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Called to Coach
Nuances of Coaching CliftonStrengths® in the DEI Space
Called to Coach

Nuances of Coaching CliftonStrengths® in the DEI Space

Webcast Details

  • How can you include those who are often excluded, even if you don't have Includer in your Top 5?
  • What does it mean to have a balance of empathy and curiosity to connect with others?
  • What practical steps can you take to diversify your network and your coaching?

Gallup Called to Coach Webcast Series -- Season 10, Episode 21.

Below are audio and video plus a transcript of the conversation, including time stamps.


How can coaches include people who have been excluded in the past -- in their workshops, in their networks, in their coaching? How does balancing empathy and curiosity help us tackle unconscious bias? How can managers and organizational leaders include others and help them feel valued? And what role can our CliftonStrengths play in these efforts? Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach Rosann Santos, with 25 years of experience in higher education, public speaking and coaching, has answers that will help you become more aware of the excluded and marginalized, give you practical help on including them, and help you be more intentional and deliberate in the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion space.


It's really hard to ask someone to view others from a strengths lens instead of a deficit lens and to understand where they're coming from, when no one has done that for them.

Rosann Santos, 5:14

Coaching around unconscious bias is really not meant to shame anyone; it's ... meant to meet people where they are, help them understand why these unconscious ... behaviors exist, and then provide a place for personal awareness.

Rosann Santos, 18:21

Success is not comfortable, because you have to constantly push yourself into areas of discomfort and high risk in order to make that success.

Rosann Santos, 44:27

Jim Collison 0:00
I am Jim Collison, and this is Gallup's Called to Coach, recorded on May 4, 2022.

Meet Our Guest on This Episode

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 on our live page -- -- and you want to join us in the chat, there's a link right above me there. It'll take you to the YouTube page where the chat is. We'll be taking your questions live. Today, that'll be super important. We, we'd love to have your questions. If you're listening after the fact or as a podcast, you can always send us your questions to Don't forget to subscribe on your favorite podcast app and never miss an episode. Rosann Santos is our host -- is our guest today. Rosann's professional background spans 25 years in the higher education space, public speaking and private coaching. Her higher education experience is diverse and includes alumni relations and fundraising, enrollment management, student affairs and assessments, first-generation students, residents and student life. It sounds like, Rosann, you've been pretty busy. She's also been an adjunct professor in Latin American history and is a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach. Her Top 5 include Woo, Includer, Communication, Ideation and Arranger. Rosann, thanks for coming on Called to Coach. Great to have you!

Rosann Santos 1:34
Thank you for having me. I'm excited to be here with you today.

Jim Collison 1:37
Well, we are so glad you're here. Let's get to know you a little bit. What's the -- give us the, you know, nobody likes to hear me read the bio. So how about we hear it kind of from you. Give us a little bit about, about your background.

Rosann Santos 1:49
Sure. So I am born and raised New Yorker from the Bronx. And my parents are immigrants from the Dominican Republic, but I was born here, grew up in a bilingual household. And if you listen to my mother say it, she says I've been talking since I was 2, and I, and I haven't stopped yet. So hence, Communication; hence, Woo; hence, Includer and all of those great strengths that I love. And actually have started to monetize a bit with my coaching skills and my public speaking skills. I've been in higher ed, as you said, over 20 years, all in New York State. And it's been a great, great ride. I love my work. I love working with students of all ages and backgrounds. And it's just been a really, really satisfying type of work to see people really change their lives, their social standing, their, their quality of life, just with 4 years of an education. It's me -- it's so meaningful, and --

Jim Collison 2:54
I love the college space. It's an area I worked in with internships, and I just love that age. And it's a great opportunity to work with students. And there's, they have so many fresh ideas. They haven't been beaten down quite yet, in some cases, you know, from the culture, and, and they're excited about the future. So it's always a great place to be. Tell us a little bit about you've been a Certified Coach for a while, and, and tell us about how do you use, just give us a sneak peek in how you're using the CliftonStrengths framework in some of your coaching.

Rosann Santos 3:27
First of all, I don't even meet with them until they do the assessment. I send them the code; they do the assessment. And our very first meeting is always trying to introduce them to their strengths. What surprised them? And if they weren't surprised, how are they using those strengths? What are the ones that are really creating yearning, right? And that's really how I get started. I really talk about the importance of viewing yourself and others from a strengths-based lens, hence the assessment, versus viewing yourself and others from a deficit lens. And I think that line alone, when people get it, it really can change the dynamic of a room, of a meeting, of a relationship. When you're looking at people from their strengths, like oh, my God, they're really just Discipline, they're not controllers, right? It just changes the aura and the feeling about when that person walks in the room.

Jim Collison 4:28
Tell us a little bit about your experience with CliftonStrengths and diversity, as we think about working with, with diverse audiences. How has that experience been for you, just not from a surface level, just as we give folks some context here. Can you give, give me a little insight to that?

Rosann Santos 4:45
Yeah, well, I have to admit that from the, from my experience from a DEI space, it's challenging. It's challenging to tell someone, It's important for you to view the world from a base of, place of strength instead of deficits, when they have been beat down. It could be anything. It's not just race and gender; it can be ability, disability; it can be skill set; it could be GED versus Ivy League. And it's really hard to ask someone to view others from a strengths lens instead of a deficit lens and to understand where they're coming from, when no one has done that for them. So it can be very challenging. So I like to start, really, with just OK, so then let's just start with ourselves. You know, I know what I don't like about myself. I look at myself in the mirror, I know what's in the wrong place. But that's irrelevant. I need to be able to walk out of this house every day, and understand that I have even more to be appreciative, even more importantly, my strengths are what show through, not what's wrong with me.

