- What are the characteristics of the best 360 programs and coaching?
- How can CliftonStrengths combine with 360s to help foster behavior change in leaders?
- How can leaders work on their reputations as they move through development programs like the 360?
"Good 360 programs are purely developmental." So says Allan Watkinson, Business Consultant and Strengths Coach for senior executives in Gallup's Australia office. 360 programs often fall short because they are more performance-oriented rather than development-oriented. Instead, for maximum impact, they should focus on "coachable behaviors" that are realistic, and the wise coach will leverage the leader's CliftonStrengths to close behavioral gaps. Join us for an informative chat about 360s, how to approach client problems and maintain great client relationships in this episode of Called to Coach.
Gallup Called to Coach Webcast Series -- Season 9, Episode 43.
CliftonStrengths ... strikes a nice balance between being sophisticated enough ... [yet] it's not so complicated that you need a Ph.D. in positive psychology to make sense of it.Allan Watkinson, 22:58
If you think about some of the expectations that a leader is expected to deliver on, then how they deliver on those really needs to be a function of their strengths.Allan Watkinson, 37:31
Behavior change is difficult for leaders ... but we're aiming for small, but important, behavioral shifts. And the only way to do that really is to help the leader connect how they can use their strengths to achieve those outcomes.Allan Watkinson, 38:12
Jim Collison 0:00
I am Jim Collison, and this is Gallup's Called to Coach, recorded on September 21, 2021.
Jim Collison 0:18
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. There's actually in the live page a link right above me. Sign in there and ask your questions live. If you're listening after the fact, we'd love to have you send us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Don't forget to subscribe there on your favorite podcast app, or you can find us on YouTube -- can kind of find us anywhere. Just, just click and search "CliftonStrengths." Bruno Zadeh is our host today. He works as a Coaching Community Leader in APAC and is with Gallup there in our Sydney office. And Bruno, great to see you. Welcome back to Called to Coach!
Bruno Zadeh 1:05
Thank you, Jim. Hi, Jim. So today I'm delighted to host on call to coach Mr. Allan Watkinson. Allan is located in Sydney, Australia, in our office, and Allan is a Gallup Strengths Coach expert. His Top 5 are Harmony, Connectedness, Learner, Relator and Significance. Allan leads definitely with Building Relationship themes. Allan is an expert in organizational development, talent management and leadership. He brings an abundance of corporate management and consulting knowledge and experience to Gallup clients. Allan consults with senior business leaders across Asia Pacific to improve employee performance by increasing engagement, leverage, leveraging the strengths of individuals and teams. He is also regularly involved in improving employee selection, succession planning and developing leaders. Allan is an experienced public speaker. He's often interviewed by prominent business publications, radio, television stations and today, Called to Coach. He regularly conducts senior executive coaching sessions to improve leadership performance. Before joining Gallup, Allan served as Global Head of Business Change and as Global Head of Organizational Development and Talent for Reuters in London. He started his career as a senior consultant at PWC in Sydney and London, and Allan received a bachelor's degree in science (with honors) from the University of Sydney and an MBA from the Austrian Graduate School of Management. Allan, welcome to Called to Coach!
Allan Watkinson 2:55
Thank you, Bruno. It's good to be here.
Bruno Zadeh 2:58
Yes, it's a pleasure. It's long time, I want to chat with you on Called to Coach because you will bring so much experience and you are in touch with so many clients. So what I would like to do is to start with, What was your motivation when, for joining Gallup in 2008? And also, most people know Gallup in Australia as Gallup Poll firstly. How did you discover Gallup?
Allan Watkinson 3:22
Yeah, interesting. So I've been with Gallup 13 years, I've just passed my 13-year anniversary, and it's gone very quickly. And so back in 2008, I was working and living in London, and I made the decision to return back to my native Australia. So I came back home. And I saw the ad for Gallup. And I think previously, I would have looked at a polling company and said, Well, you know, I'm not a pollster. So I'll ignore that and I'll look for something else. But in my previous role back in the U.K., I had had an executive coach, and he had put in my hand the book, First, Break All the Rules. And he said, "You need to read this." He must have thought that I could improve my management capability, which was absolutely true. So he put that book in my hand. And for me, it was still one of the best business books I've ever read. You know, it was career changing, and life changing.
Allan Watkinson 4:12
And as the follow-up book, he put in my hand, Now Discover Your Strengths. And I loved that as well. And I actually went and gave my team a book -- I went and used my budget and bought First, Break All the Rules for the whole team, and also Now, Discover Your Strengths. And I actually asked people to do the assessment. And about a month later, only 2 people out of about 25 had done the assessment. So I was wondering what was going on. And over time, word of mouth built. And before long, all 25 people had actually done the CliftonStrengths assessment. And I really discovered its power and value. And so when I go back to Australia, saw an ad for Gallup to work and do this work full time, I jumped at it. And so it's been 13 really good years of learning and growing and working with a diverse range of clients across Asia Pacific.
Bruno Zadeh 5:06
That's a great story because that was my first book as well. I discovered Gallup with the book, First, Break All the Rules. And that was my drive; I was fascinated and it's how it started as well. I didn't know this story, Allan. So what do you like the most about your role and your workplace?
Allan Watkinson 5:25
I think a lot of clients have asked me -- "You know, you've been with Gallup 13 years; it must be a good, fulfilling job." And I say, "Absolutely! One of the key things, I get to be myself at work." And that's something, it's been a real privilege of working for Gallup over that time, that every single day, I've been able to turn up to work and be myself, you know, and not have to be someone else or try to be something I'm not. So, and that's really the essence of a strengths-based approach that we live and breathe here at Gallup, as you know. So it's the opportunity to be myself. I've also got a science background. So I started my career, actually, as a biochemist, working in a lab studying Type 2 diabetes. And so one of the things that was appealing in joining Gallup in the first place, but then, is why I've stayed and been so invested in, in the tools and the approaches is, is the evidence base behind everything we do. So, so whilst I've changed my career dramatically, there's still a scientist within me. And I tell my clients I'm actually a scientist first, and then, you know, a consultant second.
