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Called to Coach
Fostering Teamwork With CliftonStrengths®
Called to Coach

Fostering Teamwork With CliftonStrengths®

Webcast Details

  • Why is it important to have a positive work culture, and what does that look like?
  • In what practical ways can strengths be applied as a catalyst for greater teamwork?
  • What role does communication (versus assumption) play in conflict resolution and team cohesion?

Called to Coach Webcast Series -- Season 11, Episode 22

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


All of us want to work in a positive, collaborative team environment. But why is such an environment important, and what are the benefits for the team and the organization? In what practical ways can you apply your individual CliftonStrengths and foster team awareness of the strengths each member brings as a catalyst for positivity and cohesion? And how can communication about strengths benefit you and your team as you work together, including conflict resolution? Join Gallup's Danny Lee in this LinkedIn Live webcast and grow your understanding of and capacity to maximize teamwork.


Is the culture stimulating growth? Is it encouraging growth of the team, of the organization or of the individual? Or is it undermining it?

Danny Lee, 7:27

Human beings are very complex ... CliftonStrengths gives a very scientific way to [unpack] that complexity by starting from a place of simplicity.

Danny Lee, 12:23

Jim Collison 0:00
I am Jim Collison, and welcome to The CliftonStrengths® Podcast. On this podcast, we'll be covering topics such as wellbeing, teamwork, professional development and more. Now enjoy this episode. This episode was previously recorded on LinkedIn® Live.

Jim Collison 0:18
My name is Jim Collison. I want to welcome you to this time that we are together. I am the CliftonStrengths Community Manager for Gallup. And I'm here with Danny Lee, and we are excited to be with you today. Danny, welcome to the program!

Danny Lee 0:29
Oh, my pleasure. Thank you for inviting me, Jim.

Jim Collison 0:32
Yeah, it's always great to be with you. It's always a privilege to have this time. You are busy. You travel for Gallup a lot. And you go all, to all kinds of different places around the world. But today, you're with me. So it's pretty great to have you one-on-one. Thanks.

Danny Lee 0:46
It is a pleasure. Yeah.

Meet Our Guest on This Episode

Jim Collison 0:48
As we're talking about teamwork today, I think no better place for me to be here than with you. Let's get to know you a little bit. Folks who are joining us here, throw your Top 5 in chat, if you'd like to do that. Let us know where you're listening from. We'd like to do all of that. But, Danny, let's do a version for you of that. Tell us who you are, what you do for Gallup and your Top 5.

Danny Lee 1:08
Sure. My name is Danny Lee, and I've been with Gallup for now 17 years, and in, has been, I've been in the leadership development space for, during that time. And also my Top 5 is Individualization®, Empathy®, Connectedness®, Harmony®, Developer®. And so I tell people, all my Top 5 are Relationship Building. It also means that I'm the nicest guy they'll ever meet.

Jim Collison 1:38
It's true!

Danny Lee 1:39
Yeah. Also, I'm also a strengths coach, and have been developing other strengths coaches in the past decade; now trained about over 4,000 strengths coaches around the world. And I love my global nature of work; worked in 21 different countries, and also just recently came back from, from foreign land.

What's Important About Having a Positive Work Culture?

Jim Collison 2:01
Yeah, that's great. You and I have the opposite jobs: I stay in one place and do global work via YouTube® or LinkedIn or whatever, and you go to those places, and then, from time to time, get to join us here. Like I said, it's always a privilege to have you on. Let's, let's ask this question of the chat. They're doing a great job of checking in. So again, you can put your Top 5 in chat; let us know where you're listening from. But a question I'm gonna ask you, Danny, and I want to ask everybody to drop in chat, and we'll respond to that as well, is, What does a positive work culture look like, right? The title of this time together is called "Fostering Teamwork With CliftonStrengths," and a big part of that is a positive work culture. So what does a positive culture look like? Danny, in your work, because you've, you've done both coaching, training and some work in organizations, how would you answer that question? What does a positive culture look like?

