skip to main content
Called to Coach
Competition®: How to Feel More Energized at Work
Called to Coach

Competition®: How to Feel More Energized at Work

Webcast Details

  • What do people with Competition bring to their roles and workplaces?
  • How can you bring energy and motivation to work as you apply your Competition talent?
  • How can managers with Competition create more of an energized, thriving culture on their teams?

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


Productive employees want energy, motivation and drive to characterize their work life. Managers want their teams to possess these in abundance. And organizations envision an entire engaged, thriving workforce that overflows with these qualities. How can individuals high in Competition® bring energy and motivation to their workplaces? And how can managers high in Competition foster a work environment that is energized, motivated and thriving? Join Gallup's Jim Collison and Dr. Jaclynn Robinson and discover how, using your Competition theme, you can bring new energy and motivation to your role, your managing, your coaching.


When you spot potential, bring it to that individual's attention. You may see talent in them ... that they haven't yet seen for themselves.

Jaclynn Robinson, 10:15

Clarifying expectations with the team, where you're setting clear performance standards and then encouraging a competitive spirit within a collaborative and supportive environment, is really where I see managers shine.

Jaclynn Robinson, 14:00

Jim Collison 0:00
I am Jim Collison, and this is The CliftonStrengths® Podcast, Season 3, recorded on January 25, 2024.

Jim Collison 0:20
In this CliftonStrengths Podcast series, we'll look at how to feel more energized and motivated at work 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 chat, or email us your questions after the fact: Dr. Jaclynn Robinson is our host today. She works as a Senior Learning and Development Consultant; joined me for Season 1 and 2 of The CliftonStrengths Podcast. If you haven't listened to those, you should go back and do it -- maybe for those high in Competition, I dare you to get that done in a day; go binge them right now; get them done -- where we looked at Wellbeing at Work and our CliftonStrengths Podcast or our CliftonStrengths role-based reports, one theme at a time. Jaclynn, always great to be with you. Welcome back! .

Jaclynn Robinson 1:01
Thanks. Good to be here.

Jim Collison 1:03
Maybe I should do a theme-based challenge for all of these, if you've listened to --

Jaclynn Robinson 1:07
I know; that'd be kind of fun.

Competition: Questions for Individuals

Jim Collison 1:08
How to listen to podcasts, based on your themes. Maybe that's, maybe that's Season 4 of this program. But Jaclynn, we're spending some time this season talking about bringing energy and motivation to work with your themes. Today we are talking about Competition. Let's talk about the individual first. Our very first question is always, What, what are some ways an individual with Competition can feel more energized by focusing on their basic needs?

Jaclynn Robinson 1:34
Well, when you have clarity on your key priorities and responsibilities, built-in benchmarks and KPIs, you know, those Key Performance Indicators, to measure your progress and success, and then ask your manager, when it's applicable, how your performance compares against internal benchmarks. I know sales folks get this a lot, where they can have that leaderboard, and they see where they're at in relationship to their team members. But there's other departments or other teams that might be able to get a read on how well they're doing in comparison to maybe their fellow team members. So that might be a good opportunity to ask your manager, if it's applicable.

Jim Collison 2:13
I think for the basic needs area, I've heard a lot -- and I don't have this, but, but for folks that are high Competition, setting up these personal, personal rewards for winning, right. Get, some ways you can win, right. You can't fake it; you still gotta win. There's winners and losers. And for things that you're doing, you know, I think about the basic needs of, or, you know, I think about, like, I've heard a lot of speakers say, you know, "Successful people make their beds," and I'm a terrible bed maker. I just, I just am. I don't do it very well; I'm not very good at it; I don't do it very often. But I think if I were to, if I did have high Competition, I might try to work on a streak. Like, there's a streak app where you can, every day, mark what you did, and it'll tell you, I'm on a streak for 14 days. I've done it 14 days in a row, right? Just that Competition, to say, OK, I'm gonna go 30. I'm gonna go 60. Now I'm gonna go 75, right, and then, and then achieving and winning against yourself. Right? I know, I don't know, feedback on that? What do you, what do you think of that idea from a basic needs perspective?

