The single biggest secret outstanding leaders know about their people
As a leader it can be very difficult to communicate with someone who has a different personality from you.
One person may be reserved, accommodating and sensitive to others with a tendency to over analyse things whereas another may be direct persuasive and speak without thinking without getting all the facts.
Having a different personality is sometimes like speaking two different languages.
Effective leaders are committed to their role, have the ability to handle themselves, their boss, their employees, their customers and other stakeholders. They have the ability to relate to people with different backgrounds and personalities. In other words, it’s not their technical skills that makes them outstanding, it’s their communication skills.
What great leaders have in common and the single biggest secret about leading others is the ability to understand the social style of their people.
A “social style” is the behavior that people exhibit when interacting with others. People approach their job at work in a different way. Some people act more quickly, others like to take their time and be thorough. Some people are more friendly whereas others are more task focused. In some cases, having different styles can work in business, as it creates a balance and keeps the business fresh and innovative. However, these same differences lead to misunderstandings, conflict, frustrations, which can affect performance.
Our behavioral style reflects the effect we have on each other. By understanding your own social style and the people’s style that you deal with, will help you establish rapport more quickly and avoid misunderstandings or rubbing people up the wrong way.
A social style or behavioral style is a model that helps people understand themselves and other people better. It is not the inner workings of your personality or your beliefs and value systems. It is more about how you act on what you say or do and can help improve communication between people.
People like doing business with “like minded” people. By having an understanding of the various social and behavioral style, you will be able to form lasting relationships with customers, staff and other stakeholders.
How social and behavioral styles evolved
Different researchers and philosophers have used various terms to describe behavior. What they all agree on, is that there are generally four patterns that represent a person’s behavior and that they are either people oriented or task oriented. Let’s compare.
Over 2500 years ago, Hippocrates, the father of medicine, developed a system which helps to identify people personality traits. Hippocrates’ system classifies personality styles into four main categories: introversion (indirect), extroversion (direct), relaxed (people oriented) and anxious (task oriented).
According to Dr. Tony Alessandra (founder of The Platinum Rule) the behavioral preferences of individuals can be classified into four basic styles: Director, Socializer, Relater, and Thinker. Each person has a mix of these styles, but there is always a dominant style with which that person behaves and communicates.
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) was developed by Katherine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers after extensively studying the works of Jung. Fundamental to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is that we operate from two pairs of cognitive functions. The rational (judging) functions of thinking and feeling and the irrational (perceiving) function of sensation and intuition.
Merrill and Reid
Developed by two industrial psychologists, John Reid and David Merrill identified two scales of social styles, assertiveness and responsiveness. A person who is highly assertive is likely to tell others what to do or demand what they want. They may see life as dog eat dog and fight for what they want.
Although there are different models, they are all consistent and interchangeable. Behavioral styles are only one part of a person’s personality, it is highly useful as a business owner to understand how people are likely to behave in a work environment.
The secret to communicating with other despite your personality style is to have empathy. When you have empathy, you become aware of the other person’s communication style and begin to adapt your style to match there’s in a way that brings you closer together.
In the early 1920’s, Freud, Jung and Marston started research into what makes people “tick”.
The DISC personality profile system was invented in the 1920’s by William Marston who also invented the Polygraph test commonly known as the lie detector. The DISC profile is more about how people behave rather than how they think. Marston’s research said that people’s behavior can be observed and people generally operate from one or two motivated ways of doing things, Dominance, Influence, Steadiness or Compliant (DISC).
There are four distinct types of personality traits.
D for Dominance
I for Influence
S for Steadiness
C for compliance.
The “Dominance” factor relates to power, control and assertiveness. The higher the “D” factor the more intense a person handles challenges.
The “Influence” factor relates to a persons need an approach in social settings. It also relates to their communication styles and the intensity of how they influence others.
The “Steadiness” factor indicates the intensity people have in terms of being patient and thoughtful in their environment.
The “Compliance” factor describes a person’s approach in terms of how structured and organized they are. People who have a high “C” operate best in structured environments with clear policies and procedures in place.
As with all style factors, there are inherent strengths and weaknesses.
People with the “Dominance” characteristics like to be controlling. They can also be referred to as a “driver” personality style. If they were a bird, they would be an “eagle”. It is the degree to which a person is assertive and direct. They want people to “do it my way!”
Dominant personality styles tend to be competitive and ambitious. They are independent and motivated to succeed. They make good entrepreneurs and business leaders. They also tend to issue orders rather than ask for cooperation. They can become hot-tempered and even aggressive and don’t necessarily consider other people’s needs.
Under stress they are likely to become aggressive to meet their need of being in control. They would benefit by learning to temper their personality when dealing with others to gain cooperation.
Dominants need to think of other people’s feelings before acting quickly and could gain more cooperation by socializing briefly before getting into a conversation or meeting.
When dealing with a dominant style, don’t go into lengthy explanations. They like others to be direct and get to the point quickly. Dominants are not easy to form personal relationships with – they prefer to be strictly business at work.
