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

Competition®: Developing Your Leadership Skills

Webcast Details

  • Gallup CliftonStrengths Podcast, Season 2: Competition
  • What is the power of Competition in a leadership role?
  • How could Competition 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 Competition® 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 Competition talent -- because everyone leads something.


This leader strives for being the best and engages the organization through their winning attitude. ... [T]hey can help others in the company feel like they have what it takes to win big.

Jaclynn Robinson, 2:09

The messaging can't just be on winning ... But it's making sure that this leader is incorporating the company's mission or purpose or brand or values, and keeping that at the forefront as well.

Jaclynn Robinson, 6:55

Jim Collison 0:00
I am Jim Collison, and this is The CliftonStrengths Podcast, Season 2, recorded on February 8, 2023.

Jim Collison 0:06
In this CliftonStrengths podcast series, we look at the CliftonStrengths for Leaders Report one theme at a time, and today's theme is Competition. If you're listening live, we'd love to have you join us in our chat room. If you don't see it, there's a link to it right above me there. It will take you there; love to have you, your questions or comments. If you're listening after the fact, you can send us an email: Jaclynn Robinson is our host today. She works as a Senior Learning and Development Consultant and joined me for Season 1 of The CliftonStrengths Podcast, where we looked at the book Wellbeing at Work one theme at a time. And Jaclynn, always great to be with you. Welcome back!

Jaclynn Robinson 0:53
Thank you. Hello, hello!

Introducing Competition

Jim Collison 0:55
We are spending some time on Competition today. This is gonna be a fun one -- they're all fun, let's just be honest. But let's dive in with that intro.

Jaclynn Robinson 1:02
Yes. If you have Competition high, you measure your progress against the performance of others. You strive to win first and revel in contests.

Jim Collison 1:15
Revel in contests. I think this is the theme -- and maybe we'll spend some time thinking through this through the whole conversation here today, but -- we spend a lot of time the "me" versus "we," and this seems a very "me"-centered theme. OK, I'm not saying it is. And I'm not judging it, OK. But I want us to, I want to challenge that. I want to challenge people to think beyond this. Because I think this is, Competition gets a bad rap. It's like, Oh, there's Competition.

Jaclynn Robinson 1:44
It's such a fun theme!

What Is the Power of Competition in a Leadership Role?

Jim Collison 1:46
And it's so helpful in so many ways. So I want to think about that. I want to overlay that, as we go through this whole conversation, just thinking about that, in the context of how can we take a Competition from "me" to "we"? We are spending this season thinking through this new role-based report, CliftonStrengths for Leaders, and talking about it. So what is the power of this theme in a leadership role, then?

Jaclynn Robinson 2:08
Yes. This leader strives for being the best and engages the organization through their winning attitude. Bearing the hat of a coach with a champion's mentality, they can help others in the company feel like they have what it takes to win big. So when that happens, this leader makes everybody feel like a winner. It is that, it is that "we" mentality that you were talking about when it's used with intention.

Jim Collison 2:31
Expand on that just a little bit. When we think about that last phrase, I think you said something like the leader makes everyone feel like a winner. How do, how -- expand on that a little bit, because I do think that's the key to this "me," "me" to "we" concept. What does that look like, in your mind?

Jaclynn Robinson 2:48
Yeah, it's that there's no "I" in "team." So it took all of us to achieve this companywide goal. It took all of us to, you know, put out this product or to deliver quality service where we are the No. 1 in our industry, or we are moving up the ladder to No. 1 in our industry. And so they can really just help everyone feel like a champion and like they had an equal part in the success of the organization.

Jim Collison 3:18
I think sometimes I get that idea that they create a vacuum that pulls, or a magnet. We've talked about that in seasons of Theme Thursday -- a magnet to draw people in to, to those teams. People want to be a part of something that's a winner. It's why, you know, whatever, whatever team -- and I won't mention the sport, because that's, that's not international; I'd say something American. So we'll just say, in any sport, generally, the one, the teams that are doing the best, they draw the most fans, right? People want to come to be a part of that. And I think in teams, people want to be on a winning team. I think the challenge sometimes, though, comes in the, in the sense of those, of pulling them along with recognition, right, for the right reasons. Not winning for winning's sake, but to recognize individuals -- maybe that "we" component is also being able to create the best recognition ever for those teams, so that people feel significant, right, people -- and the small "s" on that -- people feel significant in, in what they have achieved. I don't know, any, any thoughts on that?

Jaclynn Robinson 4:23
That's a good callout. It goes back to the energy and synergy they can create in the workplace, through friendly competition across departments or by, you know, to your point, recognizing them in some significant fashion, a specific person -- MVP team member or the MVP department. But it's, it's engaging; it is that, that place where you want to be -- even if you're an underdog, I would think, in some cases, and with Competition you're like, yes, we are gonna climb that way to the top! We're finding our way there. We've got Ted Lasso; we all like the Ted Lasso show, right? Like, they're the underdogs.

How Can Those With Competition Lead Others?

