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Successful Leadership: Create a Vision Through Inspiration

Successful Leadership: Create a Vision Through Inspiration

Webcast Details

  • How do great leaders inspire their people?
  • How can leaders encourage employees to share in the company's vision?
  • How does inspirational leadership enhance employee performance?

Vibhas Ratanjee, a Gallup subject-matter expert who specializes in executive-level engagement strategies and frequently presents on leadership development, was our guest on a recent Called to Coach. In Part 1 of a series on successful leadership, Vibhas focused on inspirational leadership. The challenges and disruptions for leaders in 2020 have continued into the new year, and leaders need to be clear on how the successes they saw last year, including the behaviors and principles driving employee performance, can inform and contribute to the successes of 2021. Inspirational leadership involves managers as well as executives, and it drills down to teams and individuals, who also need to be inspired to share ownership in a company's vision. Leaders who inspire are proactive about employee wellbeing, and they create hope and optimism for the future.

Gallup Called to Coach Webcast Series -- Season 9, Episode 2. This is Part 1 of a 7-part series on successful leadership. Access Part 2 of this series on leadership. Access Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6 and Part 7 of the series.

When you think about the job of leadership, ... I strongly believe it's inspiration. That's a big part of what you're expected to do as a leader.

Vibhas Ratanjee, 5:50

Getting to know people and how they want to be inspired is key to inspiring them.

Vibhas Ratanjee, 31:43

If you keep focusing on problems and what happened, you'll find more problems. If you focus on solutions, you'll find more solutions.

Vibhas Ratanjee, 25:34

Jim Collison 0:00

I am Jim Collison, and live from our virtual studios around the world -- or at least here in the United States -- this is Gallup's Called to Coach, recorded on January 15, 2021.

Jim Collison 0:20

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're listening live, love to have you join us in our chat room. That link is actually just right above me there on the live page. Join us in YouTube, sign into the chat room. We'd love to have your questions as we go about this. If you're listening after the fact, and you're not live, you can always send us an email: Don't forget to subscribe on your favorite podcast app or there on YouTube -- a great way for you to get notified whenever we have anything new. And of course, you can always subscribe on YouTube to get the notifications when we are live. Dr. Jaclynn Robinson is our host today she works as a learning and development consultant at Gallup, and Jaclynn, great to have you back on Called to Coach. Welcome back!

Jaclynn Robinson 1:09

Thank you!

Jim Collison 1:10

Good to have you.

Jaclynn Robinson 1:10

I am happy to be here.

Jim Collison 1:11

We have a guest with us today. Why don't you take a second and introduce our guest as well.

Jaclynn Robinson 1:15

Yes. So I am really excited for our guest today. We, we are both based out of the Irvine, California, office. So, happy to have my colleague here, Vibhas Ratanjee. He's a subject-matter expert here at Gallup. And, you know, it's just a pleasure to have him. He specializes in executive-level engagement strategies; he facilitates Gallup consulting programs, including Strengths-Based Leadership and Succession Management. He's also an executive coach and a leadership consultant to senior executives and CEOs. I think it's also just important to note that he's one of our key members of the Gallup Speaker Bureau. And he presents frequently on management and leadership development at industry forums across the world. And he is actually going to be helping us today as we think about sharing a vision.

Jaclynn Robinson 1:59

So we know a lot of leaders right now, this is something that they've actually had to do across time. 2020 was a very interesting time, I think, for all of us. So you know, straight, almost straight off in 2020, we were having to think about leaders and how they were creating that, that new vision in this world of COVID. Now we're getting into 2021. We, you know, I think we thought things would change right away as soon as Jan. 1 hit. But we still have a lot of work to do. Leaders might even be feeling a little bit burned out at this point. Because since March 2020, they've been trying to create this vision, bring a strategic narrative to the forefront with their employees. And it might just not be sticking.

Jaclynn Robinson 2:42

So today, what we're really here to talk about is, How do we share that vision with employees? And how do leaders do so in a way that inspires their employees and drives them towards action? How do we create that sense of hope and inspiration? So that being said, I'm going to, I'm going to kick it right off and say, 2020 was a rough year. 2021, we still have a lot of work to do. So Vibhas, how do you inspire employees coming out of this, this level of adversity and change if you are a leader?

Vibhas Ratanjee 3:12

Yeah, it's interesting, when you, when you think about 2020 and, you know, I, when I was having conversations with a lot of people in 2020, there was a lot of conversation about, you know, just the stroke of midnight on Dec. 31, 2020, things will change and everything will go back to normal. I really feel that we are kind of, I think we're going through a moment of time rather than a calendar year, so kind of in a shared history. But when you think about inspiration, it's so important for leaders to be able to inspire and create a clear vision and so on. The challenge around that is not just 2020. In fact, even before that, our research shows that there have been a lot of issues.

Vibhas Ratanjee 3:52

So I think we did some research, even prepandemic and pre-2020 around how inspired do employees feel? So in our research, we saw that only about I think about 13% actually said, "I strongly agree that the leadership communicates effectively to me," or I think it was lower, about one in 10 who said that, you know, "The organization and the leaders make me feel enthusiastic about the future." So I think it's an issue that spans a larger time than just 2020. But I think the importance of creating a clear vision, an inspiring vision, and a purpose statement in kind of reconnecting people with why they're in business for -- what is the purpose of the organization becomes all the more important.

Jaclynn Robinson 4:35

Yeah, that's so true. And, and we've been seeing that even this, this past year. This past year, even leading into January, speaking with organizations are really struggling with creating that, that level of inspiration. And they might have found a way to do so a little bit during COVID-19. And they were really clear with communication. But now we're just getting back to that stage where it's, you know, how do I keep it going. If I'm, if I'm not clear on what 2021 looks like, how do I create that that inspiration for them? How do I put that strategic narrative in place? So what is it that Gallup's research says that inspira -- what is it that Gallup's research says about what inspirational leaders do (apologies there)?

