Strengths Coaching Blog

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Communication: How to Translate an Idea into a Story - Theme Thursday Season 3

On this Theme Thursday Season Three webcast, Jim Collison, Gallup's Director of Talent Sourcing, and Maika Leibbrandt, Senior Workplace Consultant, talk about Communication with Gallup's Sara Vander Helm, L&D and Engagement Performance Manager.





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You like to explain, to describe, to host, to speak in public and to write. This is your Communication theme at work. Ideas are a dry beginning. Events are static. You feel a need to bring them to life, to energize them, to make them exciting and vivid. And so you turn events into stories and practice telling them. You take the dry idea and enliven it with images and examples and metaphors. You believe that most people have a very short attention span. They are bombarded by information, but very little of it survives.

You want your information — whether an idea, an event, a product’s features and benefits, a discovery, or a lesson — to survive. You want to divert their attention toward you and then capture it, lock it in. This is what drives your hunt for the perfect phrase. This is what draws you toward dramatic words and powerful word combinations. This is why people like to listen to you. Your word pictures pique their interest, sharpen their world and inspire them to act.
Communication has a great way with words. These words can be speaking or writing, but with a leadership role it is about how you can take something and elevate it to an emotional level. How can you not just do great work, but also speak about the work of your team? Leaders with Communication specifically do this by having a great ability to put feelings into words. Sometimes this can be your own thoughts and feelings, but in many cases it is also being able to reflect back what someone else is feeling in a way that they would never have been able to put together. 

There is a strategy piece to Communication that is sometimes missed. It is an awareness that people aren’t attached to everything they hear, and there is that thoughtfulness with individuals high in Communication on how their message is the one that sticks. It isn’t just about talking. It is about purposely considering, practicing, honing and improving upon the way you can communicate. Individuals with high Communication have the ability to turn static events dynamic. They can add emotion so that an idea is never boring or dry. They can breathe life into it. 

As an individual with Communication you can quickly pick up on the lingo of others. It is really easy to realize certain organizations speak certain languages. You can pick up the different acronyms, pieces and stories that are most important to them. Leaders can do this, but they can also exhibit and highlight the language of an organization onto a broader spectrum. 

It isn’t just about picking up on the lingo and cultural words of other people, but it is also about being able to get your own team’s language out into the ether. As an individual you can translate your own thoughts when you speak out loud, as a leader you are able to translate others’ thoughts in ways that they couldn’t. 

How can you invest in Communication as a leader? Think about the folklore within your organization. What are the stories that are important to your team? Communication can take an idea and translate it into a story. Understand these stories, and turn them into something that is lively and motivating. Lend those skills to others. Who can you help make more dynamic presentations? What else can you learn to help you communicate better? Make sure that you are treating yourself at an advanced level, and push that even further. 

A leader with Communication might build trust by thinking about how transparent and aligned their stories are with their beliefs and values. What stories really showcase your values? How can you invite others to open up? Part of being a leader with Communication is also being able to listen. A leader might show compassion by thinking about the most inspirational way to name their daily meetings. Who needs to hear their value that day to create stability? How can you reflect the potential in others back at them? 

What direction do your words take people to build hope? Hope is the belief that tomorrow is going to be better than today, and that you have the ability to make that possible. So are you being forward facing in the stories that you are telling people? Are you leaving others in a place where they are thinking about tomorrow and the future? How can you get better at painting a clearer more inviting picture of the future? 

How do you feel about the Communication Theme in a leadership role? Share your thoughts and experiences on the Called to Coach Facebook page.

Pressed for time? We now have all of our Theme Thursday videos in short, easy-to-digest snippets and other Gallup-Certified Strengths Coaches break down the nuances of each theme.

Register now for the 2017 CliftonStrengths Summit!



Sara Vander Helm is the Learning and Development and Engagement Performance Manager for Gallup’s Outbound Interviewing Division.  With Gallup since 1996, Sara works to cultivate and grow Gallup’s onboarding program within the interviewing centers, as well as the ongoing developmental programming that is a hallmark to the culture within Gallup interviewing centers.  

Sara has also had the good fortune to be able to serve as a coach and performance partner to the many talented managers on the L&D and Engagement teams in Outbound who go out and bring the Gallup culture to life for our interviewing teams, currently 500 interviewers and staff strong!

Sara is also beyond blessed to have an amazing husband, and two lovely little ladies who call her Mommy, who keep her talking, and listening, and helping these communicators of the future to discover themselves.


Sara's top 5 strengths are: Communication | Competition | WOO | Maximizer | Input.

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