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Integrating CliftonStrengths Into a DEI Culture, Part 2

Integrating CliftonStrengths Into a DEI Culture, Part 2

Webcast Details

  • Gallup Called to Coach Webcast Series
  • Season 8, Episode 81
  • Learn how a team providing services to people in poverty is leveraging the concept of "REDI" and is using their individual and team strengths to move toward excellence.
  • Interested in learning more on this topic? Read more about how to improve teamwork in the workplace.

Charleen Anderson, Nichole Ossa, Thanh Tran and Ken Sauby were our guests on a recent Called to Coach. Charleen is a Field Operations Performance and Quality Administrator; Nichole is Administrator for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Organizational Development; Thanh is Respect, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Program Manager; and Ken is Employee Engagement Program Manager at Washington State Department of Social and Health Services. In Part 2 of a 2-Part series, these four guests took a deeper dive into how the concept of "REDI" and CliftonStrengths form the foundation for everything they do at work. Their insights included:

  • How they use their top strengths in their jobs
  • The benefits of knowing and leveraging their team members' CliftonStrengths
  • How a culture of diversity and inclusion fosters individual and team excellence

Access Part 1 of Integrating CliftonStrengths Into a DEI Culture.

This concept that we call REDI -- Respect, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion -- is the core of everything. It's the core of our culture.

Nichole Ossa, 44:33

When I know that I need help, it's easy for me to ask for it, because all of our team members know what our Top 10 strengths are.

Thanh Tran, 29:15

And so when people feel included, you know, that Army saying, ... "Be the best that you can be" -- when people truly feel valued, heard and included, that is where they can be the best that they can possibly be.

Charleen Anderson, 12:56

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

Jim Collison 0:01

I am Jim Collison, and live from our virtual studios around the world, or at least today here in the United States, this is Gallup's Called to Coach, recorded on December 18, 2020.

Jim Collison 0:21

Called to Coach is a resource for those who want to help others discover and use their strengths. We have Gallup experts and independent strengths coaches share tactics, insights and strategies to help coaches maximize the talent of individuals, teams and organizations around the world. If you are listening live for the very first time, we'd love to have you join us in our chat room. It doesn't even need to be for the first time, but there's a link right above me there, available. Jump in our chat room. It's on YouTube, just sign in and join us in chat. If you have questions after the fact you can always send us an email: Don't forget to subscribe when you're there on YouTube. And if you want to listen to us as a podcast, you can search "Gallup Webcasts" on any podcast platform and subscribe to us there and get us downloaded. We are excited to have the crew back from an earlier, earlier this month. We spent some time -- a group that we brought in from the Washington State Department of Health and Social Services, three of them. We met last time. We have a new guest with us as well. Let me introduce her to you. Charleen Anderson, her role as a Field Operations Performance and Quality Administrator. Charleen is a wife, mother, grandmother and proud Army veteran -- Hooah! -- Go Army! -- who believes love truly conquers all. Her Top 5 are Achiever, Responsibility, Connectedness -- that's going to be important later -- Learner and Input. Charleen, thanks for joining us, and thanks for your service.

Charleen Anderson 1:40

Thank you so much. It's nice to be here.

Jim Collison 1:42

Good to have you. And, and can I ask you, as we just, we don't, we didn't get a chance to meet you last time. Give me a little overview of your Top 5. Just like how have you been using them here during this, this stressful time? Just give us a quick overview.

Charleen Anderson 1:57

Well, well basically, my Top 5, as you stated -- Achiever, Responsibility, Connectedness and Learner -- my, the Top 2 that I've been using is Achiever and Connectedness. Because we're unable to be physically together, it's really important to figure out how we can connect with each other in different ways. So I've really been strategic and intentional about making sure that I'm able to connect with people outside of the physical connection, like whether it be Zoom meetings, or pick up the phone and call or text or things like that. That's been really important. And as far as Achiever, it's really important just to get things done in a timely manner because we are operating in a different environment than we're used to. So that's really important just to make sure that we're being as efficient as possible.

Jim Collison 2:45

Charleen, thanks for coming on and welcome to Called to Coach. We'll also introduce to you Nichole Ossa, she's the Administrator for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Organizational Development. Her Top 5 are Positivity, Connectedness -- again, remember that -- Developer, Empathy and Arranger. Nichole, welcome back!

Nichole Ossa 3:02

Thanks, Jim. It's good to be back.

Jim Collison 3:04

It's good to have you. Thanh Tran is also with us. He is the Respect, ah, yeah, Respect, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion -- no, Respect is what you call it, right? That's the, that's the name of that, or -- ?

Thanh Tran 3:16


Jim Collison 3:17

OK, let me just, tell you what, I'll do my job and just read what's on the paper. How does that sound? Respect, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Program Manager. His Top 5: Relator, Strategic, Achiever, Empathy and Connectedness. I'll try not to vamp anymore. Thanh, welcome back to Called to Coach!

Thanh Tran 3:32

Glad to be back. Thanks for inviting us back, Jim.

Jim Collison 3:35

Good to have you. Ken Sauby is with us as well. He's the Employee Engagement Program Manager and Health and Human Serv -- at the Health and Social Services program there. His Top 5: Maximizer, Achiever, Learner, Context and Connectedness. Ken, welcome to the program!

Ken Sauby 3:52

Thanks, Jim. It's great to be here.

Jim Collison 3:54

Oh, it's good, good to have you. We want to -- I just want to remind folks, in Part 1 of this, we kind of really spent some time digging in on the history and the story of what you guys have done kind of since 2008. And so we won't regurgitate that here today. But we want to encourage folks to go back to that. So we have a Part 1. We're publishing that on right now. It's also available on our live channel. I'll leave a link to it for this post, if you're watching it on, it'll be down in the transcripts available for you. But today, we kind of really wanted to focus on the story of this and, and so we worked a little bit more on the mechanics the last time. But Nichole, let me start with you. We've kind of followed a formula last time, which was like, kind of what's the problem we're trying to solve here today? We're going to be very practical with it. Nichole, what, what were you guys working on and what were you trying to solve?

