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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Gallup Called to Coach: Jacque Merritt - S1E15

On Friday, Dec. 20, we hosted Gallup Senior Practice Consultant Jacque Merritt. Jacque has consulted with many of Gallup’s U.S.-based and international clients on team building, succession management, selection, and executive development.

Jacque gave us a glimpse into her strengths-coaching journey and experiences, leaving us with priceless information and insights into the life of a successful strengths coach.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Southeast Asia Edition -- Gallup Called to Coach: Irene Chia

On Sunday, Dec. 15, we spoke with Irene Chia. Irene is the founder of Whitespace Management Consulting, an extension of her 20 years of experience in organizational development and general management.

Irene has a background in economics, but instead of going into the banking industry, she was more interested in how the economy is affected by the way people think and act. This focus inspired her to further pursue the study of human behavior, ultimately leading her to become a strengths coach.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Embrace Your Dark Side: How I Learned to Let Go of Who I Am Not

By Al Winseman, D.Min., Senior Learning and Development Consultant, Gallup

© Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.
We hear a lot in the world of strengths about managing, rather than fixing, our areas of lesser or non-talent. That’s good advice. But to truly overcome the barriers our non-talents can present in our lives, we need to do more than manage them: We need to embrace them. Let me explain.

So there I was, in the summer of 2008, in the aisles of Kmart in Charlottesville, Va. Our oldest daughter and I made the 1,200-mile trip from Lincoln, Neb., to Charlottesville where she was to do her internship at the University of Virginia. We drove her 2002 Honda Civic pulling a U-Haul trailer behind -- which is in itself a story worth telling, but for another time. Anyway, back to the aisles of Kmart. I was there picking up some household items for Julie’s apartment when my phone rang, and it was my wife on the line. This wasn’t alarming, because she and our younger daughter were due to get on a plane that morning to fly to Charlottesville and join us for the weekend. 

But what was alarming was her tone of voice, and even more so what she said: “I noticed that we didn’t have any hot water this morning, and when I went down to the basement to check on it, I noticed a pretty big puddle under the hot water heater. I think it’s leaking. What should I do?”

Monday, December 16, 2013

And the Winner Is...the Test

By Stacey Adamson

This past September I went through the Accelerated Coaching Class at the Riverfront Campus in Omaha with the fabulous Jeremy Pietrocini and Curt Liesveld. To anyone considering the class, I strongly encourage you to follow up on that consideration. I am new to the Gallup StrengthsFinder data, but my week in Omaha catapulted me forward on this journey. It was a little like learning a foreign language; the total immersion was effective! One week under Jeremy and Curt's tutelage, reporting to the Riverfront facility, observing the company culture from the inside, and learning from my fellow brilliant students was definitely worth the investment.

My top five themes are as follows: Strategic, Achiever, Learner, Ideation, and Input. Without even meeting me, after reading my top five strengths you already know that I loved this program. It encouraged us to look at people in a different, out-of-the-box way, and Gallup sent me home with ample materials to satisfy my Learner, Ideation, and Input needs. Even with all that Gallup sent me home with, I have been obsessing over Gallup materials, and even purchased books on Audible to listen to as I drive. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

StrengthsExplorer Now Available on Naviance by Hobsons

Gallup is excited to announce that StrengthsExplorer, the strengths assessment for 5-10th graders is now available through the widely used college and career readiness platform, Naviance by Hobsons.  Naviance is in over 6000 schools, reaching 5 million students in over 84 countries.  Access to StrengthsExplorer, the StrengthsExplorer Guidebooks, and helpful career information will be available to students at participating schools as a service provided by Naviance.

Contact to learn how to get StrengthsExplorer in your school.

Register for future webcasts.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Gallup Called to Coach Recap: Jayne Jenkins -- S1E14

Last week on Called to Coach, we hosted Jayne Jenkins, founder of Churchill Leadership group. Jayne creates positive results that last, transforming leaders and teams with her real-world experience, coaching certification, and facilitation expertise.

Jayne got her start in the corporate world, developing employees and leaders in major corporations. She discovered Clifton StrengthsFinder about 12 years ago, and was surprised by the positive impact it had on her and her. In her first experience with strengths, she saw that it stuck right away – people were talking about it, and it resonated with people immediately.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

I’m a Health Professional, Not an Entrepreneur -- How Can Strengths Help Me?

By Brandon Miller, CEO 34 Strong, Inc. and Gallup Certified Strengths Coach

Susan had a passion to help people get well and stay well. This passion led her to earn her degree as a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC). For several years, Susan served with various DCs and helped them build their practices, but she dreamed of having her own practice where she could focus on expectant mothers and children. After years of planning and finally gaining the necessary funds and courage, Susan put the plans in motion to launch her own private practice.

