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Successful Leadership: The 4 Needs of Followers

Successful Leadership: The 4 Needs of Followers

Webcast Details

  • How do successful people lead?
  • How can leaders enhance a climate of trust in their organizations and teams?
  • In what ways can leaders foster stability and hope for employees in uncertain times?

Dr. Brian Brim, Gallup Senior Practice Consultant, was our guest on a recent Called to Coach. In Part 4 of a series on successful leadership, Brian discussed the 4 Needs of Followers that Gallup has discovered, based on its research, and has documented in Strengths Based Leadership. Those 4 Needs are Trust, Compassion, Stability and Hope. In 2021, leaders find themselves challenged in these 4 areas, and yet their employees need their leadership even as "pandemic fatigue" is setting in. Brian gave some key insights for leaders and managers about how they can keep employees engaged, leverage their own strengths and lead to their own level to help meet these 4 Needs.

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

For me to be trusted, I have to trust. I have to trust. I have to give up things and show you that I trust you in order for you to be able to trust me as a leader.

Brian Brim, 24:12

It's no different for leaders, because guess what? We're all followers too. So ... even if I'm the CEO, there's still elements of followership. And ... the best leaders absolutely know when to step into the followership role.

Brian Brim, 54:01

Hope can be created by starting with a goal -- something we can aspire to -- then having some strategies and ideas for how to get there.

Brian Brim, 9:37

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 today -- this is Gallup's Called to Coach, recorded on February 12, 2021.

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're listening live, we'd love to have you join us in our chat room. There's actually a link right above me. If you don't see a chat room, you're probably on our live page. Click on the link above me. That'll take you to the Google YouTube page. And there's a chat room there. Love to have you log in and let us know where you're listening from in chat. If you have questions after the fact, you can always send us an email: Don't forget, on your favorite podcasting platform, you can subscribe to us. That way, you get notified every single one of these that comes out. And you can subscribe and like on YouTube as well. Dr. Jaclynn Robinson is our host today. She works as a Learning and Development Consultant at Gallup. And Jaclynn, always great to be with you on Friday. Welcome back to Called to Coach!

Jaclynn Robinson 1:11

Thank you! Happy Friday, Happy Fri-Yay! as I like to say, to everyone out there. I'm really excited about today. We do have a large crowd. I think you all are just as enthusiastic. So here today we have Dr. Brian Brim with us. He is a Senior Practice Consultant here at Gallup. And he works with a lot of top executives and CEOs. He's also -- if any of you all have read it -- the author (and I know you all have!), the author of Strengths Based Selling, and he contributes to Gallup Business Journal. So we are so incredibly enthusiastic and excited to have Dr. Brian Brim here. Thank you for joining us!

Brian Brim 1:48

Absolutely. My pleasure. So glad to be with you.

Jaclynn Robinson 1:51

Yeah, so let's get into this topic. I know it's important to everyone. We had, we talked about it a lot last year, just as the pandemic was hitting. And now we're in 2021. We've got this new phrase that's being coined called the "pandemic wall" or "pandemic fatigue." So now I really think leaders are going, "How do I continue to really just motivate and engage the employees as we continue to go through the year?" For those I've been talking to, I've kind of related it back to the marathon, and we're at mile 22. We still have 4 miles to go, because we're in this at least until the end of summer.

Jaclynn Robinson 2:29

So the 4 Needs of Followers is something that I think a lot of leaders right now are quite attuned to, and saying, How can I incorporate that into my messaging or into my practices, really just to engage and get my employees excited, and just pushing forward through the rest of this year? So that being said, could you tell us a little bit about the 4 Needs of Followers? What's the, the research behind it? Where did this come from specifically?

Brian Brim 2:55

Absolutely. We actually did this research back when we released the Strengths Based Leadership book that your audience may be somewhat familiar with. And I helped with, with that book. And this research was really asking people to think about a leader who had had a positive influence in their life, and to react with three, three words that came to mind. And so we had about 10,000 folks in that study. And out of that study, these 4 categories were representative of, most representative of the types of words that people brought forth from that research. And so it really is, I think, from there has been incredibly powerful. I've used, used the framework a great deal. And kind of to the point you're making, in 2020, kind of, kind of created a whole new life of application around the 4 Needs of Followers. So that's a little bit of the background.

Jaclynn Robinson 3:58

I love it. And can you go into detail about each of those 4 Needs? I know we've got -- some people in chat, we're already hearing, "Great book!" and people really know what you're, what you're talking about in connecting with it. But for those that might not be as familiar with the 4 Needs, what does that look like?

Brian Brim 4:14

Yeah, so the, the first one I typically talk about feels quite foundational. And it's kind of like if we don't get this one right, it's really hard for the other ones to, to make sense to people. So, so Trust is the first one. And Trust is really, when you think about some of the words we heard in the research, you know, you heard things like "honesty," you know, shockingly, right, "integrity," and, and a leader that people could could believe in. And so with, with Trust, we really saw that people needed to have this, just this sense of, My leader is someone who, who's authentic, who has my back, who's gonna tell me the truth, even when the truth isn't always fun to hear. That there's someone who I often say is, is going to make me their business partner, who isn't going to feel like they need to consistently, "protect me from things."

Brian Brim 5:17

And so as you can think about, you know, 2020, my goodness, how important was that? We had to make some incredibly hard decisions as organizations. And that, that trust factor became incredibly important. Compassion is the second one. And that's really about do you, do you know me as a human? Am I more than a cog in the wheel, right? Do, do you see that, that I have feelings and emotions and that, that, like you said, that, that I'm getting to this point of fatigue and, and that I'm feeling burned out, right?