Bruno Zadeh 6:29
That's a great answer. Well, as a scientist, you will be very thrilled to have all this data available, because it really supports what you're doing. So that makes a huge difference, I agree. How have your strengths helped you survive COVID?
Allan Watkinson 6:42
Yeah, absolutely. It's, you know, back in 2019, I, I used to travel a lot for work pre-COVID. I think I spent maybe 80 nights away from home, which was probably too many in hindsight. And then last year, I spent 3 nights away from home, and this year, almost none. So my, my working has changed dramatically. So I've worked from home almost continuously during COVID. And I've had to adapt like many of us have had to, and get my work done, lead a lot of workshops and doing a lot of coaching via Zoom with a lot of chaos in the background, you know, with, with home schooling, and, and everyone at home. So that's been a big challenge.
Allan Watkinson 7:22
So I've drawn on my No. 1 strength more than anything, really, which is my Harmony, to kind of bring peace and quiet and, and kind of keep the chaos under control, if you like. So that's kind of probably the main thing is, you know, I leave with Harmony, and people describe me in the office here as, as Mr. Harmony. You know, I'm able to jump into, you know, teams that are maybe in conflict or in misalignment and actually, relatively easily bring, find that common ground and bring that kind of alignment, you know, in a fairly harmonious, balanced way.
Bruno Zadeh 7:57
That's a great point. I notice also that you have Connectedness and Relator in your Top 5. And with this COVID time, how do you connect with your colleagues? Because before, when we were all in office together, I remember we have a lot of time, you and I having some coffee and some quality time. And now we are working remotely. Do you have any tips to share?
Allan Watkinson 8:20
Yeah, I think it's importance of staying connected. And we know from all of our research that managers who have stayed connected with their teams have tended to get better engagement results through COVID. So the assumption was that working from home, remote working was going to reduce things like engagement and performance. But actually, when teams and organizations where we've been able to stay connected, and managers have been proactive with their teams, we've actually seen a lift in engagement over the period of the pandemic.
Allan Watkinson 8:48
So for me, I've actually used a lot of my Connectedness and Relator to really stay connected with everybody in the team that I work with, and also with clients -- been really important that I'm not now face to face with clients at the moment. But a lot of my clients are up in Asia anyway. So I'd normally fly up and see them and spend quality time with them. But I've not been able to do that for almost 2 years. So it's been important to, to be proactive, stay connected with them, arrange, you know, 5- or 10-minute conversations to say, see how they're doing and that, for me, has worked really well.
Bruno Zadeh 9:25
You also have a lot of expertise in wellbeing. And I would like to know what resilience, stress and burnout -- any tips to share on how CliftonStrengths can help in this area?
Allan Watkinson 9:36
I think the classic question I always ask is, How can you apply your strengths to make sure you're well? Or learn to apply to any situation actually. So I think about myself and my wellbeing and the types of activities that keep me well. One of them is yoga, and I've done yoga for many years and I do yoga daily. And I, and it's really all about my Harmony and my Connectedness. So I'm drawn to that as an activity. But my wife, who has a different set of strengths, doesn't really like yoga very much. So she does some other sort of activities that keep her well.
Allan Watkinson 10:12
So I think it's, it's not a one-size-fits-all; one of the things we all know about strengths: It's very individualized. So really helping people understand, What are the things that you're drawn to? What relaxes you? What do you enjoy? What gives you energy? And usually there's a clue in your strengths around that. You know, why do people sometimes like individual pursuits? Other people like team sports. Or some people like intense physical activity; other people like the more relaxing and quiet things. Some people like different types of music as well. So I always have music around me as well, and that's something that I always need around me, and again, you know, that's somewhat strengths-related in my choice of music.
Bruno Zadeh 10:58
Thank you for sharing. I would like to go now a little bit deeper in the workplace. How do your strengths show up at work as a leader and as a team player?
Allan Watkinson 11:08
I think as a, as a leader here in the Sydney practice, but more widely in Asia Pacific, you know, I do a lot of work with a whole bunch of consultants across Asia Pacific and do increasing amount of work in India at the moment as well. And I use a lot of my Significance -- my No. 5 strength is Significance -- and people who know me know that Significance is very strong for me. So, you know, there's, there's the, the enjoyment of being an expert internally but also with clients is very appealing. And so, I've also got Learner, so I'm always wanting to learn more about the clients and about what we do at Gallup and how I can combine those two things. And I think the importance of making a difference, so those of who, you know, who work with me, you know, from Gallup and my clients will know that I have very high standards. So again, that for me is Significance is wanting to make sure that what we do has value and makes a difference and has an impact.
Allan Watkinson 12:07
And if something doesn't have an impact, it's not worth doing, I will absolutely call it out and say, "Well, why are we doing this? Why don't we do something different that's actually going to make a difference?" Because a lot of organizations don't necessarily ask that "Why" question, and they don't really drill into, OK, what are we really expecting as the outcome? What's the problem we're trying to solve here? Rather than fall in love with a solution and put a solution in place and not really think through, Well, how do we measure success? So I'm very much on big on the, How do we measure impact? Let's do stuff that's going to make a difference that's going to actually have a lasting impact.
Bruno Zadeh 12:44
Yeah, that's why I always call you Mr. Significance. But I agree with that. I will, I'm always impressed by how much time you spend to prepare things to really have an impact. And it's where I can see your Significance and Learner in action, because all this preparation, you want to make a difference. Now, as a contributor of a team, what do your Top 10 strengths bring to the team?
Allan Watkinson 13:09
Yeah, one of my Top 10 is Includer. So I very much want to include everybody. And I even know that when I go to social situation, I see someone in the corner of my eye that's not included, I want to bring them in -- the classic Includer. I also have Responsibility. So I feel a great Responsibility to teams that I lead and to my colleagues, and I want to make sure that we deliver excellence. And that I can also, as I get older and wiser in my career, hopefully I can impart some of my experience for, for some of the more junior people that are really learning their craft. And, you know, some of the things that I've learned in my career -- I've mainly been, well most of it's been mainly through other people. And so it's really, I take a kind of mentoring role within Gallup as well. So I'm always mentoring a handful of consultants in our practice across the Asia Pacific region. And I'm proud of that, actually. That's an important part of my role; that's something I'm, I need to give back.