Rosann Santos 5:51
So go ahead, look at yourself for 5 seconds in the day, get it out of the way, and then bring those strengths in and let that fuel your day, because it's much more refreshing. Well, I'm a Woo, you know, like it or not, I'm coming. I'm coming into that room, I'm, you know, high, high extrovert. And in places where folks might be like, it's a little bit too much, I really lean into it and show how that has allowed to be successful.

Jim Collison 6:24
For the, for the minority who may be chasing the majority, right, in the sense of, they've got to work extra hard for opportunities; they've got to, they've, they've always felt like, maybe it was twice as much work. Do they, and you say those, does it take extra, extra time to convince them or in that process? Because it's, you know, there's some, there's some inherent difficulties going in coaching to that, in those difficulties. How do you approach that? Or do you approach it differently?

Rosann Santos 6:57
So I think everyone has, is a little bit different. But that being said, you know, when you're talking about people of color, particularly the Black community and the Hispanic community, these are folks who have been coached all their lives to be 2, 3, 4 times as good as everyone else. And, you know, I was trying to think, what example can I use to really bring the point home? And I can't get away from the Supreme Court hearings with Ketanji Jackson Brown. The kinds of questions that she was being asked versus other Supreme Court justices about what are her LSAT scores. Like, really? You've made it this far, and people want to know your LSAT scores from 30 years ago? It's probably not even the same test. Right? She was asked, "Well, what's your definition of a woman?" OK. She was asked, "Do you think more or less murderers should be incarcerated?" And I'm reading the transcripts. And I'm like, I can't believe that these educated folks are asking these kinds of questions. But I think it goes to that point: She has to be 10 times better in spite of her Harvard background, her Law Review background, her experience on the bench, and I'm sure she was coached that way.

Rosann Santos 8:20
So how do you then take a client who has been told his or her whole life, You have to be 10 times better? I'm being 10 times better, and I'm still experiencing x at work, or x in the classroom. Right? So I think the main thing that I have to do is A) Listen. Never, never turn down what someone says to you and say, "Oh, they don't really mean it that way." It could be that you're misinterpreting. You know, you never want to do that. Because, for all you know, while you're getting to know this person, you may not know yet that they've experienced this at every industry they've been in or every company. So it might be the first time at this company. But it's like that straw that broke the back, right? So it's really important to listen with empathy, and then take that empathy and then ask the questions. I think it's really important that you have a balance of the empathy and curiosity. You don't want more than one; you want a balance of the two.

Jim Collison 9:25
Well, we're not too far away from talking about you. Ken's got a good question coming out of the chat room. He says, Can you give an example of how your Includer instincts showed up in a DEI situation, and, and what did you do?

Rosann Santos 9:39
That's a great question. And I'm gonna just kind of reach back into my childhood a little bit, because I am that kid who didn't want to see anyone sitting by themselves in the cafeteria, much to the dismay of the other girls at my table. I went to an all-girls school, and it was a relatively popular crowd. But that didn't matter to me, because of my personality and my demeanor. And so I would use that Includer in me, and it's like, "Why are you sitting here alone? Come talk to us. Come get to know everyone." And of course, like I said, much to the dismay of the other girls at the table. And that is a DEI space.

Rosann Santos 10:22
You know, diversity, again, is not only about gender and race, though it's very prevalent, but it's about the popular kids and the geeky kids, and who are those kids? And, you know, the consequences of that divide at those formative years, we all know, has been quite detrimental to our children and our teenagers in this country. And so that's just another example of how I personally have dealt with it in situations. And I would use that example to challenge a client to be courageous and include those that they're noticing are not being included in the workplace, in the classroom, once again, whatever space that they find themselves in.

Keeping Your Eyes Open for Those Who Are Excluded: Theme-Weaving

Jim Collison 11:11
What kind of advice -- I don't have high Includer. And I run a million miles an hour, and sometimes I run over the top of those kinds of things. So could you give me some advice, as we, you know, as we think about looking for those opportunities, for those of us who can't do it naturally, what advice would you give to me, as far as, you know, keeping my eyes open for those being excluded?

Rosann Santos 11:36
Oh, that's such a good, that's a good question! I think, I really do believe a lot in the StrengthsFinder and the science behind it. And this idea that we find our Top 5 and we weave -- you have Includer somewhere, Jim. You know, it's there; it's just, it's defined a little bit different, it manifests a little bit different. I have a hard time thinking that anyone will feel, would feel excluded around you. So there's something already going on in your theme weaving, that the Includer is already there. You know, the obvious ones are literally if someone's sitting alone in the cafeteria, right? Or even when someone new comes to, is hired and being onboarded, simple -- sending an email of welcome. I'm Rosann. I saw through LinkedIn that you just got this job at our company. Let me know if you ever want to have coffee. I'll give you, you know, I'll give you the ins and outs. That's an easy one, right? And you have Woo. So I'm sure that will be an easy email for you to send. Right.

