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Called to Coach
Improving Your Leadership Skills as a Coach
Called to Coach

Improving Your Leadership Skills as a Coach

Webcast Details

  • How can focusing on an organization's people help coaches improve their leadership skills?
  • How can coaches encourage leaders to (re)connect with their people?
  • What are some powerful questions coaches can ask leaders as they help them navigate the changes of the past three years?

Gallup Called to Coach Webcast Series -- Season 11, Episode 5.

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


"[Coaches are] there to look at what is really going on, not just in the organization, but with the people." Focusing on their people is what makes leaders -- and coaches who, in turn, lead those leaders -- successful, says Gallup Workplace Consultant (and coach of leaders) Robert Gabsa. Robert sums up current leadership headwinds and shares how coaches can aid leaders in managing the challenges of the past three years and (re)connecting with their people through asking helpful questions, encouraging them to take time out to be present, and measuring employee engagement. Join us and move your leadership skills as a coach to a higher plane.


A leader is someone who takes their eyes off of the fire on their desk and looks up at the people in front of them. I think coaches do the same thing.

Robert Gabsa, 11:14

The whole person comes to work every day. And focus on that whole person. Otherwise, they're not going to be followers. And if you don't have followers, you're not a leader.

Robert Gabsa, 24:59

[Organizations are] looking at their financials, and they're not looking at their people. And they just have to. ... That's going to make or break the companies that are successful moving forward.

Robert Gabsa, 28:06

Jim Collison 0:00
I am Jim Collison, and this is Gallup's Called to Coach, recorded on December 1, 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, and you don't see the chat room, there's a link right above me to it. Click on that, and join us in chat with your questions. If you have questions after the fact, you can always send us an email: Don't forget to subscribe to Called to Coach on your favorite podcast app, right over there on YouTube, so you never miss an episode. Robert Gabsa is our host today. Robert is a Workplace Consultant with Gallup out of our Atlanta office. And Robert, always great to have you on Called to Coach. Welcome back!

Robert Gabsa 0:57
Well, thanks for having me, Jim. It's so good to see you! We don't get to see each other enough, not even in person as much as even, even through, through our screens. But thanks for having me. This is, this is exciting.

Jim Collison 1:09
Good to have you. Last time we saw you was, it's hard to believe, was 2 years ago, we were spending time talking about building strengths-based cultures. You and I did a 5-part series on that. And it was good -- it -- good time. We refer to it often. It's been one of those series that as people ask, like, How do I do this? I'm like, We have a 5-part series for you. And so, so thanks for doing that. You're busy enough. You're hard to get on here. But give us a little idea what, just, so folks can catch up with you, one, tell us your Top 5, and then let us know what you've been, what have you been working on?

Robert Gabsa 1:41
Sure, absolutely. Well, I lead with Ideation. I always consider that the spoke of the wheel, because there's not much that happens without that being at the center of things. I have Woo No. 2, Futuristic, Strategic and Maximizer. And I always say, not very far behind all of those are my Communication, Adaptability, Self-Assurance, Relator and, of course, Competition.

Jim Collison 2:09
And what's been keeping you busy? Are you working with the leaders these days?

Robert Gabsa 2:12
You know, there's no doubt. I mean, there's no doubt. This year has been just a tidal wave of getting back together again. You know, Hey, we're back together as a team. We haven't seen each other in a couple of years. Our leadership team, our executive leadership team, you know, we're all, we're all getting together for our conference or whatever meeting it is. And we, you know, we need help. We need to talk about some things, because it's different. We're in a new world; we're in a new reality. The workplace has undergone changes that are really unprecedented, I think, as far as in my career.

Robert Gabsa 2:53
So they're facing a lot. And we have been, in our, in our area, and my particular team, really record breaking, you know. We can't keep up with it. It's been fantastic to get back out there. You know, with Woo and Communication, I love to be in front of a room. I love, I love to be with people. And so that's been really fun to travel -- you know, travel is, is, it comes along with, it can be a little wearing. So be careful what you wish for. But no, it's, it's, it's been busy. It's been busy working on what most people are facing right now, you know, and I think it's important that we keep our eye on not just the tried-and-true best practices about leadership, about, you know, managing people, about employee experience that we've known about and studied for decades. But what's going on right now? What's on their desk right now? And that's the conversations that are being had. And so more of our sessions have been customizing to specific topics that they're facing.

Leader vs. Manager

Jim Collison 3:58
Yeah. No, no surprise, as we looked at the data and launched this brand new CliftonStrengths for Leaders Report, we know from It's the Manager that our managers, our leaders are under fire. Now is the time -- I mean, every story I read is about burnout or quiet quitting or quiet firing or quiet whatever. You know, all these things that are happening in the workplace, right? We're in turmoil, and it's really going to be leaders that pull us out of that, right? I mean, it's really going to be a leader's responsibility to pull us out of that. But one of the questions, and we just got this on Facebook, like, like 10 minutes ago: the difference between a leader and a manager. And let's talk a little bit about that. And let's set the stage with this. As we think about leadership, everybody is always like, Oh, how's that different from being a manager? Robert, what are your thoughts on that, as you think about those two roles?

Robert Gabsa 4:46
Hmm. Interesting question. I love the question. I actually had to do a session for a client specifically on that, right. As some managers had been promoted to being managers of managers, so now they're considered leaders. And I think, you know, there's so many definitions of leaders. I think of it as, you know, when I talk to groups, a leader is definitely not a title. Right? It's not a, it's not a position in a hierarchy. Even though, I think I mentioned earlier, if we were to just look at the masses, and say, OK, as a blanket statement, you know, what is the masses? They look at it as a hierarchy, right? Leaders are more the executives, the C-suites and the senior vice presidents. And then the managers are kind of below that. And different companies separate those. So I get that.