Danny Lee 2:56
Yeah, well, one thing I've learned from the Golden Circle from Simon Sinek, is start with the why, not the what. And so let's start there, like, Why, why positive culture? And we can also narrow it down to, Why culture? Like, what about that is, is important? I think culture is like a behavioral ecosystem. Just like we have habits, and the habits that we have, whether we have a habit of eating healthy or working out, or even habit of thinking positively, or habit of looking for opportunities or habit of overcoming fear or habit of just kind of self-programming that, you know, I deserve this, or I am worthy. Those little habits, it actually has a huge influence over a person's future. And culture is nothing but a collective of those individual habits in an organizational setting. So depending on what kind of culture a team or an organization has, their initiatives and efforts, it can be either like swimming against the current, or -- if you have the right culture -- it's like swimming with the, the current.

Danny Lee 4:13
So when we have the right, that's why when we, in business, we use the word, "culture eats strategy for breakfast." No matter how big of a strategy and vision and mission one has, if the culture doesn't support, it can either enable the growth; it can also massively underline it. Culture is also like autopilot, where we have, we have habits, and those habits, we kind of put it on autopilot. So if we're on autopilot of thinking creatively, or we're on autopilot of journaling every day, that influences our future, future being and, and results. And that also, that, what kind of autopilot are we on when we go to work, when we engage with each other, that also creates a certain, a very strong influence, actually, over the outcomes and the things that they, they can achieve. So that's why culture itself is important.

Danny Lee 5:15
And then we can think about what a positive culture might look like versus a negative culture. A positive culture, it's one word, but it can actually mean very different things, depending on the industry, depending on the management philosophy or even the gathering. To some people, positive work culture means staying really focused, efficient in getting things done. To other people, a positive work culture might be not just about work, but there's a lot of celebration and, and fun to it. So positive culture can mean and look very, very differently. But I think when it comes to positive culture, it's not the, the perfect version of there is absolutely no mistrust, or there is no, absolutely no backstabbing, or there is absolutely no fear. I think a positive work culture still has those elements. But the frequency- wise, we have, we see just more higher frequency of recognizing excellence, higher frequency of having a safe space to express themselves and innovative ideas. I think a positive work culture, we just see a lot more of trusted behavior. We see a lot more result orientation and proactiveness, rather, versus a average work culture, or a negative work culture, will have a lot less of that in, in frequency.

Danny Lee 6:53
So I think, in essence, a positive working culture is a, it's not just a working culture, but it's also a living space as well, where people feel that they can express their talents, express their, their strengths and be able to achieve meaningful things that give a fulfillment, both from an organizational performance point of view but also from a personal point of view. If you ask me one word that comes to mind, positive work culture, is the, is the culture stimulating growth? Is it encouraging growth of the team, of the organization or of the individual? Or is it, is it undermining it? That's how we can probably kick off this topic of positive work culture.

Jim Collison 7:43
Yeah, I love it. I think it's a great preamble into this. We'll remind those listening live, if they, I'd love, we do this exercise and Gallup town halls all the time, where we say, put one word -- or you can use two; it's fine. But as you think about a positive work culture, the results of that are represented in what way? Put a couple of words in chat. How have you seen it? I love, there has been a few comments already. We'll, we'll, we'll read those. But Michelle says this: Team members align around goals and are encouraged to bring their best talents to work. Doesn't mean there aren't challenges. And I think sometimes this is, we can go, get a little off base on this, when we think, when there's challenges or accountability or disagreements, that that, that's breaking down the positive work culture. But she says, But we get through them together and perhaps even stronger. And then John said a little bit earlier, He prefers to use the word community versus culture. Danny, would you add to that or respond to that in any way?

Danny Lee 8:41
Yeah, I, I'm pretty, I'm very much aligned to that. A positive work culture is not -- sometimes we use these extremes. Like, we use these extreme words in business where we say, What's the best possible outcome? What is the best practice? You know, we got to make sure we don't, you know, drop any balls or there's any gaps, or we got to be 100%, 120%. I think we're human beings. We're human beings, and teams are a group of human beings. So a positive work culture is not the absence of the conflict. It's not the absence of the challenges. There are, they are present. But a positive work culture. There's more higher probability of seeing behaviors that enables us to wisely optimize those challenges or better efficiently overcome those challenges or resolve those, those conflicts.

