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Called to Coach
Learner®: Developing Your Leadership Skills
Called to Coach

Learner®: Developing Your Leadership Skills

Webcast Details

  • Gallup CliftonStrengths Podcast, Season 2: Learner
  • What is the power of Learner in a leadership role?
  • How could Learner help or hinder you in leading others?

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


Explore Gallup's CliftonStrengths® for Leaders Report and discover its ability to help you maximize the impact of your -- and others' -- unique leadership talents and strengths, in this Season 2 episode of The CliftonStrengths Podcast. Join Jim Collison and Dr. Jaclynn Robinson as they discuss the Learner® theme, its power in a leadership role, how it can help or hinder you as you lead others, and how you can leverage it with the CliftonStrengths for Managers and CliftonStrengths for Sales Reports. Unlock the leadership potential of your Learner talent -- because everyone leads something.


What I love about Learners is they recognize and appreciate that others have different learning styles.

Jaclynn Robinson, 4:09

Younger generations are really driven by organizations that offer learning and development; they're looking for that brain gain. That's something that is naturally more top of mind for you, as someone that loves the opportunity to learn.

Jaclynn Robinson, 16:47

Jim Collison 0:00
I am Jim Collison, and this is The CliftonStrengths Podcast, Season 2, recorded on November 8, 2022.

Jim Collison 0:20
In this CliftonStrengths Podcast series, we'll look at the CliftonStrengths for Leaders Report one theme at a time, and today's theme is Learner. If you're listening live, and you don't see the chat room, there's a link to it right above me. Or if you have questions after the fact, you can always send us an email: Dr. Jaclynn Robinson is our host today. She works as a Gallup Learning and Development Consultant and joined me for Season 1 of The CliftonStrengths Podcast where we looked at Wellbeing at Work for each theme. And Jaclynn, great to have you. Welcome back!

Jaclynn Robinson 0:47

Introducing Learner

Jim Collison 0:49
Today we are spending some time looking at Learner. Can you give us, kind of give us that overview of Learner?

Jaclynn Robinson 0:55
Oh yes. So Learner -- those with Learner, those with Learner high have a great desire to learn and want to continuously improve. The process of learning, rather than the outcome, is what excites these folks.

What Is the Power of Learner in a Leadership Role?

Jim Collison 1:09
Yeah, I think that is the key on Learner is the process piece. Again, different for everyone, right? Because there are those who like process and outcomes, right. Those -- they are there. But I think as we think about this theme, the process orientation of it and the way it likes to do that -- we were just chatting about that some in the, in the midshow, and I wish I had it. I want to have it; I just don't. And I can admit that and like, yeah, no, I'm not, I'm not very good at doing those kinds of things. We are spending a bunch of time thinking about this in the context of leaders and leadership. What's the power of this theme in a leadership role?

Jaclynn Robinson 1:45
So as someone who is a lifelong Learner at heart, someone with this theme, a leader with this theme is more apt to create a culture of learning and development in the workplace. And that is a key factor that draws and retains employees and organizations, based on our Gallup research. So that's a plus. So they're focused on career development plans, continuing education, skills training, mentorship, progress checks -- all of those are likely to be present, formalized and/or encouraged in the workplace.

How Can Those With Learner Lead Others?

Jim Collison 2:16
We think about leadership in the context of an individual through the report, but we also know that leaders don't lead in a vacuum. They don't, if you're not leading someone, or you're not probably a leader. Right. Now, we all have these leadership responsibilities. And we think about leading others. How could this theme be used to lead others, and maybe even through the context of the needs of followers?

Jaclynn Robinson 2:38
Ooh, yes. So a leader with this theme can back their strategic vision with the why. When employees know the context and the why behind a situation, along with the reasoning -- so let me kind of reverse that. So when you have an employee that knows the context of a situation, along with the reasoning behind it, then their curiosity is satisfied, and their confidence is amplified. Because the who, the what, the when and the why are all tackled by someone with high Learner. They can give that and offer that context. And that creates Stability for folks -- and Trust in that person that they've, you know, they have a well-thought-out plan, a well-researched plan.

