skip to main content
Called to Coach
Positivity®: Developing Your Leadership Skills
Called to Coach

Positivity®: Developing Your Leadership Skills

Webcast Details

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


A leader with this theme can bring Hope to the organization ... by really infusing energy into the mission and goals of the company.

Jaclynn Robinson, 4:13

For leaders with high Positivity, you've got to use your superpower. ... You cannot hide it. ... You need to figure out a way to make it successful for teams.

Jim Collison, 13:39

Jim Collison 0:00
I am Jim Collison, and this is The CliftonStrengths Podcast, Season 2, recorded on April 4, 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 Positivity. If you're listening live, love to have you to join us in the chat. If you're listening after the fact, and you have some questions, you can always, always email us: 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 -- still very valuable and a very good season if you haven't listened to it yet -- one theme at a time. But Jaclynn, always great to have you. Welcome back!

Jaclynn Robinson 0:53
Thank you.

Introducing Positivity

Jim Collison 0:54
We are spending some time talking about Positivity today. Why don't you give us that definition. What do we think about when we think about Positivity?

Jaclynn Robinson 1:02
We think about contagious enthusiasm. You are upbeat and can get others excited about what you are going to do, if you are a person that has this high.

Jim Collison 1:11
I love that idea of you get others excited. In some regards. I'd almost replace that with, "You get others encouraged." Like you, you, you build in this, because I think sometimes and in some cultures, we've, we've biased this theme towards this idea of being positive when -- being overly positive or not thinking through, it through all the way. Some English words like pollyannaish, which nobody remembers anymore, but being positive for positive's sake. Right? And I don't, I don't think that's what we mean. Is, if you were to build out that definition just a little bit more when you think about -- and you've got it 4. When you think about it, how do we use Positivity -- before we ask this question about using it in a leadership role, how do you think, just generally, that fits in for you?

Jaclynn Robinson 2:01
I think there's that inherent, there's just an inherent feeling that life is good. We're breathing oxygen every day; that always gives us an opportunity to do something that we love or to encourage somebody. From a workplace or successful or productivity standpoint, I think you've hit the nail on the head, where if we extended that definition out, it's encouraging other people and getting them engaged about what it is that we're going to do together or what that person's going to do. It's championing people in the workplace, which can help build morale. So yeah, I think, inherently, you're just like, yeah, I'm happy to be alive. But from a productivity standpoint, it really can encourage people. I liked what you said -- "encourage and engage," I think, are two really good words there.

Jim Collison 2:57
I was listening to a podcast about endurance racers, folks who do things, these long races for endurance. And they've studied, they did a study on this over time. And they realized that because of these, some of these races, they actually encourage you to do it by yourself. It's one of those things like no help, no outside help at all.

Jaclynn Robinson 3:16
I'd be so bored so fast. Just me, not having other people around also running towards the same goal.

What Is the Power of Positivity in a Leadership Role?

Jim Collison 3:25
Yeah, exactly. And they, they, they found, there's a performance hit -- no, a performance boost -- just knowing there's going to be somebody at the next stage. Like when you get to, there's going to be somebody there. Even if they can't help you, just knowing there's going to be somebody, performance boost. And I think that works in the workplace as well, knowing or going into -- or for remote situations or whatever -- where I've got folks I can reach during the day or whatever, right? I mean, I think that's a, gives us a performance boost. And that's why we do these things is for, for performance, right, in what we're doing. OK, we've been spending the season thinking about this, in the context of the CliftonStrengths for Leaders Report, a role-based report we launched this year. What is the power of this theme, as we think it in the context of a leadership role?

Jaclynn Robinson 4:13
A leader with this theme can bring Hope to the organization -- so I'm going to get into the 4 Needs. They can bring Hope to the organization by really infusing energy into the mission and goals of the company. They help people see the positive impact they're creating. Even during times of stress and change, which we've seen a lot of in the last few years. this is a person that can calm the anxiety of the employees and really help them see that, Hey, it's OK. We've got this. There is a way through. So it's Hope that what we are doing today or what we're going through today, it's OK. We're gonna have a better tomorrow.

How Can Those With Positivity Lead Others?

Jim Collison 4:46
Since you brought those in -- Hope, Stability, Compassion and Trust, the 4 Needs of Followers is what we say in our strengths-based leadership work, that construct -- I often think of it in terms of this, of bringing Stability, right, Think about these times when you're just beat down. It's been a long day, and, and without that encouragement, you may spin off into, you know, into negativity or "downness," whatever you want to call that, right? I'm feeling down, I'm, I'm just gonna go home, right? Instead of sticking it out to get to the end -- like, no, and creating a stable or at least a more stable environment, right? Just love thinking, thinking about that in that context of helping people finish to the end with that endurance-race idea that I mentioned a little bit earlier. When we think about this theme leading others, how can this theme lead others?