Jaclynn Robinson 3:24
Yeah, you do remind me -- I didn't know about the streak app. But it's a great point. Because there are apps where you might not know any of the other folks that are on that app and involved. But you can also compare yourself against them. And it's, oh, I've seen that on the exercise apps, where you might be doing your own, you know, race. You have no one else you know that's doing that race. You're logged in, and you can see and track against other people where you're at in relationship to the world. And I wonder, even from a productivity standpoint, if that would up the ante even more. It's like, Oh, I'm getting a lot done. How do I compare to these other folks that are also on the app, trying to get a lot done? Yeah.

Jim Collison 4:06
Yeah. I love that. I love that idea. And, you know, we think of that in the physical realm of being real popular, that, during, during the pandemic, a lot of those apps popped up to keep people motivated. But there are, like, reading productivity apps. My daughter has read one -- for every hour she reads, it, it grows a tree, I think, or something like that, right? Maybe that's not a Competition thing, because there's not a win there. But I love your idea of competing against people you may not even know. And so, man, what a great, yeah. I'm putting, that's, I hadn't, I hadn't put that 2 and 2 together. That's super cool. What are some ways individuals with, with this Competition theme can feel more energized by focusing on their individual strengths and development?

Jaclynn Robinson 4:52
Well, this might be a little bit of what you were saying. It's using your competitive spirit and edge to drive towards cultivating your strengths. So when you look back at your performance goals and metrics, what areas felt like a win? What felt like a loss? And then ask for feedback or mentorship, and look for opportunities to keep sharpening your skill set, maybe particularly where you felt that loss and it was really hard hit. It's like, Ah, how do I get back on top and do better, so I'm finding more successes than losses, as I think in the future?

Jim Collison 5:27
I love that idea of a loss driving a win. In other words, ah, right, not to get down, but to say -- to use that as fuel for the next win. A loss is just fuel for the next win, you know.

Jaclynn Robinson 5:40
We hear that with Competition too, don't we? It's like, I always remember my worst loss. It stays in my mind.

Jim Collison 5:46
Yeah. I think this next question is going to be interesting, because I don't know if it's as natural as most people think, but you'll clarify it. So how can a man -- I'm sorry, I went up too far here. I got too far ahead. Hold that question; we'll come back to it. I don't know why I got so far ahead. What are some ways an individual with Competition can feel more energized by building partnerships -- although this, this would apply here too -- building partnerships and finding purpose in their role? Especially if you're winning, How are you building partnerships by winning? Talk a little bit about that. Yeah.

Jaclynn Robinson 6:16
I love working with people high in Competition. One, it feeds the Positivity® that I have. But they could organize friendly competitions or games among team members, where each person is able to lean into their own talents and strengths. The end goal is being this opportunity to build camaraderie and collaboration. So if there's a team retreat each year, maybe ask your manager if you can be involved in gamifying, the learning part of that retreat where you can get people really excited and moving together.

Jim Collison 6:48
There's been a term that's popped up in the last couple of years -- psychological safety. I think Competition in the workplace, as we transition to managers, is super important to understand that these competitions, I think, have to exist in a safe space. For a lot of years, I got burned by competitions that didn't go well. And then maybe Jim wasn't the best loser. Like --

Jaclynn Robinson 7:13
Were you table flipping at that point?

Jim Collison 7:16
Let's just be real honest. Jim needed some maturity. Like I burned myself -- no fault; I burned myself on this. And then I began to avoid team competitions. I would start shutting down, like, Hey, we want to do a small competition in the room. I wanted to have nothing to do with it. And I had to kind of, I still struggle with it a little bit, just to be honest. I don't want to, you know, we do this marshmallow exercise thing where you put sticks and marsh, you know, marshmallows, and I don't want anything to do with that. That scares, scares me to death if I do a competition like that. So I think, those of you high in Competition, think of, I think we also have to take in consideration psychological safety for individuals. Make sure losing is safe for people.

Jaclynn Robinson 8:01

Competition: Questions for Managers

Jim Collison 8:02
Right. I don't know if we, I don't know if we think about it that way very much. Like, well, it's not a big deal. Nope. To some people, it is. And I think that's important. Let's circle around with that idea, then, with a manager high in Communication®. How can they use that to support others with their basic needs?

Jaclynn Robinson 8:19
Oh, you mean high in Competition?

