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

Individualization®: Developing Your Leadership Skills

Webcast Details

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


This leader can pick up on the subtle nuances and qualities of individuals, and then craft their messaging or actions in a way that aligns with that person.

Jaclynn Robinson, 2:16

A sincere interest in what makes people unique, coupled with a desire to position them and develop them for success, ... means this people leader might hold individual career development ... top of mind and close to their heart.

Jaclynn Robinson, 11:59

Jim Collison 0:00
I am Jim Collison, and this is The CliftonStrengths Podcast, Season 2, recorded on March 28, 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 Individualization®. If you're listening live, love to have you join us in the chat room. If you're listening after the fact, you can always send us an email: Dr. 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 it's always great to be with you, Jaclynn. Welcome back!

Jaclynn Robinson 0:50

Introducing Individualization

Jim Collison 0:52
We are, we are spending some time thinking about Individualization today. I think it's the longest theme name. But what does it mean? We always have to take it into account whenever we're doing anything with it. You're like, OK, what's the longest one? Connectedness is in there. It may not be the longest, but it's long. What does it mean?

Jaclynn Robinson 1:11
It's long. It means you are intrigued with the unique qualities of each person, you have a gift for figuring out how different people can work together productively.

What Is the Power of Individualization in a Leadership Role?

Jim Collison 1:21
Yeah, and I love that idea of productivity, of getting everyone productive. Remember these themes, these are talents, which are driven by success. I think sometimes we get caught up in the Name it, Name it and Name it, and we start making up things that maybe not lead to success. I think this, this theme in particular, when we're thinking about individuals, it's these productivity hacks that make them the most productive, right, individuals. I love it, because it focuses -- it's one of those themes that really, I think, focuses on the person, right, and, and spending time thinking about them. We are spending time this season thinking about it in the context of leadership, and with our new CliftonStrengths for Leaders Report. So what do you think? This power, the power of this theme in a leadership role?

Jaclynn Robinson 2:10
Well, tying it back to how they can help people work together productively, this leader can pick up on the subtle nuances and qualities of individuals, and then craft their messaging or actions in a way that aligns with that person. I also think because of their observations about others, people feel seen and heard for who they are and the contributions they can make. So I see that in you a lot, too. Just the way that you, you know, Individualization being high for you as well, the way that you can identify what's unique in someone, and you pull it out and you really develop it, which I think couples so well with the Developer® that you have so high too.

How Can Those With Individualization Lead Others?

Jim Collison 2:51
Oh, thanks. Yeah, that, that Relator®-Developer-Individualization, 8, 9 and 10, that triplet works well for me. You see it often in the interviews that I do. So, like, every single interview, while it's structured similar, is very different, based on trying to pull out what's the best? How do we take advantage? We have only a limited amount of time together; how do we take the advantage of it, you know, and pull the best from the individual? When we think about this idea of taking it from me to we, leaders are managing teams and individuals, how important is it when we think about, then, using Individualization to bolster relationships so that we figure out, not just how to make the individual productive, but how do we take two people when they're together, figuring out now multidimensional? How do we make that unit more productive? Can you talk a little bit about that?

Jaclynn Robinson 3:44
Yes. So given this leader's talent for observing what people do best and recognizing their strengths, they can help align individuals to the right roles and responsibilities, and then help those individuals on team see how their talents really play into this grander scheme or bigger picture with the team that they're on, but also the department or the, the mission overall. So they can recognize there is no "I" in "team," but I bring something special to the team.

How Could Individualization Hinder Your Leadership of Others?

Jim Collison 4:12
Yeah, no, I love that. Because it's, it's there is an "I" in "teams"; there are individuals, right. There are, teams are not made up of, of, you know, of a conglomerate; they're made up of individuals. And yet those individuals need to act and perform in a way that, where everyone has to win -- or at least that's the goal, right, in that? And so I keep thinking from these terms of leaders -- and this is, by the way, the magic, I think, and the hardest part of leadership is just getting people to work together, right? All these different personalities, then figuring out the magic, right, the secret sauce, so to speak. How do we get these varying talents and roles and responsibilities and values -- how do we get them all working together in a way, that's a finely tuned engine, so to speak, right? It's really hard. Like, this is, this is one of those things I just, I don't envy. When people say they want to be leaders, this, this is what I think of is Individualization. I'm like, be careful what you wish for! Cause it's really hard; it is really hard. Let's think, think of this in terms of hinders, though. How can this theme hinder the leadership of others?

