The Primitive Podcast: LeAnne Lagasse

Posted by Buffy the Bison | February 15, 2021


Let’s face it. 

We’re all sitting in the belly of a dog-eat-dog world. And in this world, it can be easy to zone in on someone’s weaknesses and force them to become strengths. 

But after studying the workplace for over two decades and devoting her career to evidence-based research, co-owner of ROI Talent Development, LeAnne Lagasse, confidently says we’ve got it all wrong. 

Connect with the folks behind the episode: LeAnne Lagasse and Kade Wilcox

Kade Wilcox: Hey guys, welcome to The Primitive Podcast. I'm Kade Wilcox, your host. In today's episode, we have LeAnne Lagasse. LeAnne owns a company called ROI Talent Development and has played a huge role at Primitive in terms of approaching our culture and our organization based on our strengths. And so you're going to learn more about that in this episode, but approaching our team and understanding our teammates through the lens of their strengths has really transformed our culture. I'm really glad to have LeAnne on today's episode and to learn more from her.

LeAnne Lagasse: Psychological safety is the foundation of any strong workplace culture. If people don't feel safe to be themselves, to communicate how they're feeling and also, to state their opinions, it is impossible to have a healthy workplace culture. And so that's an area where I think CliftonStrengths really helps organizations build psychological safety because you go, "I feel known and seen and understood by these people that I'm working with."

Kade Wilcox: Hi, LeAnne, welcome to The Primitive Podcast. Thank you so much for joining. You've made a huge impact on Primitive's culture – in our team and in the future of our organization – so, I'm thrilled that others will get to hear from you. For those who don't know LeAnne Lagasse, maybe tell us about your background and kind of the work that you do.

LeAnne Lagasse and ROI Talent Development

LeAnne Lagasse: Well, thanks so much, Kade. It's an honor to be here and that's so kind of you to say. We have really enjoyed getting to watch Primitive grow.

So I am originally from Ruidoso, New Mexico and...

Kade Wilcox: How did I not know this? Are you serious?

LeAnne Lagasse: Yeah, I am! I graduated from Ruidoso High School.

Kade Wilcox: Oh my gosh, my dad grew up in Deming, New Mexico, and so we've been going to Ruidoso my whole life and have a house there. That's crazy. How did I not know this about you? Keep going. This is great. See, look how good this already is.

LeAnne Lagasse: So, I grew up in New Mexico and then I moved to Lubbock to attend Texas Tech. I got both my degrees (my undergrad and my graduate degree) in communication at Texas Tech. I fell in love with this place. I fell in love with the students at the university. And so after I graduated with my master's and I had taught for two years as a TA, I was hired on as a faculty member in the Department of Communication Studies, and I taught there for 12 years total. So I taught pretty much every course imaginable in our catalog. And then for the last nine years of my time at Tech, I was the basic course director for public speaking. So what that means is that I oversaw one of the largest courses on campus. It's everybody's favorite class – public speaking. So I had about 15 to 20 direct reports, staff, reporting to me, and I really learned a ton about what it means to kind of make a big program run, a big organization run.


And then in about 2015, my business partner, Joy (I'll probably talk about her several times today. Her name's Joy O'Steen. She's fantastic. We taught together for a really long time.) and I started dreaming about starting a training and consulting company. At the time we really thought it would sort of just be a side hustle that we would do, you know, help organizations with some of the content that we were teaching our students and that we were working through with our staff. And it just kind of took off from there.

And then we sort of dipped our toes in the water in 2017 and started working with some organizations and got some really, really good feedback. So in 2018 we officially launched ROI Talent Development. We work with businesses and organizations and we help them improve their employee engagements, create world-class employee experiences. Basically, how do you create a workplace where you're attracting the very best talent and you're keeping them for a long time and they're becoming brand ambassadors for you.

CliftonStrengths vs. Other Personality Tests

Kade Wilcox: What you helped us do early on (well, a couple of years ago when Annie first started) was go through CliftonStrengths. You did that with the entire leadership team and then Annie, you know, does that with every team member we have. So can you speak into CliftonStrengths for those who aren't really familiar with it?

And then my follow up question to that is, can you help me understand the difference between CliftonStrengths, Myers-Brigg, and DiSC? There just seems to be a lot of "personality" or "strengths-based" tests. Tell us how you got into that and then tell us the difference between it and maybe some of the others.

