- What insights do themes 6-10 in your CliftonStrengths All 34 report give you about who you are?
- What do you need to notice about these themes as you think about your personal development?
- How can you pair or cluster themes in your Top 10 to help you be more effective in your work?
Below are audio and video plus a transcript of the conversation, including time stamps.
Your talents are your natural patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving. And when we talk about the 34 themes of talent, as they are listed in your CliftonStrengths All 34 report, the focus is often on your Top 5 talent themes. These are typically the ones that help you stand out in the world and that you can most easily develop into strengths. But how do themes 6-10 in the report fit into a more complete picture of who you are? And how can you apply these talents and combine them productively with your other dominant talents -- and with the talents of your partners -- in your life and work? Join Gallup Workplace Strategist and Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach Maika Leibbrandt for a practical and informative webcast.
What we know truly leads people to better lives -- whether that's their performance at work, their potential to thrive in their personal wellbeing, their connection with others -- is when you attach strengths to a personally salient goal.Maika Leibbrandt, 6:25
If you really want to do the hard work of focusing on strengths, it's not just what you can do; it's what you can't help but do. And that means that you've got to make a decision to not do some things in pursuit of where you could be truly excellent.Maika Leibbrandt, 11:44
Jim Collison 0:00
I am Jim Collison, and welcome to the CliftonStrengths Podcast. On this podcast. we'll be covering topics such as wellbeing, teamwork, professional development and more. Now enjoy this episode. This episode was previously recorded on LinkedIn Live.
Meet Our Guest on This Episode
Jim Collison 0:18
I am Jim Collison. I'm here with Maika Leibbrandt. Maika, thanks for coming out today, and give us a little bit of your background. What do we pay you to do here at Gallup?
Maika Leibbrandt 0:26
Just hang out with you, Jim. That's, that's, that's the perks of my job. I am a Workplace Strategist here at Gallup. So it's my job to keep my ear to the ground on what works at work, and then help our clients snap that together, in terms of how do, how do they learn what research is telling us and really take action on it? It's a lot of, How do you just do the next right thing? And that, part of that encompasses my role with CliftonStrengths, where I have the privilege and honor of having a say in how strengths are taught and used and coached, making sure that this language that can be, you know, brilliantly universal, truly is understood at that universal level.
Talent Themes 6-10 in Your CliftonStrengths Assessment
Jim Collison 1:08
Today, we are talking about the themes 6 through 10. And pretty much with the advent of the CliftonStrengths for Managers Report last year that now gives the Top 10 (a year before that, we released a new, a brand-new All 34 report), individuals now have the ability to upgrade to see the, the 6 through 10. And I think it's a question we get a lot of, Maika, is, What do I do? Now that I have this, what do I do with this? So why, why are we talking about 6 through 10? What are they?
Maika Leibbrandt 1:38
Yeah, they're really just a way to understand even more about who you are. There is nothing magical about the numbers. There's not like a huge breaking point between No. 5 and No. 6; really the effort around strengths that's in line with the philosophy of strengths is, How do we help people focus more on areas of ease, excellence and joy? And that, up until, you know, the I think more broadly available opportunity to look at 6 through 10, said, OK, well, should we just focus on one? Should we focus on three? Five sounds good; let's focus on five. So what 6 through 10 does when it's used correctly, I think, is expands that understanding to give you a fuller picture of who you are. And remember, it's still just your Top 10 out of a potential 34. So we're still not necessarily worried about the other third of the possibilities of how you could act.
What's the Difference Between Your Top 5 and Themes 6-10?
Jim Collison 2:34
It's great to see those folks that are joining us live dropping that in the chat. And so, appreciate you guys doing that as well. As we think about 6 through 10, let's dig in on that a little bit. What is the difference between it? What's the difference, 6 through 10 versus the, the, your Top 5?
Maika Leibbrandt 2:49
Yeah, as I mentioned, it's not a hard-and-fast numbers game. And the difference between the strengths that lie in Nos. 6 through 10 -- and if you're very brand new to CliftonStrengths, I want to invite you to this conversation. What you what you receive, if you see your full 34, some people only ever look at their Top 5 or, like you mentioned with that manager report, maybe their Top 10. But in the CliftonStrengths 34 report, it gives you the ranked listing of all 34 strengths. There's only 34; there's nothing hidden behind the scenes that you didn't get. And so there's always going to be one at the top; there's always going to be one at the bottom. And that, those, those are ranked in order of intensity, for how natural those patterns of thought, feeling and behavior are to you.