Rosann Santos 12:39
And for folks who are introverted, I think that also would work, because they prefer kind of that one-on-one getting to know each other. Me, I would probably throw a networking party for all the new people, you know, in my Woo extroverted self. But there's different ways to do this, to do it, when the outcome would be really the same.

Jim Collison 13:00
I do have a natural tendency to not -- early on in conversations, not engage as much as I could when I'm seeing those things. One of the things I did is I just found Includer friends, who I said, "Hey, look, this doesn't work for me very well. I'm going to need your help." Early on, bring these folks in. Once they're in, it's fine.

Rosann Santos 13:21
Yes, a tag team.

Jim Collison 13:22
But yeah, for me, that's, that is particularly one of those areas I would need to partner with people to say, Hey, look, I'm going to be running a million miles an hour. I actually need you to be checking me to make sure -- I don't do it on purpose. But you just get rolling, you kind of get rolling, and you're like, Oh, I get more process-oriented than I get people-oriented. And so it's an opportunity to kind of overlook some, some folks. You had said a comment a few minutes ago that Lisa'd like some clarification on. She says, Can you clarify what you said about balancing empathy and curiosity? I never thought about having to balance those. Some thoughts on that?

Balancing Empathy and Curiosity

Rosann Santos 13:57
Yeah, thank you, Lisa. And I should have expanded on it. So I do a lot of work around unconscious bias. I have a certification in it. I do a lot of training and public speaking around it. And in some of the work I've done, and actually in the book that you can see behind me, The Leader's Guide to Unconscious Bias, there's a whole section that really studies and talks about the importance of having a balance between curiosity and empathy in order to cultivate connection. So let me give you an example.

Rosann Santos 14:28
And I'll give you an example that actually I was listening to the Cultural Competence Podcast, and they actually talked a little bit about this example, and that is hair in the workplace. Right? And if you have been really listening to what's been going on, that's an example that's often used, like, this fascination with Black women's hair or Latina women's curls and things like that. And so there is a high level of curiosity from the community of folks who don't have hair like that, where they just kind of like, Oh my God, can I touch it? Is it soft? What do you do? How do you -- it's a high level of curiosity, which isn't necessarily coming from a malicious place. But the person receiving all of that curiosity is like, Whoa. Now, toss in an equal amount of empathy. Right? And it's like, you know, I am really interested in learning more about where you're from. And I often notice that you have the most amazing hairstyles. Can you, you know, what, what do you do? How do you find the time? Because I can barely find the time to do my hair, and it's relatively easy. So you see, it's kind of like treating others how they want to be treated. And you see how the empathy and the curiosity are a little bit more balanced.

Rosann Santos 15:51
And I'll give you one more example that might be a little bit easier. And that is, you have a lot of empathy. It's the holiday season, you want to send a box of toys to your local children's wing in the hospital. You just are like, Oh, I'm just gonna go to Walmart, and I'm gonna buy 100 stuffed animals. You pack up the box, and you send it to your local hospital. Lots and lots and lots of empathy; zero curiosity. Because if you were curious, and you had an equal amount of empathy and curiosity, you would have called the hospital and said, "What kind of toys do the kids need? What should I send?" Because the reality of stuffed animals is that they're not very hygienic. So if you're sending it to a children's ward, they're probably very ill. And you probably only get one use out of those stuffed animals, because the nurses are not going to stick them in a washing machine so that other kids can use them. So does that make sense? Does that help with the understanding of the balance between the two?

Tackling Unconscious Bias

Jim Collison 16:49
Yeah, yeah. No, I like it. And I think it's some extra thought that, again, I get in, I get in Activator overdrive. And I'm just thinking without thinking, right? It's like I'm following some patterns. I want to, I want to spend a little more time on this idea of unconscious bias, because we've been talking about it a lot over the last couple years, and I think in a good way. When you think about bringing that to coaching, what is, what, what's the good in that? And what's the bad in that? What are we doing good? What are we doing well? (I should use good English there.) What are we doing well, and what are we doing not so well in those areas, when it comes to unconscious bias? And maybe define that a little bit before we, before you say that?

Rosann Santos 17:31
Sure. So unconscious bias really is a preference. It's just preference. We get into danger when those preferences are around issues of race and gender, sexual orientation, disability awareness, but it's a preference. And one of the most benign examples I like to use is left-handedness. There's a preference in the world for right-handedness, just because the majority of us are that. It's not necessarily malicious that I set up my desk for a right-handed person, not knowing you were coming in to use the desk as a left-handed person, right. And I'm, and I'm using that simple language because I want to, I want people to understand that training around unconscious bias, coaching around unconscious bias is really not meant to shame anyone; it's really meant to meet people where they are, help them understand why these unconscious or subconscious or implicit behaviors exist, and then provide a place for personal awareness. Right?

Rosann Santos 18:41
Because once that awareness is clear, you can actually start to pivot and make some changes, right. So once you know now that you're going to share a desk with a left-handed person, you'll start to be a little bit more mindful so that that person can sit at the desk after you're done with it, and be a little bit more at ease and ready to start their day. Right? And again, a very benign example. So that's unconscious bias. And I think, so I don't know that I want to use good or bad, because a lot of coaching opportunities are very private. So I don't know that coaches are bad or good. I do think that it's really, really important to accept what a client is telling us about what they're experiencing around bias, microaggressions, and not shoo it off like, Oh, what, could you have misunderstood? Maybe you're just being a little too sensitive, or, you know, those are all trigger words for folks who have been experiencing bias their whole lives. Right. So I would say, again, really doing our research about who our client is demographically, not expecting the client to educate us on their historical background or ethnic, ethnic background; maybe we should do that research and be prepared for the person who's paying us. Right.