LeAnne Lagasse: Sure, yeah. So, Texas Tech is a strengths-based university and they were one of the first universities in the country to implement the CliftonStrengths assessment. So at the time, it was called StrengthsFinder. There's been a bit of a rebranding, you know how that goes.

So this assessment, the reason that we love it the most of any other assessment out there is that we truly believe that it is rooted in the most research; it's evidence-based. The approach works. We see that both through quantitative methods and qualitative methods. What the assessment does is it's attempting to measure the presence of talent. And so what are those naturally recurring patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving in people. So we wouldn't necessarily call it a personality assessment, although I do think there are aspects of people's personality that you can connect to some of those talents, for sure. But really it's more about, "Hey, what are the things that a person does that's like breathing for them?"

Or we'll say, "writing with your dominant hand," right? What's their instinct? You do them without realizing that you're doing them and everybody else might go, "Oh yeah. Kade does this thing really well." And you're kind of like, "Wait, you guys don't do that?" That’s not something that everybody does?" So we really got into the assessment through Texas Tech because we were using it to train our employees. And when we changed and started using it, it completely revolutionized the outcomes that we were seeing. We were seeing people get to the same outcome using different methods. I think that's at the heart of CliftonStrengths; how do you coach your people to get to the outcome you want, but using what comes really naturally to them, as opposed to asking them to kind of develop in their areas of weakness.

So when I think about CliftonStrengths, as it relates to maybe other assessments, I think they're all tools. They're all great tools that organizations can use. We work with some organizations that have used DiSC or that might use things like the Enneagram; it's really popular. I think as long as the tool is being used in a way that is evidence-based and research-based, I'm all for it. That's why I love CliftonStrengths so much. But I think, for example, sometimes companies will do things with assessments that make me nervous. It's a huge pet peeve for me when organizations are like, "Okay, we need to hire a marketing director. This person should have this theme and this strength and this particular CliftonStrengths, or that theme.”

I think that there's zero research that shows that that's an effective way to hire. I do think you can use it during a hiring process, but that makes me really nervous. And I think a lot of organizations just don't know how to use something like this. So what we do is we come in and we work with companies and say, "Hey, let's figure out what each one of you does really, really well." And that's not to say that we're kind of frolicking in a field like, “Let's ignore our weaknesses.” That's kind of a common misconception of the strengths-based approach – that we're just going to pretend like our weaknesses don't exist. Because, really, a strengths-based approach, if you do it right, is not only going to help you grow in areas of strength, which is where you're going to grow most anyway, but it's also gonna help you manage around weaknesses and it's gonna help you in an area that I think is really lacking in a lot of leadership curriculum. And that is the study of self. I think so many leadership curriculum development programs don't focus enough on equipping people to understand themselves and how they're perceived by others.

Psychological Safety in the Workplace

Kade Wilcox: Yeah, it's really powerful. This was last week and (Annie's amazing because she's my filter. When stuff just needs to come out of me, she has to listen to it so that others don't. ) I was having one of those moments. I was pretty frustrated, and thankfully she's really tough so she could take it, but she said, "So I want to sit down with you and help you understand the basements of your competition strength." My number one strength based on CliftonStrengths is competition. And so she identified at that moment that what I was really struggling with was the basement or the underbelly of that competition strength. So like the self-awareness and having people around you who can help you understand your strengths, in a positive sense, but also help you be aware of where they don't necessarily positively manifest themselves, is a really, really powerful thing.

LeAnne Lagasse: Well, and even at that moment, when Annie does that for you, there's a part of that that is sort of correction. You know, gentle correction I know is coming from Annie is the very best, but you also, at that moment, I would assume you feel very seen and known by her, which then builds trust. And that improves your workplace culture because you go, "You know me well enough to know what I'm doing right now. And you also care enough about me to speak to me the truth of the situation." And again, that builds trust that improves psychological safety in workplaces, which, you know, psychological safety is the foundation of any strong workplace culture. If people don't feel safe to be themselves, to communicate how they're feeling, and also to state their opinions, it is impossible to have a healthy workplace culture. So that's an area where I think CliftonStrengths really helps organizations build psychological safety because you go, "I feel known and seen and understood by these people that I'm working with."