Maika Leibbrandt 3:35
Meaning No. 1 is potentially so natural that it's, like, hard for you to understand. It's like the bridge of your nose, sometimes we say. Other people know that to be true about you, but for you, it's how you've always operated. And that's why we need tools like this to reflect back to us how we're showing up in the world. For many people, they will feel like they really resonate with No. 1, 2 and 3; and even 4 and 5 feels like it drops off a little bit. For others, they, even if you press them, they'll say, "No, I am living, breathing, experiencing all 1 through 12." So the idea of 6 through 10, I don't want us to get too married to you -- even if you joined in our cold open, you even heard me say, "I don't think I could tell you my Top 10 completely accurately." I know a little bit of what's there, 6 through 10. But I certainly know them through the lens of what's 1 through 5, because that idea is in line with the idea of focusing on, on what you are, rather than worried a little bit too much about what you're not.
Maika Leibbrandt 4:39
Another way that we describe the difference between 6 through 10 and 1 through 5 is just that they, they're definitely still there. You'd miss them if they were gone. They're a part of you. But it's like maybe your first 5-ish got the invite to the party, and 6 through 10 are the plus-one. So what I notice showing up for people is, they can make a little more sense of 6 through 10, or maybe even 6 through 12 or 13, when they think about it in the context of, What's, how are they blending together with their top strengths?
Themes 6-10 and Your Personal Development
Jim Collison 5:16
Just a reminder, if you've got questions for us during this program, throw those in the chat. Put a "Q" in front of them so we can see them, just to identify them quickly. There's a lot going on out there. But we appreciate, we want to take your questions. So when we think about personal development then, Maika, do we treat 6 through 10 the same as we treat 1 through 5? And is there a hard stop, like, at 6, or a hard, a hard go? If we're gonna do the opposite of a hard stop, is it a hard go at 6? Talk a little bit about that --
Maika Leibbrandt 5:45
I think you may have just coined a new phrase. Yeah, a hard go. It's the definition of agility. Like, just think and go.
Jim Collison 5:53
Just do it. But so, when we think about personal development, what should the goal be?
Maika Leibbrandt 5:57
Jim, I think it's a great question. And I'm going to call out the question itself as perhaps missing the mark. But this is a question we get asked all the time. And I'm sure coaches get asked this by their clients: You know, should I make my lower strengths as strong as my, my other strengths? When you start using the tool to develop within the tool, it's kind of like a dog chasing its tail, or I have a cat who chases her tail too. But you know, don't get stuck there. What we know truly leads people to better lives -- whether that's their performance at work, their potential to thrive in their personal wellbeing, their connection with others -- is when you attach strengths to a personally salient goal.
Maika Leibbrandt 6:37
So, and we've said this a lot, but it's really easy to get sucked into -- I have a tool; I now want to make these strengths stronger. Well, I don't know that there's any way that you could objectively measure that. You could take it again, and there will still be something at 10; there will still be something at 1. I think the real goal is a little bit bigger than that. I would say it is getting yourself or your client to a place where you can notice your strengths in the wild. Notice what they mean for you, how they show up, how they show up when you're at your best, how they show up when you're stressed. (I didn't mean for that to rhyme, but it is Dr. Seuss week. So that felt appropriate.) To that point, not just that you can stop at self-awareness, but that you can drive that toward alignment with how you solve the problems that you're faced with.
Maika Leibbrandt 7:27
So when you think about it that way, we can, we can consider our Top 10 or Top 12 -- our Top 15 if you really need it -- to not just be that awareness of, Yes, I'm great at this strength. But this gives me clues for how I can change the game in a way that aligns better with my most natural solutions that are less about pleasing others or looking like you've got it all handled, and more about realizing you were worthy the whole time. Like your best ways of behaving are going to be from who you are and not from who you're not.
Jim Collison 8:04
Ruth liked my comment of the "hard go" equals Activator, her No. 1. I have Activator No. 5.
Maika Leibbrandt 8:10
So I pulled up my strengths; I have Activator No. 8. So maybe that was why I was all about the hard go.
