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Claiming and Harnessing the Power of Your CliftonStrengths

Claiming and Harnessing the Power of Your CliftonStrengths

Webcast Details

  • Gallup Called to Coach Webcast Series
  • Season 8, Episode 77
  • Learn how claiming your unique CliftonStrengths and leaning into them can empower you as an individual and team member, even during times of disruption.
  • Interested in learning more on this topic? Read more about how to improve teamwork in the workplace.

Gerard Glennon, Manager of Leadership and Industry at Victoria University Polytechnic in Melbourne, Australia, was our guest on a recent Called to Coach. Gerard discussed the challenges of maintaining student and university employee engagement during a pandemic, as well as the role CliftonStrengths can play in the current situation. His insights included:

  • How CliftonStrengths can empower people to manage significant life disruptions
  • The importance of bringing a Top 5 mindset into every role and life experience
  • Learning how to change your perspective on your CliftonStrengths talent themes so you can harness their power

So strengths is that positive element, that through the capital "D" Disruption of COVID, strengths is that self-appreciation, that awareness, that unique self-help ... that's going to get me [and] my team ... through COVID.

Gerard Glennon, 10:27

On my résumé, under my name, are my Top 5, because that is the most important 5 things that I take into any role, any interview, any experience that I have.

Gerard Glennon, 32:38

You mentioned Woo ... it wasn't until I actually started overusing it that I ... realized the talent in it, and then leaned into it even more and made it more effective.

Jim Collison, 54:50

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

Jim Collison 0:00

I am Jim Collison, and live from our virtual studios literally around the world, this is Gallup's Called to Coach, recorded on November 19, 2020.

Jim Collison 0:20

Called to Coach is a resource for those 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. If you're listening live, love to have you join us in our chat room. There's actually a link on the top of the page there. That'll take you to our YouTube instance. Just sign in there. We'd love to have you in our chat room. If you have questions after the fact -- and many of you are doing this, appreciate it -- send us an email: Don't forget, if you're listening on YouTube, give us a Like button and subscribe. 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 works as a Learning Solutions Consultant with Gallup out of our Sydney, Australia, office. And Anne, I say this every time: I wish I was there. But great to have you on Called to Coach.

Anne Lingafelter 1:07

Thanks so much, Jim. It's always great to be here. I think this is the first time you're getting this view, or I should say this view, over my shoulder, which is, yes, part of Sydney Harbour. So we are pretty lucky, and we're moving from spring into summer. It's going to be a wet summer but that's OK because it means that it should keep our bushfires down. So we're really looking forward to having a nondramatic or traumatic summer this year. So anyway, thanks, thanks for, for having us. We're thrilled to be here. And, and frankly really ready for 2021 to hit. So my guest today is Gerard Glennon and he is a leader in the VET or Vocational Education and Training sector here in Australia. He's a relationship manager, a project manager, a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach, and the official title he has is the Manager of Leadership and Industry at Victoria University Polytechnic. Before coming into higher education about 15 years ago, he worked in healthcare as a registered nurse, specializing in cardiac nursing. He's the father of three 20-somethings, husband to Sue, and an avid volunteer in his community. His Top 5 strengths are Empathy, Connectedness, Relator, Developer and Deliberative. Gerard, welcome to Called to Coach!

Gerard Glennon 2:33

Thank you, Anne. Absolute pleasure and, I'll say, privilege to be here. So my background certainly not as, not as spectacular as yours; they're my curtains.

Anne Lingafelter 2:44

There you go. That's OK. I think that your virtual office looks pretty, pretty good. You've got all the, the most necessary components for this show. Great lighting, you know, good sound. So you're winning at this point, well done. Gerard, for the benefit of our off -- of our audience, if you wouldn't mind providing a bit of context around your role around Victoria University Polytechnic, specifically. Help us, help set the stage for our guests.

Gerard Glennon 3:14

Thanks, Anne. Yeah. Absolute pleasure. So Victoria University is a unique entity in terms of its -- what we call the dual sector in Australia. And in Victoria, there are four job sectors. So we are the traditional higher ed, with undergraduate degrees through the doctorate qualifications. But I work across in the vocational education side from, from Certificate One, a foundation course, sort of diplomas and advanced diplomas up to an undergraduate degree. And in fact, we, we do have some courses above that in the, in the vocational space, but anything from a trade certificate, and you might equate that to say, a college situation. But someone can enter our institution at a foundation course level, stay as long as they like, and they do sometimes end up staying long enough that they'll end up with a, with a doctoral qual, doctoral qualification. And so as I said, there's only, only four of us in the state. And it provides a lot of opportunity for, for learning at any level.

Anne Lingafelter 4:24

And it's so it's kind of a hybrid, isn't it, of the traditional higher education, plus the vocational training, right? It has -- it really offers both, doesn't it?

Gerard Glennon 4:35

Absolutely. We started just over 100 years ago as a technical school, technical and trades, and we've morphed -- so in 1916, so we've morphed over the journey, over the years, to be a recognized higher ed, higher education provider. And we've still maintained that very strong link to our vocational side of education, particularly servicing the west of Melbourne, where we started and where we still are. And that key growth area, there's a lot of like first-in-family students, a lot of industry in the west. And so we service the west, not just the west, but we're certainly focused on the west of Melbourne, primarily and predominantly.

Anne Lingafelter 5:13

So how much of your population is -- or students, I should say -- would be online versus on ground? I mean, do you have the majority of folks on campus physically? Or is, yeah, are more of them online?

Gerard Glennon 5:30

Great question. And it depends when you ask me. If you were to ask me that question 12 months ago, face to face, on campus, on ground. As of March, we pivoted completely to an online remote delivery presence. And we pivoted very quickly. We had been moving in that direction, absolutely. And we have award-winning blended delivery and online programs delivery, but because of the COVID restrictions, since March, we have -- and in a very short period of time -- we pivoted to a complete remote delivery, and trickling back to campus in, in some areas now. But I would hope that a lot of that remote delivery doesn't leave our offer, because it's given access to people who perhaps didn't have access before.