Vibhas Ratanjee 5:16

Yeah, no, I think it's interesting. So we've done, of course, a lot of research around leadership. So we did, a, recently, a few years ago, kind of did a, what we call a meta-analysis of competencies. So essentially, look at all competencies and what's out there. We did our own research, more than 550 research studies to try to understand, well, what, what are the key competencies of leaders? And it's interesting, we came up with 7 key competencies. Now when I look at those 7 competencies, 3 out of those 7 competencies have to do directly with inspiration. So these are things like inspire others, communicate clearly and lead change.

Vibhas Ratanjee 5:50

When you think about the job of leadership, I think I strongly believe it's inspiration. That's a big part of what you're expected to do as a leader. I'm always reminded of this quote, "Leaders are dealers of hope." Napoleon Bonaparte said that, interestingly. So when you think about what a leader is expected to do, and how you're expected to communicate, it's kind of interesting. You sometimes think of inspiration as charisma, or extroversion. When you think about great inspiring leaders, it's Steve Jobs, and you know, how he communicated and so on.

Vibhas Ratanjee 6:25

It was very interesting. I use this example a lot. You know, when Steve Jobs was asked this question, like, "What is the purpose, what is the vision of Apple?" He said, "To create a dent in the universe." And when you, when you think about that, wow, you know, like, that's really inspiring. But then you think about, well, what do I do to create a dent in the universe? What are the specifics we want? So in his leave of absence, when Steve Jobs was unwell, and Tim Cook take -- took over, Tim Cook was asked the same question. And his response was a 700-word description of what the purpose of the organization is.

Vibhas Ratanjee 7:01

So I really think great leaders, when it comes to inspiration, strike that balance between inspiration and clarity, inspiration and performance. So, and I think that's what people are looking for in a very disruptive environment. It's not just great words, and, you know, "We're gonna get out of this," you know, "We're gonna progress forward." But tell me clearly what the future looks like. Tell me the role I play. I think that balance -- great leaders strike that balance between inspiration and performance.

Jim Collison 7:30

Vibhas, we're coming off of a year that leaders are exhausted. Right, they are. Can you give a few words around, I mean, I, it's great to think about, "We have to be leaders that inspire." Many of them are in damage control. They're tired. So what would we say, what does our data say? Or what can we think about, How do we get them back? Like, how do we inspire those that need to inspire?

Vibhas Ratanjee 7:52

Yeah, yeah. And engagement, as you know, we've been tracking it for a fairly long time. And the recent readout we did, we did say that after a historic high on employee engagement, in the peak of the crisis, we're starting to see things kind of turn back to normal. One of the kind of sharpest declines we're seeing is actually for leaders and managers. So you're right, Jim, I think there is a certain amount of COVID fatigue here. But just in my work with executive teams, one of the key things that is coming up is the need for alignment around what the future looks like.

Vibhas Ratanjee 8:22

During the pandemic, in the peak of the pandemic, I think, there was heightened agility and kind of newfound agility and great communication and all of that, and great examples of leaders communicating. I think the key focus is going to be what, which of those fantastic behaviors are going to are you going to take into 2021? I'm seeing kind of things kind of balancing out now. You know, all that communication was great. But then slowly, even when you do focus-group discussions with our clients, there's, there's not, there's less communication, there's less clarity going into 2021. So I would say, prioritization has to be the leadership team in terms of how they are aligned. They were aligned in 2020. How will they continue to be aligned going forward, when they're going to be able to, when they're going to be making important decisions about what the future looks like? That's where the vision comes in also, in terms of clarity and having a vision that's compelling for everyone.

Jaclynn Robinson 9:19

From the, the physical wellbeing side, this is something, Jim, you and I talked about last year, just in terms of How do we get people woken up and warmed up? How do we inspire them? And it's, Get outside too, go, go walk, think through what's inspired you in this last year, how you've been able to create some, some creativity out of the adversity. Get that thought process brewing, so that when you go back into the office, whether it's your home office or you're working on-site, you're reenergized. And that's really helping you think about how you want to then take what's inspiring you or that passion you have to translate it down. Even more specifically, to the managers that they're going to be working with, How does each manager who's running each of these departments translate what they're doing down to the employees? But getting out and getting outside, what a difference that can make just to give someone a little bit of that extra pep in their step to get the noodle brewing.

Jim Collison 10:15

Yeah. Vibhas, you alluded to this just a second ago, but John Sexton in the chat room says, What strategies do you see from executives/organizational leaders who seem to be navigating our present environment well? Again, you alluded to this as far as the communication bit. What stands out in, in terms of their approach? What are we seeing that had worked well that may translate then into this next phase of recovery?

Jaclynn Robinson 10:38

It's a great question.

Vibhas Ratanjee 10:39

Great question. Yeah, a couple of things that kind of stand out, at least in my work with executive teams, is one is kind of reconnecting with the purpose of the organization and, and in a more meaningful way than just words on the wall. You know, I think every organization has a purpose statement, and every organization has a vision statement. What is interesting is that a lot of organizations are redrawing their vision statements because of the disruption of 2020. You know, are, are elements of your vision, do they need to change? Because -- and remember, purpose is timeless; vision is time-bound. So essentially, vision is a little bit more dynamic than purpose is. You don't change your purpose all the time; it's why you exist.

Vibhas Ratanjee 11:17

But what I'm seeing a lot of leaders do is getting clarity around what the purpose and the way forward is, communicating in a way that is inspiring. And when I say that, it's not just, you know, standing in a town hall meeting and, you know, going through your profit and loss and your EBITDA and your, you know, all those financial terms, but real stories of heroics. You know, I've worked with a lot of healthcare companies. And if you think about the kind of heroics people have seen, those stories are the ones that are more powerful than a chart with P & L ratios. So I think that, that, that switch you need to make to creating inspiration, not just as a leader inspiring, but stories of inspiration. I think that's, that's really important. So I think that's one.

Vibhas Ratanjee 12:01

In healthcare, I, I read about this hospital where they did huddles in the morning. And instead of just calling them huddles, they called them "hope huddles," where instead of talking about how many people went on ventilators, they talked about how many people went off ventilators. You know, that's such an appreciative way of looking at it. So that kind of inspiration and stories of inspiration, I think that's one.