Applying Your Top 10: Always, Rarely, Never
Jim Collison 8:16
That, that's something I'll have to think about. It just, it just came out that way. Let's get hyperpractical here for a second, as we think about for managers and coaches and even individuals, right? How do we, what are some strategies for incorporating 6 through 10? We've said kind of some theories around it. But let's get practical.
Maika Leibbrandt 8:32
OK, I've got two, three ideas, three ideas here. The first is, maybe go through all 34, just to familiarize yourself with the report -- and not just to understand the tool, but to bring the tool to life in your life. Start at the top and ask yourself, Does this always describe me? Does this always describe me? And be harsh. Does this describe you when you wake up from a dead sleep? Like does this describe you when you're not thinking? If so, that's an "always." Then go to the bottom, and say, Does this, how often does this describe me? You'll probably be using the word "never" or "rarely." The truth is, it's probably more like never. But if you need the permission, you can say "rarely." And then read backwards, up from 34, 33, 32, and then look for the breaking point where you're conflicted because it sometimes describes you.
Maika Leibbrandt 9:27
What you are defining for yourself is what we would call your dominant talents are the "always" ones; your, your lesser talents are the "rarely" or "never" ones; and your supporting talents are there in the middle. And so supporting themes, most people find, are anywhere between 10 and 29. And they might show up in in certain situations. But again, if you start to get into this idea of strengths hoarding, where you want to be able to do everything on your own, and you say "OK, well I'm not always this way but it's OK, because I've got it in the attic. And I can like climb upstairs and get that strength when I need it," you're missing the entire point of strengths and collaboration and the, the beautiful, I think, result of being vulnerable enough to admit that you need a partner; that you're not some things. Most people will find that they do answer "always" to, about their Top 10, in my experience coaching. So that's, I think, why it's important and why we've realized in the reports that we've released recently that it is super helpful to have more than just 5.
Jim Collison 10:40
You and I've been working together for 6 years, completed 6 seasons, we did 5 of them, just you, you and I. And with our, within our Top 5, we have very similar themes. And yet your Strategic being No. 1, I don't have that at all. I am all Activator, Ideation, like 1,000 ideas. But in sessions, when we were together, you would always bring that Strategic in and say, "OK, we've talked about all these things, but this is what we really need to do." And so for me, while I can do some of that, I needed to lean into yours to be able to really get that done. So for me, Strategic's a little bit, I mean, I can, again, I can do it. But do I want to rely on that all the time? Am I, is that the best part for me? No, the best part of our partnership was you being hyper-Strategic.
Maika Leibbrandt 11:23
Well, and I couldn't have done it without your Arranger, because my Strategic is sort of like up here in the, in the sky and in the brains. And it's the conceptual pattern recognition. Your Arranger, once we say hard go, said, Here's how the pieces fall into place. And yes, I could do that. But again, that's, we're missing the point. Strengths, the, if you really want to do the hard work of focusing on strengths, it's not just what you can do; it's what you can't help but do. And that means that you've got to make a decision to not do some things in pursuit of where you could be truly excellent. And I think I've struggled with that, right? Like, I think normal humans and high achievers struggle with that -- having to say no to certain ways of being to instead honor what could be deeper, truer, more beautiful of how you really do think. That's going to be a good moment -- Reilly, tag that one. But you mentioned "super practical," and I appreciate that. So No. 1 super practical is that "always," "sometimes," "never," just so that you can really see yourself in, in the tool.
Applying Your Top 10: Self-Select Themes You're Noticing
Maika Leibbrandt 12:26
The second piece that I want to suggest is that you allow your clients and yourself to do exactly what Jim did at the top of this message: self-select which of those Top 10 that you're really noticing lately. The opposite of that, that I think too often us facilitators or coaches fall into is we get too married to the hierarchical order of seeing them all in a row and in a line. And we'll say, "Tell me what you like about No. 1" or "How is No. 6 treating you?" I always want that to be an invitation, because it's an, it's a microopportunity that sometimes people don't even realize they're taking for self-awareness instead of labeling. So instead of saying, "Let's talk about 6 through 10," back out. Look at all 10 and ask somebody something like, "Which one of these has gotten you to a recent success?" or "Which one of these shows up when you're really struggling?" "Which one of these have you been noticing lately?" "Which one of these has been serving you in a partnership?" and allowing people to sort of claim that on their own. So that's No. 2.