Anne Lingafelter 6:16

And -- sorry, didn't, didn't mean to interrupt. No, no, I just I absolutely want to dig more deeply into that, because I found some of the conversation that we had prior to the show, talking about sort of the pros and the cons of the disruption during COVID, specifically in your institution. So being able to kind of drill down into that a bit and how you've addressed some of those pros and cons and, and also where you you see it going. But before we, we, we go there, give me a sense as well about the staff that you're working with. How big is the staff population there at the university?

Gerard Glennon 6:55

It's a little bit fluid, it's sort of 5,000 is roughly about the number. We have about 40,000 students across all the sectors and the courses and the different campuses across the west of Melbourne, and about 4,000 to 5,000 staff across both sectors, delivering anything from a foundation program through to the doctoral study.

Anne Lingafelter 7:14

OK, fantastic. Thank you. And one of the things that we'll also dig into in a little bit later is the fact that the work that you do, predominantly and uniquely, is with staff and not with students. And I think that that's one of the reasons why yours is, to me, such an interesting story to tell. Because across the globe, what we see with our higher education clients at Gallup is a lot of the work is focused on the student population. And I actually think that's the cart before the horse. I love the fact that you are working primarily and initially with the staff.

Anne Lingafelter 7:45

And then, you know, we can talk about what it is that you're doing with them, and then talk about, you know, what, what the future potentially holds. But let's take a big step back again, looking at the big picture. So all education institutions, or by far the majority of them globe, globally, have needed to pivot in a very large way and very quickly in, due to the pandemic. If you can talk a little bit about what that pivot looks like for you guys -- the time frame that you had to do it, what were the immediate changes that you had to have and had to make an order to be able to meet your student population needs?

Gerard Glennon 8:25

Another great question. We didn't have a lot of time. We're talking a week or two. For some -- we've had a blended learning delivery strategy for some years. And that's a, that's been an internationally recognized, award-winning strategy, particularly in the vocational side, but across different areas of the university, where we've already been working towards having a blended program. So having an online presence, having some face-to-face contact, and so it's a blend, a multifaceted approach. So in March, with our lockdowns as a result of COVID, our lockdowns were in place within, within a week or two. It was you're in, you're in the office one day, and, and the building's closed the next. And that's not just Victoria University; that's across the state.

Gerard Glennon 9:14

So we really only had weeks and in some cases, only a small number of weeks, to really change our delivery. So having a robust learning management system, and a model, model of the blended delivery that we've been working towards, it made it a little bit -- it wasn't completely foreign. OK, a lot of courses had, some courses had, a number of courses -- over 100 courses -- had already moved into a blended delivery model. But for those that hadn't, this was the impetus for what was going to happen over the next year or two. It just had to happen in the space of a few weeks.

Gerard Glennon 9:50

So one of the things that we had to make sure of is we didn't disengage our students, because, you know, if I were in the same situation, you know, we're all facing the same COVID challenge, except for the fact that they, we, back-of-house know that we're working towards the modified programs or pivoting those programs. But the students would be sitting there, thinking, "What's happening to my program? Do I still have a program? What's happening next week? Where do I fit into this, and how am I going to be affected?" And that's always got to be the -- I suppose that's my Empathy coming through -- that's always got to be one of our, our primary things is, we don't exist without our students. And not just big clumps of students, but each individual student.

Gerard Glennon 10:32

So keeping them engaged, keeping them, keeping the communication going, how are you going, and, and keeping the conversations going. So it was a lot of work for the teaching staff. But that, and then, you know, a few weeks after that, we specifically had a Connect Week in each of the areas, where we just connected again, to make sure every student we were connecting with How are you going? Any progress issues, any support required. So it's not just the delivery strategy, but the connection has been a really important part of the strategy.

Anne Lingafelter 11:03

So it sounds like the communication and the connection were challenges or opportunities that you had to meet. But do you think that the way that you did that will continue postpandemic, as just as far as, you know, being able to have that increased connection with the students?

Gerard Glennon 11:22

Oh look, I would hope so. I would hope so. You know, we've the world's been disrupted, with a capital "D" this year, through, through the pandemic and through COVID. But what it's really given us the, the impetus to do is find a multitude of really effective ways to establish and maintain communications with students. And I would hope that rather than them sort of being put to the side, as we come out into a COVID-normal world, they stay in the toolbox. They stay in the armory. And so it's like, well, it's, it's not just because of COVID, but we might have actually found that some students prefer to be contacted or communicated in a different way that we hadn't used before. So that disengaged student is now connected. So I would hope that they stay as part of our, our broad armory of communication.

Anne Lingafelter 12:13

What would be some of the other challenges, and some of the other benefits, that you experienced over the last year?

Gerard Glennon 12:25

Ooh. Some of the challenges, I suppose, it's just -- for want of a really broad term -- it's just different. You know, I've, I've been at the university for coming up to 15 years and in the vocational side for 10. And it's just different. And having to change -- and anyone who's been, who's led or been engaged in the change process would know that, if you can plan it out and engage your stakeholders and have a plan, have a vision, it's, you can move towards succeeding in that change process. But we didn't have the time to do that; we had to move quickly. So that was certainly a challenge. There's a lot of it that was perhaps unknown of where we were going. So that was -- when I say that, we, we hadn't faced a situation like this before. So, so how we were, how we were getting there, so that was, it was the unknown, I think, was one of the, those things.