Allan Watkinson 14:11
I do a lot of facilitation work as well. I had a client ask me last week, she said to me, "Look, you're a great facilitator. What, what course did you go on to learn how to be a great facilitator?" And I said, "I've got some bad news for you. I've got better over time at being a facilitating through sheer practice and through learning from others and observing. And it's taken years to develop that expertise." And her shoulders shrugged a little bit; it was almost like, Well, OK, well, I can't go on a training course that's going to impart that kind of experience. And I think when I'm delivering anything, what a lot of people don't see is the preparation that goes into it. They see the outcome. And I see people come to me and say, "Look, I'd love to be able to do what you do." I say, "You can do that, but know that there's a lot of hard work that goes into it, and years of practice and experience and learning the hard way as well." And I'm always continuing to try to get better at what I do also.
Bruno Zadeh 15:08
If, when you prepare for a workshop or a coaching session, what's your ratio of time of preparation, approximately?
Allan Watkinson 15:19
Yeah, look, for an hour's coaching session, which is a typical, you know, kind of what we, what we do a lot of is an hour of coaching an executive, I will put in a minimum of half an hour, often another hour in advance. And it also depends on who I'm coaching -- the client, whether I know their business already or whether I'm getting to know their business. I will really do my homework on that individual and their career path to date. I will also do my homework on what their role is and what I know about their organization as well. So I come into those coaching conversations with a lot of context already. And then I'll start the conversation really around, not about strengths, not about other things, but understanding that person and their role and what are the challenges of their role and what's really the context that they're working within. And I start with the, the business context first and then we'll look at the individual and how they respond to that and how we can help them be more effective.
Bruno Zadeh 16:24
And can you tell us a little bit about your role? Because I know you have many hats and you're doing many things. If you can share with us -- well, it's now more than a decade you are in Gallup, so where you started and where you are now and how you grow a little bit in Gallup in what's your role?
Allan Watkinson 16:40
Yeah, look, I, I have a portfolio of things, as you know, Bruno, so, which is actually what I love most about the role. You know, I wouldn't want to do one single thing; I wouldn't want to coach all day, for example. I love the facilitation. I love the problem solving. I have a business development role, part of my role as well. I, I help a lot of our consultants open doors, talk to clients about what we do. And what I bring is actually real-life experience of implementing all of our tools many times with different clients, and learning what works and what doesn't work. So that's a big part of my role. But I tell my kids, you know, I'm a business doctor, effectively.
Allan Watkinson 17:20
So my key role is to actually help organizations, businesses actually improve their performance and address some of the key people issues, particularly. And the main focus I have is improving business performance through people. And that's quite a sort of simple thing to describe. But yeah, there's lots of elements to that. So that includes executive coaching; it includes facilitating leadership teams to understand themselves better, to improve their performance. It's some, sometimes delivering our courses. So I've delivered the Boss to Coach Journey last week, public Boss to Coach across Asia, and I love doing that as well because I'm going to get to meet a whole range of different leaders. And they're all in different roles in different organizations and sometimes different stages of their career.
Allan Watkinson 18:05
But there's a lot of common challenges as well, and that's my Harmony coming in. I always seek to find what's common and what are some of the fundamental principles. So I do a lot of facilitation, course delivery. I also do a lot of general consulting. So, you know, we've, I've done a big culture definition project last week, last year for a client to help them design their aspirational culture and understand where their culture is today and look at the program of work that needs to happen to move them from today's culture to their aspirational culture. So, so it's a real mixture, a portfolio of things. And, and that's one of the things I've loved about Gallup for so long is I get to wear many hats. And, and I also do a lot of internal work within the organization, as you know, Bruno, to help others and, and to help us get better over time.
Bruno Zadeh 18:57
I really love the definition of business doctor. It's such a -- bringing some diagnoses and analysis, other ways to stay on the top of the game to try to understand how I can help people. It's a beautiful definition. Now it's 5 years I'm working with you, and what I've been very impressed all the time it's by the longevity of your client relationship. You have been working with several big clients for more than a decade. What's your secret to keep this longevity?
Allan Watkinson 19:27
Yeah. Look, I've -- is there a secret? I think it's pretty common-sense stuff is, you know, always looking to add more value to the organization, you know, and always looking to find ways to innovate what we deliver, to keep refreshing things, you know, and, and also keep their needs in mind. So, whilst I have No. 1 Harmony, one of the misconceptions about Harmony is we're not prepared to have the honest, tough conversation. But that's something over time I've done more and more of is really tell the truth. So I'll always tell the client the truth and say, "Look, you might want to do more of this, but I don't think that's going to help you. We need to do something different." Or, really, when a client comes to me with a, you know, with a solution in mind, I'll always take them back a couple steps and say, "Well, let's work out what the problem or problems are. And then let's work out what the right solution is."
Allan Watkinson 20:24
So I'm continually doing that. And I think the investment in getting to know those clients, because actually a lot of -- over, over more than a decade, a lot of the leaders have shifted and moved in those organizations; they moved out. And so we continually got new leaders coming in. And we've got a track record, but we've got to rebuild those relationships with those new leaders. And so with my kind of Relationship strengths, that's a key priority for me is to get to know those leaders as soon as possible -- to get to know them as people, but also, importantly, to get to know their business challenges and demonstrate my knowledge and care factor about what they're trying to do. And so there's no real secret; I think it's just continuing to put the client first and not -- I had a client recently that said, "One of the reasons we like working with you and the Gallup team is you don't say 'Yes' to everything."