Fostering a Collaborative Environment With CliftonStrengths

Jim Collison 9:38
I love -- there's some great comments coming in. We've been showing them on screen in chat, just these words confidence, fun and the teamwork, positive work community is supportive of various cultures. So some great feedback on it. Danny, I often say CliftonStrengths is an accelerant for team formations and sustainability, right? When we think about those, that framework, these 34 themes, as we figure out who we are in that, we can more quickly draw some conclusions about the teams, figure out how we work best together, and then maybe shore up some of those areas where we don't. Talk a little bit more, how can we use CliftonStrengths to kind of continue to foster that collaborative environment? Like, how can we continue to use that in a way that creates these, these, these positive work cultures?

Danny Lee 10:31
Yeah, well, frequency matters when we're creating a culture; creating a culture is not about this one-time big event or 2-, 2-day workshop. Those are important, but those are like going to the dentist. It's, we need that. But it's a one-time event. But what really builds the culture and builds the habit is what happens after the dental visit -- you know, do we brush our teeth? Do we floss? And things like that. So how do we continue to use it is -- really, it's in that word continue. It's that frequency, how do we use it on a day-to-day basis, and not just in a classroom or a workshop or in a big presentation, but when we go back to our day-to-day deadlines and daily demands and team collaborations and, and meetings.

Danny Lee 11:22
The fact is, human beings are very complex, Jim, you're very complex. I'm complex. Everyone attending this live session is very, very complex. And teams are complex too. It's a gathering of very, very complex human beings. But sometimes, because we are the same species, we feel like we know them. And we are similar, but we're very different; statistically, 1 in, you know, 34 million, we're all very, very unique. So when there's complex human beings come together, there's bound to be misunderstanding and conflict, because we're misinformed. And there's a lot of expectation that, for people to be mind readers, and we assume a lot. So in that ball of complexity, the CliftonStrengths gives a very scientific way to start, start unpacking that complexity by starting from a place of simplicity. We help people understand -- just like, you know, I got two hands, but of the two hands, one is more dominant. Similar to that, we all have these 34 areas of geniuses, but we don't have them equally; there are the ones that surface to the top that is more like our, somebody's dominant hand or like my dominant hand. It yields more higher return on investment. It tends to yield more higher probability of success.

Danny Lee 12:45
So when we understand these and put these into practice, so I would say, there's a stage of awareness. And then there's a stage of not just stopping at the awareness, and Hurrah! We know our Top 5. But then go into the application. So awareness to application. And then, we apply, apply, apply, and then we start applying it selectively towards our aspirations. So I just came up with it, maybe we'll just call it the triple A's: awareness, the application towards the, towards the aspiration. But it's, it's not about this silver bullet that will solve every single problem within the team. But it is a very powerful and practical way to optimize, optimize a gathering of complex, complex human beings. So we start small, start small, and then we just continue continuously using it in our day-to-day operations, in our day-to-day meetings and conversations.

Practical Steps Toward Greater Teamwork

Jim Collison 13:51
Let's make an assumption, that a team has their Top 5. They've got a grid with the Top 5 on it, or they know it; they're aware of them, right? They've got these. From a manager standpoint, or even from a, from a group standpoint, what are some real practical things a team, once they're aware of these, right, they begin to have these discussions, and they know them, they can identify them in others -- some of those kinds of things. What are some practical things they can actually do to help in this area to develop a positive work culture, even if it's just at the team level?

Danny Lee 14:26
Yeah, yeah. So when we have a great tool, like the team grid, which is basically plotting the dominant talents or the superpowers that exist within the team by individuals, it's so easy to get sucked into that tool and try to analyze the tool. But I would say, as a leader, step back from the team grid, and think about, what do we stand for as a team? What is our aspirations? What do we want to be known for as a team? What does a great team look like? And really define what excellence, performance and aspiration looks like -- even thinking about, what does a great culture look like to us? What is my management philosophy? What does success look like for the team? So from a more high-level perspective, define excellence and aspiration, irrelevant to what the team grid actually says. So we start there.