Rosann Santos 20:11
And then the second thing I would say, when we're coaching managers and leaders, I think that's where we have a great opportunity to really make a difference around this idea of unconscious bias, because I mean, Gallup wrote the book, It's the Manager, right? So when, if we have opportunities to coach managers, leaders, people who supervise, they really need to channel their Includer in wherever their theme-weaving is happening, right? Because it's really important for them to be able to address any situations that come their way around bias. And it's important for them to be coached in a way that allows them to find the courage to have those hard conversations. And I would say as coaches, that's really where we can make a difference.

Connecting With the Marginalized

Jim Collison 21:04
How does unconscious bias play in -- so when we think about the two worlds of that, and someone getting their Top 5 or All 34 and reading these definitions that we have, and then blend, blending the two -- and not, and it's probably not on the bias side, but thinking more on the culture side. So I come to these Top 5, this Top 5 language. I come to this CliftonStrengths language through the lens of my own culture, how I grew up, where I grew up, right. Talk a little bit about, because I think sometimes -- and, and this is gonna tie into Robyn's question a little bit here about, you know, if you're not a member of the marginalized community and conducting workshops for those who come from one, how would you recommend they connect with the participants? You just said, kind of do a little research on that. Talk a little bit about some strategies about that, that viewing the Top 5 through the eyes of their own culture. Certainly, I can't do, I can't do that. But as a coach, how could I, how can I do that better?

Rosann Santos 22:08
So it's gonna sound kind of obvious, but just icebreakers and conversation around them. What does it mean to be a Latina woman with such high Woo and Communication? Right? And, so I've grown up in this country, so it hasn't been much of an issue, but maybe in some other communities, in some other immigrant communities, that's not such a good thing. Right? It may not be. And I think it would be important to ask a group that you're doing a workshop on, How does your, how do your Top 5 strengths benefit or challenge the community that you come from? I think that would be a really great way to kind of break some ice.

Rosann Santos 22:57
And, you know, there are some communities where women are expected to be passive. They're supposed -- they're like, like, children: You're spoken to, you speak when you're spoken to. So what does that mean to have Communication in an upbringing that doesn't necessarily value it from a woman? And this, I'm just giving kind of broad-stroke examples. And I think that might be a really intriguing way and a real way to get everyone to sit up and listen -- like, Oh, wow, what an interesting question! And then making it a safe space, making sure people know that this is a safe space and that they can participate as they choose. They may not want to at the moment. But I think those are the types of questions that I like to really dig into -- letting them define it for you, not making assumptions.

Jim Collison 23:47
Have you ever run into an experience where the, the assessment itself or the results of the assessment as they're reading through their Theme Insight Report or the standard definitions has gone countercultural for them, where they may feel they're being misrepresented in that? Or there's been experiences culturally that have led them to take offense? I don't, I don't really know how to say that --

Rosann Santos 24:11
I haven't. I have to admit, I have not had that experience. I think, you know, you lay out the assessment in such a positive, fun way, that by the time they take it, they're excited to come to the table. So I've done this a lot for teams in higher ed. So for example, a team that works for one particular vice president or the communications team at a college. So actually, by the time they take this, the test and they're dying to see the team grid, right, because they really do want all the best. They want to know how to better understand their colleagues. Nobody wants to be grumpy at work for real, you know; we want to know that that person is Discipline. They're a compliance person; they're dot their i's and cross their t's, not that they're a controller, you know, and they're here to make our lives miserable. No, they want to know how to better interpret the people they work with, so that they can have a more harmonious place to work.

Rosann Santos 25:31
So I personally have not had a negative experience; quite the opposite. People are really fascinated. The one place that I, that I have had, I don't know if it's a negative experience, but something that oftentimes women will say to me, particularly women of color, "Well, I was taught to be humble." And so in some way, some of these strengths maybe don't jibe with this idea of humility in some way, shape or form in their brains. And so I've had to work through that -- this idea of humility and using your strengths. Sometimes it just doesn't jibe or connect for certain people. But that's, but I wouldn't necessarily call that negative. But it is something that we've had to work through, because this idea of humility really doesn't allow me to be a Woo. You know, if I'm humble, then maybe a Woo is not humble, which is not true. I think, like anything else, there's a time and a place for humility, and that's how we kind of work through it.

Jim Collison 24:45
There are some cultures outside of the United States that see, as a culture, see humility as a preference. And in some cases, if you get bold, like Americans, especially those from the United States, say, you know, Oh, you're being, you know, you're being an American, I see, as you're, right, standing out. And so you can see those even, you can, I think you can even see some of that through the frame of culture, seeing Woo through the culture of humility.

Rosann Santos 26:46
Yeah. And that's an unconscious bias.

Wisdom in Addressing Bias -- How and When

Jim Collison 26:48
Yeah, exactly. I mean, it's, I think it's that place to really talk through then. I think it gives us the ability to kind of have some conversation. Speaking of conversation, Lisa's calling me out a little bit. She says, These examples are really gentle, Rosann. She says, Is Rosann giving us gentle examples because of this context (because you're on Called to Coach)? And when do you lean in and be direct about bias?