Vibhas Ratanjee 12:26

The other is, the second one is really behaviors. You know, it's just, going into 2021 and the, and the future, let's be very clear about what are the behaviors and principles that will drive performance. And I think that's what, and, and going back to 2020, all the agility I talked about, those were behaviors. And every executive team I talk to, they talk about how great it was, and how the team rallied, and so on. Write down those behaviors, really, and, and think about what you need to do as leaders to keep focusing on those behaviors in the future. So I think I would call it I mean, you can call it "purpose and principles." Get your purpose right, communicate it in a really powerful way, in an inspiring way. And get those principles that made you successful, and ensure that they keep driving them in the future.

Jaclynn Robinson 13:18

One thing I wrote down as you were talking was the stories of inspiration. And as we think about the, the number of coaches that we have today and that will be listening in and as executive coaches ourselves, one of the coaching questions that came to mind for me is asking leaders, "Describe a moment of inspiration that you've had in the last week." I'd also love to hear from you, What are some great coaching questions that you like to ask leaders to help them really get practical and think about these moments of inspiration, these stories, best practices that they've, that they've experienced -- to get their head out of the weeds and into that, that level of positive thinking?

Vibhas Ratanjee 13:55

Great question, Jaclynn. And, you know, I'm a lifelong student of appreciative inquiry. It's something that I've built all my work around for the past 20 years. And, and I work with Diane Whitney, who's kind of the cocreators of appreciative inquiry have been claimed by her. I think a lot of those questions that we need to put in play as leaders are appreciative questions. So rather than deficit-based questions about what went wrong, rather than a root-cause analysis of failure, it should be a root-cause analysis of success.

Vibhas Ratanjee 14:24

So some of the great questions are like, Tell me about a high-point experience out of 2020? You know, you automatically, when you think about 2020, it's Hey, a lot went wrong. But no, but there's a lot that went right. You know, so tell me! Give me a story about a high-point experience. Tell me what you valued about 2020 the most. You know, I mean, those questions are fantastic questions. And what I like about them is they're solutions-focused. You're saying, Well, what happened that made that difference, and how can you -- positive image is equal to positive action, right?

Jaclynn Robinson 14:57


Vibhas Ratanjee 14:58

So that's the thing. if you keep focusing on problems and what happened, you know, you'll find more problems. If you focus on solutions, you'll find more solutions. So I think the, for coaches, that conversation and the kind of questions you use are more strengths-based. And when we talk about strengths, we talk about individual strengths. A lot of us as StrengthsFinder coaches think about organizational strengths. In appreciative inquiry, they call it the "positive core." So what's the positive core of the organization? And that, that is what is resilient. That is what will take the leaders and organizations into the future. I highly recommend appreciative questions.

Jaclynn Robinson 15:31

That's such a -- I love that, because now, at that organizationwide level, we're thinking, What have you all done as an organization in 2020 that moved the company forward? Or What are you proud of that you did as an organization in 2020? So I love that idea of high-level. We're not just thinking about individuals at this point, but with leaders, they are thinking more organizationwide, macro-level, and those questions really tap into it. What a perfect combo to take appreciative inquiry alongside CliftonStrengths and strengths coaching, it's just, they pair so well together.

Vibhas Ratanjee 16:06

Yeah, and there is so much, there's so much synergy between these approaches, and not, not just appreciative inquiry. And some of you as coaches are familiar with the solutions-focused approach, or solutions-based coaching, all of that stuff, I think it all aligns really, really well. So when you think about appreciative leadership or appreciative team-building, and everything Gallup knows about recognition, and the power of recognition, this is when we need it the most. This is the year we, 2021 has to be the the year of appreciation, and recognition and acknowledgment more than any other year.

Jim Collison 16:42

That, I think that's so well said, in the sense if you ever want to, you know, if the battery's dead, you jump-start it with recognition. And I think if a culture is dead, a corporate culture is struggling (let's not call it dead, because that, that's not, that's not positive), but if it's really, really struggling, to give it a boost, I think that recognition piece can kick in and do that. Vibhas, a question from the chat room, though, I think that's important. It says, when you mention clarity, do you mean looking back at your successes and failures and working towards the future with hindsight? Doesn't hindsight limit vision at times? And as we look at 2020, it's a special year. So talk a little bit about that.

Vibhas Ratanjee 17:20

Hindsight is not 2020, right? It's -- really think about that in retrospect. It's, yeah, when I say "clarity," you know, it's, it's not about letting employees know every, every individual aspect of your strategy, but giving them enough information so that they know that what they do and their role connects to the vision and the purpose of the company. And I call it personalizing your purpose, or personalizing the purpose of an organization.

Vibhas Ratanjee 17:48

You know, the question we ask on our Q12 engagement survey is, "The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important." And I think there's a, there's a need, there's a reason why we say "makes me feel my job is important," because that's what it is. How do I connect what I do to the purpose and the vision of the organization?

Vibhas Ratanjee 18:04

An idea there is this whole concept of what's called a "strategic narrative." You know, I mean, I think it's kind of moving away from, Hey, what is the vision of the organization? But I think of the strategic narrative as vision and purpose on a journey. And, in fact, when you think about visioning our lives think about it as not what we will become, but what we are becoming. Because it's a journey, you're, you know, you're not just vision, you're moving towards that; it's a process. So I think more and more, what employees want to know is not the outcome, but the journey. What, what is the path we're taking? And then creating a lot of confidence around the path or multiple paths we're taking, you know, because you know what, you don't know what 2021 will throw at us.

Vibhas Ratanjee 18:50

But people want that level of, you know, I mean, you know, the 4 Needs of Followers: you know, trust, stability, compassion and hope. When it comes to trust and stability, tell me enough about where we are coming from, where we are and where we are going to give me the confidence that what I'm doing, what I'm contributing, is in the right direction. So that whole point about bringing purpose down to the front line is so important.

Jaclynn Robinson 19:15

And that ties right back into what Jim was mentioning earlier about the value of recognition. People want to know that they're creating value and that they're, they're doing something that's connected to the, the purpose or mission of the organization. But if they're not getting that recognition, they don't know if they're valued, they don't know if what they're doing matters, they don't know if the work they're doing is even excellent. So that, that recognition piece, I think, can support managers and leaders as they think about helping other people see how they're creating that -- what I like to call the purposeful productivity that is geared towards the mission of the organization. Vibhas, do you, speaking of strategic narrative, do you have some examples of strategic narrative and what that looks like?