Jaclynn Robinson 5:27
So the observations this leader can make of others might lead them to assume, rather than ask or lead with curiosity at times. In a work setting, this might look like giving someone responsibilities that may not align with their goals and aspirations, even though they do it well. So this just goes back to, you know, a person can do something really well and with excellence, but they don't want to do it all their time, or they might not enjoy it. And so it's just taking that moment to genuinely ask versus assume, just because you see them doing something great.

Jim Collison 5:58
Yeah, we spend a lot of time, right, we're trying to line up roles and talents to responsibilities. Like, OK, you've got to get this done. How do we take what you know, what you're good at, and align it? I think sometimes the hard part on that is they don't always align. And this is where you have to have that conversation a little bit. Like, OK, I know this isn't a perfect fit; I just need you to do this. Like, it's going to be part of, it's going to be part of what we're doing here. And I think that's the hard part of leadership. And sometimes we, we shy a, we don't, those are hard conversations that we shy away from. And Jaclynn, in your experience, not, how much, how much worse is not having that conversation than having it and it being difficult, right? I mean, talk a little bit, talk a little bit about that. And as you've been coaching managers and leaders in that, in hearing that struggle in their voices, they just don't want to say it, right?

Jaclynn Robinson 6:57
Yes. It's easier when you're already having those Quick Connect conversations with an employee and really have a pulse on what it is they love, what they don't, what their personality is kind of like. When you've got that trust and rapport, so when they do just have to do something they may not like, that conversation becomes so much easier. It's OK, I can preface it. I know, this isn't your, you know, the, the place you like to play; this isn't your playground in the workplace. But I do need you to do it. But hey, it's only lasting 2 weeks, or I just need you to push through for a couple of months. And then, you know, we can start to shift gears again and get you back in the right, the right space that you like to.

Jim Collison 7:38
Super hard conversation; super hard conversation.

Jaclynn Robinson 7:41
It is hard. And they can be made so much, they can be more seamless, I will say, if you've got that trust and rapport already established, and they know you as a manager versus you're a stranger, and now you're trying to have that difficult conversation. I think that goes back to the power of those 5-minute Quick Connects that are informal, not calendered in, where you just touch base with the employees and start to get to know them.

Jim Collison 8:07
And maybe even a situation for, for high, leaders with high Includer®, where they're hurt, but where situations don't allow customization based on people, right? Where it's blanket statement: "Hey, we're all going to do this." "Why?" "Because. Because I said," right, or whatever, right, in, in those situations. And that hurts. I think this is a similar, similar hurt as, like, Empathy® has at times. We, we know it could be so much better if we took into account every, everyone in this -- I hear a little Includer in that as well, which often sometimes (we can talk about that here in a little bit) often trails with it. But when we think about 4 Needs of Followers -- Hope, Stability, Compassion and Trust -- where do you think? And, of course, all of these themes fit across all 4 of those. But as we think about this, let's ruminate on it here for a second, where, what do you see Individualization filling for that, for those needs?

Jaclynn Robinson 9:05
I could see Trust, because someone high in Individualization identifies or sees what's unique in somebody. And so they feel known as a person. You go, Ooh this person knows me, or they want to know me, and I appreciate that. And I, you know, you start to build that trust and rapport. And for that reason, I also see Compassion, of just seeing and caring about that person and the talents they bring and wanting to really develop or cultivate those unique skills that they have.

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

Jim Collison 9:35
Yeah, I think it even brings an element of Stability in, when we think about individuals on a team, because they're heard, right. They know that they're, they're, what they're saying is being heard and being accounted for. May not always be possible, but at least it's being accounted for, right, in that. And so, I think knowing that brings some Stability, especially we think from an engagement angle, right? And so a manager individualizing, even in very consistent environments, individualizing those things that can be individualized, I think, brings some Stability. Of course, all those lead to Hope. So they all fit in all, all of them. But a good, I think a really good construct to think this through. We have two other reports as well, role-based reports for the, alongside the CliftonStrengths for Leaders: CliftonStrengths for Sales, CliftonStrengths for Managers. We've been doing with this idea of report dynamics, where we kind of jam the two together. What do you think? As we look at this in terms of leaders and sales, what do you have for us?