Robert Gabsa 5:40
But, you know, I also, especially in the time that we're in, you know, one of the things that, that I like to differentiate is managers look more inward, right. It's more of the day-to-day, the people on their teams, the deliverables, the getting things done, you know, what's happening with projects, with, with, with things that are kind of happening within the organization specifically, on a more -- not only a day-to-day, I mean, managers have to think further out. I get all that.

Robert Gabsa 6:10
And I think leaders are more responsible for looking outward. And what does the community see about that organization? What does partners, what, maybe it's governments, right? Maybe it's, it's, it's, you know, outside entities and other stakeholders, and, of course, a lot of the higher-level C levels, they're really looking at, you know, what's happening with supply chains and economics and all of those macro things, I think, that affect the organization is also something that differentiates. But, you know, there was a quote that Peter Drucker had that has always stuck with me and that, you know, managers, it's, what'd he say? "Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right thing."

Robert Gabsa 6:57
So I think leaders are really responsible for a lot more of what managers deliver, when it comes to things like culture. Right? When it comes to things like mission, like purpose, the things that help guide us, leaders are more responsible for painting the picture of what is the North Star? How do we make decisions around here? What guides us? And these shouldn't just be words; they shouldn't just be statements, right? They need to be seen in actions. And so, you know, I often say, and there was a quote, I think, by John Maxwell, If, if you're a leader, but nobody is following you, well, then you're just out for a walk. And that's so true. Because how many leaders, including yourself, right, don't have direct reports? Right? Being a leader, I think, is much more, it is much more about the bigger picture -- and I think that's apparent -- than, than the tactical "let's get things done." But I think it's an important place.

Robert Gabsa 8:09
And we've heard plenty of great quotes about, you know, and books, you know, leaders eat last, and all of those things. And one of the things that, that, that I also think about when I ask leaders, when I'm working with a team of "leaders," and I ask them to think about a great leader, someone in their life -- could be anybody, right, who inspired them to be their best. What are the characteristics of that person? And when people think about that leader, they think about a lot of different people. They think about friends. They think about coaches. They think about people -- colleagues. They think about people in their, in their faith-based organ, in their faith organizations. Right. So what they're thinking about is, Who has inspired me to be my best? So I often will challenge them and say, you know, if you're a leader, and you don't come to mind when people think about great leaders in their life, then you haven't reached the pinnacle of your leadership potential.

Robert Gabsa 9:19
And so that's, I mean, that's my, my two cents on how I would differentiate them a bit. But, you know, I also say, managers, a lot of managers or leaders -- and almost all leaders are in some way, shape or form a manager. And if you look definitionally, manager of other people, right, because most leaders do. But not, not all do. I think it's more about how you inspire people and organizations to reach excellence.

Coaches as Leaders: Leading People

Jim Collison 9:47
Yeah, I'm kind of glad we don't spend a lot of time defining them strictly. I see them as two big bubbles that overlap a lot. And I think the conversation, the coaching conversation that goes on around that of those roles, those responsibilities, we see our two reports as two separate roles, written and influenced by two different people -- Mike McDonald on the management side, who spends a lot of time thinking about managers and their people and their engagement, and Therese Nisbet, who spends a lot of time coaching, like you do, spends a lot of time coaching, executive, executives and leaders in organizations. And yet, in your role, you do a little bit of both; you know how those bubbles kind of, how do they come together? Let me, let me ask you this question on behalf of the Certified Coaches and coaches in our community. We're going to talk a little bit about coaching leaders here a little bit later. But what's the, you know, we titled this, "Improving Your Leadership Skills as a Coach." How do you think, what's important, as you're a coach, and you're leading others, right, what, what, talk a little bit about how you see that coaching role fit into this, this leadership idea. And what kind of leadership do they, does a coach bring to an organization, do you think?

Robert Gabsa 11:01
Well, I think coaches, you know, when I try to help organizations, and when I see other coaches help organizations as leaders themselves, their heads are up. Just like a quote, again, a leader is someone who takes their eyes off of the fire on their desk and looks up at the people in front of them. I think coaches, you know, do the same thing. They're there to look at the people. They're there to look at what is really going on, not just in the organization, but with the people. Now, some coaches, you know, let's face it, act also as consultants, right, where they're the experts, and they're gonna give advice, when it comes to a, you know, a business challenge, specifically, when it, you know, when it, when it, when it comes to certain structures or technology.

Robert Gabsa 11:52
But when you're really sitting in the coaching seat, right, you're really thinking about, How do we get people to be the best versions of themselves? How do we get them to increase the awareness of their natural talents? How to understand how they've helped them, even through times of change or times of disruption or turbulence, or whatever you want to call it -- How has that happened? How have they used that before? How might it be getting in their way? The whole idea of helping and hindering and that theme awareness, when it comes to our strengths, right, I think is critical right now.

Robert Gabsa 12:33
Because, you know, when this first started, it was interesting, when this, literally within the first month of that March 13 day, I remember thinking -- and I talked to Dr. Harter very briefly; as matter of fact, I think it was just through like a Teams chat. And I said, you know, How is this going to play out, just, just with managing other people, when now we've got this move towards things like remote working? Because some managers are really good naturally, and they've developed it, and they've worked on it, and they're really good at managing people that are sitting in front of them. And now those people are not; they're having to manage them from afar. Some managers may do better at that than they did physically, and some may struggle, right. So now we may have a shift in what is a good manager?

