Lead Through Strengths

This Episode’s Focus on Strengths

In this episode, Lisa speaks with Jim Collison. He manages a technology team at Gallup in Omaha, Nebraska. He also champions the community for Gallup Certified Strengths Coaches, so he’s the poster child of the movement for many strengths professionals.

You’ll find this podcast particularly interesting if you’re ready to implement strengths-based coaching with your team. Jim gives specific examples that will get your wheels turning. He offers ideas for building a stronger team. He shares stories from his strengths based parenting experiences. And he shares examples of how he applies natural talents on the fly. He does this every year as he manages large teams of interns and only has a few months with each person.

All the while he’s partnering with other people to maximize the productivity on the team. Jim’s Top 5 Talent Themes from the Clifton StrengthsFinder are Arranger, Woo, Maximizer, Communication, and Activator. He’s a great example of someone who doesn’t waste time wishing he had more of his “lesser” talents. Instead, he pairs up with those who bring the talents that are tough for him to call on.


Where It Started For Jim

Every person’s strengths journey begins in a different place. Jim’s started at home, which led him into a career where he gets to apply his top talents and encourage others’ every day.

He tells the story of how he took the StrengthsFinder Assessment, and was so excited, that as soon as he got home, he said to his wife, “You take this too! Let’s parent this way.” This had a profound influence on his life and the way they parent each of their unique children.

He confesses that he thought one of his sons was apathetic. He got an enlightened view and changed their whole relationship once he looked at it through a talent lens. By looking at their children, and understanding what their individual strengths were, Jim and his wife were able to support each one and encourage growth in a positive way.


Applying Strengths At Work

While finding his strengths had an immediate impact at home, it was much slower at work. He’s still evolving 10 years later. Jim says it’s a “long-haul” approach, and that you have to live it. Here are some of Jim’s TIPS

  • Live it.
    Dig into your own top 5 talents, and strive to understand them at a deep level. You need to “live that life and walk that walk” every day. You have to invest in each talent theme to turn them into strengths on the job.
  • Team View.
    Create a Team Grid that includes every team member’s top 5 StrengthsFinder talent themes. Use the grid to get a big picture view of the overall strengths of the team (and where your team lacks strengths). Remember, you want well-rounded teams, not well-rounded individuals. This is a great process for seeing who you need to lean on for different responsibilities and initiatives at work.
  • Manage Head Butting.
    Utilize the Team Grid as a conflict management tool. For example, if you have two team members who are in conflict, you can use this knowledge of the conflicting strengths without them realizing that’s what you’re doing.

    Tell the two people “ I understand, Bob, that you are adaptable and can go with the flow. And, Anna, I understand that you need structure. As you two interact on this project, please remember to take that into account.” Both people will feel understood and more open to compromise. Set up the potential conflict and ask them how this shows up at work for them.
  • Work Around Weaknesses.
    When it comes to projects, don’t spend time trying to improve your own weaknesses. Instead, spend time building partnerships by looking for someone who has strengths that are complementary to yours. Then, this is the big part: ASK. Ask the person to work with you on your project. If you don’t ask, the answer will be no. You’ll be surprised at how often people jump at the opportunity because you’re requesting help in areas they love working in. This will lead to a well rounded team. That’s so much better than trying to fight your way to a well rounded you.
  • Live Into Talents In Small Bites.
    If you oversee a team, Jim says not to undertake huge strengths initiatives out of the gate. It’s not because he doesn’t believe in them, it’s because they almost always fail. Instead, take little bites at a time. Little changes are not as noticeable, and are much easier to achieve. People don’t resist the small bites. They add up to a lot of momentum over time.
  • Align Responsibilities To Strengths.
    When it comes to specific assignments, pay attention to what your team members enjoy doing, and give them those tasks. When you give someone a job they want to do, the management part becomes a side thing. What you’re really doing is giving them opportunities to let them soar.
  • Get Out Of The Way.
    If you’re a manager and you give assignments, remember to stand back and let people do their jobs. You can help them with adjustments to keep them on course, yet that’s about all they’ll need when they’re in their strengths zoze. Stay focused on the outcomes. Let them approach the “how” through their unique talents. This even holds true for remote teams. Here at Lead Through Strengths, we’re based in Austin, Texas, yet we each work remote from each other. The outcome is the focus of the work, and way the work happens in between is based on each person’s talents.
  • Keep Growing. Jim’s last tip is to go to the Gallup Coaching website and check out all the free resources. You don’t have to be a certified strengths coach to access these helpful items that will help you grow as a leader.

Resources of the Episode

To get even more strengths tips, follow Jim on twitter @JimatGallup and the Gallup Organization @Gallup

Listen To Gallup podcasts that Jim hosts:

Theme Thursday – Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and YouTube

Called to Coach – Listen on Gallup.com and Spreaker


Jim mentions three books that he recommends about strengths:

-- StrengthsFinder 2.0, by Tom Rath

-- First, Break All the Rules, by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman

-- Now, Discover Your Strengths, by Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton



To subscribe and review, here are your links for listening in iTunes and Stitcher Radio. You can also stream any episode right from the website. Subscribing is a great way to never miss an episode. Let the app notify you each week when the latest episode gets published.


Go Live Your Talents

Remember, using your strengths every day at work makes you a stronger performer. Go claim your talents and share them with the world.


Direct download: 025_-_Jim_Collison.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 2:37am CDT