Nichole Ossa 4:46

Well, one of the big things we wanted to do with incorporating strengths, and building a strengths culture in our organization, is to, one, create a really dynamic community of practice around strengths, which Kean Sauby has been the longtime and really excellent lead for that. He's built that up to, gosh -- Ken can tell you -- it's, it's over 1,000 people, in and outside of our organization. So we, we're generous, we like to share, and we invite some other folks in public service who would like to participate to participate if they can.

Nichole Ossa 5:19

So that effort was really, well, one, being strengths-informed and strengths-deployed is, just makes everything better, right. However, we really also wanted to leverage strengths, and the concept of the uniqueness for individuals around their strengths profiles and how they use them, how they combine them, how they leverage them during good times and bad. We wanted to use that to help really build consciousness and awareness around diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace -- particularly diversity and inclusion in the workplace, building a common understanding of one way that people are diverse, right?

Nichole Ossa 6:07

And one way that we can, what we can get out of really being inclusive for strengths, diversity, and thinking about how we are not just aware, but how we are implementing and using and combining and leveraging and getting help from our teammates around areas where they might have a real strong perspective based on their strengths. So that's really what we've been working on for, gosh, forever, it feels like but really since 2018, or excuse me, 2008.

Jim Collison 6:44

So, Ken, you, we kind of alluded to this last time but didn't spend as much time as I think we wanted to, which is why we're talking a little bit about this today. But for folks listening, joining us for the first time, can you give us a little history of, go back in how you got started with these clubs, getting people together some of these, some of the work that you did to get this rolling?

Ken Sauby 7:07

Well, when we really got started in 2007-2008, and started workshops to help people talk about their personalized reports, as well as joining in people that got their Top 5 from going to any kind of leadership course, that, that movement grew. And then I inherited a book club in 2013 that was based on recognition. So I brought in the book, How Full Is Your Bucket? by Tom Rath. And from there, I took that forum, which was meeting monthly, and brought in the other group. And if you shared your Top 5, I put you on the mailing list. Well, now that mailing list, that strengths community of practice, has grown to over 1,500 people. So what started as a stream has turned into the Mississippi. And it's just carrying its own momentum.

Ken Sauby 7:53

But combining that with all of our equity, diversity, inclusion efforts has been a real joy to me. And so what we do each month is we, we summarize the wonderful Theme Thursdays that you and Maika do and share that information. Now we're, we're progressing into comparing the individual All 34 reports where the details that were getting shared today are very specific to the strengths, the DNA of that person. And it really makes me see that what we have in common makes us unique.

Jim Collison 8:24

And can you talk a little bit about your -- I know I highlighted the Connectedness, but I want to spend a little time. How's your Achiever theme fit into this to really make it successful?

Ken Sauby 8:35

Well, I look at that that definition of -- in the All 34 report: You can thrive, you work hard, and possess a great deal of stamina. You take immense satisfaction in being busy and productive, and you succeed by, you know, you love to complete tasks and your accomplishments fulfill you. You have a strong inner drive. And those definitions are, are great to start with. But when you dig even deeper, for me personally, it turns into I just diligently love to invent alternative courses of action. I, I notice some unusual configurations and facts, evidence, data. I can zero in on tasks for hours when I have a certain goal to reach. I have this extra energy that I just can't seem to turn off and, and that's how my Achiever shows up for me. Every day, I wake up with that list of things I want to check off.

Jim Collison 9:20

It's great. And Charleen, we want to bring you in and talk from that same lens, Achiever. Can you, can you talk, as you think about your role in what you're doing, can you, can you zero in a little bit more on the Achiever aspect and how you're using that in your current role?

Charleen Anderson 9:36

Yeah, absolutely. One of my unique descriptions of Achiever, I think about my strengths and how I'm easily able to impart knowledge to others. So how I do that is I spend a great deal of time and preparing appropriate stories and vivid examples and graphic illustrations or any type of useful material to help enliven my training sessions. And then, you know, how I actually use Achiever in my REDI work, you know, we're talking about CliftonStrengths, but people are my strength. And so I always consider my impact that I have on others.

Charleen Anderson 10:13

And so specifically how I use my Achiever in REDI work is I'm really cognizant and respectful of other people's time, particularly when I'm working in a group, on a group project. So I use my strengths as an Achiever to help group members stay focused to get the task done as efficiently as possible. But then also making sure that we have a diverse group of people on that project, so that we can have diverse input and make those solid decisions without having to continually revisit decisions. You know, after a decision has been made, and someone says, "Well, what about this? And what about that?" and then you have these epiphanies. Well, I use my Achiever to make sure that from the very beginning, we have that diverse input, and we don't have to continue to revisit.

Jim Collison 11:03

Charleen, you're an Army veteran. I'll say it again, Go Army! Likewise, as well. How do you think, you know, 10 years of active, active duty and some time in the reserves. How do you think you use that Achiever? How did that, because you probably didn't even know what it was in that day. But looking back, how did you use Achiever in that role there to, for success?

Charleen Anderson 11:26

You're absolutely correct. I did not know that I have -- that I had that strength. But the reality is, when you're in the military, you have to be an achiever. I did promote pretty early, so I became an NCO [Non-Commissioned Officer] at an early age, and I had to have mentors to help me. But what I quickly realized is that if you're not an achiever, it's a matter of life or death. So you can't lollygag when things have to be done. You have to know that they have to be done. Otherwise, it could cost someone, someone's life. And so you naturally, as a military leader, you become that achiever, just simply by default, because you have to.

Jim Collison 12:08

And Charleen, how did that time set you up for what you do now? I mean, what do you take from that, from that career and bring into this one?

Charleen Anderson 12:16

Well, I think what I take from my Army career is, is the people, the people aspect of it. When I first joined the military at the young age of 18, I really didn't know much about these strengths, but what -- I was intrigued by people in, in basic training, just sitting around talking to the other female soldiers about their background and their culture. And I was really, really intrigued by that, and drawn to people. And I realized that by doing that, and being drawn to people and having that connectedness, it also creates inclusiveness. And so when people feel included, you know, that Army saying, "Be the best that you can do," when -- "Be the best that you can be" -- when people truly feel valued, heard and included, that is where they can be the best that they can possibly be.

