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What is your leadership style? Are you a get-it-done type or a caring, relationship builder? Are you touchy feely, go-with-your gut person or a cautious, information gatherer? Are you direct, often interpreted as blunt, or more emotional, viewed as wishy-washy?
Knowing your leadership style is important to your success in both your business and personal lives. In business, it enables you to leverage your talent and seek out the right new hires to complement the leadership styles of your current management team. There is no right or wrong style, and the combination you choose for your business can be the ‘make or break’ of achieving your goals.
Using the DISC profiles, as an example, here are four primary styles. Graphed on this chart, we have the two extremes horizontally – thinking and feeling – plotted vertically against extroversion and introversion. Each of the four DISC types is placed in a quadrant.Casual communicators tend to use less formal language, include feelings in the discussion and seem less articulate and direct when speaking. Formal communicators, on the other hand, use fewer words, come across as more concrete and always have their i’s dotted and t’s crossed before weighing in.
Likewise, extroverts and introverts have very different styles. Extroverts are the talkers who speak as they process thoughts, while introverts are considered good listeners because they observe more than they verbalize. Dominant styles are more results-based and direct while Supportive types are all about relationships and people. Inspiring leaders are all about the experience, often making decisions based on emotions and feelings. They’re opposites, Cautious personalities, are all about the information, and often put off making decisions until they have collected enough data.
Now let’s look at how these characteristics play out in a boardroom…
The company’s leader is a Dominant, both extroverted and formal. He begins a meeting that was scheduled weeks before (with electronic invites sent out) but may or may not have told anyone else what the agenda is (because he’s the leader!). In the meeting, he dives straight to the deliverables and action items because spending time on small talk and relationship building is a waste, not to mention annoying. He knows exactly what he wants from everyone and assumes that they do to – telling the team what will happen, not by asking for input or getting buy-in. When his team doesn’t perform the way he wants, he has no trouble calling them out right there in the meeting.
The Supportive people are quietly feeling uncared for and unloved with their leader’s abrupt and harsh start. They smile and nod while trying not to let on because they want the best for the leader and the organization, and are ready to contribute. They also secretly wonder if the leader is having a tough time personally and maybe he just needs a hug later. Supporters carefully scan the room to see if anyone else is feeling hurt and may quietly mention their experience of the meeting later.
The Cautious people are sitting with their arms crossed and not going to play along because there is no agenda to define the meeting and therefore they are not prepared with meaningful input. They are insulted they weren’t asked to weigh in with their expertise and research, but aren’t about to put their neck out and look stupid. Instead, they express their intelligence and frustration by arguing the directives of the leader. This creates an uneasy tension for everyone in-spite of the valid and questions being asked in a rather contrary manor.
The Inspiring types aren’t feeling special and are put off by the lack of attention from their leader. They are talking about their weekend regardless of the agenda or spotlight, interrupting the Dominant leader and excited to be out of their cubicle and in a room full of other people! They appreciate where the company is going and are excited to collaborate on the vision, but have little interest in authority being thrust upon them. Their enthusiasm for the moment and desire for others to have fun has them blurting over the Cautious questioning to talk about the social events that will happen along the way.
Sound like your office? Of course, this is an oversimplification of the personality profiling and leadership team design process, but it gives you an understanding of how your leadership and communication style affects your working relationships. If you are interested in delving deeper into this topic more, here are a few books on the topic:
- Quiet, Susan Cain (a must read whether you are an introvert or extrovert)
- The 4 Dimensional Manager: DISC Strategies for Managing Different People in the Best Ways, Julie Straw
- Crucial Conversations, Patterson, Grenny, McMillian, and Switzler
- Working Together: A Personality-Centered Approach to Management, Isachsen, Berens
- Drive – The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, Daniel Pink
Leave me a comment below and let me know how personality styles are working, or not, at your business. Need someone to walk your executive team through this and create understanding while relieving conflict and frustration? Contact me to set your team free now!