Robert Gabsa 13:25
And he agreed, there, you know, that has yet to be seen. His intuition, and I don't want to quote him or have anybody write this down and say, "This is what Dr. Harter said," but when I look back and talk to him and Dr. Asplund, their sense was, especially, especially Asplund, he said, "My sense is, people will lean more into their natural talent. They'll lean into their strengths when they're hit with this." Because let's face it, that's where natural -- that's where our strengths live, right? They live in our limbic system, which is our fight or flight, our natural reaction. Where do we go when things get tough, is we go to who we are -- for the most part. But, you know, that varies between, between people, depending upon what's happening. I mean, there's a lot of challenges; they're facing a lot of challenges.

Headwinds for Leaders: Managing Change

Jim Collison 14:13
Let's talk about those, briefly talk about those. I don't know if anybody would be shocked by any of these. But as we think about the current environment today, December 2022, let's just, let's spend just a few minutes talking about, What, what are you seeing? What are the, you know, what are the headwinds for our leaders today?

Robert Gabsa 14:32
You know, let's just say the big word, even though it's overused, is change. We talk about change management and change transformation and culture transformation. And we've talked about that for years and years and years. But, you know, if I were to say, "change," this is change in a different, at a different level, right? This is, this is change in, you know, on steroids. It's, it's, it's change to a disruptive. And it's not just COVID; it wasn't just the pandemic. I mean, if you think about the last couple of years, people -- again, thinking as a coach and directed at what people are going through, which is what leaders should be doing as well; they have to manage the organization. But right now, one of the biggest challenges that they're facing through all of this change is things like retention. Right? We're losing people, you know, we, the whole, like you mentioned, are the Great Resignation, quiet quitting. I mean, what's the, quiet firing. What's the, what's the term of the month that they're having to react to, that they're having to consider, that they're having to learn about? Because, you know, heaven forbid, you're at a, you know, a town hall and someone says, "Talk to me about quiet quitting or quiet firing," and they don't know what that means, or they're not up to date.

Robert Gabsa 15:46
So they have a lot more on their shoulders, besides the obvious -- you know, I've got remote workers; I've now got a hybrid environment. I don't know what's fair, what's not fair. I've got people that are disgruntled because some get to work from home, some don't. I've got to come in, and why does that person not? Blah, blah, blah. I mean, this is the kind of stuff that I'm hearing over and over and over, is, we're struggling with that. And one of the things that I think it boils down to, besides the tactical, technical, more intentional, if one thing you can do as a coach is get, people get your client to think and you be more intentional about walking them through how they've gotten through this. You know, because at the pinnacle of all of this, is, as we know, one of the most important things that an organization has is its culture. Right. And I think there's as many cultures in an organization as there are managers.

Robert Gabsa 16:53
But if you have a company culture, if you have your mission, vision and values, whatever, you have your, your, your, you know, whatever you want to label them, whatever you want to call them, your, your pillars or whatever. Everybody's got their guiding principles in all of this. Whatever they are, you know, how do you keep them intact when people aren't living them? You know, I mean, Jim, I was at a thing, at a session out on the West Coast. 50 people in the room, and about 44-45 of them, it was the first time they even met their colleagues in person. They were, they were recruited, hired onboarded all online, all virtually. How do you keep culture a part of that? Because people are still, let's face it, onboarding can last 9, 12 months, Some studies say that people are thinking about whether they made the right decision even 18 months into, into the job. So how do you keep people feeling that the culture they joined isn't, is, it makes sense for them? And I think a leadership's, a leader's responsibility weighs a lot into that. And that, again, it comes right down to the people, not just the environment. Because beanbags and ping pong tables and all of that, that's eye candy. That's not culture. Culture is really how you show up every day and how you live every day.

Jim Collison 18:24
Yeah, consistent culture, right, it, being consistent across the organization across teams. Because if you get too, I mean, yes (there's some conversation going in the chat room) -- yes, managers have a big impact on a company culture, but if you leave it up to the individual manager to design what that culture is going to be, you might have 17 different cultures, or 20, or as many managers as you have. And I think it's really, really important that we get, that we get everybody on the team thinking the same or thinking, living in the same culture.

Robert Gabsa 18:57
They need to ladder up, right? Managers need to ladder up to whatever a company culture is. But you know as well as I do, there are some managers that people want to work for. And there's some that they want to run from. So when I say that managers really have a lot of control over the culture on their team, it still has to carry out the culture of the company. But how that feels on that team can be, can be very different. And we see that in, in our engagement work, right? We see some teams that have super high engagement, low turnover, low absenteeism, and we see others that have the opposite. Yet they're in the same company, under the same culture.

Organizational Culture Starts With Onboarding

Jim Collison 19:37
Yeah. Yeah. I think the culture starts, and we're going to talk about some considerations as we think about, you know, our leadership, our leaders that are out there, but I think that culture starts with onboarding. And I think coaches have the ability, as we think about, you know, improving our own coaching leadership skills, have an opportunity. I think sometimes we come in and we try to hit the thing midship. You know, we try to hit it right in the middle with strengths -- and not, not that saying anything is bad. But I think organizations -- making an organizational impact can start, especially as we've seen, as we think about one of these considerations of massive turnover in a lot of organizations, you just mentioned it. We're getting back together for the first time. Hey, I even just changed teams at Gallup, and my manager said, "Do you want to re-onboard yourself?" Like maybe there's been enough people coming in, maybe you should re-onboard. And, Robert, how important, in your work and what you're seeing, getting that onboarding right, not just for the new folks. But I'm even a big advocate for teams re-onboarding now again, to say, Hey, we've completely changed. Let's onboard. Let's do it as a team, so we all know each other. I don't know, any thoughts on that?