Brian Brim 5:56

And so this, this Compassion is really that, that you do orient yourself to me as the whole person. And boy, do we see some fascinating research, you know, continuing to come forth, around, you know, leading the whole person kind of thing. And so it's really that emotional connection, and care that people need from their work environment and, and their leaders. The third one is Stability. And Stability is really about, in the midst of, in 2020, of course, in the midst of the craziness and the disruption, really, folks are looking for that sense of, of calm, that sense of clarity, that sense of control, that ability to look at their, their day and their week, and to say, "No matter how crazy things are, I had some success today. And I know what that looked like. And it was definitive."

Brian Brim 6:59

And then the last one is, is Hope. And Hope is really interesting, in that it oftentimes comes across as this very amorphous thing that's hard for us to get our arms around. But in the reality of day to day, hope was, is really about the the way, the the fact that I can see a way forward, that I can see that, even in the midst of the disruption, I'm still feeling like there's some good things coming, even if it's just next week, right. But then also thinking longer-term. And so when leaders can inspire that Hope, it really does allow people to to aspire beyond the challenges that they're facing. And it helps them lean into, oftentimes a sense of purpose as to the work that they're doing. So that's a quick, quick rundown. There's a lot more to it. But hopefully, that gives you a little foundation.

Jaclynn Robinson 7:59

I love that, and it's so relatable to -- what you really did was just help think through what do each of those look like, particularly given last year? In those situations, what does this really look like? One thing that just came to mind for me was we had Vibhas on; he really kicked off our leadership series, talking about vision and inspiration. And what you just mentioned about hope, are we giving employees this, this lens to see through in which they feel like there's a better tomorrow -- what they're doing today is is leaning towards or moving towards a better tomorrow? I think that goes right into the visioning piece. So when you're working with leaders, have you, have you recognized that they're trying to lean into creating that vision as a means of inspiring hope in their employees?

Brian Brim 8:46

Yeah. No doubt about it. And it's, it's something that I've done a lot of work with is, is the 4 Needs of Followers really are a great framework to help executives really shape the today and the tomorrow for their, their folks. And with hope, what's really interesting is, I don't know if you spoke to Vibhas about Dr. Shane Lopez, who is who is a past member of Gallup, who unfortunately has passed away. But in his book, Making Hope Happen, what he talked about was a wonderful, simple model, where he talks about that, you know, to create hope, we have to have goals. And goals aren't past, right. Goals are future.

Brian Brim 9:33

And so, I work with a lot of leaders around the idea that hope can be created by starting with a goal -- something we can aspire to -- then having some, some strategies and ideas for how to get there. So you and I, working together as a leader and a, and a partner, as we think about our way forward, what are some of our ways of getting there? So hope starts to happen when we start to get excited and, and in tune with how it is that we're going to make that goal a reality. And then we, we link that up with our energy, which comes from aligning our talent to what it is we're trying to accomplish and having some aspiration about what we're impacting, etc.

Brian Brim 10:17

So that simple, simple model, I think, is one I use a lot, where it helps people immediately say, "Wow, this Hope thing isn't just, you know, some pie-in-the-sky, really difficult thing that we try to impact; it's something we can do something about." And then, to your point about visioning, right, creating a vision where I can be a part of that Hope; I can see where I fit in that Hope. I can see where I create that Hope. And so there's absolutely a wonderful linkage that, that we see between that visioning and, and that idea of Hope.

Jaclynn Robinson 10:53

I love that. And you can hear the trickle effect too, where if you are communicating across Hope, it breeds this level of Stability within an organization, or even Trust, because they're being transparent about, This is what we see for our future; these are the steps to get there. We're going to make a change for the better.

Brian Brim 11:13

Yeah, you make a, you make a great --

Jaclynn Robinson 11:14

So I can start to hear all of, all of those start to integrate together, just even --

Brian Brim 11:17

They -- absolutely. They fully integrate, and, and when you're doing one right, it tends to lift the other, right. So definite, definite integration.

Jaclynn Robinson 11:28

I have a feeling there's people in the audience that are curious about the 4 Needs, and which one leadership might be most concerned about or most challenged with, especially going into this year. Has there been one of those four in particular that you've just noticed, CEOs and top executives are thinking through?

Brian Brim 11:49

Yeah, I think that, you know, again, I think they always start with that whole Trust mindset, because, and, because here's, here's the thing: If I don't trust you, and you tell me you care about me, then do I really believe it? Right? So we start kind of with that one. And if I don't trust you, and you tell me what the plans are, do I really believe it? And -- but once you kind of have that, I would say one of the big ones I'm hearing a lot about right now is Compassion. Because you're hearing a lot of leaders talk about that. Their, their people are feeling isolated. They hear their people struggling to, like you said, the, the marathon has started to wear on folks. And so I hear a lot about the, the, the idea that we have to make sure, again, that we are paying attention to, to the whole person; that we are reaching out to people. Instead of just asking, "How are you doing?" we're asking, "How are you feeling?" Right? We're helping people cope with the challenges.

Brian Brim 12:59

There were some interesting articles that came out early in the pandemic. One of them was in HBR [Harvard Business Review], and I'm forgetting the author at this point. But they talked about that a lot of what people were feeling was very much in alignment with grief, as they started to experience the pandemic. So they were going through some of the actual stages of grief. And you can all relate to the first one, right? When this whole thing hit, it was denial, right? "Oh, it won't be, it won't be -- "

Jaclynn Robinson 13:30

"We'll be out of this in no time!"

Brian Brim 13:32

Yeah, "No worries, is it going to be" -- remember people saying, "Is it going to be 30 days? 60 days?" right. And so, as you think about that idea, though, it really is realizing that we can't rationalize our way out of grief; we have to work through it. And that means that we as leaders have to be there with our people. We actually are going through it too. So it's even being able to be transparent, which goes back to, you know, the Stability element, the Trust element, but I have to be transparent that this isn't easy. This is, this is hard. It's hard for me too. You know, I'm being honest, that I'm a, I'm a human; I have these feelings.

