments where they're by themselves, or the opportunity to explore something that otherwise wouldn't have been an urgent priority.

Jim Collison 9:01

Maybe that's the next thing to have is just a place for people to go and think, right? No, no, well? Maybe that's the library. What questions could managers ask folks to really bring this out? If they see it in their personal life? What are some questions a manager could ask?

Maika Leibbrandt 9:18

When do you do your best thinking? What have you concluded or deduced? Who are your favorite thought partners and what do they provide? What new realization are you having? What's the best way that you found to spark conversation? What do you value in your community?

Jim Collison 9:36

Yeah, I love that. When do you do your best thinking? I think, for a manager, that is a super key thing to know. Maybe not a bad question ask kind of everybody.

Maika Leibbrandt 9:45

Do you know, I ask it to a lot of my people I coach, and I'm surprised at how shocking of a question it can be to people. Because it's one that you actually have to slow down and think about. But once you do, then it's just like we talked in a previous episode about those "microwins" and tuning your ear to them, once you, once you really have understood those ways that you do your best Thinking, or your best Executing, or your best Influencing, you can do them more. You can ask for them. You can be the advocate that you need in order to create, you know, the best that you can offer.

Jim Collison 10:16

I've, I've learned I do my best thinking in the context of a conversation. And so it's not just Intellection that that's a good question for, but maybe a good one to set the standard on a team for everyone to say, Hey, when are those Aha! moments? When are they happening? So that's pretty great. All right, truth No. 4.

Maika Leibbrandt 10:31

No. 4 is "Strong teams embrace diversity." This is not to say that diversity equals having different CliftonStrengths, because everyone already has different CliftonStrengths. And diversity is a much bigger idea than that. But what this truth does tell us in relationship to a strong team is that the more we can embrace the fact that we all think differently -- maybe that we all do our best thinking in different ways, or that we all approach a problem with a different history and a different perspective -- the more we can invite that, the, the stronger we can be at trusting each other, at setting each other up for future success and at solving the problem that we're facing as a team.

Jim Collison 11:10

And what are a diversity of some descriptor words we might use for this theme?

Maika Leibbrandt 11:14

You could call someone with Intellection contemplative, thoughtful, deep, conceptual, alert, aware, or the sense of mental endurance.

Jim Collison 11:24

I like that one: mental endurance. That's a good one. I don't have any of it, but it's a good one. And then what perspective does Intellection bring to a team?

Maika Leibbrandt 11:31

They provide the gift of perspective, which is sort of a weird way to answer that question. But I think they will tackle a problem the team is facing by thinking about it, sometimes, I like to say, from 360 different angles. They might be well-suited, especially more so than other themes, to provide an objective analysis of a problem. When given the chance, they'll deepen the team's conceptual understanding of the goals that they have, or the strengths that they have, or the challenges that they need to overcome.

Jim Collison 12:01

Let's look at truth No. 5.

Maika Leibbrandt 12:03

No. 5, otherwise known as Jim Collison's favorite of the 5: "Strong teams are magnets for talent." This is probably just a result of the other 4. But what we're talking about here is those teams that everybody wants to be on, those teams that you're attracted to being around.

Maika Leibbrandt 12:06

And what is it that attracts them to this?

Maika Leibbrandt 12:24

Intellection, I think, is attractive, because it feels good when someone thinks deeply with you, or about you, or invites you into their deep thoughts and their curiosity. They can be a great coach. They can -- because of their ability to reflect on aspects of your performance that you missed, or maybe pieces that you thought were just minor, because they are in the in the business of catching it all and thinking about it and ruminating on it -- the pieces you maybe thought were inconsequential, they can reflect back to you. To someone with high Intellection, every thought or idea has consequence. So this depth of awareness can help your team prevent future mistakes. It can help your team understand past performance or even just appreciate their present existence.

Jim Collison 13:14

To my intellectual friends, if you really want to impress people, think deeply about someone else. It's a pretty amazing, if you think about that talent that attracts people to it, that's pretty amazing when you can do that. What else might describe the gift that, that Intellection brings to a team/

Maika Leibbrandt 13:30

They ask great questions. They'll make you think. They may even simplify your story with you. You just have to invite them to think it over.

Jim Collison 13:39

Let's review those 5 again.

Maika Leibbrandt 13:41

1) Results, not conflict; 2) Do what's best for the organization and then move forward; 3) Work lives and personal lives are equally important; 4) Embrace diversity; 5) Magnets for talent. So you might think about these 5 in a way that you could evaluate your own team. What are you currently doing great, and why are you doing it so great? Maybe also, which of these truths are you stumbling upon? And how could you leverage the talent within your team already? Honor the people who, who show up and the way that they show up, rather than aiming for some dream recipe of talents that somehow would get you there. There is no dream recipe. What we know strong teams have in common is not the makeup of talents. It's how well they honor the talent that's already there.

Jim Collison 14:24

So, so, so important, Maika, thanks for sharing that with us. Speaking of sharing, you've been sharing these talent-mindfulness exercises with us throughout both Season 5 and now in Season 6, you got a great one lined up. What do you have for us today?

Maika Leibbrandt 14:35

So today, we're not solving huge issues. We're just practicing a focus on your own best self. If you have your CliftonStrengths 34 profile, this exercise is especially for you. If you need to go get it, I invite you right now to pause this podcast. Go find it. You can pull it up on your app or your computer, and then come back and press Play. We'll wait -- and Jim, I have yours, so I'm just going to send it to you while people are finding theirs so that you can play along with us. There, it's in your inbox. I just emailed. This is like real-time partnership.