Applying Your Top 10: Partnerships
Maika Leibbrandt 13:34
And then No. 3 practical idea is to start to wade into the idea of theme dynamics by looking at partnerships within your Top 10. An easy way to do that is to pull the strengths off of the page, either with the Theme Insight Cards, if you're a tactile person and you can switch them around and pile them on top of each other, or even the strengths wheel, which people think they're, they have to have a writable PDF. I'm going to let you in on a secret: It's just a circle. You can draw a circle with 10 pie slices and write your strengths around that circle. Just that visual cue, I think, activates something in your mind where you can notice -- here's the practical piece -- start easy. Start by looking for which of your own strengths are partnering together, and just look for twosies. Just look for which ones are roommates, you know, which ones always show up together? Which ones amplify each other? Or, like you just heard Jim and I talk about, which ones show up differently in different partnerships that you have?
Maika Leibbrandt 14:43
Jim, you and I both share Ideation, and we can brainstorm with the best of them. And we've learned enough about each other to have these free-flowing conversations about "What if?" and to not force ourselves to, like, decide by the top of the hour. We know that whatever sticks to the wall will come up next time. But again, the difference is that my Ideation has Strategic, and yours has Activator and Arranger. And so I think the practical tip around that is ultimately where you want to go with all 10 is giving somebody, not just 10 labels in a line that describe the tool to them, but giving them 10 clues that describe the rest of their magnificence, so that they can weave that together in, in a statement of who they are, what they bring, and what they need in order to bring it.
Strengths Supporting Strengths: Pairs and Clusters
Jim Collison 15:34
I love how you kind of think through this idea of theme dynamics. We, you and I, spent all Season 2 of Theme Thursday -- so if you just go out and Google Theme Thursday, Gallup Season 2, you can go watch those. And we spend a lot of time thinking about those together. But what I was imagining as you were talking about this, Maika, it's a scenario where I take something from my Top 5 and pair it to my Top 10, intentionally. Now, is there any magic to that? No, I'm just choosing some arbitrary numbers to do that. But I think about, you know, how does my No. 1 Arranger and my No. 7 Ideation -- we've been talking a lot about that. And I could even, I'd bring Positivity into that as well, which is No. 6. But how did those two, so when I'm trying to support all of these things going on at the same time, how else can I use Ideation to uplift and support that Arranger, right? How can, how can I bring that in, to provide that support?
Jim Collison 16:26
And I guess that's really the word I'm thinking of, and being very intentional about it in a writing or a talking or whatever your learning-mode style is, to begin to think about, What am I leading with? And then what themes am I using to support those? And maybe even building some maps. You could mind map that, right, where you kind of map that -- How are these all supporting each other? And how are they doing it practically? Not just in what we wish, but how are they actually doing that? I don't know, do you want to add anything to that, Maika?
Maika Leibbrandt 16:56
Oh, my gosh, at, well, I just want to, like, tell people to go back. Because Jim's the, one of the best coaches out there. It's a, it's a well-kept secret how good you are at this, Jim. But I'm thinking about a couple of clients who I have -- one of them in particular, I've been coaching for quite a while. And I'm always blown away in admiration at how often it will bring back his Top 10. And so it's, it really has become a tool that he can use to say, You know what, I have all of these at my disposal. Right now, I need to recluster them and see how maybe this one plus this one is really what's showing up for me. And not just to name that, but to say, OK, what does that mean I need to double down on? What does that, how does that mean I need to take a different approach, perhaps, than just effort?
Maika Leibbrandt 17:44
When you look at that -- I mean, I did not do the math, but now I'm thinking I should have, of how many possible pairs show up just in your Top 10. And, and realizing that you, you actually do have everything you need. But that also might mean you have everything you need to ask for help. Right? I've recently been leaning into this idea that your strengths are stronger and your weaknesses are weaker than you realize, which is why you need, you need partners and coaches and people to help you and still, Jim, to your idea here that, you know, how can I shuffle the deck a little bit and look at different approaches that I may have within me already? That could help you understand how to show up as a great partner.