Gerard Glennon 13:24

And, and identifying that some students, you know, we might assume that they, that all students are really tech-savvy, and they might have the best phone, and they might have the best technology at hand. But that is the extent of the technology that they have access to. So, so identifying is not, you know, that was a challenge, identifying that there's more students that we perhaps might have thought aren't as broadly tech-savvy, and, and putting support into that. But that's a good thing, because that's something that can last into the future, which becomes one of the benefits. I think expanding our communication, expanding our communication with each other, and I think the benefits there have been really significant.

Anne Lingafelter 14:02

Excellent. And I know when we were speaking previously, we talked about the pros and cons, we talked about the questions that are still unanswered, and some of them I thought were really interesting. And I appreciated getting the, getting the, the sort of the glimpse behind the education curtain. You talked about, one of the questions that came up from this period was, What courses do we prioritize? Right? How do we -- which ones are going to be the most important for us to get virtual first, and, and, and to be able to to address? Another one being, you know, delivery, certainly for -- in a vo tech situation, where you're, you're needing to learn trades and skills, and so much of it is, is experiential and hands-on. How do you provide that and meet that need for the students when you can't meet face-to-face? Talk a bit about those two to start with.

Gerard Glennon 14:58

Yeah, the trade areas, the school-based trade areas, yeah, a challenge. They were, they were one of the biggest challenges, I suppose. But when you really pare down a lot of courses, you know, we, we would say that, OK, carpentry, bricklaying or plumbing -- well, they're trade, they're all hands-on. There's a good chunk of theory stuff in there too, that, that can be done in a remote sense. When I say remote and online, it's not just a link to some PowerPoints and some downloadable PDF files. It's still engaging with Zoom or WebEx or whatever technology that we're using. So we're still human interaction, as far as we can. There's still phones, there's still email.

Gerard Glennon 15:36

But those classes aren't just self-directed; they're still guided, they're still facilitated learning, it's just we're not in the same physical space. And, you know, and for me, delivering strengths workshops wherever was done face-to-face -- oh, my goodness we're going Zoom now. So I understand that there are things that I initially thought that -- hmm, probably couldn't do that; need to do that face-to-face. No, you don't.

Gerard Glennon 15:57

So what we found, though, is when you start to get to the end of that, once you've identified the extent of what you can deliver in a remote fashion, is identifying, Well, OK, we now need to either demonstrate this as part of the compliance with that course, or we need to assess that, in a, in a face-to-face. Some of those, some of those assessments may be video. And so, OK, that's another chunk of assessment that, that we traditionally would have thought had to be face-to-face. But what we were able to do in pockets between lockdowns was bring students back for very short periods of time on campus, in small groups with a lot of lockdown compliance to go around that, and, and do those demonstrations, all those assessments, on campus. So it was a lot of work in the planning. But when you pin it down, there's a lot that you can do -- still do remotely.

Anne Lingafelter 16:54

Yeah, interesting. And that was going to be my next question. I know that one of the problems you were trying to solve was, How do we change the way we grade or assess the students? And even when looking at the student population, whether it's, you know, a remote population, maybe they benefit from the virtual environment. But, but, you know, like a lot of schools, I imagine you would have been hit by the loss of the international student population, so, remote within Australia, but the international population becomes becomes tricky.

Anne Lingafelter 17:24

So, so with the background and backdrop of all of those challenges that the staff were facing at the university, let's jump now into how did you use your strengths coaching to address those sorts of challenges that your staff was having? What sort of stories can you share with the audience about, here's some issues or challenges or areas for personal development that were presented, and, and, and how you responded to that, and how they responded to the strengths training?

Gerard Glennon 18:00

That's a, that's a really meaningful question. Because I think strengths has been, it's been at the core of, of, I'm going to use my own team as an example. My new Executive Director, my boss, started 2 weeks before -- at Victoria University, started 2 weeks before lockdown. I'm not even actually completely sure, from memory, I don't think, as a team, we were in the room, in the, in a room at the same time, in the same place before lockdown. It just happened so quickly.

Gerard Glennon 18:33

But we have, and Louise, my, my Executive Director, has built such a, such a strong team by, by communicating. We have, obviously, regular meetings, regular communications, but something that she put in right from the start was we did our team strengths. And I did a strengths workshop for our team, and then a follow-up strengths workshop. But then we've, every month, we have been revisiting strengths. And, and we've moved on to doing strengths -- but I was mentioning to you the other day, Anne, that matching up your strength with a song that reflects your strengths. So getting a bit of fun and enjoyment out of it. But, but also, it's a further way to get to know each other, but really explore strengths. So we've done that on a, on a monthly basis. And that's, that's a really, really, I believe, tight and really effective team.

Gerard Glennon 19:27

Some of the, some of the other areas -- what's been really good even in our people in culture, human resources area, they run internal leadership development programs. They've continued to run those. And they've continued to run those with strengths at the front end. And those participants are dispersed right across the organization. So it wasn't a case of, Will it be too hard? or we put the line through that. No, it's, How do we now keep that strengths momentum going, having delivered into that program for the last 2 or 3 years? How do we keep that momentum going? And so there's been 51 of those participants go through that spread right across the organization.

Gerard Glennon 20:05

So strengths is that positive element, that through the so, the capital "D" Disruption of COVID, strengths is that self-appreciation, that awareness, that unique self-help, because these are the tools that's going to get me through COVID. These are the tools that are going to help my team get through COVID. So these have probably been the most important tools to embed, but it hasn't been hard to get that message across because of the value that the organization is seeing in strengths.

Anne Lingafelter 20:34

Yeah, that is so fantastic. And I, I know, we've talked about the importance in, in having a champion, you know, especially an executive champion, if possible, in order to, to support what you're doing, and to allow that momentum to continue. And I know that that I've met your Grant Dreher a couple of times over the last 5, almost 6, years. And I know that he's been someone who's, who's supported strengths. And, and can you talk a little bit about, about what having a champion in the background for it has allowed you to do?

