Strengths Coaching Blog

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Gallup Called to Coach: Dean Jones -- After You've Covered the Basics of Effective Strengths Training, What's Next? (Part 1) -- S6E16

On a recent Called to Coach, we spoke with the Principal Architect of Gallup's Global Learning Strategy, Dean Jones.







Led two C2Cs back in September and November 2016 on “Leading Effective Strengths Trainings” -- one was on content and another on delivery.
  • Have gotten lots of positive feedback from coaches and trainers, saying that it helped them focus on what would make the biggest difference
  • Want to take the next step -- what to cover next when you have covered the basics
Start with a review of the “basics.” Here are the topics that we suggested you cover, in that first C2C from 2016:
  • Strengths is rooted in a study of excellence.
  • Define Talent, Strengths, Theme.
  • Introduce CliftonStrengths.
  • Help people to Name, Claim, and Aim their talents, so they can develop strengths.
  •  Address how to handle weaknesses.

What has changed in two years?  Not much, but:
  • We tend to focus less on people having a rigorous understanding of the differences between talents and strengths -- having a “working” understanding is enough in the beginning.
  • We continue to put more emphasis on people being able to account for and manage their weaknesses.
  •  We have a much deeper appreciation for the value of seeing and knowing your entire 34 theme sequence. 
A lot of basic strengths education is really focused on Naming, Claiming and Aiming -- and particularly in the beginning, Naming and Claiming.
  • With some people, we have to do some work so they know their talent themes, have awareness of them, and own and appreciate them. First three developmental milestones that we cover in the Advanced Strengths Coaching course. 
  • In the early stages, it’s all about talent identification and awareness-building.
  • Having a foundation of basic strengths education is crucial for coaching -- just can’t really coach until someone is fully in the world of strengths
As we’ve talked about in the past, there is a powerful turning point for people when they start to focus and invest -- they make a choice to focus on their strengths (thereby giving up claiming their areas of non-talent) and start intentionally investing in building strengths.
  • In both teaching and coaching, you want to be looking out for that milestone -- it signifies that we’ve moved from just being aware of our strengths (“Look at what I’ve got!”) to applying your strengths to produce results, have an impact, make a difference (“Look what I can do!”).  
So, as we make that turning point, what’s next in strengths development? What do you teach next? 

I like to frame it up by thinking about “advanced” strengths development along four dimensions -- Breadth, Depth, Calibration and Awareness.
  • Breadth -- understanding all the CliftonStrengths themes, being able to identify them, and what they contribute.
  • Depth -- having an appreciation for all the traits, all the patterns of thought, feeling and behavior that comprise each theme.
  • Calibration -- helping increase the precision with which people are able to apply their themes and produce consistent, near-perfect results. 
  • Awareness -- aligning each person’s perception of themselves with others’ perceptions, reducing blind spots, encouraging the full expression of strengths, and discovering unused talents. 
This is a useful framework for designing and planning what to cover in a more advanced strengths session -- and can be used as a kind of “audit” to listen for needs as you work with clients and teams around strengths development.

We could spend all day unpacking each one -- in Part 2 of this session, I want to provide some examples of what I might cover in each area. 

Before we close today, I want to remind everyone of the guiding principles around strengths development. Think this is important in both what we teach -- and how we teach strengths.

1.      Themes are neutral. CliftonStrengths themes don’t make people great or terrible. People make themes great or terrible. Will you be a theme poster child or a theme problem child? It all depends on whether you productively apply that which you possess.

2.     Themes are not labels. Human beings are much too complex to be defined or described by one word, be it a gender, an age, a race, or a theme name. The purpose of CliftonStrengths is not to provide another method of labeling people but rather a tool to help understand and appreciate the tremendous complexity and diversity of humanity. 

3.     Lead with positive intent. How we think and feel about a person will affect our involvement and interaction with that person. If our thoughts and feelings about that person are primarily positive in nature, then our involvement and interaction will be primarily positive in nature. Growth is not likely to occur in an environment that is primarily negative in nature.

4.     Differences are an advantage. The differences existing in humanity are not necessarily problems we need to solve. Instead, they may actually be resources that could create an advantage when developed and used wisely.

5.     People need one another. The motivation for human well-roundedness comes from the following mistaken notion: “If I am relatively good at everything, then I won’t need to rely on anyone.” Doing it all will, in some ways, be easier, but in the final analysis, the results will tend to be of lower quality. Ultimately, we know that there is no such thing as a well-rounded person.

You can start using your CliftonStrengths today:


Dean Jones is the principal architect of Gallup's global client learning strategy. Dean consults with clients on strategic solutions to address key business issues, including organizational development, performance management, learning and development, productivity and workforce effectiveness. He oversees the direction of Gallup's client learning offerings, the development of the organization's learning consultants, and the growth of Gallup's learning business worldwide, including its public course offerings and learning products.


Dean Jones's top five strengths are Activator, Focus, Woo, Strategic and Relator.

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