The leaders in my recent leadership programs focused on getting to know what makes them tick. They spent a great deal of time looking inwards to get a feel for how they behave and present themselves to team members as well as to colleagues. For many, it was an eye-opening process to realize they are extremely methodical or naturally run with their gut.
One participant shared:
“I have no patience to listen to long drawn out stories and procedures. Why can’t people just get to the point?”
Another participant revealed:
“It is so hard for me to make a quick decision. I really need in-depth information and facts before I can come to any conclusions. And that can take a great deal of time.”
While another leader articulated:
“It makes me crazy when I pass people in the hallway and they can’t even say hi.”
There were so many discoveries about what feels right for one leader and yet may feel overwhelming for another. As the discussion continued and the leaders connected with each other more deeply about their behavioral styles, it became clear there were many differences. So we spent some time learning about each other’s styles and came to a critical finding:
Leadership is all about flexing to others.
Here are five strategies to build up your flexing muscles:
1. IDENTIFY YOUR NATURAL PREFERENCES
The best place for leaders to start in learning about their natural styles is to participate in a behavioral assessment. I have used several different ones such as DiSC or Myers-Briggs, but all give wonderful insights into what drives us. It is critical to work with someone who understands the assessment tools and can explain what they measure. When leaders delve into themselves they grow exponentially.
2. HELP TEAM MEMBERS AND COLLEAGUES RECOGNIZE THEIR NATURAL STYLES
Empowering the entire team or organization to learn about their preferences and natural styles can be a great motivator for performance. When people become self-aware they can lead more successfully. Commit to everyone in the workplace discovering how they come across and what drives them.
3. DECIDE HOW TO ADDRESS THE DIFFERENT STYLES
Once each person has a deeper understanding of how they prefer to act and communicate, take time to share the similarities and the differences. Sit down and tell one another how each comes across in the work environment.
- Share the speed that each leader prefers to work as some move more quickly and some more methodically
- Explain the amount of detail each needs to perform optimally
- Exchange views on working individually versus working as partners
- Identify decision-making strategy differences
4. MODEL AN OPEN-MINDED APPROACH
Whether we agree or disagree with a leader’s style, we must remain open to understanding the differences. To do this, leaders need to be strategic listeners. In the recent leadership workshops, many were surprised how differently leaders react and function in the workplace. Yet all the leaders recognized that each style had both its merits and blind spots. The key was never to judge, but rather accept.
5. BE A CHAMPION OF FLEXING
To cultivate stronger work relationships and create higher performing teams, leaders must flex to other people’s styles. They need to share their expectations in a way that is understandable to team members and colleagues. Leaders need to become aware of their preferred styles and then learn about the natural styles of those they work with each day.
How do you lead by flexing to other people’s styles? What strategies have worked for you?
(Image credit: Pixabay)