Jaclynn Robinson 5:42
Well, others might see the negative in a situation, but this leader can really encourage new ideas, thoughts and solutions that can help fuel creativity. And when you're doing that, you can start to break through barriers or come up with new marketplace solutions. So through their lens on life, they can boost morale, they can boost recognition, creativity, productivity, just by that encouragement of, let's just, let's just think -- 3,000-foot view, high level. What are some ideas we have? We got this! Let's get through it. And it takes people out of that ground-level way of thinking or being in the weeds, as we say in the U.S.

Jim Collison 6:20
Yeah, I love that idea of boosting morale. I mean, there's just moments, right, where we're just like, I'm at the end. And maybe you are, but in some cases, maybe you're not. You know, we think that, and then someone goes, someone comes by, "How are you doing?" And then you have this conversation, and they're like, "Oh, you know, let's look at some things in a different light." You know, however, that works. And then they walk away and you're like, Hey, just let me just give it to you.

Jaclynn Robinson 6:49
I'm vibrating higher now!

Jim Collison 6:50
Here you go, type deal. So I love that, right. Again, back to that idea, that word of encouragement, you know, I've been spending a lot of time thinking about this idea of different languages and translations. And I love that idea, we're doing that right now. We're translating this, even in English, to say, Yeah, we say Positivity, but an outcome of it is really encouragement, like two different words that have similar meanings but different ideas in the way they're executed. I think one is a state; I think the other is an action. And so --

Jaclynn Robinson 7:24
Oh, that's good!

Jim Collison 7:25
Right? You know, thinking through that?

Jaclynn Robinson 7:27
You and your words. You and your words, sir. Talent in action.

Jim Collison 7:30
Doris Collison would be, Doris Collison would be very proud that her son who failed his freshman English class now is being complimented for it. Thanks for doing that.

Jaclynn Robinson 7:42
You need to write a book. I'm encouraging you to write a book now. We need your words and phrases.

How Could Positivity Hinder Your Leadership of Others?

Jim Collison 7:47
Never gonna happen. As we spend some time thinking about this, there are some hindrances, right? How could this theme hinder your leadership of others?

Jaclynn Robinson 7:57
Well, while recognition can help people see the value they contribute, there's still going to be times as a leader when you might need to provide constructive feedback, just so someone can enhance their performance and productivity, difficult as it may be. So that's something that leaders with Positivity might struggle with, but what other theme can you use that's going to help you? And can you see the benefit of providing that constructive feedback? And then along those same lines, leaders or employees might be leery of communication that's always optimistic or positive or encouraging. There might be times when a leader with Positivity just needs to allow for different feelings to be observed and felt before getting into a more positive, solution-focused mindset. So toxic Positivity, people, not a good thing. We want people to have their experience and then, and then you can, you know, turn the tables and say, let's think through this, let's see how we can get you through this.

Jim Collison 8:55
Yeah, and a fine line between those two. Like, and I don't know if anybody can tell you where that line is drawn. I mean, you've gotta get feedback from people. They have to have self-awareness around it. This is where, as a leader, a 360 might be valuable. Like, Hey, how is my Positivity being perceived? Right, asking that to those, and then getting honest answers. This project I'm working on, months ago, when we started, I started prepping the team for it, I say, "Guys, while we're doing this, it's gonna get really dark. There's gonna be some times where it's going to be hard. Just, we need to buckle down and be ready for that. At the same time, it's gonna get better. I'm, we're gonna do this together, and it'll be fine. We're gonna get this right. But we got to get through the hard stuff to get to the good stuff." And I think that's the way we don't, I mean, I could have come out and said, "Oh, it's gonna be awesome! This is awesome every day; we're just having challenges today. It's still awesome." No, there's, it's terrible. There's moments where it's terrible. And I think we need to be able to say, ,"Yeah, this is awful. Let's not do this again. How do we fix this so it doesn't have to be that way, right? But knowing --

Jaclynn Robinson 10:00
And even delivering that is, sounds encouraging.

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

Jim Collison 10:03
No, right on, right on. Yeah. And just people are like, Well, you'd say that? Yeah, of course, I'd say that. We're, there's times it's not easy. Like, let's not say it's knotty, let's, let's not say that; we got we got to get through those times. This is gonna be difficult. You know, mile 20 in a marathon is awful. It's, there's no easy way to say it. It's terrible. But you got, you got to push through it, because you have 6 miles to go. Right? You have 6 miles to go to get that done. Sorry, for my metric-system friends, whatever that works out to in, in meters or kilometers. We've been spending some time thinking about this in the context of our other two role-based reports, CliftonStrengths for Sales, CliftonStrengths for Managers. So what, Jaclynn, what could it look like? And I preread this, so I'm pretty excited about it. What does this look like, when we think about CliftonStrengths for Leaders, CliftonStrengths for Sales Reports, jamming those two together?

Jaclynn Robinson 10:58
Yes, so we're jamming them together. This sales leader can do well at taking a customer problem and then delivering an inspiring message of how their company can positively impact the respective problem. Where others see the problems, this individual is going to see the opportunity. And that's where they can start to shift that, the way that it's seen and start to create that relationship with the prospect or the client they're speaking with. I would say, in addition, grounding this message in either an architected solution of how that obstacle will be an opportunity is key, or highlighting the customer milestones and accomplishments, if the work's already started, just to highlight that hope in the change. So it's not just, This is going to be great! This is an opportunity; let's all for it. But how are we going to do that? Or how are we seeing progress?