Vibhas Ratanjee 19:58

Yeah, I mean, there's so many, and they tend to be very individualized. So Microsoft has one, and it's, Microsoft has a purpose statement. But they also have a narrative, which is a little longer. And again, that's the kind of the shared understanding. I love the word "shared vision." When you say vision, it's always like, Hey, it's the company's vision. And there's a little bit of kind of alienation there, like, Oh, it's the company's vision. But you know, how much ownership do you have in vision?

Vibhas Ratanjee 20:24

So Chipotle has a wonderful one. And you can, you can just go on their website because they put the strategic narrative or the narrative on their website. But I think the point here is you need a narrative that builds on your purpose, that builds on your vision, which is not just your purpose, but it's the description of your purpose, and what that will look like in the future. And I really think it creates that clear path for employees.

Vibhas Ratanjee 20:48

So when I work with leaders around creating a strategic narrative, I make sure that they include a couple of things. You know, it's, Is there a role for employees in that purpose statement? Now, when you say, here's where the vision of the organization or the purpose, here's the context for change, here's what we're doing and here's where we change. Here's a role that you play as an employee. Now, that's a great, that's a great narrative, because a purpose by itself, the statement by itself, think about, GE [U.S.-based company General Electric]. When you think about GE's purpose, it's to bring good things to life. It's a great statement, you know, it's a great slogan, if you may. But what does it mean for me? What does it mean for me today and this year, you know?

Vibhas Ratanjee 21:31

So the narrative is a really good way of kind of, you know, when you think about Martin Luther King (and it's Martin Luther King Day on Monday), when you think about is the "I Have a Dream" speech, that's a powerful narrative. It's connecting, it's not just I, you know, I have a dream, but it's the context of his, what he said, and how it connected with people. I think leaders got to do more of that. I think leaders and teams, executive teams need to come together and create that narrative that creates that clear pathway that cuts through all the noise and off 2020 and 2021. And it's clear, like, Here's where we're going; here's the path. I think that's important.

Jim Collison 22:13

Vibhas, Lisa's asking in the chat room, can you give a specific example, as you think about a leader -- and, you know, we'll change the names to protect the innocent in this, maybe -- but any specific examples are you thinking in your work, where we, you've worked with a leader to do something like this? And how did you approach that as a coach?

Vibhas Ratanjee 22:31

Yeah, so let me give you a mem -- I'm going to try to, you know, blank out any kind of client kind of -- but this is a, this is interesting, this is actually a, an organization I worked with on the East Coast. And, and they really are an engineering company, and full of engineers. You know, and they were kind of coming together to kind of put together a vision statement and a purpose statement and a set of clear values. So we worked with them for a fairly long time on that. But when you think about this company, they actually create products and components that go in a space shuttle. So you can imagine the level of sophistication and high tech involved there. And leaders are a bunch of engineers. And the big, big issue there was, Do they really get the soft stuff, you know, like this vision and purpose? And it's too superficial, and so on.

Vibhas Ratanjee 23:26

Well it's interesting, we started off by giving all the leaders, and there were about, actually 30 of them. We gave them a bunch of questions, appreciative questions, right? What do you value the most? And so on. We said, Go and interview your people about what the, what the future should look like, and so on. And it was interesting, that act itself was kicking, was, was kicking off the process of change. Because when you ask, the ask -- the act of asking a question itself is change. So they were asking these questions, they were actually learning a lot. So it's not Gallup going in there and doing a bunch of interviews, which we do for some consulting work we do. But it was the leaders asking those questions.

Vibhas Ratanjee 24:05

When they came back, this group of engineers -- and you could imagine the room, the positive energy in the room was tremendous, because they were saying, OK, what's possible? So, where they were saying, Well, the vision of the organization is our technical expertise, and I will drive it, it morphed into, it morphed into nation-building, and the contribution we make. It's that big purpose statement that they came up with around changing the world, essentially. So I think that's, that's interesting, because you're now going into a narrative rather than a statement. I don't know whether this fits the bill, Jim, but i think that's, that's what it is, you know, using positive inquiry to create a positive outcome, and then communicating it in a credible, clear and compelling way to employees is key.

Jim Collison 24:54

No, I think it's a, I think it's a great example. Let me bring this in as well. So Adrian says, I've been spending time with my clients doing exercises around being agile in this moment, these moments of ambiguity. Love to hear your thoughts as we think about agility into this, in what you've been talking about, what is the role of being agile in this area of leadership?

Vibhas Ratanjee 25:18

I mean, agility is, is incredibly important. And it's also a buzzword. Everybody's talking about agility. And, you know, and then when you think about agility, you think about Scrum teams and Scrum masters and the whole process around it. I think Gallup's view is very clear: Agility is not just process, it's also mindset. So it's process and mindset. I define agility is as "adaptability plus speed plus execution." I think that's important because it's not just, yeah, it's not just pace; it's also the ability to pivot. And at the end of the day, flawless execution; you can't be agile if you don't execute. But when I work with organizations around agility -- adaptability, speed, and execution -- I want, I want examples of that. I want stories. I want to know where this worked at its best.

Vibhas Ratanjee 26:06

So when we work with organizations around driving agile behaviors, we start with these three. We frame some important questions around these. And we ask leaders to go and find out, you know, examples of these and come back to us. And just that because, you know, it moves away from being, Hey, agility as a buzzword to an important shift in mindset. And, and really, again, going back to recognition, acknowledgment of where we are adaptable. Because you know, human beings are, I think, wired to always kind of automatically look at the negative aspect and the deficit-based mindset. Whenever you make that pivot and you make that shift to a positive-inquiry mindset, I think that changes a lot.

Vibhas Ratanjee 26:46

So I think agility is important. Execution is even more important. And the behaviors, the Agile behaviors that we've demonstrated during 2020, 2021 will be a very different year. And those same behaviors might not necessarily operate. But a question I always ask leaders is, Did it really take a crisis for you to be agile? And that's what it seems to be the case, you know, like, "Oh, yeah, we were, we were fantastic. We were agile." Why? Because there was a pandemic. Why can't you be agile by design? You know, and I think this kind of positive inquiry kind of creates that agility in definition, rather than just as a concept.