Charleen Anderson 13:10

And so I think that in itself helped me in my career now is just really making people feel valued, making people feel heard, and included so that we can have the best output of any task. And it can truly be the best that it can be. And people can be the best that they can be. And so it's really intriguing, and people just, they just, they just drive me. And so I just, I love everything about my Army career; I'd do it all over again. And it has truly helped set me up for success in social services.

Jim Collison 13:40

Just a reminder, the Army did not pay for that endorsement on this program. But they certainly got one. Charleen, thanks for saying that. Ken, I want to, I want to pull a little audible off of our outline a little bit, we'll still stick close to it. But as we think about, I asked you and I asked Charleen about Achiever, and I highlighted Connectedness. And the work that you're doing there, and the, and the folks that you're coaching, and you see. How important, and what kind of, you know, when we think about people knowing these and then knowing them in their role, how important is that? And what kind of lift do you see for people when they do know that?

Ken Sauby 14:16

The Aha! moment is awesome when people realize they, they were, you know, determined to be a rock star when they were hired; they need to be treated as a rock star because they need to play to those strengths. And when they realize they can now put words it and describe it, and dig deep, dig deeper into that personalized report to get to those descriptions, it's amazing what it does for the person, the energy. Because they get all the energy they need to manage around their weaknesses.

Ken Sauby 14:43

And so, for me, with Connectedness, it just, it just shines because I begin to see those dots and then my No. 6 strength, Individualization, I love to pinpoint down to the person and get to know their story. So hearing all those stories and, and helping them weave it together and helping them describe it back to their supervisor, their teammates. Where can the team depend upon you? Those are the Aha! moments that have, have really driven this, this stream, now a river for our agency.

Jim Collison 15:11

Yeah, I like that metaphor, Ken, that you're using there, this turning a stream into a river. And it actually, as a stream gets wider, it begins to cut into the banks, right and bring things down and it gets deeper and it gets wider and it gets more powerful. I love -- that's such a great metaphor. Ken, in the work that you're doing, how much do you lean on Top 5 versus maybe using the All 34 report in, in the groups that you guys are working with there?

Ken Sauby 15:37

Well, for me, I, I love looking at all of my Top 10 because I do use those all the time, sometimes even dip down into my, even my 13th at time. But I also go to the bottom of the report because my No. 34 is Empathy, which is my wife's No. 1. And so, together with her Restorative and Max, you know, comparing with my Maximizer and, and my need for Empathy, it's just become a perfect match. And I use that as an example in the workshops, that opposites do attract. And so I explain how that report affects me from top to bottom. But I help people to understand, focusing on the Top 10, I lean into those all the time.

Jim Collison 16:17

Yeah, no, I think a really important, you know, sometimes we read that report one time, and then we don't, we don't get back to it. I don't get the sense that you let that happen there kind of in your organization. Thanh, you're shaking your head. As you think about your Top 5, and you think in there, what really stands out to you? I'm going to ask you about Achiever, because that's kind of the theme we're going through here. But from your report, what else stands out to you?

Thanh Tran 16:45

You know, having a strengths guru like Ken on our team, we're not allowed to forget. And so it's embedded into our DNA. I'm just gonna piggyback on the theme of Achiever because that's actually my Top 3 strength. And one thing that we found interesting, when Ken would provide us these team reports that shows and analyzes all of our team strengths all the way down, is a lot of our team members have Achiever in the Top 5. However, when you actually read the CliftonStrengths report, the descriptions for Achiever for each of us are actually quite different. I'm assuming that's based on factors of our overall strength.

Thanh Tran 17:27

And so I just want to take a moment to read you what my report says about Achiever, because only I have this on our team. And the Achiever for everyone that's on our team is unique to them. It said: By nature, I am an enterprising person. I effortlessly launch new ventures. Chances are I normally strive to do things right. Taking shortcuts strikes me as unprincipled, thoughtless and careless. And instinctively, I exhibit a strong work ethic. Work properly gives my life a sense of purpose of that it would otherwise not. So driven by my talents, I'm ordinarily can rely on my physical and mental abilities to create orderly systems for managing my time, work and resources.

Thanh Tran 18:14

So when I read that, those that know me, that is actually pretty spot-on in the report. It's like, like you're getting your fortune being told, or your palm being read or tarot cards, but this is on steroids, right. And it's more intentional, it is a lot more accurate and it's detailed and it's based on that strengths assessment, a series of questions that I answered. I found it not only interesting, but very empowering in the work that we do on our team.

Jim Collison 18:41

Thanh, I'm paid to say it's also based on science. So I want to say that as well. Not that the others aren't, but they're not. The, Thanh, I want to ask you, What does "flow" look like for you? We use this idea, so when your Achiever is in "flow," like when you're really having a lot of -- what does that look like? You read the words, but, but what does it look like in you, when you're in "flow"?

Thanh Tran 19:03

When I'm in "flow," it becomes automatic. It's something that, it comes intrinsically. You don't have to convince yourself to do it, right. And so how I apply it to the work I do, when we bring REDI culture in our organization, for me, it's the thought that, Hey, you know what, any problem or issue that I encounter, I proactively, I'm focused on the solution; I don't need to be asked. And so I don't wait for someone else to come up with a product or a system. I'm going to put that on my shoulders, and I'm going to create it if I feel that there's something that is lacking that would benefit my work, or something that would benefit the organization.

Thanh Tran 19:40

And so this is key because my boss, Nichole, she also is aware of my Top 10 strengths as well. And so we have that open, constant communication, when I notice that there's either gaps or issues that I've found in the work that I'm doing, and that's how we are able to strengthen our infrastructure by solidifying our community of practice, or just creating new products and bringing them to life that would benefit the organization.

Jim Collison 20:07

How do you know when you're out of "flow" -- when it's not working? And what do you do to, what do you do to pop it back in?