Gerard Glennon 21:11

That is, is, it's crucial. It's been the linchpin. It wasn't an idea taken to Grant to say, "What do you think?" Grant introduced it and Grant drove and supported it right from the start -- about 2014-ish, was probably when we did the first big push with strengths. And so he's, he's modeled and, and pushed it, but not mandated it. As soon as you mandate something, there's, there's something about that, "Oh, we have to do this." It's, it's -- hasn't been, hasn't been pushed from from a mandate point of view; it's, it's a, been a push from the point of view of how this benefits individuals, but how this benefits the teams, departments in the organization itself.

Gerard Glennon 21:57

So as a result over the, over that period, in the Polytechnic alone, there's been close to 300 staff -- and of course, there's obviously rotation and turnover of staff, so you've always got new people coming in -- but in that period of time, we've, we've engaged nearly 300 of our Polytechnic staff, plus over 200 of the University staff, so we're talking over 500 of the University and the Polytechnic staff have engaged with strengths assessment and reflection.

Anne Lingafelter 22:28

And how does that start? So you, your, your role, your title is Manager of Leadership and Industry. So what does that mean? And, and, and is it just the staff that you're, that you're dealing with? And I know we're not talking students right now. But are you -- with the industry part, is that sort of external clients that, that -- of the university that you are reaching out to and doing strengths workshops? Can you, can you tell me sort of what the strategy is there? You know, what is, what is your role? And what is the strategy in bringing strengths in to those folks that you do the workshops for?

Gerard Glennon 23:08

That's, the external work there has been a wonderful opportunity. Yes, there's some of the clients that we, we might deliver award or non a ... qualification or just short courses for, and where possible, being able to, to embed strengths assessment at the front end. They might be doing a certificate in leadership and management, or even a diploma or what have you, or a graduate certificate, but embedding those strengths assessment at the front end of the course, it means we're not just giving information, we're not just giving a -- and I say "just" -- we're not giving a qualification that, that any provider could possibly do. What we're doing is at the front end of that is saying, We're going to give you the development opportunity. How you use that, and those unique ways you apply that, that's gonna be really built upon those strengths.

Gerard Glennon 23:58

And so this is your unique opportunity to, to develop your own self, your own awareness, because the tools that I give you might be the same tools, that I'll give somebody else in a course, but you might use them differently, you'll prioritize them differently, depending whether you're Relationship, whether you're Strategic, you're an Executing or Influencing. They're going to influence how you use those tools. So putting strengths in there. Some, some organizations a, we have a wonderful relationship with the Western Bulldogs, AFL -- Australian Football League -- team, their community foundation, who do amazing work in the western suburbs in particular. And they have volunteers, often retired people who have had fantastic careers who are giving back to the community. So doing strengths with over 50 of those participants last year, because, you know, they're now aware of their strengths and they can have those positive conversations as they're out there engaging with the community.

Gerard Glennon 24:49

So it can be because of a client, a more sort of corporate client, it can be in healthcare, or it could be with volunteers, but putting that positive approach at the start, that self-reflection. And one of the ways that I put that, that importance of understanding self and the unique, the phrase I have, I write on the board often is "wonderfully, uniquely you" is, because that's, that's what resonates with strengths for me is the con -- the positive conversation, the positive reflection that you take away about self, and are having with someone out in the community, your reflection on their, on them, and any positives you give to them, they might be the first positives that they've ever heard. Because some of them had pretty tough, tough lives and pretty tough circumstance. But if you can't sort of get those positives and that reflection going in the self, it's hard to be genuine in those conversations that you have outwardly. So it's been fantastic embedding those and offering those. And that's been the point of regardless of the course, it'll be something to do with strengths that people invariably come back to as being one of their key development successes across a course.

Anne Lingafelter 25:57

Yeah, that's excellent. Tell me some, tell me some stories about the staff. So you know, different types of, of, you know, areas of the, of the school, that you've gone in and done workshops for. Any success stories, any, any challenges that you learned from, and something perhaps you would do differently, or the way you would approach it differently next time?

Gerard Glennon 26:20

If all of those were different criteria, I would take every single one of those. There's been successes, challenges, things I've learned from and things I do differently. One of those success experiences that comes to mind is someone I've worked with in the past, and I've probably known them in the organization for at least 10 years. And we were doing, she was strong in the, in the Executing, and Discipline was No. 1 there. And a phrase was used, and, and for strengths coaches who might be listening to this, they've possibly heard this in their workshops or coaching, when she said, "I always saw that as a fault." And you think, "Oh my God. This is, this is one of your strengths! And you've always thought this is, seen this as a fault."

Gerard Glennon 27:10

So, simple question: "Why do you, why do you say that? No judgment, no, no overt surprise, but why would you say that?"

Gerard Glennon 27:18

"Ah, because people probably think I'm too rigid and too stuck and too stuck in process and the like."

Gerard Glennon 27:23

And, and my response to that was, "If you don't provide that underpinning structure for your team, where's it coming from?" And there was that just moment of reflection, and a pause that, and she said, "I don't know -- nowhere, really."

Gerard Glennon 27:42

"And what happens to your team if it doesn't have that person who's -- all those people, but particularly in your case, that person who says, 'This is the benchmark, this is the process, because, you know, we're a heavily compliance-driven sector.' So what happens to the team and the department if that doesn't, if you don't have that?"

Gerard Glennon 28:01

"Well, we might be in a bit of trouble."

Gerard Glennon 28:02

"So let's think about the value you're adding to your team. And for all these years, you've thought, that's a fault? Your, your, your No. 1 has been the un -- one of the underpinning factors for success for your team for all these years." First time ever thought about that. First time. Still not convinced, years later, through -- I had the conversation with her, probably in October last year, about 2 or 3 years after that first, first reflection. Still getting used to the fact that, but -- that it's a positive, but changing the mindset of 20 years' worth, you know, that's not something's gonna happen in 5 minutes. That was probably one, an example of a great, a great success.

