Leadership Is All About Flexing To Others


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:


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.


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.


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


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.


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)





6 thoughts on “Leadership Is All About Flexing To Others

  1. I’ve run workshops where leaders have asked me why they’re the ones who have to flex! I explained that they are not above their team (or customers) and flexing is really simply meeting people where they are to bring out their best and the best in your relationship.

    I also think it’s important to stop and get a quick read on people before plowing forward. Are they more action oriented or thinking, are they more data driven or relationship-centric? It’s not perfect but it gives a place to start.

    This is a great resource and will share!

    Thanks, Terri!


  2. Great suggestions Alli about taking a quick read on people! If leaders would only take the time to think about how other people process information and pace themselves at work, they will be able to meet them half-way. And yes, participants sometimes wonder why they have to flex but eventually realize there is so much to gain by flexing.

    Thanks Alli for your your insightful additions!

  3. Such an important article Terri! Developing self-awareness is one of the most valuable skills we can cultivate. Self-awareness also breeds empowerment because we are better able to understand why we react the way we do…this is tremendous knowledge because it allows us to choose our response rather than simply react.

    Once we understand how important it is to know what makes us tick, the easier it is for us to reach beyond ourselves and make the effort to understand how others tick as well…

  4. Fantastic additions LaRae, especially “This is tremendous knowledge because it allows us to choose our response rather than simply react.” It is so true that when we are aware of our preferred communication and work styles we can plan how we will respond. So if we know that having too many details isn’t our thing but something important to someone on our team, we can make sure we give them enough facts and information to be successful.

    Thanks as always LaRae!

  5. Hi Terri,

    Great post. You are spot on with your strategies here.

    A couple of years ago, I did StrengthFinders 2.0 with my leadership team, mapped their strengths to one of the four leadership styles and then shared the results in a series of team meetings. This information changed the dynamics on the team, within direct reporting structures and for me as their leader. Self-awareness for the individuals and shared-awareness within the peer and subordinate structures were invaluable.

    One leader,for example, who had a strong strategic leadership style gained new appreciation for her peer manager and subordinate manager who were all about relationship leadership. Knowing more about herself and them enabled her exercise an open mind and be a champion for flexing. Truly powerful as you articulate so well in this post.

    Will share.


  6. Thanks so much Terri for sharing your powerful story about leader self-awareness. There are some leaders whose style is more task oriented than people oriented and that can sometimes cause conflict. Just like you described the leader with the strong strategic leadership style with a people focused subordinate manager, different styles can derail even the best of teams. Identifying our preferred style is step one. Then learning about the different styles of others can really spark deeper team connections.

    I appreciate your wonderful insights Terri!

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