Brian Brim 14:11

But then also helping people really think more about, How do I, how do I navigate this? And working with their, you know, their, their manager or working with their, their coach, working with their partners in their organizations to have conversations that help us heal through that grief and deal with some of those emotions and be OK with the fact that yeah, this week was really hard. And here's why. You know, my school's closed and, for my kids, and, you know, these types of things. My parents, I can't go see them. Being able to have those conversations in a compassionate and caring way, it's part of what we need to do, and it's going to be a part of how we connect people to our work long-term, I think.

Jim Collison 14:56

Brian, let me, let me throw a question in from the chat room really quick. Steve asks, How can leaders lead with hope when some may be feeling hopeless? Can you, can you address that and talk a little bit about it?

Brian Brim 15:08

Yeah. Steve, what a great question! You know, I really do think it goes back to starting with a little hope. So, it's, it's really hard for you -- if I'm feeling hopeless, it's really hard for me to get really excited about something super-aspirational. It's kind of like, you know, in our research around the world where, you know, we look at people's ability to thrive and, and do wonderful things in their lives. Well, guess what, I -- it's really hard for me to be self-actualized when I'm worried about where I'm getting water. And it's the same here. When, when someone's hopeless, you need to start me in small hopeful ways, you know, give me a little hope, here and, here and there.

Brian Brim 15:50

And it does go back with -- to goals. So giving me one goal, you know, this week that, that's a -- and I use this term all the time -- it's "slight shifts" that -- don't make it some big, hairy, audacious goal, as they say, the BHAG mindset, right? That instead, make it a slight shift; make it something that I'm 100% sure I can go be successful at. So if it's, if I'm feeling hopeless, and I feel disconnected or isolated, it's helping me have one good conversation that week. Don't make it 50; just make it one. And then let's circle back and talk about, talk about how it went and let you kind of see what that experience did for you. And then let's build on that. So it's that goal mindset that Shane talked about in his book, but then helping me walk through that model a little at a time. And those, those moments of success start to lead to that, that idea of more Hope. And it helps people build to that higher level of hopefulness.

Jim Collison 16:51

There's, and one additional question, I think, that ties into this. We're going to talk about strengths here in just a minute. But can, when we think about measuring this, are there corresponding Q12 items that may help us kind of measure where people are at with this?

Brian Brim 17:06

I don't know what Q12 is, Jim. (I'm kidding.) It's an excellent question. We've actually mapped that. I've done that for a couple of clients, several clients this year. In many ways, I've been able to see linkages across all of them to all 4 areas, but there's some really obvious ones. You know, so when you think about, for example, when you think about Stability, for example, "knowing what's expected of me at work," you know, nice simple one, right? When you think about Compassion, "someone at work seems to care about me as a person." When you think about Hope, "mission or purpose," you know, right? When you think about Trust, "best friend at work." We've got a tremendous amount of research on the fact that, that "best friend" really has some strong corollaries to people feeling trusted in the environment. You can keep weaving them in there. So, for example, you can also then get into items like "recognition in the last 7 days" -- you can tie that to, to several of them. And "My opinions count," when you think about people feeling valued, you can see where "opinions count" could weave easily into all 4 of them. So yes, there's, there's some really nice connections between the [Q12] engagement items and the 4 Needs of Followers. Definitely, there's a connection there.

Jaclynn Robinson 18:41

Yeah, I'm so glad you brought that up. And I'm hearing the theme of recognition come through again, too, which has been a theme that we've had in each of these segments we've done so far for this series is the power of recognition, especially at this point in time. One being if we think about the marathon again. If you're at mile 22, when you've got people cheering you on and saying, "You can do it! You've worked so hard! You're doing great!" You feel good. When you can connect that to the workplace, and you're, you're giving meaningful, authentic, timely feedback or recognition, someone does feel seen and heard and cared for.

Brian Brim 19:16

Yeah, and even, let's take that, you know, take that a step further. And, and instead of someone on the sidelines cheering you on, it's someone running with you.

Jaclynn Robinson 19:25

Yeah, even better.

Brian Brim 19:25

Right? It's we're together in this and, and we can make this, you know, together. And so that sense of trust and appreciation and camaraderie. And interestingly, you know, we've seen a lot of our client organizations grow in their levels of engagement in 2020. And a lot of it's because of that. We, we're in this together. We have a common focus as an organization or as partners and peers and teams. And I think a lot of that brings that sense of camaraderie, appreciation, value, that we're shoulder to shoulder in this journey.

Jim Collison 20:06

Brian, have we published those mappings anywhere, as we think about that, adding those elements into the Q12? Is that published? Have we written about that anywhere?

Brian Brim 20:15

Boy, that sounds like a really good article I should get to work on! I don't think we have; I've done a lot of that specific to client work. But I do think that would be a valuable thing for us to --

Jim Collison 20:28

It could be -- I'll point coaches to, you know, Mike McDonald and I did, Dr. Mike McDonald, did a series, Q12 for Coaches, if you go to YouTube and just search "Q12 for Coaches." And Mike, I think, brings some of those elements in as we look at each one of those questions. So we have 14 hours of learning for you that's available around these questions. I'll refer you to those as we're waiting for, for Brian to write those articles.

Brian Brim 20:52

Well, Jim, the other, the other interesting, the other interesting element of that is some of the, the crosswalk I've done to how the 4 Needs also influence your customers. And, you know, in healthcare, it's patients, right. And so there's just some wonderful synergies between employee engagement and customer engagement and the 4 Needs of Followers, and how they all have some really nice overlap.