Danny Lee 15:34
And then, once we have those big pictures defined, then we go into OK, now what kind of talents and superpowers do we have within this team that can enable us to get there closer, get there faster, get there with less friction, get there with higher level of efficiency? So starting with the, almost like starting with the why conversation, but then taking it down to OK, now, with the strengths that we have, how can we get there a little bit more easier, faster, in a way that's more authentic for, for the team? I think a really important question that leaders can start with this is, instead of looking at What do we have? Start asking the question, What's right about my team? What's right about my team? What's right about this team member? What makes them unique versus the, the other? Because, you know, the role of the leader is really like a master conductor of the orchestra. They're not playing the violin. They're not playing the piano. But they are actually identifying who plays what and what each is excellent looks like. And they're actually coordinating and organizing those or, in a way, channeling those, those efforts.

Jim Collison 17:06
As you, I love what you were saying, as I was thinking, as I was thinking about what you said, this thing came to mind of, if I'm at the end of my day, and instead of, you know, sometimes, you know, you're like, it's been a long day, of asking someone on the team, "What did we do right today? Like, what really worked today?" instead of, I just can't wait to get out of here. I just can't wait to get home. It just is one of those really practical, positive, end. Sometimes, you know, we start the day by getting together, maybe some groups do stand-ups, and they're like, Hey, what'd I do yesterday? What am I going to do today? What's, what are my roadblocks? But to finish the day, What did we really do well today as a team? Does it, Danny, does it require the manager for the team culture to work? Or can teams do this in spite of their manager, so to speak? And I say that in jest, in jest a little bit, but does it, but does it always have to be the manager that leads these things?

Danny Lee 18:07
Not necessarily. I mean, there's just like, just like engagement, there is a role of the manager, which is very important. But there's also the role of the individual, the personal being. And then the, there's the role of the, the colleagues. And it all creates the ecosystem and the, and the culture. But irrelevant to the team and the manager, as a self, we can also do things it's, about, like, self-awareness. How can we become more self-aware? How can we optimize the talents that we have in our daily, in our daily living? Because it's all different, it's all different. I, you know, in my kind of talent DNA, the very dead last is Achiever®. So there's so many Achievers in the world. Achiever is my very dead last. But for so long in my life, I have tried to live a life like an Achiever and tried to evaluate my life as an Achiever, like an Achiever, and it just didn't work. I wasn't very happy, because that wasn't necessarily what charged my, charged my batteries.

Danny Lee 19:27
So I lead with Connectedness. And so my, to me, a good day for me is not necessarily how much I got done. My good day is, it can look the same as an Achiever, but it means differently. My good day would be, How many seeds have I planted today for the future? Like it can be the same thing. I'm still working hard; Achievers are working; we're all working hard. But the way it generates meaning can be different how we are, we are wired. So let's think about, OK, we're closing out the day as an individual. Just looking at our Top 5 and see how each of those Top 5 talents or strengths are -- has been charged. How do we keep it charged? And how do we use it more? Because, you know, eagle needs to fly. They got wings, they got wide wings, and they have to flap those wings and fly to feel good about their being. And these Top 5 kind of represents those. If those wings are tied, and we put an eagle in a bird cage, the eagle will suffer, become sick, and, and eventually die.

Danny Lee 20:42
So the, I think, Elizabeth Gilbert, who is the author of Eat, Pray, Love, shared this in a podcast some years ago about her guru from India. And this is what she said that he said -- and the quote will be messed up a little bit, but it goes something like this: A talent that's not used, when it's not used, it becomes illness. So when people have talent, we got to use those. You know, bird, an eagle needs to spread their wings and fly. So at the individual level -- yes, there's things we can do at the team level, but at an individual level, it sometimes we can call it a different way of self-care. We have to take care of, be aware of, and also take care of, our dominant talents that we, that we possess.