Maika Leibbrandt 15:13

OK. Take a moment to settle into this practice. This is not about answering a question or unpacking Intellection; this is about you. On the first page of that big CliftonStrengths 34 report, you'll find a rank-order of your Clift -- your 34 CliftonStrengths talent themes. These are listed in order of intensity, personalized on you, based on how you think, how you feel and how you behave most naturally, most effortlessly, with the greatest potential for excellence.

Maika Leibbrandt 15:55

So let's situate your attention on your CliftonStrengths profile. Most people's first reaction, whether they want to admit it or not, is to explore the last themes in the sequence. Sometimes we call these your lesser talents or your nontalents. So let's go there. Take a look at the last 5 to 10 themes on your list. Those describe who you are not. I know, it's hard to be told that you're not something. But that is the beauty of being a human on a planet. We're not all everything. We're certainly not all excellent at everything. And because themes are neutral, there is no single talent theme or set of themes that's better suited for excellence than another.

Maika Leibbrandt 16:54

Not naturally displaying those talents that you see at the bottom is not like me telling you, "You cannot be great." It's not a challenge to change. In fact, before you hear the word "No" and instantly want to twist it into a way it can be a "Yes," just for the next 3 minutes, let's try allowing that to be a release. Look at your last 3 to 5 to 10 talent themes. And release any judgment you have of those talents being good, needed or bad. Breathe into the possibility that you aren't this way, and you don't need to be, ever.

Maika Leibbrandt 17:50

Here's a truth: You're not going to find your best self from a place that you have to work especially hard. You're not going to have -- you're not going to find your best self from a place that you have to work hard to grow from nothing into something. Your best self comes from areas where you've been told you're too much; from ways of thinking that you can't help but explore; from patterns that you display over and over and over again without trying. And those don't come from your Bottom 5.

Maika Leibbrandt 18:28

Bring your gaze up toward the top of your profile. Look at themes 1 through 3 through 5 through 10. And again, breathe into the possibility that these, too, are neither good nor bad. These are you. No one else on the entire planet needs these themes in order to succeed in the same way you have them. And if you are going to be excellent, it will come from mastering the very best of these talent themes.

Maika Leibbrandt 19:13

Once you've identified ways of behaving that bring you enjoyment, excellence and ease -- or your Top 5 or probably 10 -- use "ease" as a starting point, and make it harder. Get uncomfortable in the pursuit of amplifying these natural talents. "Ease" doesn't mean that you can just identify what you do well and relax into it. It means that if you're going to grow, that's where you need to start. Push yourself beyond what you thought was possible. Ask for feedback. Raise your hand for challenging experiences that make the most of your best talents and help you work really, really hard at growing toward excellence.

Maika Leibbrandt 20:03

You don't need to amplify all 34. You need to lean into the top. And use those at the bottom to describe the kinds of behavior you should not be investing heavily in. No one else will hold you accountable for your own best life like you will. And if you don't, we all miss out. That's your talent-mindfulness for today.

Jim Collison 20:43

We all miss out, indeed. Right? We miss out on those gifts. So Maika, I love, you know, oftentimes those clues to talent are those things that have driven other people nuts. And we sometimes shy away from those, right? We, they're painful, because we've been made to feel bad about them. And yet, they are the most powerful things about us. I think, you know, it was in my 40s that I discovered that I could do that. I could be who I was built to be and let the naysayers go aside. There's always going to be naysayers, right, in doing this. And I did -- I just -- I see this a lot in the Facebook groups of people saying, "Yeah, but we have to worry about not to use it too much." That's kind of like, "Yeah, you have to be careful. You don't want to love somebody too much." Because, you know, you're like --

Maika Leibbrandt 21:33

Is your job as a coach to bring everybody down to "normal"? I don't think so.

Jim Collison 21:39

No. Find --

Maika Leibbrandt 21:39

If that's what you're aiming for is "Let's all be equal," or "Let's all be neutral," then yeah, tell him to turn it down.

Jim Collison 21:45

If you're a firehose, find a fire. Like just, like, let's get that, let's get that power used in a right way. So Maika, thanks for bringing those, bringing those to us each and every week.

Jim Collison 21:56

With that, we'll remind everyone to take full advantages of all the resources we do have available now in Gallup Access. Head out to Great place to actually find the transcripts for these videos, audio and video is there in our webcast section. Love to have you do that. Again, head out to While you're there, sign up for the CliftonStrengths Community Newsletter, bottom of the page, to stay up to date on everything that we're doing. And on a monthly basis, we'll just send you that note, and, and a great way to keep up with this. You can also search "CliftonStrengths" on YouTube, or if you want to listen to us as a podcast, search "Gallup Webcasts" on any podcast player. Subscribe while you're out there on YouTube; a great way to kind of stay up to date with everything that's happening. If you have questions, you can send us an email: See a complete list of all our courses -- they're all virtual now so you can head, head out to If you'd like to sign up for future webcasts, you can do that at and stay up to date on everything that's going on, see the whole 2021 schedule as it comes out. Join us in our Facebook group: On LinkedIn, you can find us by searching "CliftonStrengths Trained Coaches." If that was all too fast, just go back to the transcript! Mark does a great job of --

Maika Leibbrandt 23:06

Yeah, Mark!

Jim Collison 23:06

putting all those links in there as well. If you found this helpful, we'd ask that you'd share it. I want to thank you for joining us. We'll look forward to the next Theme Thursday. And with that, we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.

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