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CWJJ Episode 12: Cindy Mitchell

Thursday, June 25- Cindy Mitchell from SGA joins CWJJ this week to discuss a strengths-based leadership approach.

Episode Transcript:

Troy Hudson:  [0:00] Ladies and gentlemen boys and girls of all ages welcome to the most amazing interview show on the information superhighway.

[0:09] Now zooming to you live and simultaneously from two secret studio bunkers in dual time zones located somewhere south of Alaska east of Area 51 north of Guantanamo.

[0:19] If I give you one more clue we’ll all be in deep trouble. It’s the amazing twin namesake separated at birth the two most famous guys, not in witness protection. It’s “Coffee with Jim & James.

[[0:32] applause]

Jim Schauer:  [0:39] Good morning, everyone another beautiful sunny day here James something about today has me feeling kind of strong but not physically, more so this way don’t know what it is feel like finding my strengths or maybe I have those words backwards. Anyways, that’s a hint of today’s show.

[0:59] As always my partner in crime the yin to my yang the ping to my pong the show wouldn’t be the show without him, Mr. James Cross. James. How are you? And you know, I’m on a roll right now. Can you tell me why I’m feeling so strong?

James Cross:  [1:15] You bet, Jim, and the show literally wouldn’t be the same without that intro every every…


James:  Jim,: [1:24] today’s show is based around strengths. So we’re going to be talking about strength‑based leadership.

[1:29] And today. We have a very special guest one of my good friend from the industry from Southern Gas Association, Miss Cindy Mitchell. Cindy, welcome to the show.

Jim:  [1:40] Welcome, Cindy.

Cindy Mitchell:  [1:41] Thank you guys. This is fantastic. I’m super excited to be with you. It’s a fantastic journey that we’ve been on together. And so this is a great format.

[1:53] I’m really looking forward to bringing strengths to your audience and talk a little more about the whole platform of Gallups CliftonStrengths StrengthsFinders.

James:  : [2:05] Can they make it any harder to say? That’s what I wonder, if version 2.0, they going to add a few more syllables to trip us up.

Cindy:  [2:12] Right? I think it’s just as hard to type because that N and the G and the T and the H just kind of runs together too. So it’s just.

Jim:  [2:21] That that probably sounds like it gives spellcheck a run for the money.

[0:00] [

Cindy:  [2:24] laughs]

Jim:  [2:25] You know Cindy we’ve known each other for a long time and we’ve seen each other at countless shows and other events like that and you have some really cool party tricks. I’ll call them.

[0:00] [

Cindy:  [2:35] laughs]

Jim:  [2:36] As James just alluded to for those who know Cindy is a Gallup‑certified StrengthsFinder coach. And if anybody knows anything about the business world and strengths and all that. That’s kind of a really big deal.

[2:50] Cindy. Can you help us and give our viewers the 30,000 foot view of to StrengthsFinders and what it’s about?

Cindy:  [2:57] Sure. So I won’t go into too much of the history of it. But Don Clifton was a behavioral psychiatrist and he’s the founder of StrengthsFinders. He started the movement by asking the question simply what would happen if we focus on what was right with people.

[3:19] Eventually he developed a psychometric assessment that is now powered by the Gallup organization. So it’s different. It’s not a personality profile. People that have done those maybe experience colors love languages.

[3:35] All of those are fantastic entries into behavioral assessments, but really to get to the heart of who we are we really do need to use a psychometric assessment.

[3:48] So it’s broken up into 34 identified talent themes or strengths as we call them and there are four domains. Over 20 million people worldwide now have taken StrengthsFinders.

[4:04] And only 1 in 33 with odds are 1 in 33 million is that someone would have the exact size same top five in the exact same order as you.

Jim:  [4:14] Wait, 1 1 in 33 million?

Cindy:  [4:17] Mm‑hmm.

James:  [4:17] Mine and Jims are exactly the same.

Jim:  [4:25] [laughs]

Cindy:  [4:25] Not at all. [laughs]


Cindy:  [4:25] Not at all. And then I think the last thing that you really need to know it kind of at this high level view is that the reason that they are actually identified as talent themes is because they must be developed in order to be known or seen by others.

[4:43] So these talent themes are innate in us they are how we’re wired and those have to be developed and worked on so that others can recognize those as strengths.