Jim Collison 8:21
Yeah, high Comp -- what did I say?

Jaclynn Robinson 8:23
Communication. But I'm actually going to talk about it, so --

Jim Collison 8:25
OK, good, good, good, good.

Jaclynn Robinson 8:27
They all tie in; it's like you had ESP of my brain. They can help team members keep their eyes on the prize by communicating their target goals, both individually and collectively. So what's the team member doing themselves? And then what's the team doing together? How is each contributing to that larger goal? So describe what a win looks like, so they know what to strive towards. And then what performance metrics can they use to track their progress?

Jim Collison 8:53
I think in seasons, in past seasons of this show, we've talked about sorting. And I think Competition is really one of those that supports, that can, that can sort to people's best, right? What, how do I get the best out of people? Right? I mean, usually competitions are one of those things that push us. You've seen that, that example where a guy takes a jar, and he puts a bunch of big rocks in it. How many more can I put in here? None. Oh, then they put smaller rocks, and then sand, right? I think Competition has that same effect on us, so that we could always push, you know, there's the other, the exercise, Reach high. Now reach a little bit higher. Well, why didn't you reach that far the first time, right? Because that Competition brings out or sorts to the best in us, and I really think a manager who can appropriately get that Competition in a team -- that's healthy and appropriate, right, can drive them -- and I'll ask you this next question, because I think it dovetails nicely into it: How can a manager with Competition help others feel seen, heard and valued? Cause if we're just winning to win, like, that's maybe not the right motivation, right? Talk a little bit about that.

Jaclynn Robinson 10:08
Yeah, yeah, what a great segue. Because they can serve as a champion to others. They can serve as that coach to others. When you spot potential, bring it to that individual's attention. You may see talent in them -- to your point of sorting -- that they haven't yet seen for themselves. So once you call it out, help them then cultivate it. As they hone their strengths and earn those small victories along the way, then you can take time to help them celebrate it.

Jim Collison 10:36
You know what I was think -- when you were talking, I was thinking the word hope. And, and I hadn't thought of Competition as a hope theme. But confidence, I think the word you said, confidence, and, and maybe I'll change it to confidence and completion -- like, being able to get it done, pushing us farther than we've been before to get it done. When we think of the, and this is the question I was thinking of earlier; I'll bring it back, though. And sometimes I wonder, How can a manager with Competition build trust, inspire and deepen team collaborations? Because I think sometimes we think Competition does the opposite of that. Like, we, there's only one winner. Everybody else is the second loser. Right. But how can, how can that be? Can it, can it be? Can it?

Jaclynn Robinson 11:28
Yes. Yes. So they can boost team morale and engagement by asking the team what successes they've had so far. Where there's areas to, to improve, ask for their ideas. They are in the game, doing the work. While you might be that coach on the sidelines, they likely have a list of plays, too, that can work really well that you might not have thought about previously.

Jim Collison 11:52
Yeah, I think, watch for the trust; build to inspire. You know, because that's really, I mean, Competition really inspires people, right? Just be careful that it doesn't, it doesn't break down the trust in that, as people are competing again, I'm a terrible, I'm a terrible cheater. I mean, I think, I, if it's possible, I'm cheating out. And that does not build trust in teams, apparently, when you do it that way. But my kids, we used to play video games with my kids, and they just, they would, they eventually stopped playing games with me. They're like, Dad, stop! So last question: How can a manager with Competition support the growth of each team member, then?

Jaclynn Robinson 12:38
Positioning team members so that they can play to their unique talents. Where do you see them at their best? Where do they desire to develop further? Look for opportunities and devise strategies that maximize their potential and really drive them towards peak performance. As they cultivate their strengths, they really serve to support individual and team goals. And so that's, that's probably something that you want to call out too, throughout the span of a year, as you're seeing their strengths really come alive and shine.

Jim Collison 13:06
I think Competition has some unfair theme bias against it in some ways, because it can be -- listen, they all can be -- but it can be misused in some ways or misunderstood. As we think about wrapping this up, what would you say to someone who's been hurt or burned or driven this way? I don't know, what kind of advice, as we, as we, as we just kind of wrap it up, What do you think about that?

Jaclynn Robinson 13:34
For someone with Competition, or that's been burned by Competition? Maybe the person with Competition?