Allan Watkinson 21:17
So, you know, and we'll, we'll say, "Yes" to things we can genuinely help. But we'll say, "No" to other things. And we'll say, "No, we, we're really not best placed to help you with that." So -- but, but perhaps there is another organization, and we might, we might recommend a consultant in their own organization that will help them with that specific problem. And I've, over time, introduced other individuals that I think, in my network, that I think are going to be best placed to help them with something that we as Gallup don't necessarily do. So again, that's, I think that's a factor in this as well is that we're -- a good consultant will not say, "Yes" to everything just to do the work or grab the business. We'll, we'll help where we can help. And we'll, we'll say politely, "No, we we're probably not the best partner for this particular problem or piece of work." I think that builds trust; it builds respect. And so then, when we do say, "Yes" to something, they know, it comes from a position of absolutely, Gallup is actually, you know, prepared to help, and we, and we'll make a difference, because they, you know, they said, "No" to the other stuff last week.
Bruno Zadeh 22:21
Yeah, you always see the best interest of the client in terms of what's valued for them. I know you want high share Learner, and we are passionate about discovering many tools, many models and many learnings. And we have experienced so many of the valued tools in the market. But my question will be, Why do you prefer CliftonStrengths?
Allan Watkinson 22:42
Yeah, I get asked this a lot, because there's obviously a lot of tools out there. And I never criticize another tool, by the way, because I think they all do have merit. And they all, you know, if they teach you something that's useful, that you can pick up and improve yourself, absolutely, go for it. The thing I like about CliftonStrengths is, I think it strikes a nice balance between being sophisticated enough -- it makes a difference and tells you something that, as a leader, you can work on. But it's not so complicated that you need a Ph.D. in positive psychology to make sense of it. I think that, for me, is it's striking the nice balance. So it's good for the average executive leader; it's good for the average manager; it's good for the average employee in an organization that hasn't got a lot of time, doesn't want to, kind of something that's so complicated that they, it's hard to make sense of and put things into practice. They want something that they can pick up and use. And I think CliftonStrengths is a great tool for that.
Allan Watkinson 23:39
I did some work recently with a investment -- a group of investment bankers, a leadership team for an investment banking organization. And actually it was the first time in my Gallup history I'd done work with an investment banking executive leadership team. And the reason for that, I think, is that in that particular industry, you know, they haven't necessarily done as much of this type of work around understanding yourself and how, you know, the behaviors shape the performance of the team, etc. So the sponsor of that work, when we were having the original conversations around what we were going to do with the leadership team, was very nervous about the work we were going to do.
Allan Watkinson 24:20
And this person, the sponsor, said to me, "Look, I'm worried a little bit. We want to do this work, using strengths and understanding each other and improving team performance, but quite frankly, I'm a little bit worried." And I said, "What are you worried about?" And she said, "Well, I'm worried that they're not going to want to share conversations about behaviors, because we're not used to doing this. And some of these leaders have never had an intervention like the one that you're going to facilitate. They've never had a personal discovery or a team kind of improvement or collaboration or team conversation about how people behave; how they show up; how they think, feel and behave." So she said to me, "I'm, I'm, frankly, a bit nervous that it's not going to land." And I said, "Don't worry about it. Because with CliftonStrengths, it will go just deep enough. And it's not going to go so deep that people I think will clam up and be uncomfortable about sharing this idea of balconies and basements, or brilliance and blind spots, or wherever you want to call them. The misapplication of strengths becomes our greatest weaknesses. That's where we do a lot of good work there."
Allan Watkinson 25:26
And so I ran a number of sessions with this executive team, and they absolutely loved it. And they felt comfortable talking about some of the behaviors that enhance their performance and that define their excellence, but also their behaviors that get in the way of their performance. So again, that's why I think CliftonStrengths is so good. Because it, it allows individuals, teams and leaders to talk about the behaviors that we all notice and see that impact performance positively and negatively. But it gives a common language. And it's a relatively safe way to have that conversation. And it produces performance outcomes. So in many ways, it's, it's the perfect tool for all of that.
Bruno Zadeh 26:11
Are there any circumstances where CliftonStrengths does not match the needs of your client? And what do you do in that situation?
Allan Watkinson 26:20
Yeah, this gets back to what I was saying just few minutes ago is that sometimes a client will come to us with a solution. And the solution is CliftonStrengths. "We want to implement CliftonStrengths. And that's going to solve many of our problems." And of course, that's not true. CliftonStrengths is a wonderful tool. And it really helps improve performance. It helps build that common language and help, helps people understand themselves and others better. So there's many benefits to it. But it doesn't solve all organizational problems. And so sometimes we could get a, I'll get a client that will, that is falling in love with strengths. And they will say, "We want to implement strengths into the organization." And I'll say, "Well, that's great. Tell me what you're expecting strengths to do for you? What are the outcomes you're looking for? And, and what, when you want, you know, you want a strengths-based organization, what do you have in mind? What does that look like?"
Allan Watkinson 27:12
So we'll have that conversation. And we'll, over time, we'll get very clear whether strengths is a good solution, in conjunction with many other solutions -- you know, it's not the only thing. You know, you've got to do other things as part of a program of work or a performance-improvement piece. But sometimes strengths is not going to deliver what they're really wanting to solve or wanting, they want to achieve. So we'll say, "Actually, with all due respect, strengths is probably not what you need at this moment. So what you do need is something else." So whatever that other solution is, we will, again, this is something, you know, that I've done throughout my career -- and, as training with an MBA and working in consulting for a big chunk of my career: It starts with defining the problem first.
Allan Watkinson 27:59
But a lot of leaders and clients will come with a solution in mind, without necessarily a problem to solve. So I'll again, step them back. "OK. Absolutely, we can help you with CliftonStrengths. Great tool. And, you know, you know what it can do. Before we design the solution, let's step back and actually think about the problems or the challenges and the expectations. And then maybe CliftonStrengths is the right solution. But maybe it's not." And I think, again, that's my approach. And it's a consultative approach. And over time, eventually, you know, that a client that has CliftonStrengths in mind will actually change their mind based on conversations and a look at really what, what the problems are that they're trying to solve.