Kade Wilcox: Yeah, that's really good. I'm not very good at this, but I try really hard, particularly in moments of conflict or crisis to understand the strengths of the people that I'm dealing with, which in my instance is primarily a leadership team, you know. But Heather receives things and processes things different than Jess, and Jess different than Tim, and Tim different than Jerred, and Jerred different than Annie. And so, again, it's very difficult. I think it probably happens over a long journey with people. Not all of us can be like you and Annie who can just immediately pop it out. But, it's just really, it's a really powerful thing. It's, it's been transformative. So I have some questions about leadership for you. And I want you to feel the freedom to answer it from your own experience as a leader of leading people. But one thing that's cool about your experiences is the insight and the observations you have of a lot of other leaders. So feel free to answer however you see fit.

But when you think of your role as a leader, with ROI and working alongside Joy, or maybe it was your role as a leader at Texas Tech, or when you see other leaders of organizations that you deal with, what do you see as the principal role, or like when you think leadership, what do you think in terms of responsibility?

THE Emerging Characteristic of a Leader

LeAnne Lagasse: Hmm. So that's a really good question. It's difficult to answer. This might be where I get a little annoying because I think I almost struggle to define what leadership is. It's similar to how I feel about the term communication. It's so broad and so nuanced, and I would say, “Well, what's the outcome you're looking for. What's the specific goal that we're moving towards?” And then we want to reverse engineer what leadership should look like in those situations. Right? But I will say, in general, when I think about what I see, in terms of really effective leadership, I think it's leaders that set really clear expectations. And here's the thing – that's never like a sexy thing to say. People are like, "Really? That's your insight, LeAnne?" But here's the deal. 50% of employees, statistically, only 50% will tell you that they know what's expected of them at work.

And the number actually drops to 30% in industries that are scientific or technical or computer-related. 30%! So statistically that would mean, you know, three out of 10 of your employees are going to say, "Yes, I feel like I know what's expected of me." And so, so much of the work that we do when it comes to equipping leaders is helping them grow in the areas of their systems and structures and processes as it relates to people so that their employees can go at the end of the day, "I know exactly what's expected of me in terms of the work I'm doing, the outcomes. I know exactly what's expected of me in terms of my communication and my behavior. I know what's expected of me in terms of how this team works together." So I would say really, really good communication around expectations.

I think really great leaders are people who individualize. So you've already touched on this to your point earlier, you know, each person on your team needs something different from you, right? And each person on your team needs to receive feedback and coaching in different ways. Every person on your team needs to be recognized in different ways. So you've got people on your team who would love for you to, you know, applaud them in front of a whole group of people. And everybody goes, "Yay, you've done this really successful thing." And then you also, I promise you have people on your team who are like, "If you so much as say a positive thing about me at this table, I'm mad at you." You know? And so I think really good leaders know how to individualize their people, but also, they know how to ensure consistency in, terms of treatment, if that makes sense. Right?

So it's a hard line to walk and I think really good leaders do that well. I think some leaders get themselves in trouble because they really click with a particular person on their team and they maybe feel like their talents really connect with that person. And then they end up, sort of, having unclear expectations for the rest of the team or there's inconsistency with the rest of the team. And so I think that's important for leaders. And then as I said earlier, I think really strong leaders study themselves. Sometimes I think, too, in our area of the country, and sort of the Bible belt, sometimes I'll tell leaders that like, “You need to be a better study of self,” and they sort of cringe at that and they'll think like, “Well, no, for me, it's about serving my people. And it's actually about thinking about myself less.”

And I just fundamentally disagree with that. I just think it's not true. I think, "How can you possibly know how to best serve your people unless you know how it is that you relate to them or how you land with them, how they experience you." Right? And so I don't think you can do one without the other if that makes sense. So a strengths-based approach should not puff you up. It should humble you in knowing here's what I bring to the table. Here's what I do not bring to the table. And, hey, here's maybe how I've wounded you as your manager, right? And how are we going to work around that and improve for the, you know, in the future? So I would say those things for what I think leaders should be, and then they should be able to mobilize people and communicate well. Of course I had to put the communication in there.

Kade Wilcox: So in other words, to be a leader requires a lot.

Is Everyone Capable of Being a Leader?