Robert Gabsa 20:50
Oh, just my only thought is, Yes, please. Because I'll never forget the first call I got. Robert, you've worked with us before. Our team has been away. We're back together. We're live again, we're in the office again. But it's different. I don't -- and I say, "You know what? You're right. It is. Because guess what? You're different. And all of those people are different." Everybody, I don't care what you say, has changed over the past 2 years in some way due to something, you know. And so that's why, more than ever, you start hearing about wellbeing, we start hearing about, you know, the, some of our latest work on stress, sadness, anger, worry being at some of their, their highest levels, right, in a decade. People are going through it. And, and football players. I'm watching football this Sunday, and you've got commercials now and little vignettes on athletes that are coming out, saying, "You know what? It's OK not to be OK. It's OK. We know that it's been a tough time. We know things have changed."

Robert Gabsa 22:02
And if we ignore that, then we're ignoring people; we're ignoring our followers, right? We're not doing enough asking. We're not listening with the intent to understand. And then we're not doing anything with that information. And right now, you know, the 4 Needs of Followers haven't changed, right? People, and especially now: Compassion, Hope, Stability, and of course, Trust. Now, how those are displayed, how those are exemplified, may be different than they were. But they're still extremely critical, if not more critical, right? And I'm seeing that the leaders who are showing a little bit more of that -- I had a guy that literally said, you know, "Robert, before this happened," (he's, he's a sales leader). He said, "If I had somebody on my team that wasn't making their numbers, 1 month, OK; 2 months, 3 months, I might have said, 'You know, you better pick up your numbers, because there's a lot of people that want this job.'" He said, "You know, now, when that person came in, I said, 'How are you? How you doing? This isn't like you. What's -- anything I can help you with?'" Right? That, that changes how people feel. And when you change how people feel, you change how they perform. Right, there's a there's a direct correlation there.

Robert Gabsa 23:36
And so, you know, as leaders think about, and as the book that, that our CEO, Jon Clifton just put out, you know, he makes a very good point. We focus in leaders, you know, and I'm talking now, we'll, we'll use the blanket definition, but they talk about and they focus on unemployment rates and CO2 emissions and the financial markets and the size of urban slum populations and market collapses and all of these things that make headlines. But are they studying when anger is rising? Or when stress is going up? Or how people are worrying? And what -- how is that affecting their organization? It comes down to, to the business, and they're responsible for that. And I tell more and more organizations, Sorry to put the onus on you. But especially as Gen Z is coming into the workforce, and we already knew it with, with, with millennials, right, they're expecting organizations to be a part of their lives, to be a part of their growth, their development, to be, to be responsible for their life experience, not just their work experience. I remind, I remind people -- employees don't come work, to work every day. Get that out of your head. The whole person comes to work every day. And focus on that whole person, you know. Otherwise they're not, they're not going to be followers. And if you don't have followers, you're not a leader.

Reconnecting Leaders With Their People: The Value of Strengths, Engagement

Jim Collison 25:12
Couple, couple of comments from chat. Let me bring these in, because I think they apply. Sean says, Hey, Robert! Great to see you. Can you talk about the combination of strengths and engagement to help organizations deal with both culture and leadership? So I want to set, I want to use that as a setup for Michael's question, which is, Would data from the Q12® help leaders identify which aspects of -- we were talking about re-onboarding, right, which is reengaging, really, in this, in this context, that need the most attention. As we think about leaders and considerations for those leaders, thinking about a new world, so to speak, How might they, as you think about engagement and the work that you're doing, how might they use some of that to reengage or to re-onboard?

Robert Gabsa 25:54
Well, you know, how they relate first, you know, we, we've said for a long time that engagement is the "why." That's the "why." Performance or outcome, whatever that is, that's the "what," and we know, the higher the engagement, the higher the "what," the higher the performance. Strengths is one of the "hows." Right? All the data connects to each other. When people are acting in their strengths and, you know, and "Doing what they do best," right? That's on the Q12. "Cares about me as a person." And the one that seems to be linking most strongly, and we just had a white paper on this, I don't know, maybe a month ago, is Q10. Right, my best, the "Best friend at work," and how people are losing that feeling of connection with their colleagues.

Robert Gabsa 26:49
And some of them, when they get their, I've gone to some, some results briefings with executive teams, they, "Oh, our Q10 has gone down. Does that mean people don't like each other anymore?" And I reminded them, the Q12 results, it's not a report card; it's a compass. If there's a reason why things go up or down, take those into consideration. Tell me why Q10 may have gone down. Didn't you say earlier this morning that 40% of your workforce has never even met each other in person? Do you think maybe that affected this "Best friend at work" question? Oh, yeah, that's possible. They haven't had a chance to form friendships. They haven't had a form to, to get that support, to feel those connections. And it's really hard.

Robert Gabsa 27:37
And I think, I advise that coaches help organizations think of intentional ways -- and I have a variety of tactical things that I, that I do or suggest -- of how you get people connected on a human level. We have to bring humanity back. We've lost some of that. We just have. And we've gotten back, and a lot of companies have gotten into the Wow, well, we lost money, and we lost revenue. We had to lay people off. We had to close stores. And they're looking at their numbers, and they're looking at their financials, and they're not looking at their people. And they just have to. Though -- that's going to, in my opinion, that's going to make or break the companies that are successful moving forward.

Robert Gabsa 28:18
But those are some of the questions, I would look, some of the Q items that I would look to -- not questions; I always say that. Like, I call them questions, and there's not a question mark in any of them. They're statements that you agree or disagree with. But I would say those are key, but Q10, on the onboarding one, is how do you connect to people? And so more and more, assign them a buddy. Assign them a mentor. Have someone that they check in with personally that they can talk with and vent with and ask where the files are or whatever, right? And feel like they don't have to go and wonder who I talked to and feel weird about it that they've got a buddy. It's the buddy system. It's been around forever. We did it in first grade. It works.