Gerard Glennon 28:41

One of the challenges I remember, another workshop was, it was a challenge to become a success. You can tell when people walk in the room when they've been told to be there. And clearly, clearly, no, no secret in the body language, or even I don't think even secret in how she sort of introduced herself. But by the end of it, she actually had to quietly say to me, "I thought this was going to be really bad. I really enjoyed it!" I ended up doing a session for her team. So, you know, they, the challenge of engaging people with reflection, the challenge of, because we're all so busy; there's always stuff going on. There's always other priorities. Absolutely. There are a lot of priorities. But that No. 1 priority is self-reflection, allowing people permission to stop and engage. And that's one of the things that Grant says, has always said with the strengths or any program associated with the strengths, allow yourself this time to engage. And that's, that's from the top level. That's the message that sort of pervades through as we, as we've been doing strengths and has really underpinned why we've been able to embed strengths to this point.

Anne Lingafelter 29:52

Yeah, excellent. And, and just really briefly, what would you say would be something that you would do differently? Is there something that you've learned a lesson from, and you'd say, "OK, next time I'll file this away; I may not have the same approach." Is there one of those you can share with us?

Gerard Glennon 30:11

Ah, look, there's probably a lot, there's probably a lot. With a lot of groups I, I go in with a plan, but I really try and read the group because something I would do differently for for a group last week is exactly the right thing for tomorrow's. But not, not expecting people -- this is probably where I am now compared to, say, where I was in the early days of strengths is -- not expecting people to wholeheartedly say, "Oh, fantastic! Strengths is here. It's what I've been waiting for!" Don't make that expectation. It's -- some people don't want to engage. They don't want to reflect. You offer them the gift, the opportunity. But just not making that assumption that everybody wants to, to share, that not everybody wants to reflect that that time. Their time will come; it just might not be that time.

Anne Lingafelter 31:03

Yeah. Excellent. Can you talk about a shift to students? Is that something that you see in the future and, and bringing strengths into students more, more broadly, in both the the Polytechnic and also just Victoria University, perhaps the undergrad? What, what are your thoughts there?

Gerard Glennon 31:24

Golden opportunity! I think it's a golden opportunity with some of the external ones -- under the banner of "external," I've included some student groups that we've done, including some graduate certificate management students, but also some, some deployer of logistics students a few years ago. And, and they're more on campus, as opposed to some of the industry clients that we might get engaged with. I think it's gold, for a number of reasons. We are not, you know -- bombshell moment -- we are not the only university or vocational provider in in Victoria, let alone Australia. So people can go to any number of universities or, or vocational providers and get the same, same or similar qualification. So our point of difference I believe, is we've, we have been very committed, as I mentioned before, about serving the west and building the west, a lot of first-in-family students and the like.

Gerard Glennon 32:20

But when we set people off to the, to the wide world of work, it's a crazy world out there. And it can be really satisfying and rewarding. But if we're, if we're providing the opportunity to gain a qualification, but also an understanding of self, as a potential employer -- and this is just one aspect of it -- on my résumé, under my name, are my, my Top 5, because that is the most important 5 things that I take into any role, any interview, any experience that I have. Whether in a paid role, or in a community role, they are the 5. So if we can give people a qualification, some work experience related to that qualification, and an awareness of their Top 5 that they can articulate, that is so meaningful, because that, that says that, that I'm willing to reflect on self, I understand a bit about self. And there's so much more to me than, than the really fantastic qualification that I may have undertaken at, at VU/V Poly. But, but I'm, I'm going out into the world with my experience, with my skill, with my qualification and with some awareness. I think it's gold. I really -- that's a great opportunity.

Anne Lingafelter 33:31

So, you know, one of the first things that I was thinking about when I was thinking about your experience previously in healthcare and acting as a registered nurse in, in the cardiac space. Pandemic hits. What was your response? Were, was there any part of you that wished you were back in your nursing days and that you could be there to help folks? Or were you saying, "Oh, my goodness, I'm so glad that I'm not on the front line at the moment!" What were your, your thoughts with that?

Gerard Glennon 34:00

You are so inside my head, Anne, and there's -- you'll probably find there's not much up there, once you've had a look around! But my first reaction was exactly that. And I can't believe how well you've articulated it. I felt I had to be back out there doing something. I haven't worked clinically for a few years. But I've maintained registration because I've been out of it because of delivering education. So that's been great. And I straightaway felt that really deep in the, in the heart, that I had to, I had to -- my Connectedness and my Empathy were coming to the fore. I had to get out there and help; I had to do something. I had to, I had to be there and, and "do my bit," for want of a term, and contribute.

Gerard Glennon 34:45

And one of the courses that I actually teach is a graduate certificate management in one of our large healthcare providers in the western suburbs -- Western Health -- and I was going to sign up there. I'd started, made inquiries to Evan Sonnafen to a do some sort of course to, to get back into the clinical. And my wife, she's a, she's a nurse as well. And, and while she was very -- could understand it, it was like, "Ah, do you think that's a great idea -- just, just from a health point of view?" But oh, no, absolutely felt I had to be, be right in there. And I hadn't, I hadn't even mentioned that to you. So, well picked!

Anne Lingafelter 35:24

Well, you know, I'm also Empathy No. 1. So I know that was, you know, and I -- that definitely was my experience as well. And mine was not in the healthcare space. But, but in just needing to get in to my clients who are on the front line and helping them figure out how they were going to deal with everything that, that they were faced with. And, and I was obsessed by it because I have Restorative in my Top 5 -- and Individualization in my Top 5 as well. And I just was, yeah, it's really interesting, again, just to see those natural patterns of being, that they come to the fore and, and, and during a, you know, something like a pandemic, it, it's even more so.