Thanh Tran 20:13

When, when I, so when I know that I need help, it's easy for me to ask for it, because all of our team members know what our Top 10 strengths are. And so, for example, we know on our team that Ken's No. 1 strength, for example, is Maximizer. So when I'm creating a work product or a system, we actually bring it to the table. And we actually use it as a time to get input and say, "Hey, I'm stuck here." We actually have team huddles on a weekly basis to do exactly that. What are you stuck on this week? What do you need help with? And so leveraging that, that team and allowing others to, to input their strengths allows me to be able to get out of those "stucks," if that makes sense.

Jim Collison 20:55

Yeah, no, it's such a great -- the realization that there's those around you that have things you need, I think in the team context, is super important. Speaking of teams, Nichole, you must have high Achiever too, right? I mean, you're, you're with all these Achievers. Is that, is that, where does that, where does Achiever fit in for you?

Nichole Ossa 21:17

So I will start by saying, I am so lucky. And Ken's chuckling because he knows me really well. I am so lucky, because Achiever is pretty far down on my strengths report. And when I look at my strengths report, I think that's accurate. That is absolutely accurate. I am a Relationship and Ideas person, that's really my two pillars in my Top 10 report. It is a Relationship thing almost exclusively, not exclusively, but almost. And my Execution, you know, Arranger is really the top strength that I have for the Execution category. So I'm so lucky, because I have a team full of folks who are pretty high with Achiever. So I have a team of doers. I have a team of people who want to get stuff done. And because Relationship is so high for me, I don't want to annoy them by just actually doing only touchy-feely and let's think it through to the, you know, to the nth degree.

Nichole Ossa 22:20

So I know I can lean on them. I can point the folks on my team in a direction. And they'll do it, they'll get it done. That huddle that Thanh mentioned, we use that huddle time intentionally also to share our To Do lists. Because I know the people on my team want to do, well, they want to talk about what they're doing. They want to share, This is what I got going on. And, and they want to tap each other to help, to help them get things done quickly and efficiently. So it's a great time for us to tap each other on the shoulder and say, "I need a little help." Or "I could use use someone to think this through" or to, "I need to pass off something that's on my plate that's stayed there too long."

Jim Collison 23:01

Let me, Nichole, let me ask you that same question about flow. What does that look like for you? Like when you're having your best day, what's that look like for you?

Nichole Ossa 23:09

Oh, flow, my best day, when I'm really deeply in flow, I am engaging with -- in the relationships that I have in my work really highly. I am usually having conversations -- remotely right now -- with a number of different people. And in those conversations, we're talking about how they're doing. We're talking about making decisions about what, what supports they need to do their best. And we are making, we're knitting together our connection even further. Right.

Nichole Ossa 23:48

So the other thing that's happening for me when I'm in flow is I'm really looking at that, the thread of connection between various aspects of our work and various aspects of what we're trying to get done in our organization -- things I care about, things my team cares about, things our customers and communities care about. So those are, my flow state includes lots of times with that. If I'm out of flow -- we'll talk about that for a second -- I know I'm out of flow when I am rushing through relationships, when I'm not responding to an email saying, reaching out to me. I know I'm out of flow when that's happening. It doesn't feel good to me. Usually, it doesn't happen unless I'm in some sort of high-stress state that's kind of got me a little bit wound tight.

Jim Collison 24:41

What -- do you find, sometimes, Nichole that you're using, knowing what your team has, and knowing there's this Achiever-Connectedness theme that rolls through it, do you find yourself changing management styles sometimes to make sure you're meeting that need that, that they have?

Nichole Ossa 24:59

I do.

Jim Collison 24:59

And you can talk a little bit about that?

Nichole Ossa 25:00

Yeah, I do. And you know, Ken, not to pick on you, Ken, but I'll talk about this moment that Ken and I had early on in working together. You know, as a, as a manager, part of your job is to be really clear with direction, right, to say, "This is what we're doing next. This is what's coming up next. And this is what's needed." And I have this -- Futuristic's pretty high on my strengths report, too. And I'm a pretty big, broad thinker. I'm really comfy with theoretical concepts and big ideas. And I kind of love to stay there maybe longer than I should sometimes. Right?

Jim Collison 25:39

I understand. You and I are wired a little bit the same way.

Nichole Ossa 25:42

Yep, Yep, exactly. So, you know, I still have this great memory of a conversation with Ken where he had come to me and, you know, really asking a pretty concrete question. "Hey, Hey, boss. Here's the thing that is happening. What do you need me to do?" And I think I probably gave him like, the 5-year plan, maybe the 10-year plan even. And he was so lovely. Patient, kind of nodding like he does, like, OK, there she goes, probably thinking, Oh, this is her Futuristic thing going up. This is what's going on. And then when I ended my whatever I was talking about, he said, "Oh, that's great. What do you need me to do today?"

Jim Collison 26:20

What can I get done right now?

Nichole Ossa 26:22

Exactly. It was the best. And I, really, I'm really grateful for that moment with Ken. Because it was like it like rang like a bell where I was like, Nichole, you're missing the mark here. You are not adjusting to your staff's needs from you, based, based on their need for clear direction. That's just a human need. And also their needs based on their, their strengths report. And I keep that in mind. So I have, I literally sometimes have notes to myself: "Talk about now."

Jim Collison 26:52

Yeah, no, I think it's a great, a great understanding of my team needs kind of the here and now. They need to know what's going on. Right? They want to achieve things right now. Yeah, you can provide that overarching leadership direction: "Guys, this is where we're going. We're going to get there. But, but these are the steps that we're going to take." Nichole, thanks for, for that as well. Ken, I want to ask you. I alluded to this earlier, and I want to ask you about Connectedness. Why don't you give us a quick overview for maybe somebody's jumped in here and they're like, Connectedness. What does that mean? So can you give us a little, when we think about that CliftonStrengths theme of Connectedness, give us a little overview of it.