When I met Susan, she had a problem -- one that is not uncommon among healthcare professionals I coach. She said, “I went to school to learn how to help people as a doctor, but I have no idea how to run a business.” There are plenty of organizations that could help her, but running a business is big work. She knew she would have to master sales, networking, hiring and managing employees, and that was just the start. How could Susan thrive in a field that seemed so far away from her skills base? As Susan’s strengths coach, I first worked with her to assess her business model. At the same time, we utilized the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment (CSF) to understand Susan’s core talents and how these talents could be developed to increase her well-being and help develop her business.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Think Big, Act Small

By Jacque Merritt, Senior Practice Consultant

The other day I got a call out of the blue from a CEO I coached about 10 years ago. He was on the verge of retirement and was doing a kind of Tuesdays With Morrie round of recognition for the people who made a difference in his career. I remembered his voice and, more surprisingly, remembered his top five strengths -- Competition, Activator, Significance, Focus, and Self-Assurance. I had to look up the next five, but I knew Command was in there somewhere…and there it was, No. 9. Formidable. These are the themes many people assume are correlated with strong leadership, and while we don’t have any statistics to support this, he was as good as they get. But did I mention formidable?

I remember the day I was to first meet with him. The vice president of HR told me with a cautionary whisper that he would likely dismiss me after about 15 minutes, and that he would do so by getting up from the sofa, walking over to his desk, and busying himself with emails. This was supposedly my cue to leave. That first day I lasted two hours, and we had a rollicking good time: equally challenging, growth provoking, with breakthrough moments of self-insight. When I asked him why he didn’t give me the subtle “disappear behind the desk” signal, he said, “Well…because you’re talking about me, and I find me incredibly interesting!” Lesson No. 1: Executives don’t get to talk about themselves much. I hear this all the time in my coaching. The rarity of candor and vulnerability at the top is prevalent. These men and women are not often given the kind of straightforward feedback we can provide through the Clifton Strengthsfinder. Never underestimate the power you have to captivate an executive’s intellect and emotions; to expose them to themselves, to challenge them to grow and evolve authentically, and to aim their strengths at meaningful outcomes.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Purpose of Life and Playing to Your Strengths

By Roy Spence, Co-Founder and chairman of GSD&M, Co-Founder and CEO of The Purpose Institute, and Gallup Senior Advisor

OK. My hero is Aristotle, for he was -- and probably still is -- the most enlightened person on the planet. Aristotle wrote extensively on the meaning and purpose of life, and he concluded that, “Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.” I am all in and would like to share with you how knowing and being appreciated for your innate talents and strengths can accelerate one’s happiness and sense of fulfillment.

Although I have been blessed to go off and do some interesting and exciting stuff in my life, I am simply still a kid from Brownwood, Texas, who -- because of my most amazing mother, Ruth Spence -- experienced a thunderous epiphany in that small central Texas town when I was 14 years old about life and living a life playing to my core strengths. My mom was a high school history and civics teacher when I was growing up. She was the best ever. To this day, after more than 30 years of retirement and with her now passed away (God bless you, Mom), I still run into people who come up to me and say, “Your mom was the best teacher I ever had; she changed my life.”

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Gallup Called to Coach Recap: Kathy Kersten -- S1E13

Last week’s guest coach was Kathy Kersten, former senior manager of employee onboarding and engagement at Rackspace Hosting. Rackspace is a billion-dollar information technology hosting company that is leading the way in cloud solutions.

After joining Rackspace in 2006, Kathy took the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment. When she first received her results, she knew that her strengths described her, but she didn’t think they were anything special. Although her strengths resonated with her, she didn’t realize how she could really use them to differentiate herself from the world.

It wasn’t until she attended a strengths training session at Rackspace that Kathy understood how her perspective of the world greatly differed from her colleagues’ perspectives.

Kathy talked to us about her strengths journey, while sharing insights about a company-wide strengths movement during her career at Rackspace.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Putting a Man on the Moon: Confessions of a Beginning Strengths Coach

By Connie Gildersleeve

Photo Courtesy of NASA
Not long before I came into this world, John Fitzgerald Kennedy declared, “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.” Imagine the look on people’s faces when he made that statement! Now consider my top five Clifton StrengthsFinder themes: Futuristic, Positivity, Maximizer, Strategic, and Self-Assurance. In other words, I get excited and dream up big ideas on a regular basis and fully believe there is a way to make them all come true. I’ve seen that same crazy look reflected back at me when I share my ideas with others. “So you think you’re going to put a man on the moon, huh?”

Prior to taking the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment, I found myself discouraged when friends, family, or colleagues didn’t immediately jump on board with all of my latest ideas. After diving into the nuances of my Signature Themes, I now understand that I need to announce my very “Futuristic” ideas in smaller doses for the general public’s consumption.  The “Self-Assurance” within me has no doubt that my ideas are fantastic; I just need to practice presenting them in doses that other people can swallow. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Southeast Asia Edition -- Gallup Called to Coach Recap: Jason Ho

On last week’s Called to Coach, we featured Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach Jason Ho.

Jason has five years of corporate experience in training, development, and performance coaching for company staff. He also has over 3,000 hours of experience in personal-development coaching and management consulting.

Jason’s strengths journey began about 20 years ago. Ever since he was young, Jason was always interested in the subject of self-help and read many books on the topic. He eventually realized that those books don’t work well for everyone, and that many people need a strengths coach to show them how to focus on their strengths instead of trying to fix their weaknesses.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Gallup Called to Coach: Shane J. Lopez, Ph.D. -- S1E11

Last week on Called to Coach we featured Shane J. Lopez, Ph.D.