LeAnne Lagasse: It does, but okay, to that point though, here's what I want to say. Sometimes we'll work with people that maybe they go through a leadership program or some kind of curriculum, or they read a leadership book and they feel really discouraged. And they think, gosh, like, “I'm never going to be that really compelling leader,” or “I'm really never going to check all these boxes.” And the first thing I would say is, "True. You're not." You're just not going to. But the second thing I would say is you have the ability to execute using evidence-based approaches and get to the outcomes that you want. And so sometimes we'll get leaders that maybe they were incredibly successful as individual contributors. And then what happens? They start climbing the ladder and well, now they're a manager and they're going, “Oh, so now it's not just me doing the work. Now I've got to mobilize people.” That's really hard. And that's where I think Joy and I come in and say, "We want to give you very practical, tangible things that you can do so you don't feel like, what you just said, really defeated. Like, oh my gosh, there's too much to be a leader. Right? There are practical systems and structures and rhythms that you can put in place that will start to facilitate those outcomes, like psychological safety and individualization.

Kade Wilcox: I think the powerful thing about being self-aware and understanding your strengths and then therefore also understanding where you're not strong is it frees you up to be a leader that's kind of defined by your strengths versus just saying, "Okay, this is what a leader is." And then I have to fit in all those boxes, even if I'm not capable of being a great communicator or a great visionary. So I like how you're positioning this because, in my mind, it actually frees more people to be leaders. Versus if you have to be charismatic, if you have to be vision-oriented, if you have to be a great compelling communicator, well, that's only going to be a handful of people and it's actually not how it works. And so I really appreciate what you're saying.

LeAnne Lagasse: So true. And actually, part of the original research around the CliftonStrengths assessment was kind of born out of what was called trait leadership theory. That was this idea that was really popular in the seventies that said, "Hey, leaders were born," and like, you've got to have this certain thing to be a leader. And what the Gallup organization found out in their study of this is that's not true. People can, again, get to the same outcomes using different methods. So I know a lot of really great leaders who were not the most compelling communicators, but they have figured out a way to manage around that. And still, get to the outcomes that they need to get to. I also think that using an approach like this allows for so much grace to flow between team members. Now, it doesn't mean that you don't have conflict. I think conflict is a healthy part of organizations that are scaling and growing, which is what we want. Conflict is good as long as you handle it well, but I think that knowing these things about each other allows you to have grace. So Annie can have grace for you at that moment and go, "Kade, here's what's going on. Here's what you're feeling." And you can go, "You're right." And then let's move forward.

Kade Wilcox: I think the other thing that this approach to leadership does, is it empowers other people. I guess I'm really restating what we've already said, but I'm thinking of this in terms of empowerment. If leadership truly is, you were born with it or you're not, or if it's these predefined things and you're not those things, then what are you? What I've loved about the StrengthsFinders in our organization is it actually defines the lanes that you get to run in. And not just you, but other lanes that you need people to run in, that you can't run in because that's not where you should primarily live. I think the biggest difference between Primitive, you know, three years ago and now, is that I specifically was trying to run in three, four, five, six lanes that I had no business running in.

You know what I mean? And as I've gotten out of those lanes and into my lane and allowed other people to run in those lanes that are much more equipped, I mean, it's literally all the difference. And I think that would be true of any organization. And if you're listening to this podcast, I'm bemoaning this because I think one of the greatest things we've ever done in nine and a half years of being in business is, one, hiring Annie. But aligned with that is really creating self-awareness like you're talking about by understanding your strengths. So if you're a leader of an organization or a leader in an organization, I really can't encourage you enough to hire LeAnne and Joy to come in and help you. It really is transformative. So thanks for speaking into that.

How would you look at failure? Like, when you think of leading an organization (you're currently building an organization with Joy) and when you think about failure as a leader, what comes to your mind, and how do you treat it?

Real-Talk About Imposter Syndrome

LeAnne Lagasse: So, okay, Kade, what I want to say and what I one hundred percent will say to my kids, and I will say to my clients, and I would say to my students is, sadly not what my self-talk usually is. So I have historically been very, very hard on myself. I have always struggled, for as long as I can remember, with imposter syndrome. I've found myself in rooms where I've thought, "They're going to find me out. They're going to figure out I shouldn't be here. I don't belong here. I'm a fraud. I'm not really an expert in this. I have no business speaking to this." Right? I can remember feeling that way when I was in high school and in college and in grad school. And, you know, when I was a professor and then now in building a business. I've always struggled with imposter syndrome and I've also been really hard on myself.

