Great Leaders See Themselves as Others See Them – And Engage Better
We talk a lot in our work about the ‘light-bulb’ moment that occurs when the people we train on leadership suddenly “get it.” They fully understand that people cannot read their minds, and have to judge them not by their intent, but on their observable behavior.
This awareness about how a manager’s own behavior impacts employee engagement is the key to getting a person to open up his or her own mind to a critical idea: You can manage other people more effectively by adapting your own behavior to better mesh with them. Understanding how your behavior impacts how well you are understood, and how well people react to you, is a core leadership skill. Without that awareness, most people make only halting progress in developing transformational leadership ability.
What brings this to mind? We found an article on the topic on BBC.com. Needless to say, the title caught our eye:
The author, AL Kennedy, a self-professed introvert who quite enjoys alone time, still frets about the technological cocoons we hide in out in public; we cling to our known circles of friends and digitally wall off strangers and the new perspectives they might offer.
Here’s the line we cherish from the piece:
“And if you want to be happy and lucky, you can arrange it – open your life to chance events, be aware of and respond to reality, have a wide social circle with lots of support and information being exchanged. Which sounds reasonable, even to me and even though it goes against the grain I do try my best in the recommended directions.”
All three of our Foundation of Excellence themes are in that one first sentence:
The Pursuit of Truth
Communication that Counts
(If you have trouble spotting them, contact us immediately for help!)
Introverts are just as good as extroverts at learning the skill of reading behavior styles and responding to them constructively. There is no monopoly on figuring out how to relate better to co-workers by adapting your own behavior style to theirs. The benefit of acquiring this adaptability skill is that you put people at ease, which allows you engage them better in the tasks at hand.
Making this leadership skill second-nature (embedding it as a leadership habit that you do without thinking about it) takes commitment and energy, just as acquiring any new skill does.
But you can’t start that process until you open your mind to the idea that others are not motivated as you are, and that there are a variety of behavior styles that can be used to better engage each person’s energy and point it in the right direction.
Have you had your lightbulb moment? When did you first realize that people have a range of behavior styles? Would you agree that it is far easier for one leader to learn to adapt his or her style to each employee than it is for an entire team to adopt the leader’s behavior pattern?