Jim Collison 29:00
Yeah, it was an important concept in the military when I was there, right? We called them Ranger buddies. Right? There was somebody, it was your, somebody who had your back, right? I have, I have to admit, Robert, I gave up on that -- during the pandemic, I was really good about, I latched on to a few people. We set up Friday Happy Hours that were virtual. So Friday at 4, Friday at 4:30, we'd get together on Zoom. You know, enjoy a beverage, whatever. Right? And I did that consistently. And there were some folks -- every Tuesday morning I would call someone, like, these very consistent things. As we came out, and in the last year, regardless of where we are, right, in this pandemic thing, I thought it was over. I thought the war was over. I was like, I don't need these anymore, and I canceled them. And it was a huge -- now, today I'm saying that was a huge, gigantic mistake, because I haven't replaced them.

Reconnecting Leaders, People With Each Other: The "Take 5"

Jim Collison 29:56
I've been going in more often, but I haven't replaced those times with, I haven't found, I haven't been intentional about finding new connections in that. And it's, it's affected me in some ways. I'm like, Oh, I'm kind of not connected like I used to be, or I don't have this buddy, so to speak, that I used to have. And I think as we think about considerations, yes, there's been all this change. I think some folks have wanted to go back -- and maybe this was my case. I wanted to go, I was ready to go back. OK, I'm ready to go back to the way it was. That way is gone, right. You know.

Robert Gabsa 30:29
Yeah, you know, your, your and your natural inclination, as people have, and I've seen out there, and I posed the question, you know, we may feel -- like we're out of the pandemic, but is the pandemic out of you? And it really isn't out of, out of anybody. And it may never be, or it may not be for a long time. But I've also heard that, you know, sometimes things like this get people to band together. And I've heard, just, just yesterday, we were talking, I was talking with a university, and he said, you know, we came out of this as a stronger team, as a stronger organization. I said, Yeah, some do. It's called post-traumatic growth. Because when disruption or something happens, what happens is people hit this, they, you know, hit this -- right. And they start getting these feelings. And they range from just, you know, I'm at baseline functioning. And then as the event happens, and now I'm vulnerable, and I start going into feeling helpless and hopeless. And then I kind of learn how to function, and now I improve my functioning, and I'm getting back up, right.

Robert Gabsa 31:41
And some people get back up, but they never get back up to baseline. That's called, basically, PTSD. And they stay there. Some people get back up to baseline and kind of, like, what most people do, literally -- I think 60%, 62% -- just kind of get back to homeostasis. But there's about 20% that go and actually come out of it better, to have grown, learned and develop. And that's called post-traumatic growth. And there's a lot of stuff out there on this; this isn't a Gallup thing. But when that happens, it's because people were also very intentional. You have to be intentional. I use that word more and more and more. When we started this, our team, I came up with something I called "Take 5." And it came off with a thing that I did with my college roommate, Greg Goodrich.

Robert Gabsa 32:29
And Greg and I, you were, got caught in that, you know, we'd see, we'd see the name pop up on our phone, I would say, Oh, I haven't talked to Greg in forever, but I just don't have that time right now. Because it's gonna, it's gonna be a, it's gonna be a conversation. So I would hit decline. He said that "I do the same thing with you." And I said, "Well, why do we do that? How about we make a rule. When I see your name, I'm going to answer it. 5 minutes is the time limit. I don't care if we're in the middle of a sentence. We say, OK, 5 minutes is up. Goodbye. See you. And we're off, no hard feelings." And we started doing that. And next thing you know, we were talking every week, sometimes multiple times a week. And so our team started doing that. It was you have to do two Take 5s with a colleague every week. 10 minutes a week! So no one, if you say you don't have time to do that, you've got other problems, right.

Robert Gabsa 33:18
And so we started doing that as a team. And I started reaching out and doing Take 5s with people in Asia and Europe, people that I had never actually talked to one on one. 5 minutes. Got to know them a little bit. It kept us connected through that. And yeah, we started just kind of ease off of it, as we got busy. But there's a few of us that still do, you know, you'll see the little Microsoft Teams come up, "Take 5?" Sure, I've got 5 minutes. I can back away from this PowerPoint I'm doing. And those 5 minutes -- or at the beginning of a meeting, everybody go into a breakout room. Take 5 minutes, talk about the most positive thing you did this weekend. We have to get back to those things in that, because what happens is, you know, people are saying, you know, we get on our calls, we get to Zoom. It's like OK, What's the first thing on the agenda? And we're not doing that premeeting connecting that we used to do around the conference table.

Jim Collison 34:11
I love setting that expectation. It's 5 minutes. Like, I love "Take 5" -- we call them "Quick Connects" in our structure, right, of the 5 Coaching Conversations; we call those "Quick Connects." But I love setting that 5-minute idea like, Hey, this is just gonna be a 5-minute call. It's not, we're not going to go on forever here. And I think for leaders helping their teams know, yeah, this is just a 5-minute call. I'm just checking in. Like, I just want to know how you're doing. "I want 5 minutes of you telling me how you're doing" is a little bit different than "Can you meet with me?" Right? Because how, everybody gets a little sideways when a leader says, "You got," you know, "You got a few minutes?" right?

Robert Gabsa 34:54
"Oh, of course I do. Of course I do." Right. But we've also gotten, gotten, we've also gotten kind of chained to the fact that because we have, you know, Outlook, everything has to be 30 or 60 minutes, right?

Jim Collison 35:08
Right. No, that's a good point.

Robert Gabsa 35:10
No, they don't. And they don't even have to be calls. And they don't have to be Zoom calls. Remember when we used to use that thing called the phone?

Jim Collison 35:18
I'm terrible at that.

