Leadership Update is a free monthly newsletter by David A. Weiman, Psy.D. and www.leadershipfirst.com. In it, you’ll find strategies for helping you realize your full professional potential. Please feel free to forward unedited copies of this newsletter.
- Quotable: They Said It
- Leadership: Are You Working Against Your Own Type?
- Communication: Timing is Everything
- Diversity: Management Communication Workshop Combines Psychology and Law
- Readers’ Forum: Your Observations
- Subscription Information
Quotable: They Said It
“Coaches who can outline plays on a black board are a dime a dozen. The ones who win get inside their player and motivate.”
– Vince Lombardi
“As long as the world is turning and spinning, we’re gonna be dizzy and we’re gonna make mistakes.”
– Mel Brooks
LEADERSHIP: ARE YOU WORKING AGAINST YOUR OWN TYPE?
Although experts like to write about self-awareness in the executive role as if they just discovered it last year, Socrates said it first: Know thyself. It’s one of the realities of the executive role that the higher you go, the more your own personality style impacts the achievement of your goals. And for many, the promotion into an executive position is the first time that they begin to experience the real challenges of working both with and against their natural type.
What’s your “type”? It’s the typical way in which you think, feel and
behave. And although those around you experience your type mainly in the way you act, the determinants of that behavior are connected to your earliest experiences and form a pattern over time that people recognize as your “personality.”
According to David McClelland, the “Three Social Motives” that explain most behavior are the drive to achieve, the drive to be connected to other people, and the drive to control other people. And although the degree to which we each possess and express these motives can be subtle and complex, it’s usually fairly simple to recognize these motives in others by the way they act. Recognizing them in ourselves, on the other hand, can be difficult.
When you’re working in an environment that satisfies those basic motives, you’re usually happy at work. Productive. Challenged. Things seem to flow and you accomplish your goals. When you’re working in an environment that’s blocking those basic motives, though, you feel frustrated. Tired, Irritated at certain times (or all the time). For example, you’d rather be planning a strategy to achieve a major goal, but you’re stuck in a meeting where the discussion is dragging on way too long and you can’t wait to get out of the conference room. Or, you’re butting heads with a colleague over and over again and you can’t figure out why they just can’t see it your way.
If you’re feeling that way quite a bit, or in a number of situations that are required of you at work (such as meetings, or working collaboratively with others) chances are that you’re spending too much time doing things that aren’t a good fit given your natural type. So how do you find out what your type is?
Formally, you can get an assessment using standardized instruments like the Myers-Briggs, the DISC, or any number of other tools that organize information about what drives your behavior in distinct, work-related areas.
A management psychologist trained in the use of the tools administers the questionnaires and then gives you individual feedback about your type. There are also seminars where a single instrument is administered and general feedback is provided which helps you understand your own profile. The feedback you get from formal assessments is rarely surprising, but it does organize what you know about yourself into useful categories, such as how you prefer to make decisions, how you tend to deal with others, and how you typically bring projects to completion.
Informally, you can assess your own style by simply reflecting on those times when you seemed to be the most effective versus those when you seemed to struggle the most. For example, write down two situations in which you felt like you achieved a major goal, and two situations in which you feel like you didn’t achieve a major goal. Write down what the circumstances were that you think contributed to those successes and failures. Be as specific as you can. For example, if you failed to achieve a major goal because an entire group was involved in the decision, and you’re better when you’re working alone, that’s a major stylistic issue that will impact nearly all of your decisions.
Whether you use formal means, informal means or both, learning what your preferred ways are of dealing with the world of work is critical to ensuring that the actual work you’re doing isn’t forcing you against your type. And once you have that assessment material in front of you, it will be very obvious why certain circumstances, like the examples given above, frustrate you from reaching your goals instead of propelling you towards them.
It helps to think about Sundance (Robert Redford) in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid: When the miner asks him to point and shoot at a target, he misses. But when Sundance is able to move around, he not only hits the target but he shoots it down the road. He’s better when he’s moving than when he’s doing set exercises. He knows that about himself. He needs that flexibility to perform at his best.
Of course, developing skills or competencies in the areas that are opposite your preferred style are important, too, particularly the higher you rise in the organization. For example, if your preference is to make decisions based strictly on data, but an intuitive sense of what the future looks like is important in the culture where you work, developing that intuitive side of yourself, or consulting with someone else who has that style, will be important to your success.
Suggested reading:Gifts Differing: Understanding Personality Type. By Isabel Briggs Myers and Peter B. Myers. Davies-Black Publishing: 1995.
DIVERSITY: MANAGEMENT COMMUNICATION WORKSHOP COMBINES PSYCHOLOGY & LAW
Diversity workshops usually focus just on the federal laws that protect certain groups and how to avoid being sued for violating those laws. But they haven’t addressed the subtle psychological factors that impact how supervisors communicate with their staffs. Until now.
When your managers are aware of the correct way to instruct, motivate and manage their staffs, your entire organization is strengthened. Dr. Weiman and labor attorney Mignon Groch recently introduced their new workshop, Management Communication in a Diverse Environment, and it’s available to your company. For a PDF file that shows the benefits to your staff of this outstanding presentation, download it here, or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
ABOUT DR. WEIMAN
David A. Weiman, Psy.D. is a psychologist who specializes in executive assessment, development and consultation. For information or a confidential consultation, please call 610/642-3040.
333 East Lancaster Avenue, Suite 202
Wynnewood, PA 19096-1929
(610) 642-3040; Fax (610) 642-3041
COMMUNICATION: TIMING IS EVERYTHING
As you’re well aware, leadership positions come with the responsibility of giving other people critical feedback. And just like a good joke, timing is everything. Whenever you’re giving constructive feedback (including positive feedback, although I’m focusing on constructive criticism below) you should attempt to give that feedback as soon as possible to the person it involves.
Here are three reasons why:
1. The issue(s) will be fresh in everyone’s mind.
2. You’ll waste less time ruminating over it (if it’s critical feedback) or rehearsing it (if it’s positive or negative).
3. You’ll bring closure to the situation more quickly. The longer you wait, the other person may wonder why you did, or they may have forgotten about it already and feel blindsided when you bring it up.
Here are five tips for giving constructive feedback:
1. Do it in person. It’s the only way to pick up on the body language so critical to making sure your message is being received as intended.
2. Do it one-on-one. The other person will appreciate the privacy.
3. Focus on the facts, not your emotions. To paraphrase a famous quotation, feedback is a dish best served cold. If you’re upset about the situation, talk with someone else to lower that level of upset before raising the issue directly with the person it involves.
4. Avoid interpreting someone else’s behavior. Even agreeing on what happened is sometimes difficult. Getting someone to buy your interpretation of why they did whatever they did may be next to impossible. Focus on the behavior itself and leave it up to them to explain why they did what they did.
5. Ask questions. Make sure you learn as much as you can about the behavior you’re giving critical feedback about. Your willingness to listen may make the other person open to whatever feedback you’re providing.
Suggested Reading:The One Minute Manager. By Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson. Berkley Books: 1983.
If you have a specific issue you need to address with a peer, a direct report or someone above you in the hierarchy, and you’d like me to address it through this newsletter, the website, or as a direct consultation, just send me a note at email@example.com or call me at 610/642-3040.
Reader’s Forum: Your Observations
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