Bruno Zadeh 28:47
I really love your lens to always take a step back and analyze and diagnose and try to see how you can solve a problem and consult. I would like to talk about a little bit data. And I know you're a scientist by art. So as part of your role, you are rolling out CliftonStrengths with some big organizations in Asia Pacific. And I've done a little bit of research a few days ago about that same frequency global. And I note that, globally, Achiever is the No. 1, Learner No. 2, and, and Responsibility No. 3. However, in Australia, it's Relator, Achiever and Learner. But for Japan, you have Harmony, Maximizer, Individualization; and Singapore, Relator, Responsibility and Restorative. So my question is, How CliftonStrengths is perceived in Japan in comparison to Singapore or Australia? And does the perception vary based on different cultures? Do you have anything to share on this area?
Allan Watkinson 29:50
Yeah, it's interesting. I've, I've seen those stats that you're referring to, and, and, you know, I can see some of those differences when I'm working with different clients. You know, I have worked with some Japanese clients on a limited basis because of the language. And because I've got No. 1 Harmony, and I'm often in a room with lots of people with high Harmony, it tends to work well, that approach. So I can see -- and where that, that's probably a cultural thing, where people are generally more harmonious and wanting to find common ground. And I have no doubt that upbringing and culture plays its part in, you know, the strengths of people.
Allan Watkinson 30:28
And so you look at the global No. 1 one is Achiever. And that doesn't surprise me, because I think, you know, organizations that engage us to do work around strengths, they hire people with a sense of wanting to get things done -- an achievement orientation. People that sign up to do the CliftonStrengths themselves and pay their own money out of their own pocket to do that, you know, often have an achievement orientation or they're a Learner; they want to learn more about themselves. So there's a natural orientation around that as well. But interestingly, what I see, within organizations, I see a cultural reflection of strengths.
Allan Watkinson 31:06
So very often, and having worked with a number of clients for a long time, I know their culture pretty well and have worked with a lot of different groups in those organizations. And they have very similar team strengths profiles, when you look across their organization. It starts with the leadership. So very often, you look at the executive leadership team, the chief executive right through, and you'll see a certain strengths profile. And then you look at the next layer down, and a few layers, and very often there's some similarities. And why is that? Because what the senior leaders value is, you know, in terms of the way they hire people, what they focus on, leads to a group, an organization that self-selects people that behave, or think, feel, and behave, in a similar sort of way. So if you're different in some of those organizations, you stand out, and it can be quite uncomfortable.
Allan Watkinson 32:02
So the good organizations help foster that and have at that diversity, but some organizations will have a very similar strengths profile. But as long as they're aware of that, and they can work with that, that's good. But, you know, some classic, kind of stereotypical profiles as well, if you work with accounting firm, for example, you'll see, you know, a lot on the Thinking themes, Strategic Thinking themes, and a lot of, often on the Executing themes. I've done a lot of work with, with not-for-profit organizations in say, healthcare, and, you know, aged care, etc. And what you'll find is some more of the Relationship themes coming out in there, and more Empathy, and some of those themes that come out. Because I do think that we, over time, gravitate to work and workplaces that suit us, and where we feel at home, and that we are able to be ourselves, as I mentioned, you know, my longevity at Gallup as well.
Allan Watkinson 32:59
So I think there, there's certainly cultural profiles, and there's, you know, country profiles as well. And it's often just a reflection on what is valued in, in the country or the organization, and how people tend to behave with each other.
Bruno Zadeh 33:15
Thank you for sharing. That's very, very great. And so now we'd like to talk about your experience in 360 program. A lot of organizations have used 360 feedback as an approach to develop leaders. Some of these programs have had mixed success. Why is that?
Allan Watkinson 33:34
Yes, I guess, yeah, people have been waiting to talk about the 360 here. And, and so I want to, I want to give people a bit of a sense of my own experience in, in leading 360 programs and doing 360 coaching over the years. But the problem with some 360 programs that I've seen or been a part of on the receiving end through my career, is that, you know, a few things: is that they were more performance based than they were developmental, that's No. 1. So, you know, the, the challenge was that whilst they are positioned as a development opportunity and provide feedback to, to learn and grow and be a better leader, that they've strayed into also the territory of performance. And so when a leader gets their ratings back, there's a judgment from the senior leadership or whatever it is, whoever some of the more senior stakeholders are, around their feedback. And so therefore, the leader themselves becomes defensive around the feedback.
Allan Watkinson 34:32
So I really believe that -- and good 360 programs are purely developmental. They don't say "OK, well, this is a reflection on your performance." They say, "This is a development opportunity. This is a development intervention. So this is an opportunity for you to get better in an area or manage perceptions or change your behavior in some ways." That's kind of No. 1 is they've got to be developmental. No. 2, I think one of the reasons that 360 programs haven't had some of the impact that they should have is that when you look at the leaders -- the competencies themselves, or the attributes or the leadership model that's being used, it confuses leaders. It's a mixture of skills, knowledge and behaviors. And so therefore, the leader gets feedback and they look at this and they go, "Gosh, I'm not sure what I need to work on first. I'm not sure how I make the adjustments or close the gaps or whatever there are in that 360 assessment."
Allan Watkinson 35:33
And because we're mixing too many different attributes of a leader, so a good 360 framework and a good leadership model is behavioral. It's coachable behaviors, as I describe them -- things that we can -- a leader to can be coached around, and behaviors that can be shifted by the leader themselves through the feedback. So a good framework and a good competency model should be behavioral, and coachable behaviors. That's No. 2: I think some of them mix and confuse the leader. And No. 3 is when we look at some of those leadership competencies, it seems unattainable for the average leader. They look at that, and I know when, as I've participated on some of these programs earlier in my career, and I've gone, "Gosh, I'm not Superman! And so how am I going to be good at all these things?" And it holds up the leader as some sort of perfect individual.