Gerard Glennon 36:01

It's crazy. And that's where you really see that these are my strengths. You can really -- well, these are my talents, and this is, this is that -- those situations, they really come to the fore.

Anne Lingafelter 36:12

So we're in your work with Western Health, and then even just thinking back to your time as a nurse. If you think, "Oh, if I'd only had strengths then and known strengths then," how would you have used it in your nursing? What are the opportunities that you see in healthcare to bring strengths in to help? Yeah.

Gerard Glennon 36:36

Yeah, look, had I known -- I mean, I always had them. I just didn't know the language thereof. Knowing the, knowing what I know about strengths now -- and I started training as a nurse in 1989 -- so, and no, I wasn't 12 years old; I was much older than that, even though it's a long time ago. I can see why I've gone from nursing to education. Other people have seen -- said, "Oh, that's a change!" Yeah, Empathy, Connectedness, Relator, Developer, let's have a think about -- and Deliberative, you know, it really fits it. They're just different vehicles for my strengths. And that's a wonderful, wonderful thing. I know that now.

Gerard Glennon 37:16

If I'd have known about the strengths, in my, my themes of talent in the past, I, I, it would have been the opportunity to really refine them and turn them into strengths perhaps earlier, and harness the power of them. And I know with Empathy, if there's, if there's a theme that can get you into, into -- that can serve you so beautifully well, it's Empathy. If there's a theme that can get you into the mire of everyone's life and experience, it's Empathy. And I think, in hindsight, if I'd have known about the Top 5 then and being able to harness that, I can see how I could have used them perhaps more effectively. Do I have any regret? No, I don't. Because these took me -- these have taken me in the direction that I've taken, whether it's in a, in a healthcare sense, or in a community activity sense.

Gerard Glennon 38:06

Is there more opportunity in healthcare? I absolutely think so. Because everything I've talked about in terms of embedding an education, I see them as -- both as life-affecting, person-centered industries. And so there's absolutely, and coming up to the new graduate certificate program at Western Health, I'll be, I'll be doing strengths at the front end again. And, you know, I've had some of the wonderful light-bulb moments of people sitting there in those conversations, and one takes me back to 2015 -- I can even remember the day -- of, of this person saying how he sort of always fall into roles and just seems to have gone right. And I said, "Well, let's look at your Top 5. Do you think all of what you've done over" -- and this, this person was so much like me; we had such a similar background; we shared so many common things. I said, "Don't you -- do you think everything you've done, if you look at your Top 5, do you think, rather than falling into things, you've been guided into those, those choices? And just the pause and the physical "Oh!" That's all he said. And it was that, that Aha! moment.

Gerard Glennon 39:11

And, and I think, and for people like that, you know, who engage in the, in the health industry, perhaps if they'd have been more aware, in an earlier, earlier part of their their career, they, they might have been able to, to harness that power even more themselves. Not to say that they were disappointed with the path they've taken at all; they've done really, really well. But healthcare and education: two fantastic areas for strengths.

Anne Lingafelter 39:38

I couldn't agree more. And I have a lot of clients in both of those spaces. And I definitely, I've seen that as well. And it's, it's, it can be a real gift to -- as you kind of look at your own internal compasses, to get through this and navigate your way forward through this tricky time. I think being able to look at your strengths are -- it's a, it's a really good way to start to understand, you know, Am I, you know, how am I being in this, during this time? And it's it can be quite useful.

Anne Lingafelter 40:09

So I know when I think about strengths, or sorry, about education, post-COVID, and how it's going to morph and, and change, and who knows where we're going to land, right? Certainly, it's going -- there are going to be things that have to change in higher education. But one of the things that, that we hear about may be that it becomes more experiential; that it becomes more where you really have to sort of combine sort of the vo-tech, or the vocational training aspect, the work aspect, and the traditional lectures and that sort of thing. So certainly, you guys would be well-positioned in that space already. So that's, that's fantastic. Are there other ways that you see, you know, what, what do you see the future of education looking like from where you sit now? What do you think is coming?

Gerard Glennon 41:05

That's a, that's a big question. I've got 3, 3 children who are actually in the, in the university system at the moment as students, so even, even looking at their experience and how they've had to, they've had to change from their on-campus experience. In fact, my son only was on campus for about 2 weeks, and he's never been back. So I suppose the nature of the university experience and the type of the vocational experience changes. The nature of that engagement on campus, there's, you know, that's not to be understated, the, the impact and importance of some of that socialization on that, you know, university sort of setting. I mean, that changes how students engage with each other. That's, that's changing. But in terms of our delivery, you know, we've always had a very strong experiential focus that will continue. A high rate have implemented the block model for their delivery of 4-week blocks per unit, which was quite revolutionary, very student-centered. And so, the student experience and student retention will continue to be of very, of paramount importance. And as an organization, we're, we're really and truly on that track.

Anne Lingafelter 42:24

Yeah, fantastic. And obviously, when you're thinking about individualizing one's education experience and the student experience, being able to understand them really uniquely like that, through their their strengths report is, is, it will be useful for whether they're in a residence or with a career adviser, or whether or not their, their faculty-facing sessions will give some clues to who it is that is actually being instructed in that time. I want to move away now from your work in higher education. I'm keen to understand: You do a lot of volunteering in the community. And for someone who's got a full-time job and, and a wife and 3 kids, you've, you've really given a lot of your time. Can you talk a bit about some of the, the work that you've done in the community? And have you brought strengths into any of that work?