Team, Organizational Benefits of Communication

Jim Collison 21:34
Two comments from chat, and I want you to kind of respond to these. John says, It's important to know that when we define our work culture, we do so only from our perspective, right. What you view and define as culture are not the same as everyone in that culture. Thinking too, to, right below it, then Michelle says, and to be sure, my Maximizer® can look a bit different than your Maximizer. So let's talk about that, and how mine might show up on a team, in a project, etc., and especially as it relates to my other talents. Danny, as you think about those two, I mean, I'm reading a lot of individualization, with a small "i" -- not the theme of it, but the, the idea. Your, your, your thoughts on that? Especially as we think about, both of them relate to conflict in a team. What I see is not what you see; that's what both of those say to me. How do we really work through those conflicts? What are some, what are some practical ways of working -- ?

Danny Lee 22:33
So the two words that comes to mind is communication versus assumption. Many times in team settings, we assume, versus open up and communicate. So we might hear the word culture. We all know this word. But the way one person interprets and sees that word can be very different. And they're talking about culture, but they're actually talking about two very different, different things. Michelle's point about talent, absolutely correct. Because it's not just the Maximizer but the other, what comes with the Maximizer around -- but not just the talent themes, but what comes with cultural backgrounds, philosophies, belief systems, aspirations, how they grew up, where they went to school, what they know, what their dreams are -- all of that comes together.

Danny Lee 23:32
So one Maximizer and another Maximizer can be also very different. But through communication -- not just, Oh, you got Maximizer; I got Maximizer too. I understand what your Maximizer is, because I also have. Instead of that, communicate. Have chance to communicate. And there's also a wonderful tool that many of us know, it's called the Best of Us. And even when we are creating a small project team and starting the project, just simply sharing our Top 5 talents, also going through a quick version of the, you know, Best of Us, which starts with, "You get the best of me when -- " "Get the worst of me when -- " "This is what I need from you." And "This, these are the things you can count on me to bring," that creates communication. It creates alignment, and it creates efficiency, versus assuming. So I would say step a little bit more on the communication versus the assumption.

Jim Collison 24:34
Love that. Yeah, let's, let's not make the assump -- because I think, sometimes we, you know, much like we read, we, when we get a text message, we read it with negative intent. I think sometimes we, attitudes get displayed that way too. And we, instead of clarifying, we start making assumptions, right? And, and we all know where that goes. Can you think of, in all the, in the 17 years you've been out doing this for us, some, have you witnessed this in a, in a client? We don't have to name, you know, we don't have to name names. But have you seen this in a client situation and it get resolved through them actively working through some of these things we've been talking about -- any examples there?

Danny Lee 25:21
Yeah. So an example that comes to mind is a, we'll just call it a, a small company, a small company with employee size of like 10-15, 10-15. Wasn't very well known. And they were trying to kind of put their, put their name on the industry, industry map. They did possess a lot of great areas of strengths -- not CliftonStrengths but strengths as a company; their offering and the talents that they possessed. But this, the CliftonStrengths itself, gave them an actual tool to name it and be able to apply those and apply those into, into day-to-day. So even a simple activity, they created a little magnet board in the entrance, where each day, when people come, they actually get to pick one of their Top 5 magnets and say, This is what I'm going to focus on today. So we can actually, each member, not only does it create awareness of who has what kind of dominant talents, but it's like, OK, it's actually every day, it's, it's building a habit, OK? Which one am I going to be intentionally using with my client call today? Which am I going to be paying attention to today? So it goes from awareness to appli-, application.

Danny Lee 26:52
It started building those habits, and it started becoming an actual organic culture. And during COVID time, when competitors were actually closing business and shutting down, they actually not only met their organizational target, they actually doubled it. So 200%. Yeah, 200% accomplishment. Now, it's been 2 years since that, 2-3 years since that time. They are now 3 times the size that they, that they used to, used to be. And so when we are aware, and then not just aware and talk about it, but go towards practice, applying even simple thing like these magnet things and applying and being intentional about it, it does result in higher level of efficiency.

Danny Lee 27:51
Is there conflict? Of course there is. But the way they resolve conflict's a lot more efficient. So it results in business growth, personal growth, and the outcome is, is actually pretty good. And it actually applies at the individual level as well. I was coaching a sales exec, which, early in the year, basically, number was really low for the entire country operation, and then over 6 months of coaching, and we're helping him focusing on what's right, focusing on what's right, how can we use, how can we be more authentic in his leadership? And at the end of the year, the sales actually 10x'd. So it, yeah, it grew 10 times. So focusing on strengths, it's not just a philosophy. When we actually go through the grind of just applying, sometimes it can feel cheesy, but if we continue to apply, apply, apply toward specific outcomes and aspirations, it can be quite, quite amazing.