Rosann Santos 27:14
That's a great question! I, probably a little bit of both. You know, I want to introduce bias in a way that doesn't turn people off. So that's very important to me. And there's some very different conversation if you want to talk about antiracism; they're very different. And I think another thing, you know, I'm gonna keep referencing the book, The Leader's Guide to Unconscious Bias, one of the things they, that I learned from that study and, and that work is that boldness in bias and addressing bias really depends on where you are in the system. So there's careful courage and there's bold courage. So where are you in the system? And which one of those can you choose?

Rosann Santos 28:02
So again, let's go back to, OK, I'll be a little bolder in my example. So if I am experiencing microaggressions at work, and I go to Jim -- he's a White man. And I'm like, Jim, you know, I had a very, I want to talk through this experience with you. And I think this experience was both sexist and racist. Right. And so I could potentially take the courage to address, to address it and confront the person. But what if that person is higher up in the hierarchy, and I can't afford to lose my job? And maybe this person will retaliate? So Jim, who is my White male supervisor, might have the ability to be boldly courageous to confront and assist me in this process, versus myself, I'm being carefully courageous by having a one-on-one with Jim.

Rosann Santos 29:11
So it depends on where you are. Right? Do you have tenure, or did you just walk in the door 5 minutes ago? And it's all very, you know, this is, this takes work. This is not something that a 1-hour conversation is going to settle. And I think we have to give ourselves a little bit of grace; we have to give others grace, which is much harder to do, especially, like I said, if you've been experiencing these microaggressions throughout your entire career, or, or if you've been experiencing sexual harassment for many years.

Rosann Santos 29:43
You know, I've experienced sexual harassment, but it was just myself and the gentleman who owns the store. Who was I going to address it to? I had to quit. You know, and this was something that happens, which was also an ageist issue; I was only 19 years old. Right. So I felt powerless. And I just essentially made a decision to quit. What else could I do? I wasn't going to sit there for that abuse. And I certainly wasn't going to allow it to get to a place where it could be dangerous for me. And so I just had to find another job. So that's, I didn't have, I did not, I couldn't be boldly courageous there. Because it was just two of us in the office, and I was the odd man out -- or the odd woman out, in this case. So that's a really serious situation where I couldn't address the bias or the discrimination in a way where I was going to feel safe, no matter what I do.

Coaching Diversity in the Higher Ed vs. the Business World

Jim Collison 30:40
Sure, sure. Coaching diversity in the college setting, versus coaching diversity in the enterprise or business or whatever, executive teams. How's that different? And if I'm, if I'm a coach in that, what kind of advice would you give me? Because neither are easy, but talk a little bit about that.

Rosann Santos 31:05
So I actually, I don't think there's that much of a difference. I'm going to go on a limb and say higher ed is very much a high-level corporation in the nonprofit world, as oxymoronic as that might sound. If you're in a, higher ed has its own C-suite. You know, you have a president. You have vice presidents. You have deans. You have provosts. That's our version of a C-suite. And there is nothing about higher ed, though higher ed might think they're above it, these things happen in the higher ed space, just as they happen in the corporate space.

Rosann Santos 31:40
The only, my experiences are that the only difference is I have worked at many institutions that are unionized. So the, no matter what you feel about union politics, there is a level of protection there. I don't know if that's the same for all corporations; there is some, you know, I know that oftentimes, facilities folks, and like custodial folks may be unionized. And I would say that's where some of the differences I personally have experienced are. Some of my colleagues can be very bold, because they're in the union and/or they have tenure, versus corporate is like you're there at the pleasure of, right. I can just fire you for cause. And that may not be as easy in a higher ed space because you know you have students. And students, when they love someone, they will go to bat, they will protest, they will walk out of class for those people. And I'm not so sure that that happens in the corporate space.

Rosann Santos 32:40
So if you're talking about moving up in higher ed and coaching people who are in the staff space, I don't think it's necessary to approach it that much differently than the corporate space. If you're talking about training faculty and staff about bias towards students, because if you have 15,000 students at a school, who knows what you got -- it's like a box of chocolates, right? You never know what you're gonna get. You have to know as an administrator, front-line, and behind the scenes as a faculty member in the classroom, you have to know how to work with and be unbiased toward your students. The LGBT+ community is a perfect example, the transgender community, perfect example. If we really care about higher ed and the education of our kids, they're -- I know they're not kids -- but if we really care about moving the needle and getting folks to a place in their financial lives with degrees, I mean, degrees make such a difference, then learn to speak to the LGBT+ community. And don't wait for them to teach you; let's do a little research. Let's get a little training. What do our LGBTQ+ students or staff need from us as leaders, so that they feel like they belong?

Leaders and Diverse Workforces Coming Together

Jim Collison 33:56
Do you think, in the corporate space, you know, where leadership -- and I think, sometimes I, you know, I, I'm as we've been thinking through this the last couple of years, I've been thinking it through from a global perspective. Here in the United States, we have a microcosm, and we kind of think it only, it's only happening here in the U.S. And every country around the world has some form of minority-majority battle that goes on. As we think about coaching, maybe where an executive team may be in the privileged or in the minority -- in the majority space, and the minority space are the, are the workers, and those two working together from a strengths perspective. What kind of advice can you give both ways, helping those groups really come together and work together?