Jim Collison 3:17
Yeah. And, and a well-learned plan. Like they've spent the time going through reading, understanding -- you know, for me, YouTube videos are a wealth of learning. Like I can, I can learn to fix just about anything. Now, I'm not going to fix my car off of YouTube. I'm just not going to do that. Because it, it'd crash, for sure. But for those high Learners, they have the ability to just consume, I think, lots of that information to help others, and maybe not be the decision-maker in the process, but be able to give answers, right? Especially, as we think about how fast things are changing -- and that's debatable, whether it's faster now than it's ever been. And people say that all the time. But we know things are changing all the time. How do you think that Learner theme helps in an environment that's, that's constantly changing?

Jaclynn Robinson 4:09
What I love about Learners is they recognize and appreciate that others have different learning styles; people have different learning styles. So I think during times of change, they're going to make sure that the learning offerings they have are varying, to be able to support and individualize the approach to everyone in the workplace. Not everyone might want to attend a conference, but some might enjoy skills training. So I think they're going to be very open during times of change to exploring various ways that people can continue to learn and grow and develop through that change.

Jim Collison 4:46
So you get me thinking, so as a leader who's leading individuals, understanding, from a Learner aspect, what the individual learning styles of those that they're leading, then to be able to set out the right training, whatever word you want to use in that --

Jaclynn Robinson 5:04
Not a one-size-fits-all training. I can see them having various opportunities for people to learn and grow. And I've seen this, in some cases, as an example, where the key leader of an organization will have a budget. Every individual has $300 budget. And they can learn in a way that's suitable for them -- whether that's a conference, a continuing education course, paying for a performance coach. But they give them a set budget, so they can go forth and learn in the way that's best for them.

Jim Collison 5:39
I learn best in the context of doing and mostly talking, because I have Communication, so that, that blends a little bit with it. But for me, learning that I learn best by doing, then I, in this case, like, OK, I just need to continue, like my job is, is the way I learn. I tell folks at Gallup all the time when they contact me, and they say, "Like, I didn't know this was happening." I'm like, "Cause you're not listening to my podcasts. Cause I tell you; if you listen to them, I would tell you." But again, not everybody has that learning style of listening. Some like to do it by reading. There's other ways of and experience in that. How important for Learners do you think it is that they become the master or resident expert in their field? Like, let's talk a little bit about that. What's, what's the importance of that? To me, I don't care. But for those, is it important?

Jaclynn Robinson 6:33
There is that level of mastery that we tend to find as Learners grow up and start to adult, where they want to really hunker down on what their specialty is and know the ins and outs of it. That, that natural curiosity for the world around them tends to kind of focus in and hone in on what that, what their career is or what that profession is or the specialty is. Still having other interests outside of that, but it does tend to feel or seem, when we just look at the trajectory, that as Learners grow into adulthood in their professions, they do want that sense of mastery -- more so than maybe in college or high school, when you would just take a number of elective courses. And none of it had to contribute to what your, you know, proposed career path was going to be; you just loved learning. We tend to see that it becomes a little bit more -- I don't want to use the word myopic, but more intentional, as, as Learners grow.

Jim Collison 7:33
I think there's an opportunity, as we talk about individual development plans, for both leaders and those that they're leading in that. But how important, because like, this education doesn't come free oftentimes, right? It comes, whether it's buying books, or courses or certifications, or whatever, how important is that financial aspect of making sure that's being planned for -- to make sure it just doesn't become, Well, yeah, we'll send you to that next year, but then we can. How important is that financial obligation to it, or commitment?

Jaclynn Robinson 8:04
Oh, I think having the, having the finances to be able to give employees a set amount of money that they can use for learning is something all leaders would strive for, and love. Not always possible. But I think the value of those high in Learner is they're open to various and creative aspects of learning, whether the budget is high or low or medium. You know, they're curious about, I think, other ideas that people have. What are some other offerings that we can create for the individuals in our workplace? Maybe it's an Employee Learning Day, and every team has that day off, and they can focus on learnings that are most meaningful to them. Maybe it's a mentor-mentee program that they incorporate instead. Maybe there's some internal learning, where they have a speaker come in and talk through something that's of value to the organization. So I think they're going to be more open to creativity. But if they had a great budget, the more, the merrier. That's really going to help open up some resources. I don't think it's gonna shut them down, though, if they have limited resources.