So what I often do that is not very helpful is when it comes to how I approach failure is I sort of label everything as failure unless it meets these very, very specific, almost unreasonable goals that I have for myself. I hold myself oftentimes to a standard much higher than anybody else like an objective person would. And especially the people that know me and are close to me would. So I think, you know when I look back and I go, "What's my approach to failure?" I would say, well, my approach is I'm going to label everything failure and just be really hard on myself. But what I have learned, I think more so in the past few years from building a business, is that things that I thought were failures were actually not. They were parts of a larger story that I think God was laying out before me.

And preparing me for things that were to come that I didn't even have the eyes to see at the time. I think I have done more in the way of being brave and moving into spaces where I felt very imposter-y. So someone asked me the other day (in a Facebook group where Joy and I go live every week and talk about different workplace things and research and whatnot), "Hey, how do you fight imposter syndrome? " And I said, "Truthfully, I have to state objective facts back to myself." Like I have to go, "Okay. I have a degree in this. I have worked with many clients who have said positive things to me." Like, those simple, simple objective facts. I have to kind of preach back to myself. But even more so I would say when it comes to the past couple of years, failure has helped me.

It's helped catapult me into doing something brave that I probably wouldn't have done otherwise. So I'm grateful for that, but it's still very difficult for me. Truthfully, it's very difficult for me to not be able to kind of reach the goals that I set for myself that are very, very unrealistic. And I know a lot of people struggle with imposter syndrome and feeling like, you know, they're very, very critical of themselves. I think that's kind of part of leadership, too, is feeling like I don't know what I'm doing, and I'm sure that they all hate me, you know, all the time and then kind of having to state those objective facts back to yourself.

Kade Wilcox: That's good. It's really intriguing to me. I ask this question every podcast because it's fascinating to me. It's really hard for me to understand because for good or bad or different, I'm really confident. So I look at something and go, "Of course we can do that. Of course, we can do that. Of course, we can do that." And so, you know, I look at someone like you, so skilled and accomplished and it, honestly, it's hard for my brain to even understand, you know? So I appreciate your honesty there. And no one's ever really shared it in that way. Are there other things that you do to try to nurture and cultivate that beyond just stating the obvious facts back to yourself? Like, how are you trying to, you know, nurture and reposition that in your own life?

LeAnne Lagasse: I think it's a lot of retraining my thinking, my patterns of thinking, and again, almost coaching myself the way that I would coach an employee. Like, I will say all the time, "Okay. What would you say? What would you say to Isaac (my 12-year-old)?" You know, he's entering into a fun and awkward season of life. And so, what would I say to him? These are the things I would tell him. And it's important for me to try to kind of embody that myself. But also when it comes to that imposter syndrome, part of it is I've just learned to live with it. And I don't know that that's a really great answer, but that's the true answer. Joy and I (and Joy's the same way) will say there's a lot of research that suggests that women tend to be more susceptible to imposter syndrome.

Although I do think that men struggle with it, too. I think that there are just different societal nurturing ways that we have learned to deal with it and kind of cope with it and a willingness to acknowledge it. For me, a lot of times too, it's just doing the brave thing. You know, Joy and I will say to each other all the time, "Okay, we're going to do the next brave thing." And one time we told somebody that, and they're like, "You guys look confident, you look comfortable." And we say, well, "We are." Two things can be true at one time. We can both be skilled or competent when we're sitting with clients. And then we can also simultaneously feel, like, what if we blow the whole thing up and we don't know what we're doing. Two things can be true at once. So "the next brave thing" is kind of our motto.

Kade Wilcox: Yeah. I love that tension that creates, too. You know what I mean? Like, if you were never confident, well that's not good. Or if you're always confident that creates its own train wrecks, and I speak with great experience here. And so I love the tension in the middle that it creates and helps you grow. So thanks for being honest there.

Achieving Growth and Approaching Personal Development

How do you approach your own personal growth? I mean, your whole business model is investing in other people. And so how do you approach your own leadership growth and your own personal development?