Jim Collison 5:06
In American culture -- I don't know, I can't speak for others, but in American culture, the underdog is valued, right. And when we say "underdog," that means someone who doesn't necessarily, is not picked to be the winner, right? It's, the odds are stacked against -- I mean, our movies are full of it in our, and, and we love it when, if you have a championship team that's won 5 years in a row, the team that unseats them, like people just root for that, right. And so I think there's some -- well, so let's, let's think of this in terms of, of the "how" then. So How can this theme lead others? Give us a few insights on the "how" on this.

Jaclynn Robinson 5:47
They can, they can propel others forward by making sure each person and team has the tools and resources that they need to succeed, once that vision is cast. So in this regard, I find them developmental in nature, not just with the potential of the people, in saying, "I know that, that you can achieve this. I know you can achieve great things." But "What do you need in order to do that? Let's make sure that you've got the right resources."

How Could Competition Hinder Your Leadership of Others?

Jim Collison 6:12
Oh, I love that. That really speaks to that Q01 question, I know what's expected of me, right? And that Competition saying, Hey, like, yeah, we're, clearly, we're on this team to win. Like, speaking from the context of Competition, right, again. So the report talks about some helps. It's got some action, it's got some, some, some helpful statements, kind of like we just went through here. It's also got some hinder statements, when we think about how this theme can hinder. And I think this is one we go to too fast at times. So let's talk a little bit about how can this theme hinder those or hinder your leadership of others?

Jaclynn Robinson 6:50
You did a good job of teasing this out earlier, and just mentioning that, you know, the messaging can't just be on winning; that might turn some people off that aren't just focused on the prize itself. But it's making sure that this leader is incorporating the company's mission or purpose or brand or values, and keeping that at the forefront as well. Otherwise, it could dampen the morale of some employees. Not everyone's focused on winning or competing. And if they are, this leader still has to be aware of burning their employees out with the constant push to win and succeed as well. So I think that's the other caveat is, for those that like to win, you don't want to just push them, push them, push them. That, that, that flame will burn out, just like with Achievers. They like productivity, but they can burn out. So Competition, I think, has to be wary of that as well with their organization or their followership.

Jim Collison 7:46
I never thought of these three words in this way. But you'd mentioned mission, purpose and brand. We, we're going to talk about the 4 Needs of Followers here in a second in that construct, but that's almost the 3 needs of an organization, right? Mission, purpose, brand. As we think about the way, teasing all, all three of those out -- and maybe there's a fourth one to add in there. I don't know what it is, but thinking through the lens, a leader thinking through that lens of How is this advancing our mission, our purpose and our brand, in that, whatever that means, and maybe values is the fourth one in that, right? The values of an organization are in there. Let's think about this, though, in the terms of Hope, Stability, Compassion and Trust -- the 4 Needs of Followers that we spend time -- where do you think Competition (and of course, it goes across all four), but where do you think it, where do you think it shines in that space?

Jaclynn Robinson 8:39
I could see Hope. I could certainly see Hope. They're bringing a lot of energy and enthusiasm to the team. And they have their eyes on the prize. So that team or that organization knows where they're heading. There's that light at the end of the tunnel to say, This is what I'm doing today. And I know where we should be as an organization tomorrow. And someone with Competition high has those metrics or goals in place for the followership or for their team members. And so that would be really clear as well, I would imagine, in terms of knowing what the light at the end of the tunnel is and how you're supposed to get there. So there's that, that lens of Hope: I see where we're heading. And that can create Stability, because there is no lack of clarity. That, that person with Competition high knows what they want and knows what they want of their team. Yeah, and I think that that, that Compassion piece, that's just gonna come from saying, potentially you, you've, you've got this. I know you can handle it. I see the talent within you. What resources do you need? I'm here for you -- which is caring, too, when you're making sure that person is supported with the tools they need to, to achieve.

Jim Collison 9:53
You know, I think if you replace the word "win" with "success," right -- and I think you, I think in some cases you can -- for successful teams, they're not successful on accident, oftentimes, right? There's, there's been a purpose, there's been a drive, there's been a plan put in place. There's a system that creates this Stability for these, for people, right? And so they know, Hey, to achieve where we're trying to go from this perspective, this is the way we do it. This is the way we operate. And it creates, I think it creates tremendous Stability. Back to the expectation questions, you can't have, I mean, oftentimes, it's hard to have Stability when you don't, when you don't know what's expected of you.

Jaclynn Robinson 10:35
There's no solid foundation.

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

Jim Collison 10:37
Yeah, yeah. So I think that, I think that brings, I think that's one of the side benefits of this excellence or this success is, again, it doesn't always happen by accident. Sometimes it does. But most times, it's very much on purpose. And that purpose creates Stability. So I love that about Competition. I think sometimes people only see the winning side of things or the winning at all costs. And maybe that's a negative hindrance when it's winning at all costs. But seeing that teams that are being -- again, replace "win" with "success" -- teams that are being successful oftentimes have a plan, and that creates Stability through expectations. So I think it's a good way to think about it. We're also spending some time this season with this idea of report dynamics, and we're bouncing the Sales role Report up against this Leaders Report. What do we think, if we put the two of those together, what kind of success could we get out of that?