Jim Collison 9:16
Yeah, sometimes it just needs to be creative. You know, 10 years ago, I wanted more training and education for those that I was managing. The budget wasn't necessarily there for all the things we wanted to do. So I took my talents, and I ran a user group that then twice a year would do a Learning Conference. We'd bring experts in. It wasn't perfect, but it was a, it was an alternative way to help those. The good news was I could not only help my team but the members of other teams here at Gallup, plus folks in the community as well, right. It, it fit a whole bunch of things, just by taking Arranger-Maximizer and creating this, this user group meetup, so to speak, gave, for my Learners. Now, I didn't get much out of it, because that's just not the way I learn. But I was able to give back, as a leader I was able to give back to it. Maybe those that have high Learner would have some great opportunities like that. You know, you did a great job. You mentioned mentoring, like mentoring programs, right. You mentioned internal learning, maybe an opportunity. We have done this sometimes, where we say, Hey, let's get some folks together and collectively, like almost unconference the thing where you get together. What do we, what do we want to talk about? The marketing team I'm on has a regular gathering of, like, what are you learning? Right?

Jaclynn Robinson 10:38
I love that idea! Yes!

Jim Collison 10:40
Anything else? Any other thoughts on that, before we think about what maybe, what maybe hinders?

Jaclynn Robinson 10:46
I would just end with saying, because Learners have a natural curiosity for subject matter the world around them for people, I think they are more apt to invite the ideas of other people, when it comes to, What are some learning offerings that are available? And they'll pick the brains of fellow leaders or colleagues or employees to hear what it is that they're, they're seeking, versus shutting it out and feeling like they're the only one that can come up with these learning opportunities. So that, I think, is really helpful because they're creating that warm and welcome followership. I embrace your ideas and encourage you to share out ways that we can learn together.

How Could Learner Hinder Your Leadership of Others?

Jim Collison 11:23
That's a little bit of inception, a Learner enabling and discovering ways for other Learners to be in learning programs, to, right? Little bit of Learner inception there, which I think is great. Let's talk a little bit about how this theme can hinder or get in the way -- and maybe even be underutilized from that standpoint, as we think about leading others.

Jaclynn Robinson 11:47
Well, sometimes decisions need to be made quickly in leadership. And going back to mastery, which you brought up, leaders might not always feel comfortable making a quick decision if they don't know enough about it and they have high Learner. There isn't always time to deep-dive into a topic or content to feel masterful before having to make that impactful decision for teams or organizations. In those cases, I think it is really important that a leader with Learner identify another talent in their Top 10 that they can lean into, or partnerships around them that they can lean into. I think that's so important, so that they're continuing to move, and you don't have that bottleneck or stagnancy when the employees need you to act fast.

Jim Collison 12:35
Yeah. Accountability is a word I think of when you, as you were saying those, right, high accountability to make sure. I think learning programs can have a tendency to run away. They get started with the best of intentions. And then pretty soon, you're doing, you got four different book clubs going; you've got, you know, weekly sessions where you're getting together and sharing things. And not that any of that's bad, but it can get to be, maybe in some situations, be a little too much. You're like, man, when am I actually getting my work done?

Jaclynn Robinson 13:10
Yes. Oh, I love what you said about accountability. Because we, anyone with Learner needs that accountability buddy, to be able to sometimes help them see when they're going down that rabbit hole of learning, to help them pull back out. What theme can you use? Or how can I support you so that we are driving towards action, and we're not staying too long in this hole?

How Can You Use Learner as You Lead, Together With the Managers and Sales Reports?

Jim Collison 13:33
Yeah, no, no, love it. Just a, just a reminder that in the CliftonStrengths for Leaders Report, all these, these topics -- having success, hindrances, and then some action items available for you -- just for you. And opportunity to work through those with your Top 10. And they're available there. And love to have you interact with those. One of the parts I'm excited about this season is thinking about the other two reports -- the CliftonStrengths for Managers Report and CliftonStrengths for Sales. As we think about pairing, the Leaders, the Leader Report and the Manager Report together for someone with high Learner, What would come out of that, do you think?