LeAnne Lagasse: Yeah. I am really, really geeky about current research and staying up with it. So, there's this sort of weird part of me in this last year (you know, when COVID hit, it just has thrown everything with businesses and organizations into chaos) that's like, this is fascinating. You know this is so cool. Like what's going to happen and how are leaders gonna respond? And, I remember I was on a call with an HR leader who ran a really large organization. This was maybe two or three weeks into COVID. (Of course, in the HR world, this was actually a terrible audience analysis on my part. This was a personal failure. I lost sleep over this one but it was still funny.) We were talking and I made a comment. I said, "It's so fascinating to me to see kind of how these things are going to play out."

And she goes, "Well, that's the professor’s side of you talking." You know? Like, as a way, like, "Listen, LeAnne, that's not the time. Read the room," kind of a thing, you know? So I love to stay up to date on what's happening. I'm constantly reading. I want to know how burnout levels are. How employee well-being is right now. What's employee engagement like? It's shifting and everything's crazy. So I really love staying kind of up to date with the research. That's why we love the Gallup organization. You know, we're certified with them to facilitate the CliftonStrengths assessment. And I love Gallup because they really are such a leader in being data-driven and evidence-driven. Then I would say the other thing, for me, is staying really curious about what inspires me.

I'm very high in competition, too, Kade. And so knowing what competition is doing very much motivates me and inspires me. And it's kind of the kick in the pants that I need. In fact, sometimes Joy will like sneakily, although I know what she's doing, she will just kind of put stuff out there that she knows is going to really grate on my nerves that's from competition or other people that are doing things that we're not doing. And so she'll motivate me that way. So, again, I don't know if that's what I would tell my clients or my students, in terms of what they should let motivate them or inspire them. But that's what motivates me.

Kade Wilcox: That's good. It's really good. This has nothing to do with learning and development, or maybe it does. So is competition in your top five?

LeAnne Lagasse: Top 10.

Identifying the Basements of Your Strengths

Kade Wilcox: And so from your experience, what have some of the challenges of competition looked like? Whereas Annie put it to me the other day, the "basement." What does that look like for you? And you don't have to be personal, as much. I'd just love to tap into your expertise here.

LeAnne Lagasse: So competition is one of those themes that can show up differently for a lot of people; for some people, it's very external. They're looking at the people next to them. For some it's internal. So we've actually worked with people who, maybe they were collegiate athletes, and one of them will say, "Oh, it was always me trying to outperform myself the next time I swam" or whatever. For somebody else that might be, "I was always obsessed with my competition and trying to outmaneuver them and being strategic." So it kind of depends. For me personally, when I think about the basements of competition I can begin to (and this really isn't the case now that Joy and I work together so closely. I don't feel this way about Joy) even start viewing people who were on my team as like people I needed to outperform. Instead of thinking, we're all on the same team, we're all in the same boat.

And we all bring different things to the table that lead to our success. So I can start to see people as, you know, just people to beat as opposed to part of the team. So for me, that's it. And then also it feeds in for me, in sometimes negative ways, where I start defining myself by the success of other people as opposed to myself. So I might look at somebody in our space (We're a relatively new company; we've been around for three years. We're babies, right? We're babies.) who has been doing this for 20 years and sort of define my success or think that my worth is well, I'm not that; I'm not there yet. And so that's kind of the dark side of competition for me. I don't know if it shows up like that for you or not.

Kade Wilcox: My biggest challenge with competition – and I'm open to a free analysis and counseling here – I know that for me personally, that my competition strength has gone too far when it goes from competition to vengeance, particularly when I lose. So I know that it's going too far and that's an unsettling feeling, to be honest. When you're so committed to something that when it doesn't work out, for whatever reason, it almost turns to vengeance. So yeah, I think for me, my basement on competition is vengeance. Like, if, if I don't win it, I want the whole thing to burn down.

That's horrible. I mean, who does that? I mean, you know, if you want evidence for the depravity of man, there it is folks. I just proved it. So I have to work through that. I have to work through that a lot.

LeAnne Lagasse: But you know what, Kade? What you just described about competition, I would say is true of every strength that's out there in its darkest places. Right? I think every single one if we were to go through the entire list, the dark side of it, what is at the root of it is usually selfishness. Right? And yes, depravity.