Rosann Santos 34:48
I think it always is going to come back to those who are managing the minority group. If you're the manager, and you have power over whether those folks can work there and get a paycheck, then I believe the onus falls on that group to really be trained to understand who is the demographic that is their staff. Right. Some industries have a large number of front-line workers that are from a particular demographic, a particular race, a particular gender. And so it is really the responsibility of those managers, those supervisors, those leaders to understand who they're supervising, and then to provide those folks with the safe space to say, Hey, this happens. We need to talk about it as a team, so that it doesn't happen again. And so that there are learning opportunities here. And so that when people come in and are onboarded, they don't hear about the skeletons; that they want to stay here.

Rosann Santos 35:55
Because, let's face it, this is bottom-line stuff. If you have an industry, if you have a company, if you have an office that has a revolving door because people are not feeling valued, in whatever that means to them, that costs a lot of money. HR folks will tell you that onboarding someone and then having them quit within 12 months because they were harassed or they felt they were dealing with microaggressions. And you know, our younger populations, they're not standing for it, the way us 50- 60-, 40-year-olds -- we're like, We have to stay here. We got kids to raise; we got colleges to pay for. Our young 20-somethings, Well, I know I'm better than this; I'll leave. And they're right. I admire their courage and their point of view and philosophy around this whole workspace. You know, I didn't have that kind of courage when I was in my 20s.

Diversifying Your Network and Your Coaching

Jim Collison 36:56
Lisa asks a good question out there, and I'm gonna kind of phrase it in two ways. She says, I'm very excited about The Leadership Guide to Unconscious Bias. It's hard for me to find leadership books that are written by people other than, than White men. And that's very true. When you start to look at that, especially in the LinkedIn space, you know, we've, we've become, you know, LinkedIn has kind of become a big self-help culture, an influencing culture, right. And, and it is dominated by, I mean, as you think of the, the names, and I'm not going to name them off. But as we just think about that, how do we, in coaching in particular, how do we keep from falling down that trap of the, the path of least resistance? It's super easy, because -- insert the name of this author who's been super popular with these quippy little sayings that we have, right? How do we break out of that mold, do you think? And let's use the coaching community, maybe, as a, as our microcommunity, to be more, to give other authors an opportunity to have that same space, that same credibility in that space?

Rosann Santos 38:06
Well, I would say, use your network. You know, what kind of -- do a network audit; again, something that I learned from The Leader's Guide to Unconscious Bias. What does the network look like? And I'm gonna date myself here: Who's in your Rolodex, right? Who's in your Rolodex? Is everybody? Who are the 10 people that you go to the most? Do they look like you? Do they sound like you? Is their hair like yours? Do they live in the same ZIP code? And if they do, what can you do to step out of that? And let me tell you, I have been guilty of it. Right. I have been -- my, my mentors, my closest confidants, they look like me. And I think, A) there's nothing wrong with that; I'm not getting rid of them. Because being in spaces where there's not many of us, you do need those folks in your life.

Rosann Santos 38:57
But I have done a lot of work in stepping out of that, because of my ambitions. Right. I want to do certain things where people who look like me are not in that space. So I have to be courageous. And I have to lean into networking, to meet people like Jim, right, to meet people like you to get a voice, to get a space to figure it out, to be introduced to other people outside of my realm. And I think it is such a great exercise. Who are the 10 people who come to you? Right? Who comes to you for everything? Who are you mentoring? The people you're mentoring, do they look like you? How can you diversify the pipeline if you're the CEO, or if you're a manager and you have hiring privileges? Because hiring folks is a privilege.

Rosann Santos 39:50
If you're a recruiter, where are you going to recruit? Are you going to the HBCUs and the HC -- HSIs (Hispanic-Serving Institutions)? Or are you only going to Harvard and Yale? Are you going to community colleges? Are you going to veterans' centers? So all of this -- lean into your strengths and figure out which one of those strengths can really help you diversify your spaces. And I would say all 34 of them have the potential to do that, right? Because that's what our strengths are. We lean into them. And they help us with other areas where there might be some gaps -- or a tag team with someone, right?

Jim Collison 40:33
Do you, do you think as coaches, sometimes, we have the unconscious bias backwards, in the sense that we're choosing our clients based on those who are most comfortable coaching? And therefore it's creating, like, so we say, "Well, my, my audience doesn't have much diversity in it." Well, could that be because we're unconsciously choosing customers that look like us? What do you think about that?

Rosann Santos 40:57
Yes, I think that's one of the key points about unconscious bias -- that we, it's, it's called in-group bias in-group and out-group bias, right? We live in communities, our family members, unless you come from a family of like adopted children, really, we look like everybody in our household. Right? If you're coming, if you have siblings who are from the same parents and things like that, that's very, very possible. But I would say it's really that clients are looking for people, coaches who look like them. I think that's probably more relevant, because think about the conversation that's happening in the mental health space. There's a lot of conversation about how there aren't a lot of Black therapists and psychiatrists out there, because Black folk are looking for Black psychiatrists, Black therapists, Latino therapists, Asian, and they're not, you know, they're not finding them. So I think the other way around is probably a little bit more prevalent.