Jim Collison 13:39
Can you say something? Yeah, I was gonna say, can you do both? Can I challenge you to do both?

Jaclynn Robinson 13:44
Yeah, I think, well, when I see Competition used positively, and we think about a manager position (but this could be team members too that are just helping to clarify with their team, with their colleagues), clarifying expectations with the team, where you're setting clear performance standards and then encouraging a competitive spirit within a collaborative and supportive environment, is really where I see managers shine, or even team members that have this theme shine, because it's, We're all in this together. We're competing for the same outcome. And we're hoping to be the best of the best outside of our team. You know, there's no competitive, there's no negative competitive feelings that we have as a team because, you know, we're only at our best when we're all working together.

Jaclynn Robinson 14:36
So I think that's important to keep in mind if you have Competition high: How am I using it? And is it a way that's going to bring the team together, like an effective sports team, where we're not all, you know, catty and fighting against each other, because then we're never going to win. And if you know someone that has Competition and you've been burned before in the past, hopefully this just enlightens you of the way that it has come across really beautifully whenever we've worked with or coached or listened to people that have this theme, because it can create a lot of fun, a lot of synergy and energy on a team. That's why I love it, because it really feeds Positivity. They bring fun when it's used right.

Jim Collison 15:17
You've said that a bunch, and I, I'll be honest -- I'm not sure I've ever thought about Competition feeding Positivity. And maybe that's just my own experience, right? Maybe it's because I was such a bad competitor when I was a child, and maybe even being an adult.

Jaclynn Robinson 15:33
When I've worked with people with this, oh, my gosh, have you worked? Well, yeah, when I've worked with people on my team with this, they come up with games so easy. And I'm like, Well, this is fun. And you see all the excitement in people's faces and classrooms when it's like, Let's do strengths charades, or let's do this. Like, I never would have thought of that.

Jim Collison 15:52
My kids want to play games all the time. And I'm like, Ah, I don't know. I just go to the other room.

Jaclynn Robinson 15:56
You're that guy.

Jim Collison 15:57
I know, I know. I need to work on it. I, because I get, we start playing them, and they're fun. I just, listen, the psychological safety that I mentioned is because of me. Like, that is I felt unsafe in the past. I think I've made others feel unsafe too.

Jaclynn Robinson 16:13
No, you've killed the fun. You've killed the fun.

Jim Collison 16:16
I have indeed. I have indeed. Well, just for those listening, just a little bit of insight. This is not always Pollyannaish.

Jaclynn Robinson 16:22
Don't play games with Jim!

Jim Collison 16:24
Sunshine and rainbows. No, I think this is important that we have these, these kinds of conversations, I think, especially for leaders, we get, we get put in an area where we think we have to be perfect. And I'm the first to admit it -- I got an issue there. I got some things to work on -- still, at my age. You know, it's tough being 27. But, you know, at my age, I'm still learning. I'm still learning. There's a little Competition. Well, Jaclynn, thank you for that. Always a great, always great conversation. And I'll end it in, just by saying how I started, I think: Competition gets an unfair rap sometimes. And it is a powerful theme that can do, to your point, very positive things. So I think with that, we'll wrap it.

Jaclynn Robinson 17:08
Well said!

Jim Collison 17:09
We want to, we want to remind everyone -- take full advantage of all the resources we have available now in Gallup Access. Head out to and sign in, in the search. You can search for this theme -- all that stuff, all the, all our resources will come up. You can do that on too, and all these webcasts will show up as well. For coaching, master coaching or to become a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach, send us an email: We'll get somebody to help you with that. If you want to join us for the 2024 -- or whatever year it is you're listening to this; could be well into the future. I'm sure we'll have one, or a redirect -- but We'd love to see you in Omaha this summer, in June. Stay up to date with all our future webcasts by joining our Facebook and LinkedIn groups. You can find us on any social platform by searching "CliftonStrengths." And if you enjoyed it, hit those Like and Subscribe buttons. It's a good ego boost for me. It's a competition. Let's, I, we need 10,000 subscribes on this video; that's what all YouTubers do, right. They're, they're all saying, "I'll do something if you get 10,000." So share it, subscribe to it. Thanks for listening today. And 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®, 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