Gerard Glennon 43:18

Well, it turns out I have, because that's probably why I do it. In fact, one thing that I think someone with Empathy, and wrap a little bit of Connectedness and Relator around that, is, is the need to learn the word "No." Because you don't tend to say it very often. So, yeah, look -- my, look, I've -- when my children were at school, primary school in year, years, 1 to 6, or in high school, or what have you, my, my kids were spending so much time at school, and I was sort of there as a parent. So you get involved with the school, school committees and councils. Or my daughter is involved with the Australian Youth Band. And I'm certainly not youth and certainly not musical, but, but I'm on the, on the committee, by the second year as Vice President for that, or organizing the local fair. And it's partly because of those strengths. And I can see that people -- if I ask you to help, it's because they need help; it's very hard to say "No," if someone needs help, and once again, it's those strengths that are coming through there.

Gerard Glennon 44:27

If a, if there's a phrase: "Never see a need without doing something about it." And if, particularly in the community sense, if there's a gap there in the, in a community project or activity or, or something that, that, "Oh, what's going to happen if, if no one does this?" I'm not the savior at all. But I'm a pair of hands that, that can be involved. And so my strength, I think, the Empathy is understanding the people on the on the committee or the, or the community that they're serving, I can see the importance.

Gerard Glennon 44:57

Next week, I've got a meeting with the, with the Committee for the All Disability Australian Rules Football Team. They play about 5 times a year. But it's, it's a fantastic opportunity but it's nowhere near local to where I live, but I can see, I can see some really strong benefit there. And I'm probably even going to drag a couple of kids along as well. Because there's a need there. And, and I think that Empathy is what drives that. And that, and that, that Connectedness, because every person I meet is, is another connection. And like, Woo is in my Top 33, 33 -- well, it could be 34. I can actually tell you, that it's actually No. 30. But it's, like, I don't have the Woo. But I love to have the connection. And I love to have that, that connection, that relationship with people and see how things are connected. And by engaging in those community activities, you're making more connections. It's, it's just, it's just fuel for the fire.

Anne Lingafelter 46:00

Yeah. Excellent. And, and as the School Council President, right, and then you were the Vice President for years after that, did you bring the, did you have the, the student council -- or, sorry, the, the School Council, do their strengths? Did you say, you know, in order for us to operate more effectively together, I want to give you guys this little assessment? And did you bring it into any of those things?

Gerard Glennon 46:21

I would have loved to -- it was pre, it was just prestrengths and -- from my experience, but I would have absolutely loved to have done that. But this engagement with this disability football team next week actually comes from a connection in a group where I did strengths. So I can see that there's a, there's a potential there and a whole nother world of people to say, "I understand and value my, my uniquely wonderful self." So, it's, if -- as I say, if that was in my strengths coaching time, they wouldn't have had a choice.

Anne Lingafelter 46:55

Yeah. Excellent. I'm going to, to flag to Jim to, to see if there's any questions in the chat room or any questions that he has and let him jump in. And then I'm gonna come back to you with a couple more of my own. But Jim, any, anybody in the chat room have some questions? Or do you have any?

Jim Collison 47:13

Ah, no, there's a lot of questions out there, Anne. You may not, you may not get your questions in. If we go back to some tips -- this is kind of like blocking and tackling, right, running your strengths workshop virtually, instead of face-to-face. What support did you have to make that switch? Or did you do all the design and tech yourself? That was from Justin in the chat room.

Gerard Glennon 47:32

That's a great question, Justin. Because that was probably a really daunting thing for me, and probably been a daunting thing for a lot of coaches out there. Because I was of the, I suppose, the traditional -- perhaps a mindset, but that, that mode of, "This is how we do a strengths workshop." And so I really looked at the fact that we, well, firstly, no choice -- and we either stop strengths, or we keep it going and just do it differently. So I've really enjoyed the use of, of Zoom. And so we did on Zoom. I did a lot of communication preworkshop that I would not have done before. So people came to the workshop a lot more prepared, in terms of what we were going to do. Not completely, because I do enjoy a bit of, a bit of surprise during the workshop and seeing the look of surprise on people's faces. That's just me -- it's cruel, I know.

Gerard Glennon 48:27

But, but at the same time, having them a bit more prepared for what they're in for. So I'm the only Certified Coach at work at the, at this current moment. And so I really just looked at my materials, the workbook that I use, the PowerPoint that I use, reviewed the Gallup resources, the extensive resources that are available to coaches and just really redesigned my lesson plan, my delivery plan, to suit the audience and think about How do I use this video? How do I use that slide? How do I use this activity in the workbook? Activities that have been my anchoring point in a workshop, it was like, "I don't think that's going to work now. What can I do that's different?" Thinking about breakout rooms, it's -- so I did it myself. Because I, as a facilitator of any course -- that's what all of our facilitators have had to do. But it drove that, but, and always room for improvement but happy with where it's going.

Jim Collison 49:25

What do you think you learned that you'll jettison in that? I mean, we've tried a whole bunch of things since March -- felt like 10 years ago. What do you think you've learned that you'll throw out and say, "Nope, did that. Not gonna do that again?"

Gerard Glennon 49:41

Ah, look, that's a really great question. Because some of the, I mean, the groups are very dynamic and, and are very different. And what I, what I've jettisoned from one group is gold for the next. Perhaps some of the, some of it -- like a theme map. I'm really still trying to work, work towards how I can effectively do a same map with a group and just the ways perhaps I've introduced that in the past or tried to engage people that activity. I found the importance of instructions -- really clear instruction -- without the opportunity to go around a room one-to-one, it's been really important in adjusting my practice for by not having that ability to go around the room one-to-one and just to identify the people that look a bit lost. Jettisoned altogether? I wouldn't say I've jettisoned anything altogether, so much as I've just really modified the priority that I put on it.

Jim Collison 50:35

OK. And Lisa asks a follow-up question to that. She says, what kinds of prework?