Dr. Lopez is a Gallup Senior Scientist, the world’s leading researcher on hope, and author of Making Hope Happen.

Dr. Lopez first encountered Gallup and strengths when he met Dr. Donald O. Clifton, the father of strengths-based psychology and creator of the Clifton StrengthsFinder. While Dr. Clifton worked with strengths, Dr. Lopez focused on hope. They quickly formed a bond and found a common ground. As Dr. Clifton stated, “The more you do what you do best, the more hopeful you are.”

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Having the Time of Your Life -- Every Day

By Kyle Robinson, Director of Campus Engagement, Gallup

“What was the best time of your life?” Sitting across the living room from my 89-year-old grandmother, I expected her response to be a story of a joyful childhood, marrying her sweetheart right after the war, the birth of my father, or becoming (thanks to me) a grandmother for the first time. Rather, her response caught me completely by surprise: “Working as a teller at the bank was the best time of my life … I so loved that job!”

What is it about work that holds the potential to impact us so significantly? Recent Gallup studies have revealed the devastating effect of sustained unemployment as well as the great impact that a good job can have on our entire well-being. Work possesses the concurrent capacity to give us great excitement, encouragement, and engagement -- or it can give us dread, despair, and disengagement. The difference? Using our strengths.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Southeast Asia Edition -- Gallup Called to Coach: Kim Pong

On Sunday, Oct. 13, Called to Coach featured a webinar with strengths coach Kim Pong Lim. Kim Pong is one of the first Gallup-certified strengths coaches in Singapore, and is among Asia’s most accomplished practitioners of strengths-based development and talent management strategies.

In 2009, Kim Pong discovered his strengths while he was seeking purpose and direction in his life. For the first time in his life, StrengthsFinder gave him a language with which he was able to describe himself. Kim Pong wanted to help others experience this same life-changing realization, so he quickly found himself on the path to strengths coaching.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Gallup Called to Coach: Mike and Tessa Dodge -- S1E10

Last week’s Called to Coach featured two fantastic strengths coaches from New Zealand: Mike and Tessa Dodge.

When Mike first learned about strengths, he immediately knew they could give him a language to help people become better by correcting their own misunderstandings about themselves.

Tessa, on the other hand, was skeptical when she first heard about strengths. Because of her prominent Individualization strength, it seemed to her that the strengths “language” was a way of labeling people. But it didn’t take her long to change her mind.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Building a Strengths-Based Campus

By Ken Barr Jr.

KVCC's Student Strengths Ambassadors
College students around the world, surrounded by piles of textbooks and homework, are continuously struggling to figure out and validate what they want to do after graduation. Many wonder what it would be like if someone could just tell them what to do.

Students at Kalamazoo Valley Community College (KVCC) have the unique opportunity to have someone partner with them to help solve this dilemma. The integration of StrengthsQuest within the curriculum at KVCC has given students the resources for strengths-based personal development, which they can incorporate into their education and future careers.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Recap - Gallup Called to Coach: Roy West and Brendan Suhr - S1E9

Last week’s Called to Coach webinar featured two successful strengths coaches: Brendan Suhr and Roy West. Suhr credits his strengths knowledge and passion to West, who is among the world’s most accomplished practitioners of strengths-based development.

Not only is Suhr a champion strengths coach, he is a well-decorated college and professional basketball coach as well. Suhr first met West when he attended one of West’s seminars, calling the experience “religious and life-changing.”

There has to be someone who can take you where you can’t take yourself.
Even those who are great at what they do need a coach. Whether it’s an athlete like Michael Jordan or a basketball coach like Suhr, there is always someone who can help you discover and leverage your greatest talents.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A Complementary Partnership Found in Nature:
The Pistol Shrimp and Goby Fish

By Jamie Librot, Gallup
Strengths science teaches us that every human being has powerful, natural talents in a few areas, but that no one is good at everything. In addition to providing ways for us to harness our strengths, Gallup has also created different techniques to ensure that our non-talents do not become weaknesses. One technique is to develop complementary partnerships -- teaming up with people whose strengths are different from our own. In fact, in nature it can be a matter of life or death.
In the plant and animal world, there are multiple examples of symbiotic relationships where two species rely on each other for survival. My favorite example is the pistol shrimp and the goby fish.

Despite its minuscule size of only 3-5 cm, the pistol shrimp can use its claw to create one of the loudest sounds in the ocean. The sound frightens away enemies who feel the powerful sound waves and believe an enormous predator is near. The sound waves are so potent, they can even kill small fish. Although the pistol shrimp is endowed with a life-saving gift, it also has an unfortunate disability -- the pistol shrimp is blind. Swimming through life alone, this shrimp would likely become extinct because predators would easily take advantage of the shrimp’s weakness.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Recap - Gallup Called to Coach: Debbie Marriott - S1E8

Last week’s guest coach was Debbie Marriott. Debbie has worked with over 500 clients in education, hospitality, and staff supervision and support. She began her career helping homeless people in the London projects, spending eight years helping those in need. During that time, she discovered an awareness of her self at work. She became deliberate in her work and was cognizant of how her actions affected those around her.
When Debbie first came across the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment, she instantly fell in love with it. For the first time in her life, she was aware of what she did best. During most of her life, knowing her greatest strengths wasn’t something that was obvious to Debbie. She knew she possessed these traits, but she didn’t know what they meant. The Clifton StrengthsFinder gave her a language in which to describe and justify her greatest talents. This was Debbie’s call to coach.