Ken Sauby 27:29

Yeah, and I challenge anybody to go back to the, any of the Theme Thursday webcasts to get a deeper understanding. But what I'm going to share with you right now comes right from the All 34 report. With Connectedness, you can thrive because you have faith in the links among all things. You believe there are few coincidences, and that almost every event has a meaning. And you become successful with Connectedness because you build bridges between people and groups. You help others find meaning by looking at the bigger picture of the world around them. And you give them a sense of comfort and stability in the face of uncertainty. So with Connectedness, it's, it's natural for our team to weather the storm of 2020 because, again, we see the bigger picture of where we're headed, and we can bring the other teammates with us.

Jim Collison 28:15

Now, Nichole, you do share that Connectedness theme. We just, we just talked about where you, you didn't, but you do share that. Can you talk a little bit how you fit in or how you use that with the team to be a part of that? By the way, Connectedness is, I have envy, I have theme envy for Connectedness. I, I love the -- I'm not very good at it. But I love the concept of it. So I'm gonna really pay a lot of attention during this time. So how do you fit in? How does your Connectedness fit in with the team?

Nichole Ossa 28:42

Yeah, so Connectedness is No. 2 for me in my strengths report, and that, when I, when I, the first time I did my report, and I got that back, it made so much sense to me. I thought, "Oh, well, this explains how I approach everything in my life." You know, just some background on myself, some personal history. I'm a first-generation U.S.-born. My mother's a refugee immigrant. And I have, I have family members, you know, relatives that live on 4 continents in at least 10 different countries. So the fact that that even matters to me is probably a signal of my Connectedness. It really does matter to me. I don't know most of these people actually, but they are my relatives.

Nichole Ossa 29:24

And I think about that sometimes, I think about how I am, you know, through even just familial connection, connected to people around the globe who are living their life, doing their thing. And we have something that holds us together. Within my work and within my team, it's, you know, folks will often hear me use, use phrases like, "the thread that connects it" -- what's, you know, talk about use metaphors like, "we have a weaving," and what's, what's the, you know, when you weave, there's a warp and a weft. And that connects and holds everything together and makes it possible to have a piece of cloth.

Nichole Ossa 30:05

People might talk -- hear me talk about metaphor like, you know, "the chains that link us together." And I literally picture those things when I think about all aspects of my work. When I was creating my team, I had really a career highlight -- something that, you know, not everyone gets to experience. When I came into this position, I was able to create positions. And I was able to really dream up how this team would function. And my foundation for that was that we are cross-functional and collaborative. That is how we work. Everyone has a lead and a point for a piece of work, or a particular focus. However, that person, each person on the team is expected to deeply connect to each other person on the team and tap that person's strengths, knowledge, abilities, experience, to make what they do better.

Nichole Ossa 31:02

And I think, my, my perspective -- I get excited when I talk about this, because it means that much to me -- from my perspective, it makes us capable of doing work that it, with a different structure would require a team at least three times bigger. But we work really well in that way. And it probably helps that there's such a strong theme of Connectedness amongst the other team members that my dream actually is working out pretty good.

Jim Collison 31:29

Yeah, I think, I think it's probably doing pretty well. We're going to hear from those team members. Charleen, let's start with you, as we think about your Connectedness, where does it fit? Maybe -- any unique insight from the report as well? And then how are, how does it fit into your role in what you're doing there?

Charleen Anderson 31:45

Yeah, absolutely, Jim. So Connectedness is No. 3, actually, on my report. And I'll just read something that is unique to me from that report. It says I sometimes sense a special bond with certain individuals, regardless of whether I have met them. Time or distance does not prevent me from feeling close linked to specific people or the lives that they lead. And so how I use this in my work is I truly believe that we don't work in isolation. Everything that we say, everything that we do has an impact or an influence on others. And so, as aforementioned, people are my strength. So I really love working on group projects, and I love to collaborate.

Charleen Anderson 32:30

And with Connectedness as one of my strengths, it really lends itself to me being a systems thinker. And what that means is that I recognize that while this specific outcome may not benefit me or my team personally, if there's a benefit to the organization, we all win. And so with this mindset, it allows me to be open to varying perspectives and make others feel included, valued and heard. And once again, I truly believe that people are their best when they are included, valued and heard. Right now, I am a co-lead of one of our big changes in the organization called Transforming Case Management. And that, that, that change is that we will actually partner with our customers, not really telling them what they need to do to be self-sufficient, but partner with them and help them gain self-sufficiency on their own. And so that in itself really lends itself to the Connectedness, just the partnering with other people and just being able to help them gain self-sufficiency with that partnership.

Jim Collison 33:41

Charleen, I didn't ask you this earlier, but how do you know you're in flow? What does flow look like for you in your role?

Charleen Anderson 33:49

Well, actually, it's a, for me, it's a physical feeling that I get. I know that I'm in flow when I'm just, you know, I'm happy, I'm just feeling good. It's something that I can't really explain. It, it is a physical, I feel just rejuvenated when I'm in flow. And when I'm not in flow, I kind of feel like a little lethargic, like I don't have as much energy. And so what I do is I kind of step back and just take some time to kind of meditate so I can figure out what's going on. And then I just jump right back into it. So for me, it's more of a physical feeling that I have when I'm not in flow.

Jim Collison 34:25

Yeah, no, I love the way you explain that as thinking of it being physical. Because I think sometimes we think of it -- I don't think we think of it that way. And you, you kind of, it's this moment, I ran for a lot of years. I was a runner. Not really. They called me "square wheels" growing up, so that, you know, if that gives you any indication, it's not very fast. But every once in a while I'd be on a run where it just felt good, like, physically. And I'm assuming that that's when you're talking about that physical feeling that you get. There's a moment where you're like, Man, this just feels good. Is that right?

Charleen Anderson 34:57

Yes, absolutely. That's exactly right.

Jim Collison 34:59

Yeah. So, so it -- I think it's, man, I think that's really important. Because I think sometimes we have moments of mental flow where no matter what you do, you just, you're, you're nailing it, right. You're, you're getting it, decisions are coming, those things are kind of happening. Thanh, let me, let me throw this over to you as we think about this too. How does your Connectedness play in on this, and, and maybe an insight from your report if you've got one?