Jaclynn Robinson 27:27

What I love about what you've been saying over the last few minutes, too, is this, this really takes us back to that shared-vision piece. It can't be a shared vision if they're not going back and they're asking employees for their thoughts and opinions. And what have we done well? And, you know, I'm just hearing that from you. So it's the leader creating this vision, but the way that it's becoming a shared vision is by asking these questions. In these examples that you've provided, they're going back to the employees, and the employees are really excited about that, too. It sounds like, you know, their, their opinions feel like they count; they feel valued. And we know for taking that strengths-based approach and leading with appreciative inquiry that's going to increase their engagement if we're starting to talk about things that inspire, things that they've done well.

Jaclynn Robinson 28:12

So I love where you're going with this. I think it's, it's talking about strengths and engagement, which then leads us into wellbeing -- which we know everyone is focused on this year is, How do we enhance the wellbeing of not just our leadership but of our employee base as well? They're really hurting. It can start with appreciative inquiry and thinking about that vision, how do we inspire through the vision? Let's share the vision together; let's get really excited about it, where we've been and where we're heading. Do you think inspiration is enough to drive performance and growth?

Vibhas Ratanjee 28:48

Yeah, I mean, absolutely not! You can inspire away, but, you know, at the end of the day, as I said, adaptability, speed and execution, at the end of the day, the focus has to be on, on performance, for sure.

Vibhas Ratanjee 29:03

But you know, sometimes when you think about performance, you think about motivation. And there's a difference between inspiration and motivation, you know. When you think about motivation, it's you're motivated to do something. And it's usually, and you can motivate people by creating an environment and so on. I think inspiration is intrinsic. It's, it's me, and it's what I'm inspired to do. It's inside, in many ways. I think, and realizing that they're two different things is going to be very important. And that's where inspiration comes from communication. That's when the job of leadership is really inspiring others, right?

Vibhas Ratanjee 29:37

Job, the job of managers is also to inspire. It's not just, you know, the leader's expected to be the one who inspires; managers also need to inspire. But managers need to inspire as well as motivate, you know, and create engagement and the performance focus as well. Again, great leaders, the ones I've coached, they do, they balance inspiration and performance. One's not enough. Just inspiring is not enough. Just focusing on performance is not enough, either. You know, if all you're doing is, perform, perform, perform, even though you're a great performance coach and all of that, you're a, you're a slave driver at the end of the day -- perform, perform, perform. What about me? What about my intrinsic motivation and what I want to do and how that connects with the purpose? I think you need both.

Jaclynn Robinson 30:23

Absolutely, it reminds me of sometimes what we talk about whenever we are running through strengths courses is, we can't just think about the hands, but who's the human behind the hands? We've got to think about the person as a whole. What are some maybe coaching questions that you would hand leaders or suggest to leaders that they could ask managers that taps into inspiration and performance?

Vibhas Ratanjee 30:47

Yeah, I mean, some of the questions that actually in some of our courses are fantastic as well, you know, and I remember the old -- and how many people would remember this -- with the 4 Keys of Management that Gallup kind of came up with, questions like, What do you expect to me this year? You know, tell me about a time when you felt recognized? What happened? What created that level of recognition? Tell me about a time when you were in the flow, when you actually did something exceptionally well. What did you do? I think that it boils down to that individualization, right, because I think how people feel inspired and want to be inspired is also different. So you might have that overall inspiration about where the organization is going, and so on. But when it comes to one-on-one conversations, understanding the strengths of an individual, their motivations and beliefs, what they value, that is also kind of really important, in terms of inspiration. So getting to know people and how they want to be inspired is key to inspiring them.

Jim Collison 31:48

I think there's a really great question in the chat room. Bring this in -- How do cultural implications affect inspiration, right? In some countries, high-power distance is very common in working cultures, as a personal connected, or How can a personal connection be established in such case? I think even in, in some work environments, let's just take the United States as an example, we were talking about some preshow, there's cultural differences between gig economy jobs and old economy jobs. And, and we have a new, we, you know, we're operating in this kind of new world, so to speak, of that. So Vibhas, can you talk a little bit about, it's not all the same for everybody. And not all executive teams work the same. And not all cultures work the same. So talk -- how does culture play a role in this?

Vibhas Ratanjee 32:36

Yeah, it does. I see, I hear a couple of questions there, Jim. Let me try to answer some of them. I think this point about culture -- and when I say culture, not just organizational culture but regional culture -- I think it does play a role. I've been working in the U.S., as you guys know, for the past 3 or 4 years, and I spent most of my time "cutting my teeth" in Asia with Gallup, in Singapore, in Thailand, in India, and so on. And to me, that, that was invaluable. Because when you think about culture and cultures, gaining that exposure to different viewpoints, to different ways of looking at things, is important. So I do feel that the demands of leadership and the way people can inspire -- the way leaders can inspire -- there's uniformity, there's this consistency there, there are things that work. But adapting yourself to different situations is also important.

Vibhas Ratanjee 33:29

For example, what I learned in Asia, when I was working in Thailand, one of the biggest things I learned was, was patience. You know, being an Indian, we tend to talk very fast. So, you know, being able to kind of, so a lot of Indian leaders and a lot of other Asian leaders that I worked with, and a lot of foreign leaders or Western leaders that I worked with, one of the things I coached them on was, Go slow. You know, when you're talking about the vision of the organization, you got to take pauses, you got to, you know, slow down and ensure that there is understanding. Because what tends to happen in Asia, for instance, is that people will not tell you or ask you a question that they didn't understand this vision, this grand vision that you communicate it to them. So you need to go and check in. You need to, you know, ask questions, you need to almost individualize and regionalize, you know, what you're talking about. You need to know a little bit about their language.