Robert Gabsa 35:19
You know, it's like, we feel like every time now, well, it's got to be a Teams call; it's got to be a Zoom call. I've got to turn the camera on.

Jim Collison 35:25
I feel like doing this is wrong somehow, you know, when you bring the phone up to your face?

Robert Gabsa 35:30
I know, right? I think Jon, even Jon Clifton, had said something somewhere: Call each other! Just stop the IMing and stop the texting and stop the email chains. Call somebody and say, "I have a quick question." My rule with Take 5 was, can't talk about anything work-related. And once in a while, I'll get a, "Can we do a Take 50?"

Jim Collison 35:56
Yeah, you need them.

Robert Gabsa 35:57
You need those too. But, but you have to be intentional. And, and I always, I think, as a coach, when I also coach leaders, I remind them, because most of them have the poorest excuse: "I don't have time." And I say, "You know how you can make time? Schedule an hour with nothing. Schedule an hour for yourself every week, just like it's a meeting. And take time to think, write a note, jot down or whatever." The -- one of our former clients, who now runs the Bellagio Hotel, sends an email to thousands of employees every morning; he's done it for almost 20 years. And it's from him. It's two sentences. It's, "Here's my thought of the day." And they all feel like they're at least a little connected to him, where other people are like, I have never received a direct email or even a blanket email from my CEO if it's not something that's a policy or whatever. Sometimes it's just, "Don't forget to smile today. Have a great one." You thought it --

Coaching Consistency in Leaders' Words, Behavior

Jim Collison 37:10
Yeah, it's a, it's a touch-base. We hear from Jon and Jim, you know, pretty frequently in our organization, right? Yeah. And it's great. It's great to hear from them -- unless you've done something wrong. The -- no, just kidding -- as we think about coaching leaders, and I kind of want to think in this last segment about some, some, some helpful thoughts for coaches listening as we're coaching leaders. Theresa kicks us off nicely with a question she asked in the beginning. And she said, When leaders say one thing and then behave differently, i.e., we're an organization that supports women and minorities, but treat people differently, how can we help managers lead from the middle? Like, when we think about that consistency problem that might be, We have, yes, we have this stated culture, but the leadership is not matching that culture. How as coaches can we help -- and maybe, even in our own coaching practice, we say one thing, and we actually coach differently. But how do we, how do we, how do we deal with that inconsistency, Robert, what do you think?

Robert Gabsa 38:11
You know, I say, Get behind the words. I'll ask, I'll ask some of my clients, "How do you approach leadership? Write down three words that describe how you approach leadership." And they'll write those words down. I'll say, "OK, now I want you" -- and if I'm doing this with a group, the one thing we immediately find is that they're all positive words, almost. And they're all very different, right? So we approach it differently. And that's OK. There's no one way to approach leadership, right? You have to do it the way that comes most naturally to you. But I'll say, "Out of those three words, circle the one that you would say your team, or people in your organization, if they had to vote, which one would they say they see in your behavior most often? And now I want you to talk about, What is that behavior specifically? Give me an example of a time you did X, Y or Z. Because when people say, "I'm caring," I go, "But that doesn't tell me anything about your -- is that mean your hugs in the hallway? I don't know what that means." What do you do to show people you care? On trusting, "How do you know people trust you? Some people trust you unless you give them a reason not to; other people don't trust you unless you give them a reason to. Do you know who those people are?" "No." "Then how do you know that you're being trusted?" Right?

Robert Gabsa 39:44
So I think it's, it's what is the behavior behind the word? Stephens Shields, one of my colleagues who you know and love very dearly, he, he calls them "filmable moments." What is the "filmable moment"? My whole thing is, we as, as leaders, managers, however you want to phrase it, one of our obli-, one of our responsibilities is to create memorable moments. Now, we have thousands of experiences every day. Some of those are memorable. What makes some of them memorable, right? Because when we have memorable moments, it gives us the content to tell stories. And so when I ask leaders, the profound question, or I put the statement to them, you know, "Whether you like it or not, inevitably, you are the conversation at dinner tables of the people that work for you at some point. Right? How's that going? Well, the stories they're telling aren't based on the words that you wrote or something you said, or they might be, because you're not showing them in your behaviors." So I say, "Get rid of the words; what are the behaviors?"

Robert Gabsa 41:04
When I asked a manager (I told you this the other day), I said, he said, "I need you to work with my team." I said, "Well, what is something you need from them?" He said, "I, I think if I had to put it in one thing, it'd be collaboration." And I said, "OK," and I could have easily thought, OK, I'm gonna go off and talk about collaboration. But instead, I stopped, and I asked him, "What does collaboration mean to you? What does it look like?" And he thought for a second, and he thought for a second, and he kind of struggled, and he said, "You know, Robert, I guess I just, I just want them to do what I tell them to do." I kid you not, and it's like, when people say words, they're just words. Walk the walk. Ask them to give a specific example. If I'm coaching, I don't say, "Oh, well, I show people this." I say, "No, give me an example of what you did yesterday. What have you done in the last 7 days to invest in someone?" And if they can't give me an example, I say, "When we talk next week, I want you to have three examples." Because they think they're doing it.

Questions Coaches Can Ask Leaders

Jim Collison 42:11
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. You've got a great question there, which is, "So what does that look like?" So as a coach helping a leader, and a leader is saying, "I'm looking for" -- in this case, collaboration -- and you said, "Well, what does that look like?" That's a great question. What other kinds of questions do -- could coaches, they love it. The coaching community love it when we give them some questions to add in that, in that context. What could coaches be asking leaders, to help tease some of those, those things out, do you think?