Kade Wilcox: Hey, I wasn't serious about the whole analysis thing.

LeAnne Lagasse: I can't help it.

Kade Wilcox: No, you're right. No, no, you're right. No, it's spot on. That's really good. Yeah. And it flushes itself out differently for each strength, obviously.

LeAnne Lagasse: Because let me give you an example. So my number one is individualization, which is I have this ability to sort of intuitively know, what does a person need? What kind of messages are gonna resonate with them? Do they want to be praised in public or will they be mad at me if we do that? So I sort of have that natural ability. The dark side of that is if I want to manipulate, I'm pretty darn good at it. If I want to be, I mean, truthfully, like I can figure out, okay, if I want Kade to think this and do this, like, here's the way I should do that.

Now the positive of that is if I really believe in my message and I think it's an important thing, I can really communicate to Kade in a way that makes sense to him. But at the dark side of that is selfishness and depravity and brokenness. It's like, I'm going to get what I want from him. And it's going to be really easy.

Kade Wilcox: This has got to work well in your marriage.

LeAnne Lagasse: Yeah. Except Ben's really high in individualization, too.

Kade Wilcox: Haha, so it's constantly battling it out. I have a funny story. Several weeks back at church, I was talking, I think it might've been Landon, but I can't remember who I was talking to. And Ben walked up and I was trying to remember something related to the Strengths. I was talking about it and I just assumed Ben would know the answer because, I'm like, you're married to LeAnne. She's the expert in this. And he said, “I have no idea.” I'm like, “What do you mean you have no idea? You're married to LeAnne.”

And then it dawned on me maybe he's not a CliftonStrengths Finder expert.

LeAnne Lagasse: Yeah. He knows a lot, but not as much as I do.

Advice for LeAnne’s Younger Self

Kade Wilcox: That's great. Last question for you. This is an exciting one for me to ask you because of just the 10, 15, 20 years you've put into this research and this work. If you could go back 15 to 20 years and speak to your younger self, knowing what you know now, what advice would you give yourself back then?

LeAnne Lagasse: Yeah. So I think that the advice I would give myself back then is probably the same thing that LeAnne needs to hear today. And probably if you asked me this when I'm 60, it will probably be the same thing. And I think it's because of my natural tendencies and my natural strengths. And so when I think about what I wish I would have really known at, you know, 20 or 25 or whatever, I think I wish I would've known: one, to do the brave thing. Because I was always the kind of person who I figured out here's where I will succeed and where I feel comfortable, and I will do that. And I'm going to say no to other things. And, you know, I think in a lot of ways, it might've protected me from some failure. But it definitely kept me from some success and from some growth and some learning.

So I would say that. I would say also I wish I would have had an understanding that everything that was painful or that felt unjust or anything that I was sort of going through at the time, just like I would be going through now, is being woven together into a bigger story that I just don't have the eyes to see. And so, like, I can look back now and say, "Hey, there were some really painful experiences that I had when I was in my twenties, as it relates to my work or to managers, or leaders that I had." Those painful experiences actually formed me to be in a place today where I can sit across a table from a leader and say, “Here's what's happening. Here's what you're doing.” So I wish I would have known at the time that all of those painful things and all of those wounds were paving a way for me to do what I'm doing now and to help people and to serve people. And again, I probably will need to hear that every day until I decide to quit, which I don't think I will because it's not in my nature.

Kade Wilcox: Yeah. That's really good. I love it. Thank you so much. This is such good stuff. Like I, again couldn't encourage folks that listen to this more than to connect with you and to work with you. So what's the most effective way, if someone wanted to reach out? Like how and what's the best place for them to go to get in touch with you?

LeAnne Lagasse: So I would say our website is probably the easiest way. We're ROI Talent Development. So you can find us at And we also have, I just mentioned earlier, a Facebook group where we go live (Joy and I) every week. And we talk through things like this. So last week we talked about burnout. Tomorrow we're talking about mistakes that leaders make non-verbally that communicate inaccessibility to their people. That's called the Workplace Culture Strategy for Leaders. So you can find us on Facebook there.

Kade Wilcox: I love it. Thank you so much for joining the podcast. Really appreciate you.

LeAnne Lagasse: Thanks so much for having me, Kade.

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