[4:59] Every strength has a balcony every strength has a basement. You can always have too much of a good thing. So you can kind of get the idea right the reference of a balcony and a basement?

James:  [5:10] Yeah, Jim’s on a balcony right now.

[[5:11] laughter]

[0:00] …

James:  [5:11] far extreme of all of the strengths. No Cindy, I love I love the strength‑based and StrengthFinder. I when we were when I came on board board with EWN was the first thing first time I was really exposed to it and I say expose like as a bad thing.

[5:34] When I saw it took the test and got my top five back. And for those of never done it that’s kind of the processor you at your five you pay for an additional one see the full set.

[5:45] But when I saw my five it was like my whole life. I realized what what it was that I had been gifted with really and that almost every time in my life that I thought it was coincidence or you know, I fell into a good, you know habit or a routine really bold a lot down to my strengths.

[6:05] And so it was a big realization for me as a leader and also as I mean just for my career.

[6:12] And so when I’ve began leaning into those things and coupling my strengths with the right people and learning more about it and how powerful it was started implementing it within my own teams. I think we started to see the benefits almost it felt like instantly.

[6:29] I mean you can almost do it at the smallest project level or start big, you know, it kind of ramp up into it. Either way. We went in and we started a line of people in the right seats and just building teams better in my opinion.

[6:45] So so I guess my point is and what I want to ask you is why isn’t every single company using StrengthsFinder and What how could it change them and what they’re doing?

Cindy:  [7:03] Yeah, you’re absolutely right and trust me to work with your organization was an absolute delight it is so refreshing that a company wants to implement a strength‑based culture.

[7:19] Typically because we’re pretty hardwired to do what we do and the negative’s pretty easy to see it usually takes a couple of years to get everybody on the right track and to have the right conversations.

James:  [7:36] Compare [inaudible] almost, right?

Cindy:  [7:36] Yeah. Absolutely. Absolutely. You know, what do you do when somebody messes up you either reprimand them you write them up you talk to about what they’ve done wrong, right?

[7:45] You don’t find out what they’ve done right and work to overcome the deficiency. So so it takes a while. So that’s part of the reason to answer your question is there are a lot of leaders that aren’t a very strength‑based mindset type of a leader.

[8:06] And then there’s the mindset, too, that StrengthsFinders or these kinds of assessments are warm and fuzzy. They make your team feel good.

[8:16] So I’m going to tell you that the Gallup organization is a very serious organization, polling obviously is something a widely known for so numbers they have this is a business strategy.

[8:30] Why more companies don’t recognize that I’m not very sure but employees who are engaged in their jobs are six times more likely to be successful strongly agree that they have the opportunity to do what they do best, three times more likely to report an excellent quality of life.

[8:50] 32 percent of the American workforce is actively disengaged. They’re not just like, ooh, this is a J‑O‑B. They are actively throwing…

James:  [9:06] Yeah today is the worst day of my life. I mean they were all in and they sit in the parking lot and wonder if they should go into work.

Cindy:  [9:14] That’s right 32 percent So increased productivity and quality of work delivered is the bottom line of what you get when you build in StrengthsFinders into your culture.

[9:28] It’s the equivalent of 33 minutes a day more productive. So that doesn’t sound like a lot. However, when the average US team is built of 11 people that’s essentially an additional team member.

[9:49] I mean, that’s crazy everybody especially right now. How do we how do we do more with less? How do we meet our demands.

[9:56] And yet when you can engage your employees and focus on using your teammates in the way that works best for them will work best for you.

[10:10] So it just kind of as a cool side note. James, you and I share one of the same top five and Jim we share two. So James and I share strategic.

James:  [10:23] Which I feel like everyone has strategic. I feel like is that the most popular one ever?

Cindy:  [10:28] No, it’s not.

James:  [10:29] Responsibility.

Cindy:  [10:32] No actually achievement is the number one in the US but both men and women.

James:  [10:38] I need achievements in my life.

Cindy:  [10:40] That’s right.

James:  [10:41] I need achievers and activators. [laughs] I can arrange all day long all day long and into the night. I need somebody to go. Okay, we’re going to start now, [laughs] with or without you.

[10:55] And then I need somebody say we’re going to finish this. It’s because I need to check the box. That’s that’s my life.