Jaclynn Robinson 11:31
Oh, this is fun! What a time to be alive! If you have Competition, and you're in a sales role, that's how I see this leader showing up. They're like, Yes, I am thriving! What's better than having a sales goal and other established metrics? What's better than a territory full of those potential customers? What's better than the knowledge of what your competitors are doing so you can leverage against it? So I think this leader finds a lot of joy and energy and, and thinking about this in their day to day, and then supporting their team members with their numbers to help support that bottom line. And also just that environment in general, sales goals can be fun in this environment, because that, there's that friendly competition, there's nudging each team member to exceed their sales goal. As we talked about earlier, this might be the person that really celebrates and recognizes people and has that MVP everyone strives to be. So this could be a really fun, entertaining workspace.

Jim Collison 12:29
Yeah, I like it. I get excited just kind of thinking about it.

Jaclynn Robinson 12:31
I know! Me too!

Jim Collison 12:32
Yeah. And, you know, we live, and, and to be honest with, like, with, I think with the audience here, we live in challenging times, and, and we have headwinds, right. I mean, we just do. And yet I think those high in Competition see through that. And I think if you're sometimes, you know, going back to the 4 Needs of Followers, I sometimes need to attach myself to somebody with high Competition to pull me along with it, right? To say, Look, I don't have the drive you do. I'm gonna, I want to come in and, I want to come in and draft behind you as you're, as you're giving, you know, as you're striving, right, for excellence, for success in this. What about, when we think about the Leader Report and the Manager Report together? What kind of things do we see in that one?

Jaclynn Robinson 13:23
Yes. So this people leader can be quite adept at setting performance metrics for their team, and each member of it, to make sure they know what that goal is and how they're tracking towards it. Also, with an eye on excellence, in an effort to be the best and win big, this leader can develop each team member based on their strengths and really, again, ensure they have those support systems they need to take their talent to that next level or take their success to the next level.

Jim Collison 13:49
Yeah, tools to help people to the next level. I love that kind of idea, that kind of, that said, and I think this is another one of those -- sometimes teams lock in, especially teams of managers, lock into status quo. They don't see themselves as a functioning unit in an organization where they are responsible to work together for, for the own success to -- what did I say those, those three were? -- the brand -- mission, purpose, brand and values. Right? I mean, they're the keepers. They're responsible. They have the responsibility for that. So any final thoughts on Competition?

Jaclynn Robinson 14:30
Oh, anytime I coach someone with this theme, I just always, you know, praise that natural way that they tend to think, because I think with this theme -- you had mentioned it earlier -- people can look at the hindrances first. And I think this can be such an engaging theme and such a valuable theme. And so I always think about how, because performance metrics are so top of mind for them, they can be really adept, when it comes to their teams, at helping them know, What, what am I supposed to aim towards? What are those quantitative or qualitative metrics in place? So they know what excellence looks like. They're good with those check-ins, those quarterly check-ins, to say, This is where you're at, in relation to where your goal is. And so I always just want them to go, Hey, you've got that natural talent! I'm sure you're embracing it. But I want to call that out and make you even more self-aware or let you know how valuable that is, because employees are itching to know, what is, what does excellence look like? What are my performance goals? And that's not always clear, as we know when half the workforce doesn't know what's expected of them. So this is one of those natural, just top-of-mind attributes that someone with Competition tends to have. So I like to call it out and praise it anytime I can. When they see it, they go, Oh, I didn't think about that before.

Jim Collison 15:45
Yeah, yeah. I, I value it in teams. When I find people with it, I just try to get close to them. Because it's, for me, it's helpful to me. It's really, really helpful. And, and so it's, I think it's a great way to, it just pulls me along. It's just, it's a, it's a motivator; it's like jet fuel for my, for my own performance. Well, with that, we'll remind everyone to take full advantage of all the resources we have available now on Gallup Access. These, all of these are there, by the way. If you head out to, log in, upper left-hand corner. Drop it down, choose Resources, put in any theme -- you can put in this one, Competition -- everything we've done on Competition (most everything; "everything's" kind of a strong word). For somebody with Competition, they'd be like, Oh, I can do more than that. But everything we have there is there and is available for you. Stay up to date with all the webcasts by following us: Follow us there, and you'll get an email whenever I do something new. Join us on any social platform by searching "CliftonStrengths," and thanks for listening today. I'd bet we could probably get more likes, Jaclynn, right now on this one than any other ones. So let me challenge you out there, live listeners. I don't know, I think maybe the record's 30 or 35 likes, so you better get busy. Get out there, click the Like button. Regardless of where you're listening to this, we always appreciate it if you Like and Subscribe. And just keeps you up to date on everything that's going on, so you never miss an episode. Thanks for joining us today. For those listening live, we'll do just a few minutes -- not much; I got maybe one question for you, Jaclynn -- of 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:

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