Jaclynn Robinson 21:18

That's quite true. I remember I was talking to a leader last year about that. And we were starting to connect the, the 4 Needs to their fan base, to say they might be feeling the same thing some of your employees are. Have you thought about how you're building hope for your fan base? Have you thought about how you're offering Compassion and caring for things that are going on in the world right now that impact them? So I'm glad you brought that up, because it's a wonderful tie-in, and that helps people see more from that customer perspective as well.

Brian Brim 21:44

You bet.

Jaclynn Robinson 21:46

Well, I know people are interested in talent themes. Now too, we've talked engagement; now we want to talk talents. So how can people begin to, how can leaders incorporate their own talent themes and leverage those as it relates to the 4 Needs of Followers?

Brian Brim 22:00

Yeah, that's a big one. You know, I, I do a lot of executive coaching, as you mentioned, and I had a leader that I've been working with that started his role the month before the pandemic hit. And I won't go into a lot of detail, but he's got a very big role in a very big, big organization. And we leveraged the Needs of Followers and, and we leveraged his strengths tied to those and really helped him understand how it is that he was showing up in a way more consistently through his strengths that allowed him to show up with Compassion, show up with building of Trust.

Brian Brim 22:49

You know, one of the biggest lessons that I think leaders often need to learn is that they need to learn to lead to their level. And what I mean by that is very often, when I find challenges that a leader is facing, it's because they're leading in a way that's actually a level or two below where they should be leading. And a lot of times, it's their, their strengths that are living in their hindering zones that are causing that. So they've been, you know, highly successful as individual contributors. And so they, they continue to lead through action. And they think, they continue to see getting the job done as the key value, versus getting the people done, right. And so it's really helping them realign their Executing themes, often, in a way that allows them to be much more impactful on people's development and the growth of people.

Brian Brim 23:49

And so, in this example, that's exactly what we had to do. We had to help, help this leader specifically understand how to convert his, his wonderful talent in such a way that it was creating a much better and more robust conversations with his people, conversations that indeed built Trust, because a great example is that for me to be trusted, I have to trust. I have to trust. I have to give up things and show you that I trust you in order for you to be able to trust me as a leader. And so that was his biggest lesson was learning that, that he had to show trust by getting out of people's way and providing them opportunities to do the job that he needed them to do and to say, "This is yours."

Brian Brim 24:38

And there's some great questions you can use. And I know many of you might have seen some of the articles we've written on this topic. I did a series of 5 [blogs] around the Needs of Followers a few years ago where I linked strengths into it. But I've got a great question I give leaders all the time, and that is, you should ask the people that you lead, "What do I currently do as a leader that I should have you take more responsibility for or completely own?" How often have you asked that of your people? And I had him go ask that question. And he said, "It was interesting, because some of my folks were like, 'I'm finally glad you asked,' right? And others were kind of, others were kind of stunned, and they didn't know how to answer." And he said, "I, I said, 'Don't answer me now; I'll come back and ask you,'" and he said, "but in every case, they could give me something." And he said, "That was a huge eye-opener for me, that my talent had been applied in such a way that I was actually taking over too much of their, their space and their responsibility." And so it really opened him up to a different, different approach. And he had a massively successful year in 2020.

Jaclynn Robinson 25:44

That's a fantastic question to ask. And I was gonna ask you too, What are some of those key coaching questions you like to dig into to get to the heart of it?

Brian Brim 25:51

Yeah, that's a, that's a great one right there.

Jaclynn Robinson 25:53

Yeah. I love that one! Are there any, are there any tools or exercises that you have them work through? And I'm thinking from the lens of kind of homework, at the end of those, those coaching conversations, or at the end of that consulting hour you have, is there something that you like them to focus on and begin to incorporate and integrate into their, their work experience?

Brian Brim 26:16

Every time. I'm, I always tell leaders, you know, don't work with me if you don't want homework, because they always have homework. And one great example of, of the homework that I have leaders do is I have them go back and read their emails, read their communication, read newsletters, whatever it is that they're publishing. And I challenge them to have someone in their meetings take notes on things that they've said, etc. And I challenge them to then look at their communication through the lens of the Needs of Followers. And then I'll do the same. I'll have them send me an email that they've sent.

Brian Brim 27:03

And, you know, I did, did one a couple months back where, when you read it, the entire email was about Stability. And in and of itself, it comes across very cold and, and yeah, the transparency was good, but there was no heart, there was no Compassion or Hope. It was just all about the facts, right. And so having that as an activity is very powerful for leaders to really go back and review and think about. And then they come back and I make them rewrite it through that lens. And, and it's amazing, though, the improvements they see and how they speak to those improvements.

Brian Brim 27:42

And one great example is one that, that that same leader I was mentioning, he rewrote, he had me read it before he sent it. But he had been sending out these weekly emails. And when we rewrote that, he said, he got a flood of responses. And he said, I usually get two or three people writing me back; he said "I had about 30." And just because you, when you touch people, you touch them, and they're gonna -- and emotionally, if you if you hit the right chord, they're gonna respond. And he said, it was a phenomenal kind of reaction. But what a wonderful learning experience for that executive. So absolutely, homework is, homework is key, that's -- it's in those experiences that they learn more than they certainly do sitting on the phone with me for an hour.

Jaclynn Robinson 28:30

That's such a wise exercise -- a communication audit, so to speak. And what I like about that is, and coaches, you probably agree or may agree, is that you really become a thought partner. You're a guide, you're guiding them through the process, but it's their own voice as you're having them think through rewriting it. And you become a trusted adviser, in a sense, through their voice and their talents, to say, "Have you thought about this? Rewrite it but think through this lens instead." And so we're still not the driver; we're still, still allowing them to be the driver. But I can imagine how much it really deepens that relationship with leaders when they do have an example like that they can point out to go, "I'm glad you had me do that homework. I'm getting responses left and right. It's flooding my Inbox. So we're onto something here."