Jim Collison 41:55
Yeah. Yeah. We, we, you know, just full disclosure, a couple years ago, after George Floyd, I went back and did an inventory of the Called to Coach programs and began to say, Oh, I wonder how we're doing? And we do OK. But it could always be better. And so I changed my mind at that time to say, Hey, I really need to do a better job of representing outside of my culture, because I attract the, you know, that kind of question comes from my own experience of, you know, of, who am I comfortable? Well, it's not like I'm uncomfortable. It's just that it's easier in, when you're in a, in a, you know, in a, in the flow to stick to your culture, it's super easy to do, right.

Jim Collison 42:43
So for 2 years, I thought about doing this, but just thinking about it doesn't actually do anything. I mean, I'm, I'm gonna be. coaches, I want to be really clear with you. Just saying, "Oh, yeah, I'm sensitive to that," doesn't really change things. You actually, and I've had to get pretty aggressive to get outside of, I've had, I've had some folks approach me, but for the most part, I've had to get pretty aggressive about getting diversity. And that's what it's, that's what it's going to take. I can't rest on the fact like, Well, I'll just wait for it to come to me. I've got, I've got to kind of, and I think, I think sometimes too both -- even though you said it's mostly the other way -- I think sometimes too, we've got an opportunity to reach out beyond in our coaching to be more diverse in that. And so we're continuing to work. I got a, we got a long way to go. And it's a tough, this, it's easy saying it. It's, I'm just saying it from experience, it's easy to say it and have empathy for it; it's really hard to do it. Because you're like, the path of least resistance isn't always the road to diversity. Like --

Rosann Santos 43:52
But if you care about it, then you got to step out of that comfort zone. You know, comfort is a four-letter word, right? We know what that means. It really is. I mean, if you ask, let's take the unconscious bias out of it for one second. If you ask all of these high-level leaders, you know, the Warren Buffetts of the world. I forget his name -- the gentleman who, who is the G.E. guy, he's no longer with us. Jack Welch.

Jim Collison 44:20
Yeah, yep.

Rosann Santos 44:22
If you read the stuff that they write, they're like, there's no comfort in this. Success is not comfortable, because you have to constantly push yourself into areas of discomfort and high risk in order to make that success. And we all, maybe I'm naive, but this is part of just my Woo and Includer, I believe that we all just, we all want to be good people. We all want to do our best to do the right thing. Right? And if that's true, then we are going to have to get out of our comfort zones. You know, we're going to have to address our own biases by becoming more self-aware. And we're going to have to address who's in our network; who's not. And, you know, if you really want to do it, you will. It's not hard.

Jim Collison 45:17
Yeah, we, we, we audited our, our Facebook group. At one point, I had some friends go through, say just, let's just take a look at our, at our Facebook group and see who's in it. And the, you know, the Certified Coaches, well not Certified, the Gallup Called to Coach one, the big one, 15,000. And you start to get some pretty uncomfortable, you start to see some pretty uncomfortable patterns, to say, Well, we're gonna have to be intentional. Like you said, we're gonna need to be aware and intentional, and maybe do a little bit of measurement, just so we know. Like, it's one of those kinds of things like, Hey, are we getting, are we getting better diversity? Seeing faces that are different than I've seen before, which is great in there. You know, again, nothing I control, but the culture, the system is built in a way that encourages that. And so we're gonna have to do some, we're gonna have to work extra hard to make sure we're breaking out of that.

Next Steps, Challenges

Rosann Santos 46:12
Yeah, we're smarter than that. We're smarter than a system that is 500 years old. And I would love to answer Lisa's question, What is my next step? What challenges am I tackling? Quite honestly, one of the challenges I was tackling is getting more clientele around the Gallup space. And so what I did, Lisa, was, full transparency, I reached out to Jim. I emailed I said, Can I have 5, 10 minutes of your time? I'd like to kind of talk about how I can get more visibility. And it led to this. So this idea of networking, and really using my Woo to do that, because there's a lot of people who would never take the step to just reach out -- Jim is just a regular guy; he was so nice!

Rosann Santos 47:03
And so for me, I think one of the biggest issues is that I get a lot of questions and inquiries about my coaching from people who look like me. It is hard to make a living, or charge what coaching is worth, to folks that don't quite understand the value of coaching, right? It's not therapy; they understand that therapy, you have to pay for it. It's a medical thing, right. But I think for me, my challenge has been that I would love to coach Latinas in middle management, Black women in middle management who want to make it to that C-suite or that higher ed version of that.

Rosann Santos 47:48
But I think people are still reconciling that this is a service. This is not just having coffee and asking me for advice, because I've trained for this. I've, you know, specialized in this. I've gotten certifications, and my time and my knowledge is valuable. And so that has been really hard for me, because I don't like turning anyone away. And that has been one of my biggest challenges. And I would say that's a big part of my Includer, my Woo, my Communication, I can't stop talking, right. So they get me anyway. They take me to coffee, and they got a free 1-hour session. So I think that's a big challenge for me in building my business.

Rosann Santos 48:28
Also, being in New York City and being in this metropolis, there's so many opportunities, and really trying to figure out the best way to channel them. Because you can get lost around here, you really can. And it's a lot of times who you know. I, you know, who is going to bring me into their corporate space if they don't know me? And so that's why it's so important to put yourself out there, to figure out what in your strengths can help you connect with others? You know, understanding that I have my own unconscious biases around what I'm capable of, or what, or what people will listen to me, and working through all of that and being more courageous around these things.