Jim Collison 18:26
Yeah, you did an exercise, and you alluded to this, that Curt used to do all the time -- Curt Liesveld, who was my partner in Theme Thursday in Season 1 -- Curt used to cluster these. And I have a cluster in my Top 10 that's, that's 8, 9 and 10, which is Individualization, Developer and Relator. Right? All of those sit together. Those are all themes, they're all kind of Relationship-oriented themes, right, that help me, actually they help me work with people and be, and do the managing type of things that I do.
Jim Collison 18:56
But that cluster at the bottom, while they may not be the dominant ones, when they're clustered together, they have this incredible ability to do some crazy things, right. And so I guess I'd encourage folks to look, as they're looking beyond their Top 5 and they're adding in 10, or even all 34, to maybe pull those -- and I call them triplets -- but to pull those clusters out as well. And then say some things about them: What does this cluster do for me? Like how does it practically help me actually do something? That's what I call my management cluster. That's the one that allows me to do what I need to do in my community management role today. Maybe many of you in the community didn't know I was using those three; I don't talk about them very much, but I do spend a lot of time thinking about them, because that's what I need. I need those three working in harmony to be able to do what I do -- and a small "h" on the "harmony" there.
Maika Leibbrandt 19:48
So what does that mean, it, when you when you illuminate that, that you've got this cluster around Relationship? How does that serve you? Do you behave differently because you know that?
Jim Collison 19:58
I think sometimes I need to remind myself that I have that. Going into, you know, sometimes in management situations, it's hard, right? It's just when you're, anywhere, anywhere two or more people are gathered, there is conflict. So thinking about that from a perspective of, of, OK, how do I bring, if I've got work to do with people, how do I, how do I bring Individualization in, knowing I've got to custom-build a solution or solve the problem at an individual level? I've got to go one-on-one with them, both from Individualization and Relator, to make sure I'm having those deep, like, I can't custom-build things for them if I don't know them, right, I have to, I also have to know them.
Maika Leibbrandt 20:37
And that's not a universal truth -- like that, is that is for you. There's plenty of people who build things without knowing the customer and do really well. But that wouldn't work for you.
Name, Claim, Aim Strengths
Jim Collison 20:50
It helps for, and for me, it helps for me to get to know them. Then, of course, having that, wanting to see them grow. Like that's the motivation, right? I want to see them grow in this. And so it just gives me that ability to kind of cluster those together in my, you know, in my Top 10 to kind of work, work in a way that's effective, that's successful for me. What else, Maika? What else do you want to -- ?
Maika Leibbrandt 21:14
Jim, I think it's a, it's worth noting that what you're suggesting we can do around this comes back to a framework we already know as coaches, which is, Name, Claim and Aim. You know, you naming that cluster -- and I see Lynn in the chat says, you know, Where can I find out more about the clusters? This is not necessarily, there's not a right or wrong to it. That's something that you need to name. You know, what clusters are you noticing right now? Within my Top 10, there's some interesting ones that tend to hang out together that I'm not sure a coach on the page could pull out. But, I mean, my Strategic-Communication-Belief -- that is 1, 4 and 10.
Maika Leibbrandt 21:56
On paper, those don't look like a cluster. But for me, I can absolutely tell you that that is my storytelling soapbox cluster of, and so it's a concept. It's a concept that isn't out of the blue. It is an extension of Name your talent; Claim why it's valuable -- Jim's example of, Oh yeah, I remember I have this, and I remember, it's gonna serve my customers. And I remember that I'm -- Aim -- going to have to do this before I can run really hard. I'm going to have to individualize before I can achieve. That's how we keep coming back to the, the really great foundation that you already know how to do with people.