People with “Influence” characteristics tend to be friendly, outgoing and happy. If they were a bird, they would be a showy “peacock.” They often have well developed social skills and have a need to be around other people. They like to talk a lot and find conversations easy.
They are spontaneous and make great promoters and networkers. Most sales people have a lot of “influence” in their personalities. They make great customer service managers as they enjoy being around people.
They can be impulsive and approach life emotionally rather than rationally. They like to “do it the fun way” which at times gets them into trouble because they can lack focus on finishing a task. They get really fired up with enthusiasm and enjoy entertaining others.
People with influence need to think before they speak rather than give long winded answers. They need to learn to stick to the facts and follow up on what they say they will do.
When dealing with an Influence style, use their name and smile. They love attention and value being acknowledged. Don’t deal in just facts or be cold and aloof. They don’t respond well to people who legislate.
People with “Steadiness” characteristics can be counted on to be patient and sympathetic listeners. They have a real interest in people and their problems and feelings. If they were a bird – they would be a “Dove.” They thrive in a team environment and like to “do things the easy way.”
They are very hard workers and good in support roles working steadily at a task. To their detriment, they will often ignore their own needs and not express what they need. They will continue to work on a task or project until it is complete. They generally don’t like change and like a secure and predictable work environment. They make great receptionists, secretaries or personal assistants as well as customer service representatives.
When under stress, they have a tendency to submit and not make waves. They don’t share their personal feelings very well.
They could benefit from being able to focus on the bigger picture to make decisions more quickly. They would also benefit from sharing their feelings more and letting other know what they want.
When dealing with “Steadiness” don’t offer too many options as they often have a difficult time coming to a decision. Don’t expect them to debate facts and figures, this can just confuse them. They like informal non-threatening environments and have a need for you to be interested in hem as a person.
People with “Compliance” characteristics love structure details and facts. They are drawn to jobs that are technical involving organization of facts, figures or ideas. If they were a bird, they would be an “owl” having great attentions to detail. They love to “do things the right way” and have high personal standards.
They make great accountants, administrators, IT specialists and analysts. They are naturally passive but do have a need to follow rules and regulations. Naturally cautious, if you give them a compliment they may disregard it thinking you are trying to manipulate them.
Under stress they have a tendency to withdraw. They can also become highly critical of others if they don’t “follow the rules” and avoid any kind of conflict.
They would benefit from learning how to deal with conflict and be a little understanding with the rules. Policies could be used more as a guide rather than the “only way” to do things. They would also benefit from not being too quick to criticize, condemn and complain.
When dealing with a “Compliant”, don’t rush any decision making process. They like to analyze everything and take their time. They like ordering in their lives and at work – so don’t be disorganized or miss deadlines.
The D-Personality as a leader
You will often find the D-Personality in leadership positions. They seek the impossible and encourage their people to push hard towards achieving what some would consider unachievable results. The problem with the D-Personality in leadership positions is that they state their opinion bluntly and can overpower or even offend other personality types.
Typically, they are fearless, decisive and ambitious. Unfortunately, they may have a tendency to interrupt or talk over their peers and make decisions for others without getting their buy-in especially with the I, S and C-Personality types.
The I-Personality as a leader
The I-Personality is naturally charming and charismatic and love being the centre of attention. They are driven by social acceptance, praise and approval from their peers as well as being recognized for the accomplishments.
As a leader they naturally inspire others. They accept all other personality types and often make confident leaders. Unfortunately, because of their tendency to be impulsive, they over commit to social and professional functions and negate the importance of the finer details. They need people who are good with details and compliance to back them up.
The S-Personality as a leader
Although the S-Personality is reserved and people oriented, in certain environments make good leaders. They place a high value on routine and security and less likely to take risks.
As a leader they are genuinely kind, accommodate lots of ideas and opinions and will listen to their people without interruption. Humble and patient, they build a culture that maintains peaceful dynamics within a team.
As with any leadership personality, the S-Personality will have a tendency to be overshadowed by more dominant personality types. They also internalize their own feelings and often feel unappreciated for their efforts.
The C-Personality as a leader
The C-Personality places much emphasis on completing tasks and values logic and analysis. They systematically plan and conduct research as accuracy is important to them. They like structured and methodical working environments.
As a leader, they are meticulous planners and practice to ensure things are done right. They don’t mind challenges as they believe problems can be solved. They also enjoy long debates on subjects that interest them and don’t mind criticism if it is backed up by logic. They have a tendency to be level headed and remain calm under pressure.
The C-Personality as a leader can also create an environment that suffers from paralysis by analysis if not careful. If they are over-strict with daily routines, they can miss opportunities for they can be slow to make decisions.
Leading, managing and improving communications with others is being able to recognize that everyone brings with them their own unique personality and social style. By becoming skilled at recognizing the common behaviors exhibited by certain personalities, enables leaders to modify their communication style and approach to achieve the outcomes they want.
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