Brian Brim 29:20

Yeah, it's, you know, another thing about it is, as they start to really reflect on those 4 Needs, they start to realize too, even like, with Compassion, one of the things I see very consistently is How can I really show you care if -- how can I show you that I care if you don't see me as a human being? And so often, we as executives protect ourselves; we have to have the -- I had one exec I work with, he refers to it as his "executive armor." Right. And, and the lesson that he learned through our work together was that he'd gotten to the point where he couldn't take it off anymore. And so everything was filtered through that executive armor. And so we started to take it off in, in, in his communication. He started to tell people, you know, what he was going to do with his family that weekend. He started to tell people, you know, be honest that, This is really scary right now. And I'm scared as a leader, because I don't have all the answers, but I'm confident that we can get there together.

Brian Brim 30:31

You know, it's communication like that, where people, people know that, that you're scared; they know that you're, you've got challenges; they know that you, that you're not perfect. And it's OK to let people have some glimpses of that, so that when you do reach out and say, "How do you feel?" they know that, that it's a real person asking that question. And so I think there's a lot of those, those really important types of steps that people need to take in order to be able to take these ideas and frameworks, you know, deeply and make them matter.

Jaclynn Robinson 31:05

That's so true. That vulnerability piece, leaders have to find ways to be vulnerable, even if it's just, I love that idea too of they're just sharing a little bit about the weekend. I love asking the prompt, "What's one thing you feel comfortable sharing out with other people that's about yourself?" and just start small. You mentioned earlier, building, building blocks. You don't have to do something huge or significant to get started. It's just the small building blocks. And I think it comes into place for this too, whenever you're trying to build Trust with people and show Compassion, you've got to have that vulnerability factor playing in.

Brian Brim 31:39

Right. Yeah, it's interesting, too, Jaclynn, we did a session on storytelling recently for an internal Gallup audience. But one of the questions I asked, and one of the questions I've asked execs I work with is, What's a story that people need to hear of yours? You know, what's your story that people need to hear? And, and you can, that's a big question. And it can be, you know, there's 100 stories people need to hear. But when you start thinking about that lens, and, by the way, ask that question in a context of something. So if you're trying to build Trust, what's a story of yours that people need to hear that would help them know you in a way that could create that sense of Trust? What's a story that people need to hear of yours, that could create Hope, Compassion, Stability? And when they come from a place of their real story, like a struggle they had in their career or challenges that they've had with their health, or whatever it might be, humanizes them. And it really makes for an opportunity to create a connection that they've never had before.

Jim Collison 32:48

Brian, there's a great question around that line. And Steve asks, How, how can or should leaders adopt or adapt to a moving target for Hope and Stability? When we think about that, you know, during COVID, all these things changed. And they're settling down a little bit now. But maybe they're not. I mean, maybe we're moving into a new environment where the standard response to COVID is no longer going to be the standard anymore. And it's going to change again. So how do they -- let me just throw that up again, and, How do our leaders adapt when targets are moving?

Brian Brim 33:21

Yeah, one of the, one of the best things that I saw in 2020 was, interestingly, was giving yourself some room to navigate the change. And where I saw failure was where organizations tried to be overly definitive too soon. So it was early in the pandemic, when we really didn't have a lot of answers about what was happening. And I saw organizations make a mistake that said, We're going to start bringing people back in August. Then guess what? Never mind. We're gonna do that in September. Oh, wait. Never mind. We're gonna do it in October. So you created this swirl of activity. And so you're actually creating that inconsistency by trying to provide a specific answer to an ambiguous question.

Brian Brim 34:13

And so the, the better answer is one that says, We don't know. We're going to look at the situation, but for now, settle in, and we'll revisit in 6 months. So you give people enough time that they can make sense of their experience, their, their lives. They can put some protocols in place, versus having me continue to swirl and say, "OK, well, now I've got to get ready for August." ... "Now I've got to get ready for September." So giving some space to it, but then within that space, doing the right things on a short-term basis to help people connect to these things of Trust, Compassion, Stability, and Hope.

Brian Brim 34:54

So another best practice I saw was, is elongate your bigger-picture time frame, but shorten your, your work, work time frame. So instead of having 30-day goals, I saw a lot of clients say, We started to make 2-week goals, right? We cut them in half because things were changing so fast that we needed to have that opportunity to reconnect, readjust and then move forward. And that, that's really a couple of the keys I saw to success. And I think people shouldn't pull out of that anytime soon, to Jaclynn's point, that we should just be real about the fact that yeah, this could, this could go the rest of this year again, folks, but we've got a process in place that's allowing us to navigate that successfully.

Jim Collison 35:43

Dani asks a question, I think very similar to that, unpacking this Stability more. What's that look like in a leader? Brian, you just gave some clues to that in there. Anything else you would add, as we think about, because stability is really, really important in these. You know, playing the long game as opposed to the short game, or playing to the hopes of people. Any, anything else you'd add in that area of Stability with leaders?

Brian Brim 36:07

Yeah, probably the biggest one, Dani, that we didn't talk about is, I use this analogy all the time. Pre-, pre-COVID, I was on an airplane every week. And so I'm a frequent flyer, or I was -- I've lost all my status at this point, I'm sure.

Jaclynn Robinson 36:22

That's such a sad thing.

Brian Brim 36:23

I know. So the interesting analogy I always used is, you know, if you're on an airplane, and you're not a frequent flyer, and you hit turbulence, who do you look to? Right? What, what are your signals that everything's OK? Well, you look, you look to the flight attendant, for one, right. If a flight attendants freaked out, you better freak out, right? Another's you listen, right. to the captain's voice. The other, you might look to your, friend you're flying with who's a frequent flyer, right? So when I'm flying with people, and we hit turbulence, they immediately look at me and say, "Is this normal?" Right? And just for fun, I always say, "No, no. We're all gonna die!" No, I don't do that.