Growing With Strengths
Within Debbie’s top five strengths is Command. When she first discovered her strengths, this made perfect sense to her. Growing up, she was often called bossy and was accused of taking over too often. As a result, she spent most of her life trying to avoid being herself. Upon discovering her strengths, Debbie felt a sense of relief when she realized that her tendency to take charge was actually one of her greatest strengths. She quickly began to leverage that particular talent in her everyday life.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

”But What I Really Want to Do Is Direct!”

By Lisa Peterson, Managing Consultant & Executive Coach for HRBruin LLC. Lisa will join Gallup as a Senior Practice Expert in November of this year.

I had lunch the other day with a very successful and talented Broadway producer. While he shared with me his latest theatrical endeavors, I was struck by how many different kinds of work he was leading. As CEO of his own portfolio of businesses, he wears many different hats, including producer of musicals, playwright on occasion, investor development, people-leader, Broadway spokesperson, blogger and mentor, strategist, and creative consultant to others in his field. He told me that he had recently taken a big step to bring on a #2 — a chief operating officer. When I asked him what the impetus was for this big decision, that would add cost and reduce his control, he said, “I need to focus on putting my talents into what will drive my business forward the best.” His Maximizer was definitely showing and it was exciting. He also talked about wanting to be able to spend more time on the inventive and creative activities — the “what if” scenarios — and the cool ways to shape the Broadway of the future, drive social media and technology from other industries into Broadway, and help build the Broadway audience of tomorrow. When I probed him more closely, he told me this was the stuff that energized him the most. He was glad to give up the things that de-energized him and that others could do better, and he was willing to abdicate some control in exchange for the freedom to do the “sexy” things that would make his own business and Broadway great.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Gallup’s Called to Coach Recap: Paul Allen -- S1E7

Last week’s guest coach was Paul Allen, Gallup’s Strengths Evangelist. He co-founded in 1997 and was its first CEO.

Allen first took the Clifton StrengthsFinder about a year and a half ago, just before joining Gallup. As soon as he received his results, he was overcome with a sense of self-validation. He was amazed by how “spot on” his strengths were.

Allen’s strengths revelation altered his business focus from product development to helping others discover their strengths. He wanted others to experience that same validation and uncover their true potential.

You may also listen to an Audio Recording of this event.

Gallup’s vision really appealed to Allen upon beginning his career with the company. He was blown away by Gallup’s long-term vision for impact. Given his entrepreneurial spirit, Allen naturally came equipped with plans outlining how Gallup can take strengths worldwide to millions of people.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Why Being One in a Million Really Isn’t That Special

By Maika Leibbrandt, Gallup Learning and Development Consultant

Talent is a big deal. Bigger, perhaps, than we can even imagine. Individual Clifton StrengthsFinder themes describe specific patterns of thought, feelings, or behaviour that can be productively applied. These talents are specific enough to warrant their own definitions, their own expectations, and their own successful outcomes. Even if you only study one of your Signature Themes, you could consider that theme or talent one of 34, which is like knowing you are unique in a group slightly larger than the average public school classroom.

But, as you know, the Clifton StrengthsFinder study of talent does not stop at one theme. Consider the uniqueness in your top five themes. The chance another person has the same group of strengths in their top five is roughly one in 275,000. The 2012 London Olympic Stadium holds 80,000, so that is nearly three-and-a-half times the stadium’s capacity.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

There Are No Dream Themes

By Jacque Merritt, Senior Practice Consultant

If you’re like many of my clients, friends, and family, you’ve probably thought about using the Clifton StrengthsFinder as an assessment tool to select the right person for the job. “What a great matching tool,” you’ve said. “What a great way to predict how a person will act and react!” When people voice these thoughts to me, I want to mirror their excitement about the possibilities of exploring a person’s fit using their themes, but at the same time relay a cautionary tale from an evidenced-based and bias-laced perspective.

The scenario often goes like this: you’re hiring an HR professional for your organization. You’ve written the job profile, considered the necessary competencies and the needs of the team. You know who thrives in your organization and who just survives. The last person in the role was great at engaging the team, but didn’t think “big picture” enough or hold people accountable for performance. This time around, you’re not going to compromise these qualities. You know exactly who you’re looking for -- you make your list of dream themes: Achiever, Strategic, Ideation, Futuristic, and Responsibility. You add the StrengthsFinder to your hiring process and you get to work recruiting, screening, and interviewing. Only, you keep coming up short. Sure, you find lots of candidates with the Achiever theme, and even some who also have high Strategic or Responsibility themes, too. But to find all five, your dream themes, well that appears to be like finding a needle in a haystack.