Allan Watkinson 36:32
And in reality, nobody ever does all these things well, and there's always a potential for improvement from the leader. So I think the, the getting the framework, the model, right, and realistic behavioral, coachable behaviors is really, really important. The other thing I think is a problem for a lot of 360 programs is leaders get their results back. And, and they find there's some areas, you know, that they need to work on. And, you know, people's perceptions may be different to the leaders' perceptions, and all that dynamic that comes in a 360. But then they come down to working out how to close the gaps, or how to make the behavioral shifts that they need to make to be a more effective leader and take that feedback on board. And so then they're presented with some generic statements or some suggestions from their own leader or from a coach or from other people that just don't work for them.
Allan Watkinson 37:27
And that's where CliftonStrengths comes into play is, if you think about some of the expectations that a leader is expected to deliver on, then how they deliver on those really needs to be a function of their strengths. There's many paths to the same outcome, as we know with CliftonStrengths. So there is no one way to close the gap. And so the coaching work we do with leaders, we bring CliftonStrengths and their 360 feedback together. And we help those leaders understand how can they close those behavioral gaps and make those shifts by leveraging their strengths in a way that's natural for them and authentic for them? And what that does, it increases confidence for the leaders to close the gaps; it increases the likelihood that they'll follow through on those actions. Because behavior change is difficult for leaders. It's difficult for everyone, but we're aiming for small, but important, behavioral shifts. And the only way to do that really is to help the leader connect how they can use their strengths to achieve those outcomes.
Bruno Zadeh 38:31
How do you ensure that all the raters provide relevant feedback? Do you prepare them before? What, what kind of function do you communicate?
Allan Watkinson 38:41
Yeah, look, choosing the raters is very, very important, and making sure that they invest the time and give honest feedback. We can never force anyone to answer in a certain way, obviously. But the communication leading up to it is very, very important from the organization and from the leader being rated. And what we know is very important, as again, back to what I said before is, it's purely a developmental exercise. So this is not something where person -- the leader's going to be rated on, on how they come out and score in a 360; it's to help the leader.
Allan Watkinson 39:14
So good communication is from the leader themselves to their raters to say, to say, "Look, I'm, you know, like all of us, we're on a develop, development path. There's things that we do really well; there's things that we need to improve on. I would love your feedback through this process to help me develop as a leader, and that ultimately is going to help you as well." So getting the tone of the communication right and making it developmental is very, very important.
Allan Watkinson 39:39
I think also, in choosing raters, it's really important to, for a leader to choose raters that are going to give them really objective feedback, honest feedback, and sometimes, you know, really, really constructive and critical feedback as well in a 360, rather than choosing people that are going to be kind to you. You know, again, it's a developmental activity. So we've got to make sure that we kind of get proper feedback. So I'm a fan of saying, OK, go to the leader, "Who do you think would give you the best, not the best, but actually the -- well, when I say 'best,' I mean the most useful feedback that's going to help you develop and grow?" But also, I think that their own manager needs to be part of that process to help make sure that, that everyone's comfortable with who is going to rate that leader.
Allan Watkinson 40:30
But also, when you think about rolling out a program, and you don't want to overburden people with too many people to rate -- you know, I've been in that situation before on the receiving end in previous organizations where I was asked to rate a dozen people in a space of a week. That's time consuming. So I think when we roll these programs out, we need to think about, How do you do it in stages, potentially? Or how do you make sure that no one individual is having to rate too many leaders at once? You know, so that it's sustainable; you don't maximize anyone's time out doing something that they probably still don't feel like they've got time for. You know, because you're asking them to invest, you know, 15 to 20 minutes of their time to provide considered feedback.
Bruno Zadeh 41:17
Can you talk more specifically about how to use CliftonStrengths to close this gap in a 360 -- go a little bit deeper on it?
Allan Watkinson 41:25
Yeah, so an example might be of an, of an expectation of a leader. You know, we expect our leaders to inspire us, you know, to articulate a compelling future about where we're going and inspire us to join them on that journey, you know, to think about one of a sort of typical expectation of a leader. And you think of, you know, what's the behavioral competency is to inspire potentially. Now, what if that leader doesn't have Futuristic or Woo, or something like that? Which, you know, you would kind of textbook would say, OK, well, if you've got Futuristic and Woo, you're probably going to be pretty strong around inspiring others. Maybe not. But actually, you know, generically, you probably would.
Allan Watkinson 42:10
But what if that leader's got, I don't know, Relator? Or they've got Analytical, or they've got Competition? How would you help them point those strengths, and inspiring others towards a positive future? Well, you know, if you're coaching that leader, you'd obviously ask them, "How could you leverage those particular strengths to achieve those outcomes and to be more inspiring in your own way?" That's kind of the key dialogue that we need to have with a leader.
Allan Watkinson 42:37
So it's not kind of asking them generically, "Look, what would you, what do you think you can do to inspire others?" Or "Have you thought about adopting this particular approach?" which is not, is not going to be right for them. So it's really that the "what" is the expectation or the competency or the gap they need to close; the "how" is how they use their CliftonStrengths. And so that's the art and the science of the coaching business, to help those leaders make that connection so that their actions are actually strengths-based actions. What we've seen is that maximizes the chances of them closing the gap of shifting their behaviors as well.
Jim Collison 43:16
Allan, let me jump in really quick. And we get this question a lot when we, when we talk about 360s just in general. Lisa asks this question out in the chat room: She says, I love your list of problems with ordinary 360s. Do you have a specific instrument that you use? And do you customize it for every client? I think that's kind of the number, you know, everybody wants kind of a "turnkey." And it's maybe more difficult than that. But can you, can you talk a little bit about that?
Allan Watkinson 43:41
Sure. We have a 360 assessment, a Gallup one. It's, it's around 7 leadership expectations. Very quickly, we've developed that framework based on studying all the different frameworks that were out there, job role descriptions, leadership models and things like that, because what we discovered is that every organization that approached us or that we talked to had a different leadership model. And that, again, that's, that's a bit of a challenge for leaders, because they said, "Well, in the previous organization, I was asked to develop these competencies, and now I've shifted over, and it's a different framework; a different model." And so that was confusing for leaders, and it can be. So what we did just aiming to solve that problem, which is to say, What's the sort of best of? What do we see recurring in a lot of the leadership models? And that's where the 7 expectations framework came from.
