How do you select the right tools to use in a coaching conversation with a client? In this practical guide, we explore different situations and explain which reports you should use – and why. Working with the CliftonStrengths® themes and the Cascade Strengths reports, we’ll reveal the specific worksheets that will help you get the best results for your client.
Coaching Topics Covered in this Guide
This guide, and the topics covered, are designed for one-to-one conversations. Our second guide covers coaching conversations with teams and topics involving more than one person.
Strengths Coaching Tools
Name It, Claim It & Aim It
Gallup teaches its Strengths Coaches to use the steps of Name It, Claim It and Aim It, to help clients understand and apply their top 5 strengths. Some of the Cascade reports are deliberately designed to facilitate these conversations. Another similar approach uses the headings of Learning, Loving and Living your Strengths.
The Personal Insights report provides many aspects to help a person identify with their themes and make them their own. Work through the report, asking your client which words or phrases resonate most. Follow this up by asking them to think of examples or situations when they ring true. This simple exercise helps your client more easily recognise when they’re using one of their themes.
One of the most popular coaching tools, the Brings & Needs report, describes how a theme can come into play in real life scenarios. Use this reports to help your client explore the different dynamics of their themes and discover the unique value and power they bring.
Browse through the range of Strengths Advantage worksheets to find a relevant topic for the your client and their specific situation. Then work through the different aspects of the topic to help your client see how to more intentionally and proactively use their strengths.
Coaching with All 34 Themes
Going beyond the Top 5 themes to look at all 34 provides much deeper insights into the individual and therefore, opens up more coaching opportunities. The My 34 Theme report contains a one-page summary of all the 34 themes for an individual. This includes a handy coaching tool which allows you to easily see the distribution of themes across the four Domains of leadership.
Choose a set of Theme Insight information that will best help your client appreciate the depth and breath of their themes.
The My 34 Theme report in Cascade provides a quick overview to accompany Gallup’s 25-page All 34 report.
Weaknesses can stem from any of the 34 themes and are not just limited to those are the bottom of the sequence. For example, a weakness can be when a top strength is inappropriately applied. Look at the Barrier Labels in the Personal Insights report to see how a theme could actually hamper progress. Get your client to think of examples of when this happened and discuss options for mitigating it.
When working with a client to develop coping strategies for the lesser themes, the answers often lie within their top themes. So use the My 34 report and their full theme sequence to guide the conversation. Adjust the Theme insight elements to find helpful phrases for these themes.
How do you describe the Brings & Needs report?
The Bring Need report in Cascade is unquestionably my favourite report to use with clients. It is concise and digs deep into the core of their dominant Themes. The report helps me guide clients in reminding them of their unique magic that they bring to any situation, the value they Bring and the Needs that they may have. The report is my aide in helping clients to articulate this in a way that allows them to be heard and valued.
Meryl Naisby – South Africa
Helping your client discover more about their character will increase their self-awareness and confidence. The Power of Me worksheet in Cascade is a great tool for helping someone unlock their personal power through their strengths. By pairing up and combining themes, it will guide you and your client to consider new insights and opportunities.
Fresh Theme Dynamics
The goal early in the coaching relationship is for the client to move beyond looking at their Themes individually but at how they complement each other: Theme Dynamics.
The layout of The Power of Me sheet helps the client narrow their focus of development. As they write their roles with their descriptive words, they begin to see the power of Theme Dynamics. I’m excited to see how Cascade helps my clients go from the naming their Talents to combining them together to really aim them at the things they want to accomplish.
Holly Magnuson California, USA
Building confidence is about owning your Strengths and having the assurance that you can deliver. This is similar to the Claim part in the Name, Claim, Aim model. Help your clients grow their confidence by using two different Cascade reports:
- Use the Brings & Needs reports to highlight statements on how a theme can contribute to success.
- Work through the The Power of Me exercise to generate unique power phrases.
- Then put all these together in a Power Paragraph (more on this below).
- Finally, talk to your client about how they can really own and believe in it to take their confidence to the next level.
Create your Power Paragraph
I make my clients create a Power Paragraph about themselves using the descriptive words the role I play, the value I bring, who I am, what I bring…etc. from their Personal Insights report. It’s super awesome!!