Vibhas Ratanjee 34:23

And that level of curiosity the leaders need to have in a global environment, and I, and that's -- loosely I call that's the global mindset, right -- I think that's very important. And that's true for the U.S. as well. We are an increasingly diverse culture. Most leaders are working with individuals from various, you know, races and ethnicities, and so on. So I think, I think that's important: appreciation of how people absorb information, based on their unique context in their beliefs and their biases, is important. So I think leaders need to operate at both those levels: you know, that 300 -- 30,000-feet level, How do I inspire? And then follow-ups where the, you know, I want to know who you are, I want to know your background and your beliefs, and so on. So I think that's, that's where you kind of create macro and micro inspiration, if you, if you may.

Vibhas Ratanjee 35:18

The other question I think you had was around the type of employees. If you're, you know, on a type of industry, and so on. And I think there are differences. If you're in a retail environment, for example, or a gig environment, and so on, how you inspire the mechanics of inspiration, the, the tools you use for inspiration and communication, are very different. So the healthcare example I gave you about the hope huddles or in retail, that's how you inspire people on the front lines is, in the morning, doing those huddles. And I'm always reminded of Ritz Carlton and, you know, the, the service values that they have, which is really their cultural code. It's that credo card -- if you're familiar with Ritz Carlton -- it's the credo card with their 12 service values. That is inspiring. That is incredibly inspiring. Guess who does that? Not the leader; it's the manager every day takes that out and says, "Here's what we're going to do today." That's inspiration.

Vibhas Ratanjee 36:11

So I think you want to move away from this "big leaders inspire," and it's vision and strategy and it's closed-door meetings in the boardroom that tell you what employees should do, to "vision is shared ownership," you know, and everybody, every employee is responsible for driving the vision of the organization. But based on the type of industry you are, what kind of leader you are, if you're in healthcare or even financial services, adapt your communication style to how to communicate best and inspire. Great questions.

Jaclynn Robinson 36:42

It is a great question. It goes back to the one-on-ones too -- team discussion and having those one-on-one conversations -- no matter what culture you're coming from, ethnicity, gig economy, corporate exempt versus nonexempt, but how do you best prefer to be communicated with? How frequently would you like communication? When have you received recognition that you've really appreciated? What's the best recognition you've ever seen? So I love what you're talking about there, too. I mean, even at the team level, How do you all prefer to be communicated with as a team? what works most effectively for you?

Jim Collison 37:16

Jaclynn, Mark has a good suggestion is, Could the "Best of Us" exercise be a yearly or twice-yearly exercise? So what, you know, would that continue to give a good pulse on the ever-changing priorities and needs? I'll be honest: I actually use that "Best of Me" exercise internally all the time.

Jaclynn Robinson 37:32

Yes, the more, the merrier, when needed.

Jim Collison 37:35

What did I do? What was successful? What was happening there? What, what kind of actions that I take? What did I need to be able to do those things? And then how can I set up my environment to provide more of that, right? And so yeah, Mark, I think that's a good, I mean, that's a good template to take, that could be morphed, changed, adapted to different, all these different kinds of environments that we have, right, Jaclynn, don't you think that's true?

Jaclynn Robinson 38:03

So our topic of conversation, even, I've heard, or -- topic of conversation -- our topic of communication, even, I've had one client that said, We use this for communication. So in terms of communicating, this is when you'll get the best of me; this is when you'll get the worst of me. This is what I need from you. But you can count on me to do this. They've done it individually. And they've done it as a team, even to the extent of some people prefer to be communicated with by text, some by email, some by phone. So don't maybe assume someone is ignoring you if you're calling them, when the best method of communication is going to be by text, because they're on the phone all day. So the Best of Us activity has even worked in scenarios when it's related to communication. That might be great for teams and individuals.

Vibhas Ratanjee 38:46

If I can offer a tweak on that, I think it's a fantastic activity. I use this for, for all, all the executive work I do. It's the tweak would be, In 2020, what, what did the best of us look like? You know, so, because when you say that, you're --

Jaclynn Robinson 39:00

That's a good one!

Vibhas Ratanjee 39:01

Yeah, you're kind of saying well, what happened? You know, I mean, and to your point, Jaclynn, what happened? Tell me what happened. Tell me -- let's be specific, let's write it down, you know. And the way I've used it with executive teams is, you know, a lot of executive teams are kind of finding their feet in 2021. And all the principles that applied before don't apply anymore, you know. So a lot of executive sessions that we're doing is focused on roughly what we're calling "guiding principles for a team." So essentially, how will you operate in 2021? And to do an activity like the Best of Us, just before that, you know we've got all doing it virtually, obviously, but, you know, that's so powerful. When you say, What did the best of us look like in 2020? What is, what will the best of us look like in 2021? What does this, what does that translate into, in terms of specific principles and behaviors?

Vibhas Ratanjee 39:51

So with a very particular exec team I was working with last week, they said, "Well, it means assuming positive intent." That's, well, that's fantastic. We all, we assume positive intent, you know. And we came in with, you know, this is an issue, that's an issue. We looked at it together and said, "Yes, we want to do it." What will it, what will that look like in 2021? Well, we're going to establish that as a guiding principle and behavior for our executive team, so that in the future, when we do face a problem, we go back to those guiding principles and say, Hey, look, we all agreed on this as a principle. I think that it requires that teeth. It kind of takes Best of Us into what are we going to do about it? And what if we stray away from that direction? Then we go back to principles. That, that would be interesting for, for coaches to try, actually.

Jaclynn Robinson 40:37

I think that's a great example. If we start thinking about bringing CliftonStrengths into that as well, do you ever -- I'm sure you have leaders come to you and say, OK, we're, we're a strengths-based organization here. How can we apply the strengths of our organization into inspiring our employees? Or how do we bring this into agility? And, you know, are we looking at the Top 10 of our organization, or the Top 5 of our organization, to help us strategize the, how we're going to inspire or how we're going to react with change?

Vibhas Ratanjee 41:14

Yeah, I think that's a great question. You know, when you think about the strengths of an organization, is it the Top 5 of the organization -- and we do that at Gallup: We kind of put together an organizational strengths map. And to a great extent, it is. You know, you kind of get a very good understanding of whether it's an Achiever culture or a, you know, Developer culture, and so on.

Jaclynn Robinson 41:33

Or a Harmony culture -- might feel a little conflicted right now, with everything going on sometimes, too.