Brian Brim 37:06

But the, the point is that the, a real key to Stability is that when everyone else is, is losing some sense of Stability, you as a leader are remaining calm; you're the calm in the midst of the storm. And that means, by the way, that you need to better understand how it is that you work through chaos or disruption in a way that you can be calm. And there's, there's some things that we talk about. We do, you know, some workshops and sessions on this, this type of thing. And, you know, some of it is, you know, there's some distancing techniques that you can utilize around how you react to your emotions.

Brian Brim 37:51

So something as simple as, I'm anxious. Well, instead of saying, "I'm anxious," spacing that a bit, giving yourself some insulation by saying, "I feel anxious." So realizing that that's a feeling; that's not who I am. And when you can begin to distance yourself somewhat from that emotion, you can then, then you can leverage your executive brain to start to say, OK, so what can I do about that? What are some reasonable truths in this reality that I'm facing that I can take some actions around? Those slight shifts, right, some, some slight shifts that I can put into place that can enable me to, to deal with this anxious feeling that I have. And so those are some, some simple things I use a lot in my coaching. And there's a lot of great frameworks out there you can look at around how to deal with things like anxiety in an effective way, so that you as a leader can indeed lead with that calm in the midst of that, that, that disruption.

Jaclynn Robinson 38:56

Yeah, that's such a wonderful example. And it just reminds me of when people say, Once you label that feeling, it disarms it. And that's exactly what you just captured with the example of label it: "I feel this" instead of "I am this." And then that executive functioning kicks into high gear.

Jim Collison 39:15

You know, that, that technique has helped me out over the last couple years of say, of, of looking for it. So instead of it just letting happen, I'm kind of looking for it to happen. I know there's going to be trigger events that are going to create some anxious moments for me; then calling it out, saying, OK, I, like you just said, "I feel this way." And then having some -- and I think this adds to the Stability of a team, too -- having some things I'm going to do preplanned. Like, OK, when I'm in these moments, I'm not going to respond to email. Or when I'm in these moments, I'm going to get up and walk away from the screen. To, right, to these preplan. I'm not thinking about it. It's not, it's not, you know, I've already thought it through, which have really kind of helped.

Jim Collison 39:59

And I'm still kind of working on that, right? I mean, we're all still kind of a work in progress, right? But man, that has been, has made a big difference to me in, in, in leading -- of not just responding. Because I think sometimes where we lose trust in leadership is when something happens, and then we just respond, and that response is not necessarily positive. Right?

Brian Brim 40:19

That's it. Yeah. And you know, another, along those lines too, Jim, is, with Stability, the thing you always have to be mindful of as a leader is that if you leave a lot of open space in the midst of chaos, folks will fill it, oftentimes with very negative thoughts and ideas. And so as a leader, we need to continue to keep those lines of communication open. We need to give them a story of Stability. We need to help them see how we're navigating. Again, make them your business partners. It's not always about, you know, protecting, right, keeping from. And so it's really being, keeping that line of communication open so folks have something to anchor on and make sense of their, their world around.

Jaclynn Robinson 41:07

Absolutely. Otherwise, as we found last year, with some organizations that weren't doing that, it breeds a lot of paranoia and fear in the workplace. Everyone's going, "What if?" And if there's a layoff that just occurred or furloughs that just occurred or it's going to happen, really sets people into a panic to go, Am I going to be one? What's next? So yeah, you're spot on; that communication is key. We don't know what we don't know is even something, you know, that leaders can say is, it's a work in progress. We are still working on it. But I liked what you brought to the forefront, which was, But this is what we can control in the here and now, even if we're just looking 1 week ahead or 2 weeks ahead, still creating that Stability.

Brian Brim 41:49

That's right, and, and even, you know, when we say, Never leave them hanging, right. So even if you don't know the answer, let them know when you're going to come back with your next round of communication about whatever you find. So it's not, "I don't know. I'll let you know -- I'll let you when I know -- I'll let you know when I know." Yeah, that's too ambiguous. "I'm not -- we're still deciding that, and I'll have a report back to you by next Friday." You know, doing that gives people, OK, I can, I can manage till next Friday.

Jaclynn Robinson 42:18

Frequent town halls, to your point. Maybe they're doing weekly town halls or monthly town halls where employees can listen in and hear what, what the new, the new information is, if anything.

Jim Collison 42:31

Yeah. Brian, a, another question here in the chat room, and I'll summarize this. What about leaders who have been promoted into leadership roles because they were a subject matter expert? What kind of, you know, their, their expertise may not be as a leader; it may be in this sense. How can coaches help them? What kind of advice can we give to them around these 4 Needs of Followers? And, and maybe in some cases, they may be great natural leaders, and they may not be. But any thoughts on that?

Brian Brim 43:01

Yeah. And you're talking about Jeri's question that you just put up there?

Jim Collison 43:05

Yeah. Yeah. Talking about, yeah.

Brian Brim 43:07

Boy, Jeri, that's a great question. And it's one that comes up a lot at my experience where you'll have a leader say, "Well, they should trust me! I've been in this business for 30 years," right? Well, when you look at what Trust is, Trust is really about this ability to be able to rely on, on you, this, this ability to believe in you. It's not always just that you have a level of credibility because of your expertise.

Brian Brim 43:35

And so I'll often, often say, you know, some of the most trusting leader relationships I've seen have been leaders who really didn't have all that much background in an area that they were leading. But the Trust was built because they trusted their people. So you being credible doesn't mean that you're trusting your people. You being credible doesn't mean that you're not microleading. Credibility and expertise are wonderful things, but they in and of themselves do not breed trust. It's the manner in which you apply that credibility and expertise that actually draws out and grows others, and allows others to explore and feel like they won't -- if they fail, that there, there's, they don't have to fail in fear; they can "fail forward."