Robert Gabsa 42:46
Lately, it's been, when it comes to things like we're in kind of this new world, I'll ask them to talk about, you know, How did you, how did you lead in the past? What were your success -- how were you successful in the past? If I've got the picture cards, and I'm with them physically, I'll say, "Pick out a picture," you know, the picture cards "that represents how you led in the past. And one of --"

Jim Collison 43:09
Can be any pictures, by the way. Doesn't have to be our cards, but any pictures.

Robert Gabsa 43:13
Any, here's, here's 20, pictures, whatever. And they may pick it, and they'll tell me, tell me what this represents. And then "How are you leading now? What is the difference? Is there a difference?" In my opinion, there should be not a major difference, because you shouldn't stray from how you lead authentically. But there should be, I think there should be a little bit more leaning towards, "I'm showing more compassion." And this is also what I'm hearing when I ask, "What's, what's been successful for you?" "I'm showing more compassion. I'm, I'm, I'm listening more." And then, of course, I get into, "OK, so let's look at, you know, let's look at your strengths. Which strengths are you leaning into, in order to do that, in order to make that shift?" What strengths -- I'll ask, in general, when they forget about their strengths because their desk is on fire, and they're thinking about all of these other things, I go, "OK, let's come back to you. What strengths did you lean into to navigate this disruption? What helped you through it?"

Robert Gabsa 44:18
Because I remember when Jim said, you know, people, I think, will go deeper into their strengths. Some people think, No, you'll go to different strengths. And I think, I don't know; I think you go deeper, deeper into the ones that you already have, because that's what our brains do. That's kind of how they're wired. They just go to places that maybe we don't normally go. And then I get them to really think about where did they lean to get through this? Is it, you know, with me, it was Futuristic was probably the No. 1 thing I had to look towards what it was going to be like at some point, right? And I had to maybe turn down my Maximizer, because every day was not going to be perfect. So when you get them talking about some of those languages and realizing, What did they do to get through it? Great. We always like to look back at when we were successful. And then how do we apply that knowledge moving forward? Right. So those are, those are some, some questions that I'll use just tying them to strengths, but getting them again to always just think about how they've, how they've done it in the past, how are they doing it now? And, or if they're not, what, what needs to happen?

Jim Collison 45:27
Yeah. I think if I were to take away from what I've heard you saying today, the question that comes to my mind to, to a leader, to a manager is, What kind of culture are you trying to create? And what does that actually look like? Like, what are the outcomes of that? What, what kind of behaviors are you, are you doing as well as the behaviors of your team? What does that actually mean? I mean, I think that's what I, that's a long question. I would just say, What kind of culture are you trying to, are you trying to be individually? What kind of leadership culture do you have? Sean asks this great question, I think. He says, What would you say is the biggest consistent pitfall leaders fall into that they don't realize? I mean, some of the problems are pretty obvious; for some leaders, they're not. Robert, you've worked with leaders around the globe. What do you think? As we think about those pitfalls, what are the ones they don't realize, and they need help with? They need, need a coach to, to maybe help discover some of those, do you think?

Robert Gabsa 46:31
First thing that comes to my mind is listening. They tend to react and go to what they think is best, what they think is right, what they want to happen. And they start focusing on themselves, and they take their eyes off of the people. What do the people need? Right? I mean, even Q12, it's all about the needs of employees. Well, that is important. A leaders responsibility is to meet the needs of the people. And when they start thinking about their own needs -- I get anxiety; I don't feel uncomfortable if I can't see everybody every day -- get over it. Check your ego at the door, and think What's best for the people? Maybe they've got situations at home, maybe they're actually more productive working in a hybrid situation. Have you even taken the time to care or notice? Have you talked to them? Have you asked them? Have you trained your managers how to do that? Right? I get it. A leader can't talk to every person in an organization, unless you're in a very small organization. But they definitely can filter down beyond their circle.

Robert Gabsa 47:38
Because I get a lot of leaders that say, Oh, well, I, I communicate that. And I'll ask them, Who do you communicate that to? Most of the time, it's to their circle. But they're not taking the time to make sure that's cascading down to others. So I would say they're not -- and sometimes, a gentleman, president of an organization, a very large organization, new president. He came in, took off the big mahogany doors for the president's office, and ditched, ditched the Armani® suits and all of the images and went out and sat in a cube in jeans in the middle of the floor, because he wanted to be around the people and have the opportunity to swivel his chair every once in a while and talk to people. That, to me, is great leadership. And he listened. He was a coach. I think, I think it's not just managers need to be better coaches; leaders need to be better coaches. Think of the best leaders in some, you know, think of people like Vince Lombardis and Phil Knights. I mean, they weren't just great coaches. They were great leaders of people.

Jim Collison 48:50
Yeah, no, I love that, this, in my head, this idea of listening, because of the clues to what you need to lead and the way you need to lead. The clues are all around you. If you're not, if you're not listening, you're not picking up on those, those clues. Since going back into the office, I've actually been moving my seat around to the various teams that I work with. So sometimes, I've been, we have enough, we have desks. I can work from anywhere, right? And so I'll spend some time in my old location. I'll go up to the Comms team in Marketing, which I spent some time with. Now the old team has moved to another floor and they're, they're just like, Hey, come up and hang out with us for a while. Like, we want to, we want you to spend some time. Well, in those moments when I'm there, I hear these conversations that go on, right. Now, I'm not directly responsible for those conversations. But if I was, I would, that's the place I would want to be. I would want to be hearing those things that are around me.

The Value of the 4 Needs of Followers in Leading, Coaching

Jim Collison 49:49
Michael has a great question. He says, As a solopreneur coach who's not working with employees but is coaching clients who are leaders, what leadership skills might be the most salient for you me to develop? So he's kind of thinking about, What kind of skill should I develop when I'm, when I'm coaching as a solopreneur coach? What do you think?