Karen Weigel MN USA. Positivity® | Empathy® | Activator® | Relator® | Developer®
Creating a Purpose Statement
Purpose statements provide a sense of direction and focus to base all life’s decisions. Creating a bespoke purpose statement anchored in your strengths and values makes it very personal and meaningful.
In Cascade, look at the Personal Insights and the Brings & Needs reports with your client and get them to highlight the words and phrases that particularly resonate. Then use these to provide the substance of their purpose statement. You might also want to check out The Power of Me worksheet for this exercise as it’s another great resource for creating targeted, strength-based phrases.
Who are you and how do you describe yourself to others? Creating a personal brand statement will provide your client with a new sense of identity and purpose.
To create this, dig into the wealth of information for the Dominant themes in the My 34 report. Use the Theme Insight elements from the Motivators, Being & Doing and Metaphors cards.
Coaching leaders bring new opportunities for conversations covering leadership styles and what makes a good leader. A series of worksheets in the Strengths Advantage section of Cascade provide valuable resources to guide conversations:
Four Needs of Followers
Gallup research shows that great managers meet four primary needs of their followers. Trust, Hope, Stability and Compassion. The Leadership worksheet helps leaders at any level to apply their Strengths, specifically meeting these four needs.
Many managers are drawn to a particular leadership style of Delegating, Supporting, Coaching or Directing. Depending on the situation, a different style may be needed to increase effectiveness. This is defined as Situational Leadership. The Cascade worksheet on Situational Leadership helps a leader discover the advantage of their Strengths with each style.
Learning how to maximise success by using your Strengths effectively during a project’s lifecycle is covered in the Project Management worksheet. By setting out the four stages of Planning, Resourcing, Implementing and Completing, the worksheet helps you identify which combination or intensity of your Strengths are most needed in each stage.
Recently I have been using Managing Others, Managing Change, and Situational Leadership worksheets. This gives each manager a chance to review their Full 34 Reports multiple times from slightly different angles. By the end of the process, I find them using Strengths terminology on their own and relating it to their thoughts and actions.
Paul DiMarco in Iowa, USA
Performance and Productivity
Does your client want to be more productive? There are four elements that drive productivity which align closely with the four Domains of Leadership: Decision making, Persuading others, Collaboration and Getting things done. These topics are covered collectively and separately for greater depth in the Strengths Advantage worksheets. These coaching tools help your client take advantage of their strengths for each element.
How do you Measure Performance?
Measuring performance can be subjective, often biased towards your themes. One person’s concept of good performance may differ from another. To understand how themes shape the perspective of performance, look at the Performance SeQuEnCe worksheet in the Strengths Advantage area. With your client, review how their themes measure performance in terms of Speed, Quality, Endurance and Creativity. This will provide them with insight into potential bias and blind spots, and a better appreciation of others and their perspectives.
Coaching Tools for Challenging Times
Change happens. Sometimes is it planned, but more often than not it’s unexpected. The Strengths Advantage section of Cascade contains several coaching tools and worksheets to use in challenging situations or during times of big change. Each one is designed to help your client unpack how to use their strengths more productively.
Consulting with Change Management guru Charlotte Blair, we created the Strengths Advantage Change Management worksheet. It identifies the different stages of a change and helps a person constructively apply their strengths to each stage.
When changes are unexpected, they can often result in crisis situations which are difficult to handle. So the Crisis Management worksheet includes helpful steps to maintain a clear head. On this topic, you might also like to listen to Cascade Creator, Richard Sterry, being interviewed on how he approached the first COVID lockdown by Emma Sharrock in a series on Strengths in Uncertainty.
Making sense of Confusion – VUCA
The VUCA worksheet looks at navigating through the confusion of Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity of challenging times. How can we move forward when we’ve no idea what it happening? So by breaking down the confusion into four sections, the worksheet helps your client to ascertain what they do know, making it easier to proceed. We discussed this approach in more detail with Mary Ann Grisham in Taking a Strengths approach into the unknown with VUCA.
After a traumatic event, recovery can take a long time. Laura Everest describes her journey in the book Rebuilt to Last. The Mindset Resilience worksheet helps your client make sense of what’s happened from the perspective of their strengths. It then seeks to find the best way forward and find some good in the situation.
Find out more in our article: Mindset Resilience – Finding the road to recovery when it all goes wrong.