Brian Brim 44:11

And so I think it's really coaching those leaders to have some self-awareness about the idea that expertise and credibility in a field are absolutely not bad things. But they in and of themselves are not trust builders. It's the manner in which you apply them that they can be or can't be. Because I can be an expert, and that means I answer all of your questions all day long, and never give you a chance to become a better version of yourself, etc. And so that actually is a barrier to trust, not a builder of trust.

Jaclynn Robinson 44:52

Hear, hear!

Jim Collison 44:56

Lisa's got a question. She says, What other ways can we help leaders see the impact of investing in these 4 Needs of Followers?

Brian Brim 45:05

Yeah, the way that I've seen that, Lisa, is I've tied it, interestingly, back to our engagement work and really helped them see the relationship between higher levels of engagement and performance outcomes. I've also tied it to creating resilience in the work environment. And talking about how, you know, someone who really, a follower who feels that their leader provides that Trust, that Compassion, that Stability and Hope, is actually going to create, you know, a much, much stronger sense of resilience. You're also creating an environment where people feel valued, and that they matter. And all those things, as we've seen in all of our work around, you know, workplace research, is that that's going to create sustainable high performance. And so it's not just a "nice to do," it's an absolute "need to do" as a leader to create these things, so that you as a leader can create that sustainable, high performance for your teams.

Jaclynn Robinson 46:04

It goes back to our Q10 "best friend at work" question or statement item, as you talk about that, because if we've got that best friend at work, we tend to be able to ride through the waves a little bit more of organizational change, or whatever might be happening in our society as well. So as a leader, breeding trust, but encouraging trust among the workplace too, having partnerships with one another and having each other to lean on.

Brian Brim 46:31

That's a great point. And actually, when it's done well, that's exactly what happens. We see leaders who do it well create environments that do it well. And now all of a sudden, you know, Jaclynn and I are, are working to support one another through a lens of Trust and Compassion. And no longer does Jim have to be the leader that's always having to be the one that's reaching out to all the team members, because they're reaching out to each other to find out how their kid's, you know, soccer game was, or whatever it might be. So absolutely great point.

Jim Collison 47:04

Lisa asks a follow-up question. She says, Is there micro ways to see this evidence, like examples of writing an email with Compassion and receiving a lot of responses? How else do we measure that?

Brian Brim 47:15

Yeah, that's a wonderful one. And, you know, we also oftentimes will measure a 360, through, excuse me, 360 analysis, where I have one leader who, if you, you'll never be able to because it's confidential, but if you read her 360 analysis pre, and a year later, with, with over 80% of the same team members, it was night and day, the way that people viewed her leadership. So that's, that's a wonderful one.

Brian Brim 47:48

The other one we do is we, we actually do in-depth, what I refer to as "Interview 360s." Where at the beginning of a high-level executive relationship, I'll, I'll actually interview, you know, many cases, I'm interviewing board members or a CEO. If it's someone on a C-suite team, and I'm, I'm interviewing other C-suite members, let's say the person's a CFO, I'm interviewing all the other C's, including their, their CEO, and then I'm interviewing the people that report to them. And I do an in-depth analysis and write-up, and then we do the same at the end. And what you see from a growth perspective is, is incredibly rewarding. And then we look at engagement numbers. And consistently, you'll see, as we measure it, by the Q12, you'll see engagement going up alongside their business outcome. So those are maybe not as micro as you're referring to, but from a business outcome perspective, but the others are.

Jim Collison 48:48

Jaclynn, would you add anything to that in, in your work that you've done with leaders?

Jaclynn Robinson 48:52

I think that's a, I was just thinking, that's really similar to even some of the conversations we were having a session ago, talking about the value of those stakeholder interviews, or 360s, to get that bird's-eye view and that holistic perspective of what people are thinking around them, and really incorporating that into the coaching conversation. I love the idea of mapping it too with Hope, Stability, Compassion and Trust, to say, What are we picking up on? What are some of those themes we're hearing, and you might be doing it well? And what do we want to focus on as an area of opportunity in this coaching session? And how can your themes support you?

Brian Brim 49:26

You know, I'll add one more to that. And that is, I work with a lot of leaders that then say, "All my leaders need to do this." That's, that's proof right there, when, "and they're asking for it. So they saw the change in me and they see how much they want to continue to grow as a leader now too. And so you see them saying, 'We want to learn more about this.'" And so that's a great example for coaches out there to, to look at the value of the work they're doing.

Jim Collison 49:55

Two really great questions ahead on the needs of leaders. So let me, let me ask you this, Brian. What do we recommend for leaders to maintain/establish focus in team members when they're constantly being distracted? Like, I think, you know, we've come out with a book, It's the Manager. Sometimes we beat up on managers. Like, Hey, it's your responsibility. It's all on you. 70% of engagement, right? It's, we've been a little hard on managers. Now, the managers who have that natural talent are up for the task, but what do we, what, what about them? When things are constantly, what, what kind of advice would we, would you give to those leaders?

Brian Brim 50:29

Well, my friends, that's why coaches are out there. That's one of the big ones, and that's, I'm not even kidding. I, I, that's my job with the leaders I work with. I am their manager in many ways, if you will, in the spirit of the way we talk about managers, right. I'm the place for them to go to make sense of all of that craziness. I'm the one that helps them sharpen their focus. And to say, you know, "You're talking about 20 things; we need to whittle that down to 3, because you can't do any of those well," right.

Brian Brim 51:03

And so that coaching is super important, but also their own self-awareness, and that's where the strengths piece comes in, in a huge way. And knowing that they have to, as leaders, oftentimes, what I end up doing, is I create this mindset of executive collaboration, where I look at the executive team and tell them, "Right now, you're all standing around in silos, and you're wearing the executive armor, and you're not admitting to one another that things are out of control for you. And that's not helping anything." So it's realizing that we, as an executive team aren't in this alone. And when you start to realize that, you start to work more in alignment with one another; you start to realize that there's overlap in how you can help one another; you start to support one another's strengths; and you start to solve some issues, bigger issues, that are creating that swirl.