Jim Collison 22:35
Yeah, I love what you just said there. Because I think sometimes we get, when we start saying there's universal, these universal clusters, we use them as crutches instead of using them as success tools. And you define that cluster for you. This is part of that Name, Claim and Aim, right? Saying, Hey, for me, this is how my cluster works. There are some, there are some that naturally come together often -- I think, you know, Woo-Communication-Positivity is another one of those triplets that we see fairly often. But I want to challenge you to get away from this idea of a list and really dig in, either for yourself or for individuals, to say, How is this, how's this working for them? Nancy asks this great question out in chat. She says, In my Top 10 I have mostly Thinking themes -- Maika, we hear this all the time; insert name of domain here, right -- How do I balance that with maybe the lack of Relationship Building themes in that? Now, when we get more themes, when we look at 10, that starts evening itself out a little bit, but --
Page 21 of Your Full 34 Report
Maika Leibbrandt 23:33
Or it doesn't. There's plenty of people where it doesn't. If you have the Full 34 report, a fascinating place to look is page 21. That's, it looks like the periodic table of all -- your Top 10 strengths are colored in across the 4 Domains of Leadership. If you're not familiar with our conversation here, within the 34, there are 4 classifications that each one falls into one of. Strategic Thinking describes -- is what Nancy leads with, sounds like -- describes people who are at their best when they've studied the problem. Now, depending on which Strategic Thinking strength you're working with, it might be slow, it might be fast; it might be heady, it might be out loud; it might be about the future or the past. So you can see how quickly this becomes hyperpersonalized.
Maika Leibbrandt 24:18
But we also have Relationship Building, Influencing and Executing. And I want to gently remind us not to chase your tail. Balancing across the 4 Domains is solving for the tool, not pinning it to a, to a goal that matters to you. Probably a truth, if you lead with Thinking themes, is that you're going to solve problems by thinking through them. In and of itself, not having Relationship Building themes does not present a problem. Now you might ask, How do you build relationships? And it might be that you study people. It might be that you think about people. But these 4 Domains even themselves are not expectations; they are explanations.
Jim Collison 25:03
Yeah. Well, we've spent all this time saying how new, how unique we are. And then we try to use the domains to make us to, "Oh, I gotta have them! They have to all be the same."
Maika Leibbrandt 25:13
I need them all. I need them all.
Jim Collison 25:15
Yeah. And you're like, Oh, why did we just, you know, why did we just do that? So think through that. Maika, in the one minute that we have left -- and gosh, 30 minutes goes so fast. Anything you want to wrap this up? We are really at the end; it goes super fast.
Three Key Points About Talent Themes 6-10
Maika Leibbrandt 25:29
I mean, Reilly was really telling us in the private chat, like you two, stop talking! Yes, in classic teacher style, I'm going to tell you what I just told you. Three main points: 1) Strengths 6 through 10 matter, but only if you're looking at them in alignment with the philosophy of strengths. Focus more on who you are than who you're not. If you're looking at 6 through 10 to somehow prove that you have everything, you should probably start over. Let go of strengths hoarding. And that, you know, when we try to be everything, I think it stems from this -- it's a different flavor of people-pleasing. You have power in just one of your strengths. You don't need 10. You have them. And knowing what they are will illuminate more of what you already knew to be true about yourself. So, so stand in that power and take that back from instead thinking that you have to be all things to all people, double down on who you already are. So 6 through 10 matter, if you can do it in that way.
Maika Leibbrandt 26:27
No. 2: Consider theme dynamics. Last week, I was with a brilliant group of leaders, and one, or a few of the people in the group, one of them was a Certified Coach; a few of them had some experience with strengths, and most of them were new to it. And I noticed that there was this beginner mindset to want to talk about each strength as a singular experience. And we went around the table, and everybody sort of described how these different pieces, their different strengths, eventually added up to who they were. And we came around, and thankfully, magically, the, the Certified Coach in the group went last. And when he described how he showed up, it was such a different experience. It wasn't just looking at, How do I clip together the different Lego blocks? But Hey, I've built a tower. And I'm going to tell you who I am as one being, and not as 10 pieces of a person. So that is where you can get to. And there's beauty in that. It's, it's very often why it's a great idea to find a coach, because they're trained to be able to see the, the links between your strengths and the theme dynamics. So the easy way to do that is to start with, with pairs. And we also talked today about clusters. So we'll throw that in there as well.
Maika Leibbrandt 27:44
And my third big point is, Don't, don't get too hung up on the numbers. Make it easy on yourself. If you can only remember one of your top strengths, focus on that one. And think about what that means for you. If you can remember, you know, if 10 is what you're ready for, or 7 or 12, that's brilliant too.
Jim Collison 28:02
Thank you so much for listening to today's episode of the CliftonStrengths Podcast. Make sure you like and subscribe wherever you listen, so you never miss an episode. And if you're really enjoying this podcast, please leave a review. This helps us promote strengths globally.
Maika Leibbrandt's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Strategic, Positivity, Woo, Ideation and Adaptability.