Thanh Tran 35:28

Yeah, so although Connectedness lands as my Top 5, I leverage it every day in my personal and professional life. So I did pick up this small excerpt of what the report read about Connectedness for me. And it says that, Chances are good that you often are the one who helps people understand how they are linked across time, distance, race, ethnicity, religion, economic levels, languages or cultures. You make it possible for individuals to work together. You aim to break down barriers that separate them. Now, when I first read this, I had to do a double-take. Because I was looking outside of my house, out of the windows, I was looking to see if there was any Gallup drones or spies, making sure if there's like any CliftonStrengths spies spying on me, because that is exactly how I live my life.

Thanh Tran 36:20

And so it was amazing to see how A) I can acknowledge it, and B) apply it to my work. So a great example, and this is an opportunity for me to actually edify Charleen, because a great example of leveraging Connectedness was actually my collaboration with her recently and ongoing. So I know that Charleen's Connectedness strength is her Top 3. And this is evident in our working relationship; we always have fun banter together. And it's just a great experience working alongside with her as a teammate.

Thanh Tran 36:55

So we actually combined our strengths together to create a new pilot product. So everyone knows around March, when COVID hit and a majority of our workforce, they were sent home to work remotely. Well, Charleen and I, we instinctively knew that this is going to have a huge mental impact on our workforce. Because they were facing increased workloads, demands, stress levels, uncertainties in their, in their life. Nichole mentioned a furlough that we went through as an organization, and just being able to go through that mentally, while actually being in isolated environments. And so we had this brainchild of creating a new series of podcasts that were not attempted before in the organization. We called them "Stay REDI" podcasts for our Ambassador community of practice.

Thanh Tran 37:43

And so we realized that this was a time where everyone's physically apart, and this new normal that was transitioning us from physical to a virtual workplace environment -- that had a mental toll on it. So what we did, we create these series of podcasts to increase how we communicated with each other and our staff. We bring in that, that human element that was needed based on Connectedness. It was a new audio medium that we didn't try before. We would include positive stories, staff kudos, fun activities, even funny dad jokes that Charleen and I would include, including client testimonials and leadership messages that really helped bring together the work that our organization was doing, when a lot of us were feeling disconnected at that time.

Thanh Tran 38:31

And so that was a time that was really highlighted in our work. And even though it started off as a response to COVID in March, it was amazing to see that, when June came around and George Floyd, the murder of George Floyd took place, Charleen and I would use that platform during our podcast to just share from the heart, because we knew that a lot of our Black colleagues and the Black community was in pain at that time. And just simply acknowledging how we were feeling in the moment, we got a lot of positive feedback. And that actually became, 'til this day, our No. 1 listened-to podcast in the organization. That's something we're really proud of.

Jim Collison 39:09

That's great. Charleen, I want to bounce it to you really quick. Anything you learned from that podcast -- that, that time, that, that work time there? Because, I mean, you're speaking to my heart, by using that medium for communication. But anything you learned out of that?

Charleen Anderson 39:23

Just once again how important it is to stay connected with people, especially in a new environment that we're in. We have to, unfortunately, be physically distanced. But no matter what, whether we're physically distanced or not, we can commit to staying socially connected with people and making sure that when things happen, we think about how -- not only how it impacts us, but how it's impacting other people, and then leverage our work around that and just knowing that what we do will forever have an impact on other people.

Charleen Anderson 39:58

So podcasts now, for me, are one of my No. 1 mediums for communication, because I just believe -- I just believe in them and just, you know, people may not have the time to sit and read, but they can listen and things resonate with them when it's verbal.

Jim Collison 40:13

Charleen, what kind of feedback did you get from listeners on that?

Charleen Anderson 40:17

They loved it. They love the new medium. They love the fact that, you know, they could listen to the podcast if they had time, they could save it, they could rewind to hear -- Wait, wait, how does she say that? So it's that kind of feedback that we received. And they just really love having different mediums for communication. We always say in change management that you should communicate 7 times, 7 different ways. So this just provided another medium for communication. And staff really appreciate that. Because sometimes, you know, emails get boring, or, you know, other things, memos, but this is just another medium that they can enjoy.

Jim Collison 40:53

Do you call yourself -- this is the trick -- do you call yourself a podcaster, then? When people ask you, do you say, "I'm a podcaster"?

Charleen Anderson 40:59

I do not.

Jim Collison 41:03

You just broke my heart. It's OK. I'll forgive you on that one. Ken, I want to throw it back to you on Connectedness. How does that -- you've got that pesky Maximizer at No. 1, and so I'm sure that plays in that. And yet, you've got this overarching role in a lot of ways to kind of bring everybody together. Talk a little bit about how that fits in for you.

Ken Sauby 41:25

You know, the Maximizer always gives me that lens of excellence: What does the best look like? Who are the -- what are the best doing? Why can't we do what they're doing? And, you know, that's always driven me even in relationships -- there's got to be somebody who has said the right thing in this circumstance to make things better. What did they say? How did they do it? And that Connectedness starts to weave back into that, because it causes me to know that I'm linked to other members of the human family. And when I say, "human family," I mean, if you're human, you're family to me. That's Connectedness.

Ken Sauby 41:59

And knowing that I'm not alone in the sufferings and joys that I go through because others are experiencing that, it, it strengthens me and strengthens my relationships with them, and helps me to build bonds to unite different people that have opposing agendas. And then I do that by connecting with them by getting to know their individualness, and then showing that mutual and common purpose that people have. And it -- that flow happens so easily with me when those relationships are happening. Because again, Connectedness being (No.) 5 and Individualization being 6, they, they tend to work side by side in how I work with people. I do best one-on-one, building those relationships, and then networking, building those bridges between people.

Jim Collison 42:42

Ken, I'm going to ask Nichole in a second about the future. But I want to throw this to you as a fellow Maximizer. What could you guys be doing better? I mean, as you think about this, all this great stuff that you're sharing, but what are your hopes -- as you think about the future -- what are some things right off the bat you think, and you've got, you've got friends listening. So be careful on this, Ken, this speaker. What could you be doing better? And what do you hope for that could be better?

