Successful leaders understand their people and adapt their leadership style
One style of management does not fit all in today’s workplaces. When you really think about it, how can it? Working teams are not made up of clones, they’re a heady mix of different personalities and abilities. What would inspire, motivate and educate one member of the team is unlikely to do the same for the next.
So, how does one person address and lead a diverse mix of psyches and temperaments towards a common goal?
This is probably the most important aspect. You can’t begin to solve problems or oversee something you know nothing about. Imagine a car engine and all the components that enable it to fire into action and drive the car forward; you can’t just know about the workings of the battery but have no understanding about the rest of the engine’s elements.
To manage different people, you need to understand different people. And, if they’re going to be working in a team, you don’t just want to understand how they are as individuals, you need to know how they will likely interact with each other. You need to know how to get the best out of them when they’re working on their own when they’re working together in a small group, and even when they’re part of a larger consort.
In each of these scenarios, your leadership style may need to adapt.
Who in the team is an introvert, who’s an extrovert…who works better with whom? In which situations do certain people flourish and others pale into the background? Which people in the group avoid confrontation, which are likely to take advantage of situations, given half a chance? What are the various learning styles within the team, i.e. how best does each individual absorb information? Who’s largely innovative and creative? Who’s a matter of fact in their thinking and inherently practical? Are there different cultures to consider, too?
Without understanding, plenty of resilience and an open mind, you may veer towards a dictatorship (which motivates no one) or you’ll fail to establish enough authority to lead the team effectively.
Science has shown that the most successful leaders are the ones who have higher levels of awareness and understanding of self and others.
Are they all that different, though?
This task may seem endless, when you consider just how many idiosyncrasies, behavioural preferences and personality factors exist. However, our research shows that whilst this is the case, behaviour and thought processes can be predicted to quite an extent. Just as Carl Jung suggested, we all broadly identify with recognised sets of traits, even if these are applied/inherent in varying degrees from person to person.
Our Jigsaw Discovery Tool can reduce the unknowns significantly, and give today’s leaders benchmarks, frameworks and references to measure and identify different behavioural preferences so that they can forward plan their team’s progress and nip issues in the bud before they get out of hand.
If you can understand potential pitfalls, you can head them off at the pass. If you can recognise the seeds of passion and innovation, you can nurture the ideas and harness the intrinsic energy of team members supporting their learning and growth.
However, understanding differences and behavioural preferences and how these may play out/be displayed within your team dynamic is not simply a labelling exercise, nor is it designed to put people into boxes, because this invites bias—it’s much deeper than that, as the best leaders will tell you.
Successful leaders immerse themselves
As well as developing your knowledge and understanding using profiling tools and assessments, you’ll gain further insight into the workings of your team by spending time with them. Back to the car engine…if you only ever learn how to mend car engines on a theoretical level, you won’t be half as good as someone who also observes others tinkering away in real-time. An absent leader is an ineffective leader.
Of course, another factor concerns external stimuli. We’re living through a global pandemic. Despite other coronaviruses impacting the world’s population during recent decades, there’s been nothing on this scale in our lifetimes.
People have coped with isolation, lockdowns and restrictions, and different working practices in their own way. Some people may still be processing the pandemic as they return to the office. Their reactions and ways of dealing with things maybe something their manager can predict, but it also may not, because it’s a unique situation. However, with a basic understanding of behavioural principles, the best leaders can flex their leadership style and simply adapt this as they go along, which is much better than not knowing where to start with an adverse situation that stems from the coronavirus crisis.
Though there can be many behavioural preferences, Vartika Kashyap, Chief Marketing Manager at ProofHub, believes there are only two types of managers. She says, ‘First are the ones who focus on projects more than people. They know the ins and outs of the project scope. They have the best resources in their team. They get the work done. But they are unable to take their team to the next level. Why? Because they don’t know how to bring the best out of their resources. And that’s because they fail to understand different behavioural preferences in the team.
‘On the other hand, there is a second creed of managers. These kick-ass managers know the linchpins in their teams. And they know how to leverage the different strengths and preferences in their team to create not just a winning team, but a team that can thrive in the most adverse conditions.’
Being a successful leader and understanding your team doesn’t just deliver a better working environment, it can genuinely make a difference to your company’s bottom line.