Cindy:  [11:02] Jimmy your Jimmy’s your activator. He’s the one to get all of that started and we share activator and strategic.

[11:08] It’s interesting when you said I think most people I hope the look on my face didn’t give it away. But I find a lot of people who aren’t strategic all day long.

[11:16] [laughter]

James:  [11:16] I just work with really awesome people. And I guess it depends on leadership at what level sometimes. I find, I can’t remember, the other day, we pulled it together our executive leadership team.

[11:32] And I think almost all of us had strategic and responsible and a responsibility which was I mean, I don’t know how it shakes out across the board. I don’t you know.

[11:42] I didn’t pay for that report or become a coach like you, Cindy. But it is fascinating to learn more about each one.

Jim:  [11:51] It’s fun. You know, it’s really fun when you can you understand where people’s like their passion and strengths are and you tap into it. You see them blossom.

Cindy:  [12:01] That’s right.

Jim:  [12:02] And if and if you know somebody is not what you’re looking for in that strength. There’s there’s many pieces of the puzzle. That’ll that’ll help them where they can fit into you know.

[12:13] And it brings me to a observation. I had you know, I’ve been to Cindy a lot of SGA events and James has too we have we support the SGA we’ve been to a lot.

[12:25] And to me it seems like the entire SGA crew seems to be a very, you know, tight‑knit group has high expectations strong leadership strong team.

[12:38] How is the SGA use this technique amongst yourselves to set yourselves apart and and I have to ask, you know, what’s the good, bad, and the ugly that you find from, you know, integrating this whole tool into your everyday life?

James:  [12:56] Look at her, she’s scared to death to answer this. HR and communications are sitting on my shoulder going don’t do it. So now they do it.

Jim:  [13:04] Don’t do it.

James:  [13:05] Once the [inaudible] good, bad, and ugly? I can’t talk about that.

Cindy:  [13:13] Sorry. I was looking for a paper that I thought was right here. I think the bad and the ugly to implement StrengthsFinders comes into the amount of time. It takes to be broke deprogram.

[13:27] Immediately, you know when something happens you immediately go to that that knee jerk response of what’s wrong. Where did it fail? What did you do wrong?

[13:39] So I think you know infusing something into a culture is not easy and it doesn’t matter if it’s the culture of your team the culture of your family or the culture of your organization. You can’t change a culture without a common language.

[13:59] And so StrengthsFinders has to become a part of your language in your organization, you know, I mean for us it’s been a lot of fun to use StrengthFinders.

[14:13] Just so that our employees got to listen to someone other than me talk all the time, we actually hired another group to come in and help us.

[14:23] And so it’s really been a very positive experience for people to be seen.

James:  [14:30] Amen.

Cindy:  [14:33] And and so I think you know, that’s that’s the beauty of it. Is that everyone everyone has a top five. Everyone has strengths, you know at varying degrees of development, very varying degrees of understanding. But everybody can be seen for what they are really known to be wired to be amazing.

[15:02] And so when you when you start to infuse it in the culture, it’s hard. I mean it takes a minute and no matter how big it is you are. So so…

James:  [15:14] And you’re right. Cindy the we’re in such a on demand world, right, that you know, I am watch a whole series of something I can you know, my son’s probably streaming in there. That’s why my connection’s so bad.

[15:28] Like he never lived in a world where you had to wait a week for the new episode to come out. You know, like everything. I want to buy some shoes I go on Amazon and I got them the next day or the same day.

[15:39] So when it comes to leadership in those principles, you know and really going back to fundamental basics and saying we can’t do this right if we don’t start with this with the same language.

[15:51] And at EWN, you know, you’ve probably seen our our hashtag and our motto are kind of makeshift motto which would be better, you know, everybody screams, you know, they’re the best at this in the best for that. But when everybody screaming you can’t tell one person from the other, right?

[16:09] And our commitment is not that you know, we’re not always going to be the best we’re going to make mistakes, but we’re going to we’re going to take that and continuously improve it and be better and lean in to one we’re doing really really well with something.

[16:23] I think it’s hard for some leaders to get a program like this off the ground because they want instant results or are or from even higher up are expected to have an instant results and working on plan and that’s tough. You got to be committed. You got to be passionate and you got to be dedicated to it.

[16:46] Cindy, would we always kind of finish with some final thoughts and you know that I will talk to you about this for like we could do 16 episodes nerd out about it.