Ken Sauby 43:07

Well, I mentioned the stream to a river. But I want to turn the river into an ocean and really broaden those conversations to where people feel safe to speak up about what makes them special and unique. Everybody has something to bring to the table and to the team; you can learn from everybody. And that happens when you start having those conversations. I think CliftonStrengths is a great tool to jump-start those conversations to get to know people deeper and better and help people understand the values they chose as, very, very young is developing these information highways and these behaviors of things we like to do it a certain way. And so having those conversations more and more: "Here's where you can depend upon me the most. And over here, I can do it. But I might need some help" -- talking about strengths and weaknesses -- is just where we need to go.

Jim Collison 43:56

Well, my goal is to get Charleen to commit to the podcaster role. So if we could just, we could just get that taken care of. Nichole, I want to ask you a little bit about the future. Ken paints a little picture of it in his hopes and dreams and desires going forward. As you think about what lies ahead, give me, give me a little bit of Futuristic on this. Give me a little bit about your hopes and dreams and where things are going.

Nichole Ossa 44:19

[Do we have] an hour and a half? I'm kidding. I'm kidding. But I can really, as my team knows, I can I can wax on about this, but I'll keep it brief. So our commitment in our organization is that this concept that we call REDI -- Respect, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion -- is the core of everything, right? It's the core of our culture, how we interact with each other within our organization, how we interact with our partners, how we interact with our customers, how we interact with the communities that we work in. That's it. It's also the core and the driver of our business and all of our operations -- that every single thing that happens, from, you know, backroom IT maintenance to front office customer interface, every single thing that happens in our organization is connected by that thread of Respect, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and all the principles that those words represent.

Nichole Ossa 45:22

So the future for our organization is that that is not only evidenced -- it already is evidenced today -- but that it's evidenced even more and that every single person knows it. That there's no one who's confused about that. That that person doing the, you know, who's supporting the functions for me to even be able to be on this podcast today understands that their role is connected to those principles and everything they represent and as, as much as the person who's, you know, taking an application for someone who was -- who lost their job because of COVID and, and needs some social services supports. That's the future is that we're super clear on that -- across, up, down, sideways -- everywhere in our organization, and that connection thread is not just strong, but really well understood. Yeah, that's where we're going.

Jim Collison 46:20

I want to try something new with you guys. We'll bring us all back together for a second. As we think about 2021, all of you -- so this is an "everybody's involved" game -- and you think about two or three words of hope, right? We know from our work of needs of followers that they need hope, right? And your followers are often the folks that you're helping, let's just be honest. You're, you're leaders, and you're, and you're helping them and you're giving them hope. If you were to offer a single word or two words, or maybe even three words of hope, as we think about 2021, what kind of descriptive words would you use? And I won't call on you, just as you think about these, what kind of words stand out for 2021? What what kind of words of hope, what would you give? What kind of words come to mind?

Charleen Anderson 47:07

Yeah, yeah. For me, it would just be endless possibilities.

Jim Collison 47:12

Endless possibilities. Yeah, I like that. What else?

Ken Sauby 47:18

For me, it's better together.

Jim Collison 47:21

Better together. I like that. Yeah. What else?

Nichole Ossa 47:26

I'm thinking about, you know, we're all -- sorry, I have to use more than three words! OK. You know, we're all experiencing an adaptation to change that we had no choice in adapting to. It wasn't a change, COVID has brought us changes that no one would have chosen, we couldn't have anticipated. And if we were picking from changes to, you know, to take part in, we would have said "No, thank you," very strongly.

Nichole Ossa 47:56

So my words would be we can adapt to really difficult change and actually come out better than we were before. I think, within many organizations and communities, we're seeing some of, some glimmers of that. We're still in the middle of the storm, right. But I think we are seeing some glimmers of that. We're seeing more awareness and commitment to equity in our communities. And that's one thing that I see as a positive effect of adapting to a very difficult change.

Jim Collison 48:32

Thanh, how about you? Words?

Thanh Tran 48:36

I would say, resilience, because hope is giving someone something to look forward to in the future. And so resilience really is understanding that anything worth fighting for isn't going to come easy. And this work, especially REDI work, is ongoing. It's taken place for centuries before me; I'm just taking that baton. And it's going to continue when, well when I'm done. And so understand that we're in this together. And if we can look at each other and understand that we are all connected in one way, one form or another, that's something to look forward to and just be resilient and we'll do it together.

Jim Collison 49:18

I think you guys cheated at the end there and used more words than I was -- than I asked for but I think that's great. Ken, Charleen at least you guys follow the rules. I don't know what else --

Ken Sauby 49:28

We have high Responsibility.

Jim Collison 49:29

I think, I think so. Chat room, I'll throw that out to you as we kind of wrap this as well. By the way, if you're watching the recorded version on YouTube, the chat room's available for you. It's, it's there if you want to follow along. But chat room, let me ask you in the final moments we have left: What are the words you would give? I heard "adapt"; like that is that is a, you know, we are still in a state of adapting. And to be honest, whether there's a pandemic or not, we're constantly dealing with change, right? Just some, some is more stressful than others. And I think we've learned a lot. 2020 has burned away a lot of things and it's got -- we've gotten very raw. And I think that's good and how we deal with.

Jim Collison 50:07

There's a couple of questions from the chat room I want to throw -- Nichole, first one is for you from Donna, from earlier in the program. What kind of quick advice would you give to someone who's watching this, and goes, "Wow! I really want this in my organization!" How do I convince people to do this? What kind of words of wisdom would you give on helping others maybe implement something like this in their work?

Nichole Ossa 50:30

Find a Ken. In all seriousness, I, I think finding, you know, finding one or two or three other people, even just one who can be a champion for you, who, who really says, I get this, and I'm committed to this. And even just that one person can make a huge difference. Ken is a great example because, honestly, for years, the work that, the focus Ken had on, on strengths in our organization was like, "Oh, that sounds good. And we're busy." It took time for people, for, for many people to start paying much attention and to see it as not just nice to have but as potentially an imperative for some of the work that we're wanting to see happen. Patience is the other thing, too. Thanh mentioned, All good things take effort, take time. So patience.