Jim Collison 49:15
I had forgotten that this has started with an email -- you reaching out to me, and you'd be like, Hey, how do I, how do I get more influence in this space? And we just began to talk, and then I, and I was like, Hey, we should, we should have you on Called to Coach. So you're right, it didn't -- and listen, you and I are built very similar, from a strengths perspective; I think we share four of the Top 6. And so there's, I get that; I understand, you know, I understand that. And many folks have reached out to me when they have something to say, and we can use this as an avenue for them to do that.

Jim Collison 49:46
So excite -- because listen, as soon as you said that, there's a bunch of coaches now who are thinking -- my email box is gonna fill up here this afternoon -- will, or over the next couple of weeks. Ken asks this question. Well, first of all, Ken says, Great talk today. I am looking forward to some more conversation. I thought he had -- no, I had the question. Let me ask you a final question. For you, anything that we missed that you really wanted to make sure we covered today that we didn't get? We danced all around the outline that you and I had, which is the way Woo-Communication works, I think, sometimes. But any other final thoughts on stuff we didn't cover? You can take a peek at that, at that outline.

Being Intentional, Deliberate

Rosann Santos 50:30
So I would say that all of this needs to be intentional and deliberate. I would say those words need to be in there. And it goes back to what Jim was saying, we're just kind of on autopilot. You're an Activator, and you're just kind of moving along. And that's why being intentional and deliberate are crucial to moving the needle in the right direction around the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion space in our country, in our industries, in our schools and our K through 12 and higher ed. It just requires us to get out of our subconsciousness and get into our conscious spaces. Because I've heard, "Oh, it's unconscious, so there's nothing I can do about it." That's incorrect. We have an amazing organ called the brain. And the brain can learn, the brain can change, the brain can pivot. You can change those paradigms with some intentionality and some deliberate action.

Jim Collison 51:34
Yeah, and I think you got to really learn into, lean into your strengths as you're thinking through this, of How can I be intentional? And then how can I use my Top 5? Or how can I use my Top 10 to do what I do best? Ralph mentions, he doesn't have any Woo or Communication, although I don't totally agree with that. But he says he doesn't. Can identify anyway, or he says, I can identify anyway with them getting me and getting their free coaching session for coffee. For him, it's Intellection. And I think that's a great, as we think through our own what, what are those areas where we can be intentional, and then lean into our own gifts in ways that benefit those communities, maybe outside of our current community, right. And, and so it's super exciting for me. I'm, you're a little bit of this intentionality for me of just saying Hey, when people ask me, and they're outside my circles, my circle of influence, I have to say "Yes." Like I have to just say, "Yes," and then make it happen. Right? Do the same, do the same things that, to, like you're saying, to be intentional. So, well, I appreciate it. Any other, I don't want to cut you off, but any other OK, I think that's a --

Rosann Santos 52:47
I appreciate you being intentional and inviting me here today to have a voice, and I look forward to seeing how all of it develops.

Jim Collison 52:54
Well likewise, I appreciate you being intentional and reaching out to me. I'm not sure that's what you were thinking of, but if you were, awesome. as you reached out to me. And, because you never know -- like you said, you never know where those things are gonna go, and I think we've got a great opportunity. The coaching community, the CliftonStrengths coaching community that I manage, I think, has never been in a better place to be able to address some of these issues and coach around this and be bold and courageous, I think, kind of like what you just said, right? Be bold and courageous. Have dialogue with one another. Don't, don't shout at each other about this, but have, have very constructive dialogue with each other around this. I think we can learn a lot from each other. And listen, I'm, I'm learning tons. I -- best thing that ever happened to me is my daughter came home from college for COVID. (I can't say this too loud, because she'll hear me upstairs.) She came home from COVID, and we got to spend a lot of time together, and whoa, did she rock my world on some assumptions that I had that over the course of a couple months would completely change my mind on some things. And she always approached it from kind of an attitude of conversation. She wasn't -- she didn't, she didn't -- she didn't --

Rosann Santos 54:05
She was empathetic, and out of the mouths of babes, right? We got to listen to our kids. They know.

Jim Collison 54:13
I know. It was, it was that March 2020 through her going back to school in the fall. So that would have been September of 2020. Pivotal time for me in thinking through some things. Even today, we had a discussion last night. Her and I went out to dinner. And as we were sitting there, we just, you know, there's a few issues going on here in the United States right now that are worthy of talking about. And so we were spending some time talking about that, and she just was schooling me. And I was like, OK, I'll think about this some more. Right. And so I think we've got that opportunity, especially as coaches, to do that. Well, Rosann, hang on tight for me one second.

Jim Collison 54:52
With that, we'll remind everyone to take full advantage of all the resources we do have available in Gallup Access around CliftonStrengths. Log in --, hit the Resources tab, and just search for them there. There's lots of great things going on. For coaching, master coaching or to become a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach, you can contact us: Don't forget, as you're listening to this right now, we're just about a month away from the Gallup at Work Summit. And if you haven't signed up for that, you probably should. Lowest price ever: $195 gets you; in one low price for everybody. Everybody who's going to be somebody is going to be there. So you will want -- that, that's terrible marketing. You'll want to be there as well. Gallup, You can find us on Facebook:, and any social platform just by searching "CliftonStrengths." We want to thank you for joining us today. Thanks for those who are in the chat room who came out. Rosann, thank you for doing this as well. With that, we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.

Rosann Santos' Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Woo, Includer, Communication, Ideation and Arranger.

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

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