Before you go down that trail, here are some points to consider:

  • There is no correlation between any of the themes and success in a particular role. We all have our stereotypes of what might be the dream themes for a salesperson or a manager or a leader, but these unfortunately don’t work out when we put them to the test. The likelihood is just as high that someone would be a successful salesperson with high Competition, Achiever, Maximizer, Activator, and Self-Assurance as it would be if a person had high Harmony, Developer, Analytical, Relator, and Restorative
  • Even if there were a set of dream themes for a role, the odds of finding them are too low. To be specific, there is about a one in 33 million chance you would find someone with the exact top five in the order you are seeking, or a roughly one in 275,000 chance you will find that top five listed in any order. There’s your needle in the haystack.
  • Assessment tools that benchmark a candidate’s talent intensity against that of your high-potential players are better predictors of success in a particular role. This is what Gallup uses to hire talent, and it’s also the kind of assessment we build for our clients. Unfortunately, the Clifton StrengthsFinder theme sequence doesn’t give you an indication of talent intensity. So, if I have Woo as my No. 1 theme, and you have it as your No. 6 theme, your Woo could actually be stronger than mine. This is because the theme sequence each person receives is relative to their other themes, not benchmarked against other people. This is a tricky distinction, but important to consider if you’re trying to compare candidates and pick the one with the strongest talent for a given role.
  • We all have biases about certain themes. I’m always taken in by candidates with high Ideation and Input, but have a harder time connecting with those who have high Consistency and Harmony. I might always find a reason to include and exclude certain themes on my dream theme list, and these reasons have nothing to do with finding the right person for the job. 

Despite the analytics and biases that could take us down the wrong path, there is a case to be made for using the StrengthsFinder as part of the hiring process. Once you’ve done your interviewing to assess talent intensity -- and your final candidates’ talents match your best in the role -- then the StrengthsFinder is a great tool to help you choose between them. Here are some wise applications:

  • Engage in a dialogue about a candidate’s top five to explore self-awareness. Successful people observe themselves and understand how their own personality can contribute to their success and failure. They are more likely to adjust their behavior to fit a situation, or to adapt to people around them who are different. Ask candidates, “How have your themes contributed to your success? Have there been situations in the past where your themes didn’t fit the role or the team? What did you do? How might your themes fit this role?”
  • Prepare questions for the candidate that will give you clues as to how they work best. For example, in the scenario above with the HR professional who is high in Analytical, you could ask, “How would your Analytical theme help you to build our talent pipeline?” Or, “How do you use numerical data to help you make decisions? How do you work with people who lead and make decisions with their emotions?”

If the team the candidate is to join has gone through the StrengthsFinder, then map the candidates’ themes against the team to determine whether or not they might add some needed diversity to cover some gaps. If your team is full of individuals who have an abundance of themes that are action-oriented, but non-relational, then maybe your team needs someone who can create more collaboration among the team and with other groups -- perhaps someone who is strong in relational themes.

The key is to use the Clifton StrengthsFinder and a candidate’s top five themes as another piece to the selection puzzle -- a tool for use after you have narrowed down the field of applicants -- rather than to box yourself into one specific top five theme sequence that you perceive as ideal in that role.

As a leadership consultant with Gallup, Senior Practice Consultant Jacque Merritt provides executive coaching to leaders around the world. Since joining Gallup in 1989, Merritt has helped CEOs, leaders, and managers maximize their effectiveness by providing insights on how they can develop their capabilities. Merritt has also consulted with many of Gallup’s U.S.-based and international clients on team building, succession management, selection, and executive development.

Strengths: Woo | Maximizer | Input | Focus | Connectedness

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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Gallup’s Called to Coach Recap: Michael Dauphinee -- S1E4

Last week’s guest coach was Michael Dauphinee, president of The Dauphinee Group, which provides consulting, coaching, leadership development support, and human resources support to individuals and companies worldwide.

You may also listen to an Audio Recording of this event.

Dauphinee lost his first job at the age of 13 because his manager said he talked too much. Thereafter, he thought he needed to position himself in roles where he talked less -- until he took the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment and discovered his strengths.

When he initially received his top five strengths, Dauphinee felt a sense of failure at the realization that he hadn’t been true to himself. His strengths report said his habitual talking was actually a strength, and that he should find a career doing something where he was able to talk more frequently. He knew he could either deny it, or somehow step into his true self.

As a consultant with Hewlett Packard, Dauphinee frequently traveled overseas – something he enjoyed, but after a while he began to notice a void in his life that he needed to fill. He left his job at HP, because he felt that he wasn’t making a difference in people’s lives – he came to the realization that no one had become a better person because of what he was doing there. This was Dauphinee’s call to coach.

Other highlights from last week’s Called to Coach:

Communication Isn’t Information Sent, It’s Information Received

When coaching managers, it’s important to help them realize that not every employee communicates the same way. Some might require a detailed plan, while others might prefer communication to come on the fly. Until managers fully understand their employees’ individual strengths, they won’t be able to properly and effectively communicate with them. This is how managers can engage their employees, instead of just sending communication in their direction.