Caring for a Loved One
Are you a Care Giver? How can you use your strengths to provide the best possible care for your loved one and care for yourself at the same time? Dawn Landry’s book ARMORED inspired us to create two worksheets in Cascade:
• Caring for your Loved One – providing the best supportive care when they need it most.
• Taking Care of Yourself – sustaining your energy and protecting yourself, even through the darkest of times.
Read more at: Care Coaching – A Strengths Approach when Caring for a Loved One
Dawn’s story is special. She reminded me that we really do have what it takes to get through challenging times when we find ourselves suddenly forced to be a caregiver. The Cascade tools gave me pause to proactively think about engaging my strengths in a potential caregiver mode to my spouse.
Shari Krueger Texas, USA
Entering a new season in life
It can be unsettling when things break away from the norm. This is certainly true when entering a new season in life such as a change of job, starting a family, or entering retirement. Using the Rhythm of Motivation worksheet helps to ground someone in what’s important, preparing them for the new season.
How do you help someone with little motivation who just can’t get started? We discuss this more in our article on Coaching tips to increase client’s motivation.
The Brings & Needs report shows what each theme needs in order to thrive. Feeding each of the themes for a person will increase their motivation and zest. Help them to find practical examples
To maintain motivation, use the Rhythm of Motivation worksheet in the Strengths Advantage area. It sets out regular intervals to feed each theme on a daily, weekly or monthly cycle. This worksheet is particularly liked by those with the Arranger® theme.
Going beyond the top 5 themes, the My 34 report has the option to show the Motivators and Demotivators for a person’s dominant themes.
Working with Gallup’s book Wellbeing at Work, we have produced a simple worksheet providing a check-in with a score out of 10. This Wellbeing worksheet will help your client identify examples from the book and use their Strengths to increase their score.
Many people find writing their CV or resumé a challenge. It’s not easy to find the right words to describe your character, interests and achievements. Provide some pointers for your client by together looking at the key phrases and information highlighted in the Bring section of the Brings & Needs report and The Power of Me worksheet. Check out our tips on Creating a Purpose Statement too.
I use the “I bring I need” report in career coaching. “I bring…” helps with interviewing – this is what I can bring. The “I need…” helps assess whether a presented opportunity is one worth taking or what to look for in a search.
I provide resumes for each of my clients as part of our work together and reviewing I bring I need is always a precursor to writing that!!
Jennifer Vancil Mentor and Career Coach in Colorado , USA
When looking for a new role it’s important to find an environment that complements your Strengths. Look at the I Need section of the Brings & Needs report and note the type of environments they describe. It may identify preferences to working alone or closely with others, changing priorities or stability, new situations or familiar routines, fast paced or time for deep thinking. Gaining an understanding of your best environment will help to narrow the search when looking for a role.
Renegotiating Your Role
One of my clients in my online group coaching program was being recruited back to her previous job, which she had just left six months prior. During our coaching sessions, and while using the Cascade tool, she was able to clearly define her motivators and needs. Which led us to have great coaching sessions to guide her in her decision. She was able to go back to that employer, ask for everything she needed in order to thrive, and accepted their offer. Through coaching, she gained a high level of self-awareness around her unique gifts. The Cascade tool was a great visual support to our coaching sessions.
Kim Madsen in Minnesota, USA
When providing coaching, it’s natural to view the person from the lens of your own strengths. Creating an awareness of the bias your strengths may bring, increases the opportunity for a balanced conversation with your client. Consider using the All 34 report in Cascade to list all 34 themes for yourself in one column, and the 34 themes for your client in the next. Compare the arrangement of your themes and the impact they may have on your client. What perspectives do you naturally lean towards? What does your client really need?
After four decades of research, Gallup developed the StrengthsFinder® assessment to identify innate themes of talent. Investing in talents through coaching builds Strengths. Over 25 million people have taken the StrengthsFinder® assessment which is now called CliftonStrengths®. More information about the 34 themes of talent are available from Gallup®
Cascade Strengths Reports
The Cascade Strengths reports are the creation of Releasing Strengths to enhance the Gallup reports. Coaches in over 60 countries benefit from the Cascade tool to deliver Strengths coaching with CliftonStrengths®. Releasing Strengths is based in the UK and was the first Licensed Partner with Gallup for a digital product.