Robert Gabsa 50:12
You know, I, I would start, I like to start with the, with the, with the 4 Needs of Followers. You know, if you think of Trust, Stability, Compassion and Hope, just those 4, to coach somebody through, How are you building trust? What are you doing? Right? How are you showing compassion? You can't create compassion. You can't create hope; you have to build it. Right? And so when you start looking at those, how are you providing stability? How is that being communicated? But what's being done that makes people feel more stable? Because when they have to answer the hard questions of What does, what are you doing? What is being done? What is specific, not just, Well, I'm thinking about it more, or I'm going to do this, or I've got a plan, or I'm communicating more -- what does that mean? More than what?

Robert Gabsa 51:07
Get specific, but I think the 4 Needs are a great place to start. I mean, you know, we have, you know, 7 Competencies of great leadership, and they get a little bit more granular into like building relationships, inspiring others. I mean, there's, there's some things that go deeper there. But man, just the 4 Needs, if you can get those right and do those well, you're, you're gonna go so far, you know. And, and I guess the other thing is getting them to look up. Look up and out. Because they're so busy. Their desks are so on fire. Their schedules are so crowded, that they're not looking out, and they're not walking the floors, and they're not going into the factories. And so I think, I think I would, I would push in that direction if I was coaching somebody. I mean, and I, I am, and I do.

Jim Collison 52:02
Yeah, yeah, no good advice. We, your friend, Dr. Jaclynn Robinson and I are spending some time thinking about this on the new CliftonStrengths, Season 2 of the CliftonStrengths Podcast by theme. So we're talking about how these themes play leadership or leading, leading roles that work by themes -- some things they can look out for, some things that they can enhance. And then how does that fit into the Manager Report or, as a manager is kind of the way I think I might start saying that, and in influence -- Sales, right? What kind of things do I influence? So just some resources for you there, Michael, as well. Those will start coming out live here early January, on The CliftonStrengths Podcast channel. That's a shameless plug for that. Jaclynn does such a great job on that.

Robert Gabsa 52:50
I'm looking at my background. I tried to match your background, Jim. And I apologize, folks, if it's a little distracting with this white thing that pops up above my head, but --

Jim Collison 53:00
No worries, no worries.

Robert Gabsa 53:01
Jim, I just don't have the fireplace, but I was able to kind of get the dark wood and books in the background for you, so --

Jim Collison 53:08
You got close. I like it. Robert, any final thoughts for you, as we kind of wrap this, as we bring this in for a landing -- final thoughts and, that you want to leave the audience with?

Robert Gabsa 53:17
You know, I guess just, I love what you're doing. Thanks for what you're doing. The world needs it more than ever right now. You know, I like, I like to think of, when we think of strengths, one of the quotes from M.D. Arnold, who was a 17th century or 18th century physician and psychologist or psychiatrist, studied mental health early on. His quote was, "A good leader leads the people from above them. A great leader leads the people from within them." And I think that again, comes to this individualization of others, and, and you're going to get the most out of people when you know them and can, and can inspire them, based upon what inspires them. If you don't think your people are motivated, ask them what motivates them. Right? If you don't know what inspires them, ask them about someone who's inspired them in the past, and learn what that is. Those are my closing thoughts.

Jim Collison 54:28
I like it. I like it. Good stuff. Well, thank you for doing this, Robert. Great to have you back. I'll need to figure out a ways to squeeze you back in on the schedule here, as we think about 2023 Always great -- you're in high demand and very busy.

Jim Collison 54:42
My calendars are -- I've looked at it this morning, going, Oh my gosh. How are we going to juggle all these -- ? Anyway. It's a good problem to have, right? You're helping the world.

Jim Collison 54:51
No, right on. Right on. I, people have said to me a lot, "Oh, you know, a lot of the great folks you had in 20 -- in 2020, we haven't seen them in a while." I'm like, "They got really busy." And 2020 was a magical, for me, from a leadership perspective, it was magical because I could bring on the, you know, we were, we had some time. And so I could bring on some great, some of the best webcasts we've done -- besides this one -- is, was done in 2020. And some great information there. So if you're listening live, I want to remind you to take full advantage of all the resources we do have available. And Robert mentioned a lot of them including our book, Strengths Based Leadership. Still available. If you want to get 4 Needs of Followers, super important. It's available on our store, go to For, for resources in Gallup Access, just head out to Log in, hit the Resources tab from the menu in the upper left, and we have a ton of stuff for you out there.

Robert Gabsa 55:46
Yeah, shameless plug for Blind Spot. I mean, it really gets down to what's happening right now with wellbeing and what the, what the world is struggling with.

Jim Collison 55:54
Yeah, and maybe what every coach should know about that, right? I think it's as much of a coaching book. We interviewed John 4 weeks ago on Called to Coach; that'll be coming here in a couple of weeks into the Called to Coach channel, but he talks about that directly in coaches. So don't miss out on that book. For coaching, master coaching or if you want to become a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach, you can send us an email (or any questions): Stay up to date on everything that's going on around our webcasts: gallup.eventbrite -- sign up for an account, and then follow us -- Don't forget to come to the Summit. It's virtual and in-person this year. Details: Yeah, maybe, well, I get to see you in person for a change while we're there, which is great. It's going to be as much of a Gallup reunion for a lot of us as it is a Summit. Want to thank you for coming out -- oh, by the way, find us anywhere on social by searching "CliftonStrengths." Want to thank you for coming out and joining us today. Thank -- and, and appreciate your conversations. Have a great week, everybody. And with that we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.

Robert Gabsa 56:55
All right, take care. Be well.

Robert Gabsa's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Ideation, Woo, Futuristic, Strategic and Maximizer.

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