Retaking Clifton StrengthsFinder

Dauphinee often meets people who think they need to retake the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment. He says it’s imperative, however, that if you choose to take Clifton StrengthsFinder a second time, you define why it is that you are retaking the assessment. If it’s because you want a different label and you aren’t satisfied with your current top five, don’t retake it. Instead, figure out how to step into the roles of your innate talents instead of running away from them.

Join us for the next free Called to Coach on Thursday, Aug. 29, at 1 p.m. EDT with our guest, Paul Allen -- Gallup strengths evangelist and co-founder of

For more information about Michael Dauphinee, find him on Twitter @michaeldauph or visit his website at
Dauphinee has explored the globe, from Afghanistan to Uruguay, helping others develop their strengths. Throughout his travels, he has worked with individuals, governments, and Fortune 500 companies to help them reach personal, professional, and organizational goals.
Dauphinee’s top five strengths: Communication | Command | Activator | Positivity | Relator.

Register for future webcasts.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Mixed Feelings About One of Your Themes?

By Rosanne Liesveld, Managing Consultant

I have a confession to make. I’ve known my strengths, written and advised others on theirs, and embraced the philosophy for more than 10 years. But if I am truly honest, there are times even today when I still struggle to truly own two of my top five strengths. If you have ever felt a bit embarrassed when you had to “reveal” a theme that invokes less-than-positive comments from others, you are not alone. Although I know they make me great, I struggle with owning both Significance and Command as part of my Signature Themes. There’s something about those strengths in a female body that seems to make it even tougher for me to watch and hear others’ reactions to them some days.

I have learned a couple things about owning and embracing Significance and Command that I think may help others with whatever theme it is that they sometimes want to disown.

First of all, one (or two) themes are not who we are completely. My hope is that my Command is often made more palatable because of my Relator theme. For example, I will stand up for my close friends, even when others shy away. And I know my Significance is most powerful when I communicate it as a sister theme with Belief, which helps me see the long-term importance of doing what I know is right.

Second, we have the power of choice. The truth is that these two themes -- Significance and Command -- can be deadly, or they can enliven. But it’s up to me to decide how much I apply them productively. I still remember the day Don Clifton, researcher and genius behind the Clifton StrengthsFinder, sat in my office and talked to me about how one’s themes are not strengths until they are productively applied. So, every day I must ask myself, “How will I make Command productive in my life? How can I fine-tune that Significance and use it appropriately to create positive impact?”

The bottom line is this: We are not simply single instruments. We are complicated orchestras. Please don’t ever let one of your themes make you paranoid about what others might think about you. Instead, be ready to show yourself as a beautifully complex human being, always tuning up each theme so the melody weaves into your story in harmony with your experiences, your goals, and your talents. Embracing this allows you to live a truly beautiful life melody.

Rosanne M. Liesveld is a Managing Consultant with Gallup. She consults with K-12 school districts to develop comprehensive recruiting, assessment, hiring, and development strategies for teachers and principals. Liesveld is also coauthor of Teach With Your Strengths, a book on strengths-based development for educators and school systems.

Strengths: Futuristic | Activator | Significance | Relator | Command

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Gallup's Called to Coach Recap: Debby Kratky -- S1E3

Last week’s guest coach was Debby Kratky, the director of capacity building and training for Workforce Solutions in Tarrant County, Texas.

Devoting herself to helping others achieve their dreams, Kratky uses the Clifton StrengthsFinder to find employment for ex-inmates who are considered by many to be “unemployable.”

You may also listen to an Audio Recording of this event.

Here are some highlights and insights from Debby Kratky's Called to Coach:

People who have been out of the workforce for an extended period of time find it difficult to fill out an application, let alone land an interview. By understanding the language of strengths, they can describe themselves in new ways with fresh insight.

Kratky doesn’t do this alone. She has given her staff the opportunity to discover and embrace their own strengths, making it easier for them to mentor and coach the individuals they work with.

Success Stories
An individual who spent over 32 years in prison was thought by many to be unemployable. Using his strengths, he accepted who he was, made clear goals, and went out to accomplish those goals. Kratky’s staff successfully helped him find his first job since incarceration.

A New Orleans man named Lonnie served a long prison sentence. Although he was willing to take any job, his dream job was to become a tugboat captain on the Mississippi River. Kratky advised him to focus on his dreams, and she helped him use his top five strengths to realize his potential. Lonnie is now a proud tugboat captain in New Orleans.

Help Others Achieve Their Dreams
Kratky believes that each person has their own dream job, and one person’s ideal job is not necessarily the same for anyone else. As coaches, it’s important to refrain from instilling our passions onto someone else. It’s key to act as a strengths guide, helping others find and accomplish their dreams.

Join us for the next Called to Coach on August 9, from 1:00 to 1:30 U.S. Eastern Time, with guest Michael Dauphinee, an executive coach from the Dauphinee Group. Click here to access the registration page.