Jaclynn Robinson 14:09
I think with a lens towards learning, someone with Learner can create processes or learning journeys for individuals and teams that benefit the individual and the team and the organizational goal. They can just help. And when I say that, as a leader, they're not always in the weeds doing that directly with local teams. But they can certainly have the influence to support leaders over those divisions or managers that want to bounce some thoughts off of them, so that they can help them connect the dots of the learning journey and how it's going to lead to something larger.

Jim Collison 14:46
Not all leaders have Learner. Not all managers have Learner. And I think it's important knowing that our, that the followers need learning -- that if you don't have it, find it; buy it. Delegate it, right, from, from that standpoint of -- that doesn't mean, I think sometimes that doesn't mean I'm a leader; I have to have Learner. I think sometimes, you know, whatever. Don't -- you know, find some ways to get it, to get it there, even if you don't have it. And then, as a leader, How could I, as we think about the Sales Report and this Leader Report, how might those two work together?

Jaclynn Robinson 15:23
So due to an interest in learning about people, products, services, whatever -- the world around them, is, you know, delighting them with, someone with Learner can serve as a trusted adviser, because they've got that background information needed to build confidence in others and move them towards a goal or need. So they can really influence because of the resources and the learning that they've done related to that product, service person, topic, etc.

Jim Collison 15:53
Yeah, yeah. Love that -- or competitive analysis, right?

Jaclynn Robinson 15:57
Yes, yes! And how to leverage what they know about a competitor to, for the betterment of their organization.

Jim Collison 16:05
Because I don't have Learner, I don't spend a lot of time learning other tools and systems. It drives my daughter crazy, because she always wants to ask about other things. I'm like, "No, I'm a CliftonStrengths guy." That's where I put my focus. That's what's important. She's like, "Dad, you can" -- I'm like, "I don't want to." You know, she, you go, "You can." I'm like, "I don't want to." I just, you know, that's just the way I'm built. High Learner, opportunity to go out there. You don't, I think in some cases, you don't -- in fact, it may charge you up to learn about other offerings, other things that are happening from an, a competitive analysis standpoint. OK. Last, Jaclynn, last thought on, on Learner as I wrap this up.

Jaclynn Robinson 16:41
Just feedback for those high in Learner, if you don't know, what we're finding is younger generations are really driven by organizations that offer learning and development; they're looking for that brain gain. That's something that is naturally more top of mind for you, as someone that loves the opportunity to learn. We're also finding it's the No. 1 reason all -- individuals of all generations are leaving the workplace: when they start to experience brain drain. So I think you have a really valuable opportunity to be able to continue to create that culture of learning and development that we spoke about earlier, which will help gain and retain your employees.

Jim Collison 17:24
Love it. With that, we'll remind -- speaking of learning -- we'll remind everybody to take full advantage of all the resources we have available for learning, for your learning, out at Gallup, on Gallup Access. Visit Log in, hit the upper left menu and choose Resources. And then click in the search -- put "Learner." We've got a bunch of resources for you just around this theme. Just about everything we have is, is there for you, and another 3 or 4 hours of learning -- maybe more; you're very welcome for that. Yeah, head out to Yeah, sorry to, I just ruined your afternoon. But you can head over there and get that done. Stay up to date with all our webcasts, and you can learn a lot through that as well: -- I'm sorry, Follow us there, and we'll get you updates. Follow us on any social platform by searching "CliftonStrengths," especially "The CliftonStrengths Podcast." You might want to follow that right now on your favorite podcast app, so you never miss an episode. Thanks for listening and learning with us today. And thanks for coming out. If you're listening live, stay around for some postshow. With that, we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.

Jaclynn Robinson's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Achiever, Strategic, Maximizer, Positivity and Relator.

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

Gallup®, CliftonStrengths® and each of the 34 CliftonStrengths theme names are trademarks of Gallup. Copyright © 2000 Gallup, Inc. All rights reserved.

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