Allan Watkinson 44:33
So that's our starting point for clients -- to say, Look, if you don't have your own model, let's consider using this one. And then, and it's a perfectly good one. It's common sense, which, for me, is very, very important. It's got to be common sense for the leader. It's got to be attainable. It works. It's relevant for an individual contributor leader right through an executive leader. So that's important: The dimensions, the expectations are the same, but how they play out -- how an executive leader delivers on an expectation of inspiring others, for example, is different to how an individual-contributor leader inspires others. So, again, that works very well because leaders can see a nuance or a path as they progress in the organization, as the expectations increase or change. And then we use CliftonStrengths to help them close those gaps or achieve and reach those expectations.
Allan Watkinson 45:24
We got a lot of clients that approach us to do 360 work, and they have their own leadership framework. And we're fine with that. We say, OK, if that's your definition of good leadership in your organization, and there's a certain investment in that framework, we can use CliftonStrengths with that as well. Because again, CliftonStrengths is a bit agnostic towards whatever the gap is, or whatever the competency is. And that's its beauty as well, is that we can close the gaps, you know, whatever that competency is. But again, we're very careful to look at OK, well, is that competency a skill? Is it, is it a, or is it a behavior? And we really want to focus on particularly the behavioral aspects, because the skills and knowledge you can accumulate; you can go off and do some reading or some training, whatever it is, or practice. But the behavioral competencies, those ones that are harder to shift is the ones where we really get into. And they're often the ones that define the success or failure of a leader, obviously, is their behaviors, not what they know.
Jim Collison 46:28
Allan, you know, we talked earlier a little bit about the difference between performance-oriented and developmental. Right. And yet, there's, we can say that all day long, and there's mistrust that this is going to be turned from, from developmental into a performance review. How do we, how do we, how do we set some things in place to kind of make sure that does, or, or try to make sure that doesn't happen?
Allan Watkinson 46:53
Yeah, look, that, that takes a lot of clarity at the sponsor level, at the senior level of the organization. So before we do any work with a client, we will say, This, this is really critical: This has got to be developmental. And then we will work on ensuring that the communication is lined up around that, and that we will keep reminding the sponsor of the program or the senior or the executive team or whoever's sponsoring the program, we will keep reinforcing that point, Jim. Is that, "Remember, this is developmental." You know, what are we aiming to do? What are we aiming to see as an outcome here? You know, what you want to do is develop your leaders so that you, you know, have a pipeline of good leaders that are coming through that you don't have to keep importing leaders from the outside in.
Allan Watkinson 47:41
So again, what we're doing there with the, the senior leaders of the organization, or the sponsors, is to keep reiterating what the objective is, is to develop your leaders such that they do perform better. But this is not a performance rating. You have your own performance ratings you could have -- measure in a different way; this is a vehicle to develop your leaders such that they then ultimately perform better, but don't judge them on the 360 feedback. Because, again, the other thing we talk to them about -- we're not aiming for perfection; there's no leader that exists out there that delivers perfectly on all 7 expectations or delivers all of those leadership qualities that is defined in a model or a framework. You know, it's not modeled on one particular leader. It's modeled on a list of, of expectations or competencies that we think define good leadership, but no one leader displays all of those.
Allan Watkinson 48:36
So again, it's in the dialogue; it's in the, the reinforcement at the top of the organization of what this is meant to do, and again, to the participants themselves, because we don't want them to be defensive. There is an emotional reaction that comes when someone sees their 360 results. I know it -- for myself, as well. And so part of our coaching, when we start off, is understanding that emotional reaction that the leader has when they see their results and acknowledging that as a normal thing, before we do the work to help them close the gaps.
Jim Collison 49:07
We have as part of kind of the 5 Coaching Conversations this, this kind of professional development review or, or performance review, I should, though, is really what I wanted to say. And if the manager is doing that, they know the difference between a developmental review and a performance review, because that's happening in different, it's happening in different places. Lisa had asked a question a little bit earlier, and I think it's a good one. Do, how does the Q12 -- our coaches understand this Q12 framework -- does the Q12 become a part of a 360 assessment? Do we include that in in some way? How can that or how can't it play in with this idea of 360s?
Allan Watkinson 49:47
Yeah, it's a really good question. Sometimes we do. And, you know, I, I always position it with leaders as we're going to use some data. And all, all this is is data. And we can help you make sense of the data, pull out what's useful and important to help you improve your performance. So 360 is a piece of data about people's perceptions about you and how you deliver on those expectations. That's one bit of data. CliftonStrengths is some data that can help inform how you can be your best and what you need to look out for. The Q12 framework, which I love and used many, many times, obviously, over the years of where I first came across Gallup in that book, First, Break All the Rules, is a really good source of data. And it's often a reflection on that leader themselves and their team.
Allan Watkinson 50:37
You know, so I describe the Q12 as the conditions for high performance, and I position it as a performance tool, to say, "How well are you and your team optimizing those conditions, those 12 conditions for high performance?" And I will ask a leader, I'll bring it in to the mix of data and say, "What do you think the, your Q12 team data is telling you about yourself as a leader of the team? You know, what, what do you, what do you need to start, stop and continue doing, based on that? Because you know, it's the, most leaders are gonna have to start doing some things. Maybe it's more recognition or saying, "Well done!" or "Thank you!" more to their team. Doesn't cost anything, but a lot of leaders forget to do that frequently enough. Maybe they've got to, you know, to stop some things as well. And, but there's a lot of things that are doing already well that will continue.
Allan Watkinson 51:26
So I'll bring the Q12 in, and we'll, you know, and coach them around, What does this data tell you about what you can do more effectively as a leader of your team? But also encourage them to go back to their team and have a conversation with the team about their results as well. And what, what that's, you know, really what the stories are.