Debby Kratky is the Director of Capacity Building and Training for Workforce Solutions for Tarrant County. Debby is a subject matter expert for local, state, and national representatives on issues about ex-offenders and reentry, Welfare Reform, Homelessness and Fatherhood Programs, as well as families living in crisis.

Strengths: Input | Strategic | Ideation | Maximizer | Connectedness

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

How to PLUG Your LEAKS

By Brent O’Bannon, Executive Strengths Coach

I am often asked about the tug-of-war that seems to go on between our weaknesses and our strengths. Patterns of non-talent, or the themes that do not hang out around the top of our strengths profiles, are simply that -- patterns we do not naturally possess. These themes become weaknesses only when we have to use them. In the best scenario, we would all understand our strengths and work to align them with our expectations every day. Until then, there may be requirements you must meet that just don’t seem to feed your strengths. Think of it like a boat: In order to sail forward quickly and effortlessly, we must capitalize on what we do well. If we have a leak in an area that doesn’t affect the boat, we probably won’t spent much time fixing it. But if our leaks get in the way of us being successful, they must be addressed. In this post, I will focus on weaknesses and how to plug your leaks.

Maybe you think the strengths approach is one-sided. Nope. As a coach, I realize we all have weaknesses in our personal lives and in business. Weaknesses are like water leaks in a sailboat, and if we don’t plug our leaks, we sink. You may be experiencing a major weakness if you are not good at an activity and don’t feel passion for that activity, yet it’s important to your career success. A minor weakness is sometimes called a “learned behavior” that we are average-to-good at, however we do not enjoy or have passion for this activity, and the activity is not a major part of our job responsibility or career success.

Use my acronym below to help you identify your top personal and professional leaks (weaknesses) today.

What activity do you hate doing with a passion? You’re going to laugh when I confess this, but I loathe and hate dealing with the cable TV remote control or anything related to hooking up a DVD and cables. When you loathe an activity, you will find a way to…

What activity do you want to avoid and get someone else to do? You guessed it, I ask my wife to take care of the remote control and hooking up any electronics. Similarly, she hates installing the toilet paper, so for 27 years I’ve been the one who puts it on the roll.

In business, I loathe and avoid entering data and dealing with Quickbooks, so I’m frequently singing, “Help me Rhonda! Help, help me Rhonda!” Oh, I’m determined enough (whether I’m smart enough is questionable) to learn how to control a TV remote and figure out Quickbooks, but I will always be…

What activity is a weakness in your life or business that, no matter how much you learn or practice, you will only be average or below average in performance? Many professionals despise public speaking and try to get better by reading books or going to Toastmasters (which I recommend). The truth is, they can get better, but they will only be average or below average in performance because it’s not their strength.
In fact, you can become average in a weakness and still feel a…

What activity, no matter how much you improve (and I recommend improving your weaknesses to a point) there is still a kink in your stomach? A feeling of stress and strain?

My wife gets a feeling of stress and a kink in her stomach just thinking about dealing with conflict personally or professionally. It is a weakness of hers, however she has learned how to plug that leak (and lean on me to help, since this is one of my strengths). In 28 years of marriage, we have had a couple (okay, our fair share) of conflicts, big and small, but we are still afloat.

We have found a way to PLUG our leaks so we don’t sink.

One of my coaching clients loathes public speaking. He wants to escape it or get someone else to do it for him. He tries to improve, but still just feels average. He even feels a kink in his stomach when he presents a report to the senior management team. His top five strengths are Deliberative, Belief, Responsibility, Discipline, and Relator.

How can he PLUG the LEAK?

P: Plan
Plan on consciously using one or more of your signature strengths to boost your weakness. If your strengths are Deliberative, Belief, Responsibility, Discipline, and Relator, then you could decrease the stress (landmines) before you speak, stick with topics on which you can share your strong Belief, use Responsibility to make you follow through with quality, structure your talk with Discipline, and open your heart so you connect with your audience.

L: Leave
You will likely have to do some public speaking in your work, but what if you could eliminate 80% of public speaking? Of course, don’t volunteer for public speaking jobs. Make it clear to your boss and team that you want to decrease any opportunity that could create public speaking moments.

U: Unite
Who on your team could you unite with that excels at public speaking -- who loves public speaking and could take the pressure off of you? Many companies hire a spokesperson. You can, too, in critical public speaking situations. Who knows! You could even barter with someone who has the strength of public speaking.

G: Grow
We all have to do things that we are weak at to some extent. Go to Toastmasters or hire a coach to help you maximize your speaking abilities. Grow in the basics and let it go. Take the pressure off of yourself to be the best at everything, and invest your time and energy in your strengths.

Register for future webcasts.

Brent O’Bannon is a Gallup Certified Executive Strengths Coach who has conducted more than 27,000 coaching sessions and spoken to more than 60 organizations in the U.S., China, Dubai, and Afghanistan. For more information visit

Friday, July 12, 2013

Gallup's Called to Coach Recap: Curt Liesveld -- S1E2

Our guest coach, Curt Liesveld, has been a strengths coach at Gallup for 14 years. Liesveld answered the call to coach after realizing his “intense interest in the nature of human beings.” Along with a sociology degree and a theology background, Liesveld uses the Clifton StrengthsFinder to study humans and transform their raw potential into talents at which they excel.