Jim Collison 51:32

I think good -- Ken, did you ever want to quit at some point? Was, were there moments like, Ah, this isn't ever going to work!

Ken Sauby 51:37

I couldn't! I got on the energy from strengths. And so I could never leave the conversation alone, let alone the effort to help other people discover them. It's what drives me.

Jim Collison 51:38

It's good to hear that, you know, as a proclaimed podcaster, Charleen, I've made 1,000 or so -- I'm gonna, I'm gonna get you to, I'm going to convince you to start using that title. You know, I made so many of these things. When people say, "How do you do it?" I say, "I just didn't stop." Right. You just don't, I just didn't quit. And that's how so many great things get done is because people don't quit. Ken, I don't know what this Theme Thursday nonsense is. But how do you provide the monthly summary of the Theme Thursday episodes? Is it a written summary, live discussion? How do you do that?

Ken Sauby 52:19

Well, I actually take your video clips and I pick the best things that you and Maika say, and then share those and then just roll that into PowerPoint, and then roll through that in 45 minutes. So it's kind of a one-way format. I don't know if that really qualifies as a podcast, but that we're going into a new format starting next year that will include more of a dialogue like we're having today. So it's really just taking that wonderful information, getting the best gems out there and then summarizing each of the themes from each of the approaches that you use in Theme Thursday.

Jim Collison 52:53

It's, I love the, just that you're thinking creatively about it. I think that's what I would encourage people to do is just kind of be creative. And, you know, like you, you don't you don't have to follow a routine. Come up with your own. Be creative in that. Thanh, let me throw this question to you: Curious about your thoughts you all have around inclusion being a foundation for diversity? In practice, is it important to teach inclusion first and alongside diversity? is her question. Thanh, some, any thoughts on that?

Thanh Tran 53:22

Yes. So there's a saying that diversity without inclusion is exclusion, right? So in our organization, we really look at inclusion as a verb. It's active welcoming. It's actually, it's not about just presentations and charts and stats, but it's about what are we doing to intentionally allow individuals to have conversations to get to know each other better? So one thing I do, for example, is I don't want to be another talking head when I deliver these presentations in in our organization. I don't want people to look at me as if I'm here with an agenda. And so what I do is, I leverage my Achiever, and I leverage my Connectedness strengths. And I talk about how it's impacted me. I talk about my experience as a Vietnamese American person, a man growing up in America, and how that has created barriers and the successes that I've had in my life, and then allow others to share. I think inclusion, just talking about diversity, there's a million different things that make us all diverse. But we, if we focus on inclusion as a verb, that's going to take us a long way.

Jim Collison 54:35

Charleen, let me ask you this question. Sonny asks this one. He says, How do you deal with people who resist diversity and don't feel, understand or make an effort with inclusion because of their own belief systems? Can you, can you talk about that a little bit?

Charleen Anderson 54:47

Yeah, absolutely. So I believe the way that you successfully deal with that is just to meet people where they are. Because diversity and inclusion, it's really a complex idea, and it's not so easily grasped, even for a person of color like, like myself. Diversity and inclusion and the whole EDI concept, it can be very complex. So I believe if you just kind of meet people where they are and continue to share the information, and just let them join the party when they feel like they're ready to join the party.

Charleen Anderson 55:21

And another thing that I think is important is that most people understand business and the bottom line. So when you can show how EDI and those concepts, how they apply to the business, then people all of a sudden have these epiphanies like, Oh, OK, so that's how that works. And that's another way that you can get people to understand and help them to kind of lean in with the whole EDI concepts. But I really believe that you do have to, first and foremost, meet people where they are. You -- these are not things that you can shove down people's throat; just share with them and share the benefits. And hopefully they'll come along.

Jim Collison 56:01

That's, that's such great advice. Nichole, I'm gonna give you the last word on this as we kind of wrap it up. Anything as -- and by the way, thank you all -- thanks to all of you for spending these 2 hours with the community. I will say, if you're listening to this and you've got a great story that, that you that you'd like to us to tell like this, reach out to me: -- and C-O-L-L-I-S-O-N -- and, and we'd love to maybe highlight you on Called to Coach as well. Nichole, any final thoughts, just as we kind of wrap this today?

Nichole Ossa 56:33

Sure. Thank you for that, Jim. You know, one of the things I've been thinking about as I listen to my, my team speak here is, again, I'm really fortunate person. I have people who, on my team, whose strengths really are very relevant to the work they do. And we know that because we have spent time with it. So it just to me, I'm just listening and almost learning again, I feel like, how important it is to get to know that part of the folks you're working with, what their strengths are, how, and become aware of it and think about how to deploy that and be creative in how you can deploy that.

Jim Collison 57:13

I think that's a -- with that, I think we'll wrap it. Ken, Thanh, Charleen the podcaster, thank you for being -- I'm never gonna let that go, by the way -- thank you guys for being a part of this today. You guys hang tight for me one second. And let me thank the audience as we go. Just a couple reminders. One, take advantage of all the resources we have available on, now on Gallup Access. So head to; log in there. We talked about the 34 report. If you only have Top 5, you can unlock that and upgrade to 34. Ken would love to help you do that as well. That's kind of his passion. So head out to If you have any questions about anything, send us an email: Stay up to date on all our webcasts over on Eventbrite. Go to Don't forget, we got the 2021 Gallup at Work Summit that's coming up June 8th and 9th: will get you there as well. We're on all the social platforms, and you can find us just by searching "CliftonStrengths." Want to thank everybody for coming out today. Guys, we had about 80 at some point. That's a, that's a really good number for a live program. So you guys maybe should think about taking this on the road. You have a podcaster over here. She could probably take care of you on that. We want to thank you for joining us today. With that, we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.

Nichole Ossa's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Positivity, Connectedness, Developer, Empathy and Arranger.

Thanh Tran's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Relator, Strategic, Achiever, Empathy and Connectedness.

Ken Sauby's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Maximizer, Achiever, Learner, Context and Connectedness.

Charleen Anderson's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Achiever, Responsibility, Connectedness, Learner and Input.

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

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