Jim Collison 11:49
Yeah. And let's be really clear here: Positivity without honesty or integrity, it is suspect. Right? This is where I think it gets a bad rap in this, is if you start just making things up in the cycle, I mean, it has to come with honesty, right? It has to be played out with integrity in that, and values. I think sometimes it's just like, if we just, if we're just shoveling pure Positivity and not addressing the issues, that's not the point. Right? That's not the success factor. And that's what I kind of, especially in sales, you know. You just, well, if you would, if you just would buy our product, or if you would just take our solutions, OK. I mean, that may be the, that may be the case, but is it? Like can't be selling just to be

Jaclynn Robinson 12:37
What's the why, what's the how, to your point.

Jim Collison 12:39
Yeah, yeah. Right. Right. Solutions, right. Yeah. Not seats, but solutions, OK. Although it may be seats that lead to solutions. So we can say, though, when we take the Manager Report and jam that together with the Leader Report, what do we see there?

Jaclynn Robinson 12:53
This people leader brings energy and enthusiasm to the team. So through the recognition that they freely give, that upbeat attitude they're coming to work with, and the ability to see the positive amidst problems, they can really help team members believe in themselves and their ability to overcome obstacles. I can see a lot of solution-focused minds on this team.

Jim Collison 13:15
I think managers get battered the most in organizations, especially those middle managers. They just get, they take it from both the bottom and the top and just get smushed. And I think this is an area, we know from our Q12® data that managers as a group are the least engaged out of anybody. Right? They really, really struggle with that. And so this is, I think, as an area for, for leaders with high Positivity, you've got to use your superpower. You have to. You cannot hide it. It needs to come out. You need to figure out a way to make it successful for teams. And I think it's one of those solutions that we've got, we got to get to. And it's hard. I get this. I get it. You know, I get it. I've been there. I'm in it. I'm in it with you.

Jaclynn Robinson 14:03
I'm in the muck.

Jim Collison 14:04
Yeah, no. Jaclynn, as we think about wrapping this theme up, and, and we'll do a Season Wrap here for those listening live next week. But as we think about wrapping up Positivity, what, what would you say here, just to kind of put a bow on it?

Jaclynn Robinson 14:19
Well, if you have Positivity, you might resonate with this question. If you don't, it's a good way to start to infuse Positivity in. But I'll, I'll leapfrog off of what you just said. So this might be a really, you know, fruitful time to ask in one-on-one conversations and in team meetings. "What's a best day at work look like for you? What are you doing? How are you feeling? Who are you with? Let's think about how we can give you more of those best days at work, doing more of what you love," to start to amplify morale and productivity. As a team, "When have we had the most fun and engagement as a team? How do we get back to that?" Especially If they used to be on site, and now they're remote, or they're hybrid. "How do we make sure we still have that cohesion and camaraderie, and we're championing one another?" And just asking for those ideas. So to your point, this is one that managers can really lean into, and it's one that would benefit all employees and teams right now, of work should be fun. We always say that: Work should be fun. You're gonna get more done if work is fun. You're gonna be more engaged; you're reducing burnout. So either of those questions could be good to take with you and just have as homework in your next one-on-one or team meeting. "What's a best day at work look like for you?" "When are we having the most fun and engagement as a team?"

Jim Collison 15:43
And I think success looks a lot like fun for most people, right? Even, we, there's different ways people have fun. You know, I think fun is not laughing and goofing around. I think sometimes it gets misrepresented that way. But for, I think, a lot of people, being successful is fun. It's one of those things like satisfying.

Jaclynn Robinson 16:02
It's a learning experience, or, yeah, I'm glad you brought that up, because it does look so different.

Jim Collison 16:07
No, super good. Well, with that, we'll remind everyone to take full advantage of all the resources we have available now in Gallup Access. Go out to Log in with your Gallup ID, upper left-hand corner, choose Resources, and then put this theme in, and there's, we have tons of information out there about this. So get it, get out there, get it done. Sign up for all the webcasts that we're doing here in the future. Create an account at -- B-R-I-T-E. Follow us there, and you'll get an email anytime we post something new. Join us on any social platform by searching "CliftonStrengths," and thanks for listening today. If you, if you enjoyed it -- and why wouldn't you? -- share it. We'd love to have you share it around to your groups, those you coach, whatever. I mean, just use it. Make it available to others as well. Hit Like and Subscribe and all those other things, so you never miss an episode. Thanks for listening today. If you're out in the, if you're out in the, with the live group, stay around for a little bit of a postshow. With that, we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.

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

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

Gallup®, Q12®, CliftonStrengths® and each of the 34 CliftonStrengths theme names are trademarks of Gallup. Copyright © 2000 Gallup, Inc. All rights reserved.

Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A
+1 202.715.3030