Jaclynn Robinson 10:37
Yes, so this leader can help their sales team consider the value of relationships and getting to know the customer or prospect. I think about this person and how they might be considering, What is this person's need? What does a win or a positive solution look like to them? What are unique facts or notes that, you know, this salesperson can take down that will help them personalize the conversation the next time they talk with the prospect or customer? So given that is likely going to be top-of-mind for someone high in Individualization, if they're a sales leader leading a sales team, they might really push the value of getting to know that prospect or customer, to build the relationship and grow the relationship.

Jim Collison 11:19
Yeah, individualized solutions, right, in a lot of ways. And that, again, you can't, you know, the, this idea of standardization and Individualization have to coexist together. There's no way we're going to get them all the way one way or the other. In fact, I think it's unhealthy if you, if you do do it that way. So and, and when we think about solutions of, Hey, how can we customize this, based on your organization's unique need or your team's unique need or your, your own individual need? What about, when we think about CliftonStrengths for Leaders, CliftonStrengths for Managers Report, we put those two together, what do you see there?

Jaclynn Robinson 11:58
Yes. So a sincere interest in what makes people unique, coupled with a desire to position them and develop them for success, to me means that this people leader might hold individual career development really top-of-mind and close to their heart. Work with that individual on what feels like the right journey for them in the workforce.

Jim Collison 12:20
That developer -- small "d" -- for managers, a role and responsibility for all managers, whether you have Developer -- big "D" -- or not, in that, you know, still responsible. But use, maybe using that Individualization if you don't have Developer, to kind of think through, OK, I don't, I'm not naturally driven that way. What kind of systems could I put in place to help make sure folks are being developed, right? This is where maybe you borrow it or lean on a system, right, in that. Those reports, of course, have helps, hinders and action items built into all of them. And we just wanted to give you some examples of what it's like to have them side by side, to think about in a conversation. Coaches, this may be something you want to try with the folks that you're working with, having pulled those reports. Put them side by side, and spend some time thinking about them. Jaclynn, in a second, I'm going to ask you to, just some final thoughts on Individualization. But love to, love to hear, even, you know, out there in social, What are you doing with these reports? How are they working for you? We hear about a little this on Facebook®, so we always appreciate that feedback. Jaclynn, final thoughts on Individualization?

Jaclynn Robinson 13:36
Yes. I see Individualization, and I automatically think of Margaret Mead, who said, "Always remember that you are absolutely unique, just like everyone else." That is, I think, just Individualization's code of honor right there. That's the value that they can really bring to teams is helping people feel seen, heard and valued for those unique contributions they bring. I will close on that!

Jim Collison 14:01
No, I love it. Scary and comforting, all at the same time, right. That's the two things. We're all individuals. That's awesome. We're all individuals. Oh, boy. Here we go! Right. So pretty great. Thanks for wrapping us with that.

Jim Collison 14:16
With that, we'll remind everyone to take full advantage of all the resources we do have available now in Gallup Access. Head out to While you're there, upper left-hand corner, choose the menu and drop it, drop it down. Choose the Resources tab, and then put in "Individualization." By the time you get done spelling it, hit, hit Enter, and you'll have all the resources we have on that. A great way for any of the themes or any topics we have out there, a great way to interact and learn some more. Stay up to date with all the webcasts that we're doing. Head out to Just create an account and follow us there; you'll get an email whenever we publish anything new. Join us on any social platform by searching "CliftonStrengths"; just about everyone we're on out there. And we want to thank you for listening today. If you enjoyed it, share it. Based on your platform, hit Like, Subscribe, leave a comment -- all those kinds of things. We'd love to have you interact with us in that way. And we want to thank you for listening today. If you're listening live, stay around for a little bit of the midshow. 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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