Vibhas Ratanjee 41:39

Or a Command culture, I mean, when you think about that. But then think about yourself and how you operate within that culture. My No. 34 is Discipline. So if I'm in a Discipline No. 1 culture, you know, I'd struggle, so I'll need a lot of help to kind of, kind of be there. But, but I do think that the strengths of an organization -- besides the strengths of each individual -- collectively, is also, as I mentioned, the positive core of the organization. What's the core organization all about? What do people believe in? What are the values of the organization? Where are we headed? '

Vibhas Ratanjee 42:13

And I think that's such a great marriage between strengths of individuals and the purpose and the vision of the organization. And I think that's a conversation that you need to have. One thing to focus on is, we broadly call this the organizational identity. So if you think about the purpose, brand and the values of an organization, that's kind of the culture of the organization, that's organizational identity.

Vibhas Ratanjee 42:37

There's organizational identity, and then there's team identity. And when you think about the executive team and their identity as a team, you know, part of it is the strengths team grid, let's say, right? But how do they interplay? You know, how, how is the team, the executive team, working to best maximize the organizational identity? And I've been in executive team meetings where I've actually had leaders kind of talk about it. Like, here's who you are, as a team, as a set of executives, you know. You're an Achiever culture, or you're an Achiever team, you're highly driven, right? Here's who you are, as an organization. Let's, let's kind of, let's think about how you will drive

Jaclynn Robinson 43:17

Love that match!

Vibhas Ratanjee 43:17

organizational performance. There's a huge, there's a tremendous match: strengths of a team and strengths of an organization kind of coming together. So I think that's interesting, as a thought and an activity to do, is use strengths and the executive strengths or the team strengths as a way of driving the vision and purpose of the organization in a very explicit way.

Jim Collison 43:41

Let me, let me ask you a qual -- a, I almost said "qualifying"; that's not the word I want -- a clarifying, there we go, a clarifying question from Lisa: Is the organizational strengths map the same as the team grid? Or is there a different tool? You know, you mentioned we're a Command culture or we're a, right. How do we get to that point? I mean, yeah, talk a little bit about that.

Vibhas Ratanjee 44:02

Yeah. So I mean, at Gallup, we can do that analysis where we kind of take thousands of employees, perhaps, and kind of create more of a, you know, just the order of strengths, what are the Top 5 and so on? We can compare that to a database, and you say, "Well, you have 20% higher Achiever than the average," and so on. So there's a way in which you can do it. It's a little different than the team grid. Because team, the team grid is at that micro level, as well. But again --

Jim Collison 44:28

But the team grid's a start, right? I mean, if you've got Top 5, it's really a matter of just ranking Top 5, in order by quantity, and then making some assumptions. Do you think that's more than just, you know, more than just classifying yourself as, Oh, we have the most Achievers. So we're an Achieving culture. Don't you think there has to be more of a conversation that goes on, once we see that, data, right? Talk a little bit about that.

Vibhas Ratanjee 44:51

Yeah, no, I, I think there's tremendous variance. Even if you look at that organizational culture being like, Top 5 are Achiever, Command, whatever that, Arranger and so on. It's, when you say, "Achiever culture," that's a stereotype. You know, it's like, "Oh, we're an Achiever culture, but what about me? Why I'm Developer," and so on and so forth, right? So I think it's more kind of the description of organizational strengths is one thing. Is that the culture of the organization? No, because the culture of the organization is much larger than the individual strengths, or the collective strengths of the employees who work there. It's a factor of your legacy, it's a factor of your values, who you are, what your strategy is, what your purpose is.

Vibhas Ratanjee 45:30

So I'd say that the culture of the organization is much greater. But culture, the way we define this, is "the way things get done." Right. So, you know, I think that's the, that's the focus. I love that definition. Because it, it's the practical implication of culture. It's behaviors. And that's where we want to drive more people towards, it's what are the behaviors, what are the most positive behaviors that drive success? Now if a lot of you are Achievers, you'll drive success a certain way in a team. If a lot of you are Developers, that will be different. But it's the collective, the combination of all the strengths, that actually makes the difference.

Jim Collison 46:06

I think one more really good question from the chat room is -- and Lisa's on fire; she's getting all the good questions here. Do you, when we think about -- Do you work with leaders who want the vision but don't want to invest in the inspiration part, right? How do you convince them? Or let me rephrase it.

Jaclynn Robinson 46:23

That's a great question.

Jim Collison 46:24

What can, how can coaches help with this? Like, the role of a coach is different than the role of the leader in an organization a lot of times. How can, how can our coaches help leaders get to this?

Vibhas Ratanjee 46:35

Yeah. There are a lot of leaders who want to kind of, all they want is to create that vision statement. And it's, you know, going off-site, you know, going on a retreat, lock the doors, and voila, you got the vision. I remember, I had a client I was working with, and he said, You know, "I don't want to call it a retreat, because that means you're moving back." So we called it an "advance." So we called the workshop an "advance," which is great because that's the spirit there.

Vibhas Ratanjee 47:05

Frankly, if you have a leadership team who, all they want to do is create a bunch of words, they can do it themselves. I mean, I don't know whether they need Gallup or anybody else to do it. But the job of a leader is to convert vision into behaviors and inspiration. So I think that's important. And if you have leaders who might be short-sighted and say, Oh, all we want to do is this and this and get, wordsmith it really nicely and, and make it look pretty -- that's not the point at all. I think you need accountability; you need your leaders to be accountable. And when you open up the process of discovering what your vision and purpose is to the larger organization -- not just the leadership team -- that's where we've seen it work the best.

Vibhas Ratanjee 47:44

So the activity I told you about, give leaders a bunch of questions to go and find out. When I ask them to do it, I don't say, "Talk to your direct reports"; I say, "Talk to your customers," you know, "talk to people at different levels of the organization about what the culture of the organization means." That's where we've seen the most success because people come in with these stories that, and create that shared vision rather than, Hey, let's just get in a room and come up with this fancy-sounding vision of values, right? I think that's about -- otherwise, they're just words on the wall.

Vibhas Ratanjee 48:14

I use this example a lot. You know, when you think about -- we do a lot of values work as well, right? When you think about values like respect, integrity, teamwork and execution, this is an organization's values, and you think about it and say, "Well, that's a fantastic company! I'd love to work in that company." These are the values of Enron. Remember Enron? When you think about that, it's, you know, you can come up with a vision statement; you can come up with a bunch of values. How much of that is inspired by what your people are saying?