Jim Collison 29:02
Yeah. And, and sometimes those outcomes can have wellbeing impact to them. Right? Teams can have, I mean, we can actually start influencing people's lives. Right? Do you have any thoughts on that, as it ties into this wellbeing component?

Danny Lee 29:19
Yeah, it's wellbeing and satisfaction too. We, even, many of us, we know this, you know: clues to talent, 5 clues to talent, and one of it is satisfaction. So there are certain things we get done, we work really hard, we grit through and we get done. And then we're like, Phew! I hope I never get to do that again! Versus when we know how to do things in a way that's aligned with our talents, it's actually fun. It's energizing, to a level where we start like anticipating, oh, when can I do more of these? It's definitely aligned, I think -- there's a lot of connection with wellbeing. And in some of my prior, you know, talks, I also talked about, not just Top 5 CliftonStrengths, but these are our Top 5 batteries. And we want to make sure that these are, are charged, because when they are, it gives us purpose, meaning, and we feel good, we feel good about ourselves and what we do. Whereas, like I jokingly say about my 34th Achiever battery, like when that battery is charged, Jim, aah -- like, for me, it's like, it doesn't do me much. But when that Connectedness battery is charged, that Developer battery is charged, that, you know, Individualization battery is charged, then that just boosts me and gives me so much more energy than crossing something off the, off the list. Yeah.

Jim Collison 31:00
Does this charge you up at all -- this medium, knowing you're getting to talk to so many different people and put some, you know, connect some dots? Is this, does this charge you up?

Danny Lee 31:10
It does charge me. But I would say this activity alone, it could have charged me; it could have drained me too. Like if I didn't know my Top 5, and I was focusing on, ooh, now I got to bring up a show. And I got to do something. And if it was more like that, it would have been inauthentic if I try to participate in a session like this, try to fake what's on the bottom. But I'm leaning in with my Connectedness, with my Developer, and leaning in with more a sense of, not accomplishment, but more with a sense of service. So then, now it's meaningful and it is charging.

Jim Collison 31:53
Yeah, I love it. It -- these charge me up -- high Arranger®, high Maximizer. I love 1,000 things going on all at the same time, folks throwing questions in chat, trying to manage the questions back to you, trying to bring it all together. That, while, for some people, that's a lot of work, I actually leave these more charged than I came, which is -- at first, I didn't quite understand it. People would be like, "How do you do so many?" And I'm like, "I don't know." And it's because they charge me up. And I think we can think about that from a teamwork perspective too, of the teams identifying, What charges me? And if you got a whole team that's getting charged every day, right, we really get to the conclusion. Danny Lee, thank you for -- it's always great. Hard to get you, because you're always traveling to some, some, someplace in the world. But great to have you. Thanks for your wisdom. Thanks for your advice. And --

Danny Lee 32:49
It was a great pleasure.

Jim Collison 32:50
Appreciate you being here today. We'll remind everyone listening, we will make this available through The CliftonStrengths Podcast. So if you haven't subscribed to that, head out to your podcast player and just search "CliftonStrengths" and, or "The CliftonStrengths Podcast" or "Gallup" -- either one of those will get you will get you there. And we'll be posting this a little bit later. Lots of theme materials. In fact, we've been working through the Leaders, the, the CliftonStrengths for Leaders Report in Season 2, a lot of discussion of wellbeing in Season 1. So a lot of great resources for you as well. To everyone watching live, thanks for coming out. And if you're listening on the podcast, thanks for listening. With that, we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.

Jim Collison 33:27
Thank you so much for listening to today's episode of The CliftonStrengths Podcast. Make sure you like and subscribe wherever you listen, so you never miss an episode. And if you're really enjoying this podcast, please leave a review. This helps us promote strengths globally.

Danny Lee's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Individualization, Empathy, Connectedness, Harmony and Developer.

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

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