Brian Brim 52:04

So I think it's a combination of executive collaboration, self-awareness and absolutely utilizing your coach's relationship wherever possible, so that you don't feel like you're, you're an island, if you will.

Jim Collison 52:18

Jaclynn, didn't we just talk about this with making great decisions? Wasn't that, if we just go back a session, I hear some of that same -- what, what Brian was saying in that. Anything else you'd draw from that session that you might add in? Let me, let me bring in Steve's question on that. Is there any data suggesting the "4 Needs of Leaders" in this? And Brian, you mentioned 360s. You mentioned coaching, right. Anything else in there that we'd, we'd kind of add? I think I mentioned peer groups, too, in, in the absence of coaching, of having a team, the "best friend" idea of, like, do I have someone else on my team, I have my leadership team that I can lean on. Jaclynn, anything else that we pulled from that session that you might add?

Jaclynn Robinson 53:03

Absolutely! We talked about that, we talked about how sometimes it's going, you know, you might even have a friend at a different organization. And we want you to have the best friends within your organization. But even outside of that, is sometimes you feel like you've got that support system. And it's different organizations coming together as a friendship cohort, so to speak. And they're talking their best practices and challenges. And I think that helps a lot of leaders feel like they're not on on an island as well, because other people in their industry are also experiencing that.

Jaclynn Robinson 53:19

And oftentimes, they can knowledge-share together, with best practices and those challenge, challenges. But it's also a place where you can just unpack. Maybe there's some things you still don't want to share out with your leadership team, but you feel comfortable with others that are in a different organization, and it feels like a better safety net for you. So sometimes it's whatever works, but certainly finding those partnerships within your own organization as well.

Brian Brim 53:56

So I would add one thing to Steve's question, and that is that it's no different for leaders, because guess what? We're all followers too. So when you think about, even if I'm the CEO, there's still elements of followership. And actually the best leaders absolutely know when to step into the followership role. And that's where some of their brilliance comes because they realize, Now's the time for me to step back and let these two leaders take the lead, right.

Brian Brim 54:27

And so there's no difference in what leaders need, in that we're all followers too. And this whole idea of followership can throw people off; it can be a bit off-putting, but when you really start to dig into it, absolutely amazing leadership comes from first understanding what it is that you're wanting to follow. What is it, what is it that you're willing to explore and put, put, put out there as important to you in your life? Look at Mother Teresa, look at Martin Luther King Jr. Right? They were all following something that they believed in that then moved them into the role of leadership. So you can never disconnect the two.

Jaclynn Robinson 55:13

And their purpose being that North Star as well, as they're following a purpose, and they're being very attuned to their own followership: What am I hearing from them? And am I making sure that I'm supporting them and we're on the same wavelength? And if not, how do I communicate, connect that back?

Jim Collison 55:30

I think in the moment, leaders never know. This is the hard part. Like, it's always easy to go back hindsight's 20/20, to go back and say, "Oh, that worked," or "That didn't work," or "I should do this." But when you're in the moment, it is really, really hard. I think this is where a coach is super helpful, to be able to -- disinterested third party, so to speak, that you can bounce things off of, that's kind of what I, what I hear in that, and I think is super important. Jaclynn, we're, we are up against a hard stop at this point. Any, any final thoughts? And then let's thank Brian for being here.

Jaclynn Robinson 56:03

What a great session. I just feel like, I got so much more out of it myself. So I certainly picked up even more coaching techniques. So just highly appreciate you being on the show, Dr. Brim. And for those that are listening in, if you follow through the rest of our series, we've got case studies, we've got coaches sharing out some, you know, blinded case studies and examples and techniques of what's been working for them as well, as they coach leaders. And we'll talk a little bit about leadership versus management too, and what's really the difference between those. And incorporating CliftonStrengths. We'll also have a business leader on, sharing out how strengths has been a vehicle for higher engagement within their workplace. So I hope you continue to stay tuned. And again, thank you so much, Dr. Brim, for joining us.

Brian Brim 56:52

Oh, thank you! It was fabulous.

Jaclynn Robinson 56:54


Jim Collison 56:56

Thanks, indeed. I think back, and these series don't exist anymore, but you and I got this opportunity to do the Great Manager back in the day, I would say, like 7 years ago. We did these together, and I think we interviewed some folks as we did that series. And so it's great to get back together with, with you and to do this time together. We, we certainly covet the time that we have with you and appreciate your insight. We got tons of positive feedback about your style and the way you spoke to the coaches today. So thank you for coming on.

Jim Collison 57:27

With that, I'll remind everyone to take full advantage of all the resources we do have available now in Gallup Access. And that thing just keeps getting better. So if you haven't been there in a while, You might want to go to the menu in the upper left and drop that down. Choose "Resources." We have tons of resources available for you in there. And many of what we're doing here is also available there. So check that out. If you are interested in coaching, master coaching or becoming a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach, we can help you do that as well. So send us an email: That -- general questions will work for that email address as well. If you want to follow us here on all the things that we're doing, has all -- like Jaclynn just mentioned, we have some upcoming ones. There, they will be, they either are or will be listed out there as well. So follow us there for those notifications. Join us for the 2021 virtual Gallup at Work Summit, coming up June 8 and 9: if you want to get signed up for that. Two great days of learning, just like this. And of course you can follow us on any social platform just by searching "CliftonStrengths." And we want to thank you for joining us today. If you found this helpful, we'd ask that you, you'd share it. And with that, we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.

Brian Brim's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Futuristic, Maximizer, Strategic, Relator and Achiever.

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

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