Gerard Glennon 50:41

Yeah, yeah, look, with the, with -- I got them to -- the participants to do much more analysis on their strengths, their -- the reports -- beforehand. Like sometimes people would come to the, to the workshop and, and have access to their strengths reports. And not a lot of coaches would actually have participants come much more armed with their strengths beforehand. And I encouraged people to -- used to encourage people to look at them, but don't sort of try to overanalyze them, because there'll be stuff in there that you, that you mightn't understand. And that'll be the trigger point for taking you in a direction, and you might get a little bit freaked out by -- by what you've read. That, that it's going to be then a week or two before, before you get a chance to have a dialogue with me about what that, what that aspect of your strengths reports mean. But I give them more guidance in terms of registering reports, highlight different areas, stuff that we'd do as a coach in a workshop, but I'm getting them to do much more of that preworkshop, because I don't have as much time with them in the Zoom class.

Jim Collison 51:45

Yeah, I think that's a good idea. Lisa wants me to ask you the opposite of the question I asked, which is, What would you continue to do once we go back to in-person? What, what do you keep?

Gerard Glennon 51:57

Yeah, great, great question, because that, that one is probably really coming out at me is, is some of that prework for the workshops, even when we're face to face. The workshops, when we come together, will be that much more richer. And I'll be able to spend more time in some of the, with the treasure hunt for strengths, where you're going around the room to find people with a strength that you don't have. So not only do you leave the room with appreciation of your 5, but 5 others as well. Being able to give more time to that because that's a, that's a bugger of an exercise, when people are really immersed in it, that you have to stop because of time. Just allowing people that engagement, because out of those conversations come coffee conversations, come meetup conversations later on. So it's really allowing me to expand that, that really, that gelling, particularly if it's a team, that's, that's new. And there might be new employees for the university as part of their sort of induction to the university and that welcome. That is what I'll certainly continue that prework.

Jim Collison 52:59

I actually I actually think this form of communication, what we're doing here -- podcasting, webcasting, whatever you're going to call it -- is, is another form of this interview style, is another form of education that I, I don't think we've capitalized on before in the in-person, that now could be prework for a lot of, you know, Theme Thursday gets, you know, used all the time now as prework for those kinds of things.

Gerard Glennon 53:22

It becomes mainstream. It becomes mainstream.

Jim Collison 53:25

And between the two of you, we had a little, little Empathy mini-clinic, mini-Theme Thursday in here going on. The chat room, Justin and a couple others were asking about that Empathy. Let me end it on this: Do you think, when you were younger, do you think in nursing when, you were doing that, were there moments where it taxed that Empathy for you?

Gerard Glennon 53:46

Ah, absolutely, absolutely. I think that nursing -- and I actually reflect on a chap that I used to work with who would have been absolutely strong in Empathy -- it can be very taxing. And this is, this gets back to that question about If I'd have known about them earlier, being able to control it, perhaps put some boundaries and some strategies to manage it. Because Empathy in healthcare is wonderful to benefit the patients or the clients, whatever you want to, term you want to use. But it is also incredibly at risk of taking on the baggage. And if you take on this person's baggage, you're done before you go to the next person. So Empathy has -- can be your greatest gift or your greatest curse.

Jim Collison 54:32

Well, I think any of the themes -- you mentioned Woo at the very bottom, and I'll just apologize. It's sad to me that Woo is at the very bottom for you. But it wasn't until I actually started overusing it that I kind of realized the talent in it, and then leaned into it even more and made it more effective. And so I think sometimes if we back off too quickly, like if we, if we're leaning into that and were over -- some people say "overusing" it, I think, you had a story in the very beginning where those are the, those are the clues. Don't run away from it, don't try and suppress it, don't try and hold it down. Try to go try to go deeper into it. And so I love to hear that story.

Gerard Glennon 55:10

Harness the power of whatever that, whatever 34 you've got; it's, it's a case of harness the power, my power will be different -- how I harness my Top 5 will be different to how someone else does. But if we, if we collectively do that together, what an incredibly powerful group of people we can be.

Jim Collison 55:25

No, right on. That, that's probably the best that we could say tonight. Anne, we are close to the end of our time. I told you we probably wouldn't get time for your questions. But why don't we thank our guest and wrap this.

Anne Lingafelter 55:36

Fantastic. Thank you so much for joining. We really do appreciate it. And, and, and I hope that we've covered everything that you wanted to be able to touch on tonight. One of my -- typical last closing question is, Is there anything that we should have talked about that we didn't? So if you can say it in 5 words or less --

Gerard Glennon 55:53

I can't say anything in 5 words or less, Anne!

Anne Lingafelter 55:57

We'll have to leave it, then. Hopefully, we ticked all the boxes. Thank you so much. We, we got a lot from that. And I really enjoyed having you on, on the, on the show today. So, so thanks again, Gerard. Jim, back to you.

Jim Collison 56:09

Gerard, I'll say "Thanks" as well, and appreciate you coming out to be a part of all that we do. With that we'll remind everyone to take advantage of all the resources we have available now in Gallup Access. Visit Anne, I'm going to mute you just one second because I'm getting a little feedback from you. There we go -- just so you realize, it's not anything personal. And then while you're at it, sign up for the CliftonStrengths Insight Newsletter. It's available the link at the bottom of every page at For coaching, master coursing or -- master coaching, I should say -- or to become a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach, just send us an email: We'll have somebody send you a note back and get in touch with you. Stay up-to-date on all the webcasts by following us at Join us on any social platform by searching "CliftonStrengths," and thanks for listening to us today. If you found it useful, and with this one in particular, you have to share it. So get out there, share it, share the podcast, share the video. We'd love to have you do that. Thanks for coming out; a great chat room today. Chat room, thanks. A very short postshow. With that, we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.

Gerard Glennon's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Empathy, Connectedness, Relator, Developer and Deliberative.

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