Jaclynn Robinson 48:45

And driving behavior and results. So it goes back, right back to if you can have this vision, you have business outcomes you might want to strive to achieve, but if you're not driving the behavior through inspiring your employees and helping them see why they should be acting in such a way or striving towards this vision, then you're not going to achieve the results you want to. I love that, Vibhas.

Jim Collison 49:09

Well, as we kind of think, we're kind of coming towards the end here, Vibhas. Anything that we missed in this that, that you would think, "Man, I didn't get asked this question, and I should have." Now, now would be the time. What else? What did we miss? What did Jaclynn and I miss?

Vibhas Ratanjee 49:26

No, I think we've covered quite a lot of ground. But I'd just say one of the things that I'm thinking about these days is -- and I think this is a question, similar question was asked about how vision or inspira -- how people want to be inspired differently based on who they are. One big shift we know is from paycheck to purpose, you know, and a lot of it is being driven by millennials and how do they want to be inspired? How do the future generations want to be inspired? So it's just that keep thinking about these old, that the old-fashioned norms of a vision statement and a purpose statement might not work for the future. There's very specific behaviors and personalizing the purpose works.

Vibhas Ratanjee 50:02

We did some research on, with millennials and I think about, only about a quarter of millennials said that they'd heard someone talk about their work and how it connects to the mission and purpose of the company. One out of four millennials actually see a connection. So I think as you kind of look at, I mean, the estimates are by 2025, 75% of the workforce will be millennials. Think about that. It's enough to push some of us into early retirement. It's, it's, it's a fact. So how will you keep inspiring future generations of workers and employees and leaders? It's a moving target, you know. Don't just go back to old notions and methods of inspiration and vision creation. You got to, you got to think anew.

Jaclynn Robinson 50:50

I'm glad you brought that up, because Achetha had talked about that too, in the chat, in terms of how do you inspire from a noncompensatory manner? And I think this helps, especially with the research we have, to say, the assumption in, in days past, it might have been about the paycheck, but it, it's so much more about the purpose these days, and how are they maybe even leaning into their strengths to contribute to that purpose? How are they offering value? And that's what they're really seeking in the workplace these days.

Jim Collison 51:20

Jacqueline, we've got some -- this doesn't end today; we've got a few more of these coming up here in February and March. As we think about moving ahead -- I know the next one, and I think it's going to be very timely, is helping leaders make great decisions. What else is coming? And what are you excited about as we think about the coming series on this?

Jaclynn Robinson 51:38

Oh, I'm so excited just to help coaches help leaders. Because right now, leaders are really looking towards us to say, "How do, how can you help me create this vision? I have a team retreat coming up. I'm worried these topics might arise in terms of things that have happened in 2020." So now we can lean into appreciative inquiry. We can talk about CliftonStrengths. So I'm really just excited with some of the strategies that we can support leaders with. They're focused on their wellbeing. They're focused on leading through inspiration. They're focused on how to drive the team forward in 2021. So please stick with us because we're gonna have more tactical solutions and questions for you, while we, of course, integrate CliftonStrengths into that.

Jim Collison 52:25

Yeah, I'm excited for it as well. Vibhas, on our way out, any inspirational message to our coaches? What, what would you tell them to inspire them in some of the work that they're doing?

Vibhas Ratanjee 52:37

Drive, drive hope! Create hope! I think, I mean Shane Lopez, who's kind of the pioneer of research around happiness and hope, you know, he, he said that hope matters and that hope is a choice that, and hope can be learned and hope can be shared. So I think that's very important as you get into 2021 and the future is, create hope and optimism.

Jim Collison 53:01

I think hope is probably going to be -- hope and recognition, and I think hope driven by recognition, right, I think is going to be kind of the key to this. Jacqueline, take a second to thank Vibhas, and then I'll close it up.

Jaclynn Robinson 53:11

Yes. Thank you so much. It's such a wonderful kickoff to have you start this leadership series for us. Because this is, this has been the topic on everyone's minds. We both know that from coaching leaders, and a lot of the coaches on today are also working with leadership and, and wondering, What do we do? How do we help them see it, touch it, paint this vision and create some vision and inspiration as a result of it? So, much appreciated, my friend. Always a pleasure.

Vibhas Ratanjee 53:40

Yeah, I enjoyed it. Thank you both, Jaclynn and Jim.

Jim Collison 53:43

Yeah, no, great, great to have you. With that, I'll remind everyone to take full advantages of all the resources we do have available now on Gallup Access. And we are literally adding more and more resources to Gallup Access every single week. So if you haven't been in there in a while, head back. Go to Go to the Resources section. The menu's in the upper left-hand corner on the page. Drop that down, go to Resources and search. And you don't even have to leave Gallup Access a lot of times to get the information you need. So a lot of what we're talking about today was there. We'd love to have you jump back in and get access to those resources. For coaching, master coaching or to become a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach, just contact us: We'll get you hooked up with the right person to have that conversation. If you want to hear the rest of this series that's coming up, you got to follow us on Eventbrite. So go to Follow us there, create an account and then click the Follow button. You'll get an email notification from me whenever we add these. Jaclynn, we're going to be adding -- all of January's already out there. We're adding February here in the next week, and then March right behind that. So you want to make sure --

Jaclynn Robinson 54:44

We have coaching panels coming up, client cases. It's gonna be great, so please stay tuned.

Jim Collison 54:48

It's gonna be, I'm pretty excited. Like this is a great way to start the year. We've, we have definitely front-loaded the year with talent. We kicked it off right today with talent. So for the two of you, thanks for doing that. Make sure you follow us on any social platform. Just search "CliftonStrengths." We want to thank you for joining us today and for, for being a part of the conversation. Chat room, you were just as important today in our conversation as you ever are. So we appreciate that. I'll ask you guys to hang tight. But if you're listening live, thanks for coming out and doing that. With that, we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.

Vibhas Ratanjee's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Ideation, Maximizer, Adaptability, Significance and Strategic.

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

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