Liesveld not only coaches individuals, he also coaches other strengths coaches who want to improve the wellbeing of others. He genuinely enjoys coaching others and seeing the impact strengths-based coaching can have on people’s lives.

You may also listen to an Audio Recording of this event.

Here are some highlights and insights from Curt Liesveld’s Call to Coach:

Transforming “being” into “doing.”
We have to care equally about who people are and what they do. Being is who we are by nature. By focusing on our strengths, it helps us understand how to do what we do best.

How many people lived their entire life not knowing what their strengths were?
This question always loomed in Don Clifton’s mind. It sincerely troubled him to know that people went their entire lives devoid of the opportunity to do what they do best every day. This same question serves as inspiration for coaches to help others discover their strengths and live fuller, happier lives.

How do unlikely strengths pairs work together?
There are 561 possible pairs of themes and any of them can work together to make up who you are. The two themes that most unlikely fit together are Activator and Deliberative; a person with this pair has a sense of urgency and caution at the same time. When unlikely themes are paired, we have to start thinking, “How does that give me an advantage?”

Can your strengths change over time?
At the core of who someone is, there is something enduring and consistent. Once you become an adult, there are consistencies between who you are and who you’ll become. There are some things that do change, however. What you know changes because your education expands your knowledge, your skills change because of your experience and practice, and your values can change over time due to events like marriage and the birth of a child.

Liesveld’s top five strengths: Responsibility, Relator, Maximizer, Learner, Analytical

The next Called to Coach event will be with Debby Kratky on July 18, at 5:00 p.m. U.S. Eastern Time. Kratky works for Tarrant County, Texas as the director of capacity building and training for workforce solutions.

Register for future webcasts.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Opportunity Most Candidates Miss During Job Interviews

By Mark Pogue, Senior Director of Strengths Education at Gallup

Many candidates miss a valuable opportunity during job interviews to make themselves stand out. A common question job interviewers ask candidates is, “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” Career counselors offer candidates many different strategies to skillfully navigate this question. Some interviewing experts recommend masking a weakness as a covert strength, such as, “I’ve been told I work too hard.” Others suggest sharing more strengths than weaknesses. The problem is that candidates end up focusing on applying the correct strategy rather than on the substance of their answer.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) surveys employers every year on what they want to see in candidates. Beyond the specific technical knowledge needed for a role, the wish list is mostly comprised of “soft skills.” An open-ended question referencing strengths is an opportunity for a candidate to highlight the connections between his or her personal uniqueness and successful outcomes.

Here is an exercise on how to link your strengths -- the ability to consistently provide near-perfect performance in a specific activity -- to a “soft skill.” Let’s say the job you are interested in requires the ability to collaborate. Take each of your top five strengths and create a one-sentence statement illustrating how that strength makes you a great collaborator. It’s OK that the statement might limit you to specific situations in which you are a great collaborator. For instance, I possess the strength of Activator. I love taking immediate action and seeing quick progress. My best collaboration occurs when I’m working with a team on something new that has a short deadline. Once you have your one sentence, be prepared to follow that with a specific story illustrating your strength.

Make yourself memorable to a potential employer by telling a story of when your unique strengths prepared you for an excellent performance. Your energy and excitement as you tell the story will prove your authenticity and make an impression, which brings us back to addressing our weaknesses.

Unfortunately, most of us don’t benefit from a burst of energy when we are working from a weakness or non-strength. It’s not that we can’t do it, but the activity is probably not something we are best at, and we probably don’t find much satisfaction or energy in the act. Personally, I struggle with staying organized. It’s not energizing for me to be disciplined and regimented. But I’m still responsible for staying organized and meeting deadlines. I am, however, very energized in the commitments I make to others. I use the Responsibility theme as a proxy for Discipline when I know someone is counting on me to meet a deadline.

The power of strengths-based development is that it contributes in an immediate and satisfying way to help people reach their goals, things like developing better, more effective study strategies, managing relationships on a project team, or being effective in a leadership role. These are all potential stories that employers want to hear from their candidates.

The same approach applies to personal strengths development and your career.

I’ve worked with a lot of career coaches that effectively use strengths to help their clients’ ongoing career development. These coaches recognize that the value of strengths development goes far beyond any specific job role. They help their clients see strengths development as a tool for continually assessing and evaluating roles and opportunities as they arise. Strengths development is a foundation for understanding yourself in the work environment and being able to navigate the world of work through your strengths lens.

Mark Pogue is the Senior Director of Strengths Education at Gallup. His mission is to create a world where all students of any age lead successful and self-directed lives, empowered with the knowledge of their talents and how to apply them. Pogue led the design and creation of StrengthsQuest and continues to direct the project worldwide. StrengthsQuest, a campus-based human development and engagement program, helps students, staff, and faculty identify and apply their strengths. Since its inception, more than 1.5 million individuals on more than 600 campuses have participated in StrengthsQuest programs.

Strengths: Self-Assurance | Activator | Ideation | Intellection | Command
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