Jim:  [16:59] 20, 30.

James:  [17:02] We could do 34. I know.

Cindy:  [17:04] What I’m thinking.

James:  [17:05] With two big bookend intros and outros, but what are some final thoughts for people that might be the first time they’re hearing this or the first time they’re realizing there’s really a movement behind it. Or maybe people that have got lazy with their strengths are what their with their groups.

[17:24] What what do you have for them as final thoughts?

Cindy:  [17:29] Well, I mean at the end of the day, I think it’s incredible to have a tool that recognizes you and gives you a vocabulary to answer. What is good with me.

[17:45] You know the worst interview in my opinion the worst interview plant a question on the planet is tell me your strengths and tell me your weaknesses. Well, I sit here all day go through that. I mean.

James:  [17:53] Oh gosh, I just take on too much, Cindy.

Cindy:  [17:57] Yeah. [laughs]

James:  [17:58] I just you know, I can’t say no.

Cindy:  [18:00] Is that right?

James:  [18:01] Everybody answers that the same, right?

Cindy:  [18:03] Yep, yep. But geeking out with you. I love working with individuals at various stages of their life. One of the coolest things is when they’re getting ready to leave college and go on their adult journey.

[18:20] Any point of their career really is just to help them identify what they excel at and how to develop skills and strategies so that they demonstrate those strengths.

Jim:  [18:33] Good point.

Cindy:  [18:33] Yeah, it’s just we’re right now we are under extreme pressure stress anxiety and that will impact your strengths.

[18:42] And so to your point James if maybe you’re not seeing them, you know, it could be be some time to take a mental health break and check on yourself and see how you’re doing and spend some time kind of getting to know where you are right now.

James:  [19:01] Sharpen the saw, yeah?

Cindy:  [19:03] Yeah, absolutely. So but you know, like I said, everybody has them and it’s it’s pretty fantastic to have vocabulary around being able to say this is what I’m good at.

James:  [19:15] It’s one that we speak the same language across organizations sometimes you know us and SGA but also within our building it’s nice to have that we do seven habits. Also just with with the majority of our folks and we do it in different groups.

[19:31] And again, that’s a common language for us to really rally around and when somebody says begin with the end in mind or seek first to understand we know where their heads at and as we start geeking out on strengths. You know, we’re all Yeah very much in the same page.

Jim:  [19:50] Yeah. Yeah, I have to tell you I agree with everything James says and Cindy you have been absolutely wonderful to join us today. We can’t thank you enough for the time.

[20:01] You really just you know, we’ve been exploring the StrengthFinders for a while. But I really think that our audience will from this have a pretty good taste of you know, what this is potential for them. And I think that’s really important.

[20:16] And I will say to the audience that if you’re interested in interested in learning more please connect the Cindy she is a wealth of information resource.

[20:25] And as you can see just a wonderful person. She likes to talk. Well, maybe not as much as I do but she likes to talk. So I’m sure she…what’s that?

James:  [20:33] A close second, for sure.

[0:00] [

Jim:  [20:36] laughs] A 2.1. How does that sound?

Cindy:  [20:39] [laughs]

Jim:  [20:39] But anyways please connect with Cindy and if you’re new to the show for this is your first time connect with James and I we have episodes every week we would like to have you on on your feet showing up, so please connect with us.

[20:54] And if anybody does want to take the big jump and join us on the show and be a guest by all means reach out to James or I we would love to have a discussion with you to see if we can’t make that happen and…

James:  [21:08] We haven’t ran out of guests yet, which is…

Jim:  [21:11] Nor have we run out of mugs yet, right?

James:  [21:14] We already ran out once.

Jim:  [21:17] Oh, yeah, we did. Yeah, we had to order more. Anyway.

James:  [21:20] All right, Cindy it’s been awesome awesome spending time with you today, tell everyone at SGA hello. And we wish you all well, and we can’t wait to see you out at an event. Hopefully next year.

Jim:  [21:35] Absolutely.

Cindy:  [21:36] Absolutely. It’s been fun geeking out with you guys.

Jim:  [21:39] And again thanks to all our viewers. Thanks for watching. God bless you and God bless our industry and we will see you next time on Coffee with Jim & James. Take care and stay safe.

James:  [21:50] Bye, everyone.

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