Jim Collison 51:48
Yeah, you think, even like a Q3, you know, "I get the opportunity to do what I do best every day," from a team perspective, how are they feeling? Am I giving them, as their manager, am I giving them the opportunity to do what they do best every day? And while it doesn't roll down to the individual that way, it certainly gives us a rollup score. Go ahead, you want to add anything to that, Allan?
Allan Watkinson 52:08
Obviously, we know that managers explain at least 70% of the variability in team engagement results. So again, we remind them of that, to say, Look, this is not a popularity vote, when people do the Q12, about you, but it is a reflection on your management and what you're doing or not doing, you know. And so let's pick out and use what's valuable to you and that you can, again, inform opportunities for improvement, but also inform what you're already doing well that you may be taking for granted. And making sure that you keep doing those things that you just do innately.
Jim Collison 52:48
One of the beauties of my job, and a little bit of Bruno's too, as community managers is we get this feedback constantly. Like if you're not listening for it, right, you don't, well, you need to be listening for it. I listen for it all the time. But you then, and Lisa asks this great question, we'll kind of wrap the questions on this one, because I think it adds a three-dimensional element to 360s, which is reputation, right? You get a reputation, a, a manager might get a reputation in an organization as being difficult or stoic or cold, right? How do we help leaders, in that 360 assess -- because it's going to take, the reason I say it's three dimensional, is it's going to take an assessment and then another one and then another one maybe to play out, like, change. And so, as we think about change or evolving and leadership, Allan, what kind of, how do we help leaders then with multiple assessments handle reputations?
Allan Watkinson 53:44
Yes, it's a really good, and good question and a, and a huge challenge with development of leaders is, you know, I've seen it firsthand where people make their mind up about a leader forevermore, and then others that are advocates of that leader are continually arguing the case that, "No, that person doesn't do that anymore, or they've got better." But people stay stuck in terms of their mindset and those early perceptions when they first interact with that leader. Look, there's no easy answer to this. But I think a few things that that the leaders can do, as they go through a development program, is to be brave and courageous and actually tell some of their key stakeholders, "This is something I'm working on. And this is something I, you know, a thank, and thank you for your feedback and being part of this process. I'm working on this stuff. And, you know, I'd love to get your ongoing feedback about how I'm doing and, you know, help me on this journey."
Allan Watkinson 54:44
You can only do that with some people, and some leaders aren't prepared to do that, unfortunately. But if leaders were more brave with this, and it was purely developmental, they'd be prepared to actually say, "This is my feedback. This is what I'm working on." And what we find is when they do that, the leaders who do that actually tend to see faster shifts. But the other thing to mention is, we're not looking for dramatic shifts -- you know, what does success in a 360 development program look like? It's not, "All of a sudden, I've completely closed the gap and I've nailed all the competencies." What we do with leaders is we get them focused on, What's most important in your role, you know, of all the competencies that you're working on? What's the feedback telling you around that competency? So they get really focused and targeted on a couple of key behaviors, not too much.
Allan Watkinson 55:29
And, and then we do a remeasure, you know, minimum 12 months, but sometimes we do more ongoing measures after that. But nothing within 12 months. So it gives the leaders time to work on stuff and gives the maximum chance of shifting perceptions. But again, we're looking -- small shifts in behavior can make a big difference. We're not looking for radical shifts in behavior that don't happen, realistically. But again, some people, it's very difficult to shift their perception and their opinion of a leader. And again, we, leaders are going to do their best and focus on the others that may shift.
Jim Collison 56:07
Well, it's, we, it comes back to trust, right? It, when we when we think about that, it always comes back to trust. And just because a leader is changing, and even showing evidence of change, doesn't mean that that trust can be validated back to those they've managed without a lot of time. And sometimes this, this is the human, we're not machines, right? We're humans. And it's sometimes it takes time and effort and real work to get that done. Allan, do you want to add anything else to that before I pass it back to Bruno?
Allan Watkinson 56:37
Yeah, the other thing to mention there, Jim, is that, you know, the measure of the 360 success is not always about these big shifts in the 360 perceptions; it's ultimately whether that leader has improved their performance. So we also look at their performance metrics and other measures of success. And if they're moving in the right direction there, then that is a good sign as well. Even if they haven't changed that stubborn person's perceptions of that individual, other metrics are moving other things. And -- because it's all about ultimately developing that leader to perform at their best.
Jim Collison 57:14
Bruno, I will pass it back to you as we think about wrapping this up. It's been a great session.
Bruno Zadeh 57:20
Yes, absolutely. Allan, thank you so much for sharing so much knowledge and expertise. It's always great to have you with us. And I could listen to you for hours as a Learner. It's a great session. Thank you so much for your time here. Really, really appreciate.
Allan Watkinson 57:34
Real pleasure. I've enjoyed it, too. Thank you, Jim. Thank you, Bruno.
Jim Collison 57:38
You bet, Allan, always great to be with you. And great to have you as a part of the community here. I got a chance to, to spend some time with you as we talked about the Boss to Coach Journey just a couple months ago, and always love hearing from you. So thanks for doing with that. With that, we'll remind everyone to take full advantage of all the resources we do have available now in Gallup Access. If you haven't been to the Resource page, log into Gallup Access upper left-hand corner. Hit the menu, choose Resource, and search there. There are some great resources available for you. If you're wondering, Where? So you go to gallup.com/cliftonstrengths and sign in. It's all available for you. If you're interested in coaching, master coaching or you want to become a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach, you can send us an email: email@example.com. We'll get that routed to the right person to get you helped out with that. Stay up to date on all the webcasts that are happening, and we record everything, so even if you can't make it live, we'd love to have you as a part of that, listening to it. You can find the live versions all at gallup.eventbrite.com. Join us on any social platform by searching "CliftonStrengths," and we want to thank you for joining us tonight -- or tomorrow, in this case. It's always good -- the best part of my job is always I get to see the future. And it's looking bright because I got to spend it with these two guys today. We want to thank you for joining us today. With that, we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.
Allan Watkinson's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Harmony, Connectedness, Learner, Relator and Significance.