Leaders are human beings with unique sets of skills and talents. They each learn successful strategies of how to interact with colleagues that enable them to move through their careers. They develop ways to navigate the workplace based on their backgrounds and past experiences. However, what happens sometimes is that the way they connect with others may not go as planned. That can result in some friction. What comes next is often a bit of confusion of what changed.
Of course, there can be a myriad of reasons a particular dynamic might shift in our workspaces. It can have to do with a new project direction or a different daily routine or even a personal challenge. Another reason that sometimes can be overlooked are the different work styles of the leaders. After all, human beings are imperfect and so is leadership.
Understanding how we communicate and behave with our team members and bosses, can empower leaders to be stronger and more impactful. That deep dive can open up many doors for leaders to build more meaningful relationships. Are you ready to explore how different work styles can trip you up?
Five Leadership Pivots To Blend Different Work Styles
1. Understand Your Work Style First
Before leaders can begin to blend different work styles, they must have a clear understanding of how they typically work. Think about what energizes you more- people or ideas. For some leaders being around team members while working on projects motivates them while other leaders prefer to work more individually and then share their results. Some leaders are very fast paced while others seem to enjoy being more methodical. Whatever your work style, having a clear understanding of your more natural way of approaching people and work is critically important. Assessments like Myers-Briggs Inventory and DiSC can assist with this.
2. Identify Work Styles of Colleagues and Boss
Although we may not be able to perfectly identify the work styles of our team members or boss, leaders can obtain a reasonably good idea. In order to decide what is a colleague’s natural work style ask yourself these questions when partnering with them:
- Does this person prefer to work on the assignment by themselves first and then join together?
- Is this individual a big people person and enjoys mingling during their day?
- Would my boss prefer that I share my data in bullet points or in a longer, narrative version?
- Does my teammate make quick decisions or need more time to process information?
3. Brainstorm Commonalities
Once a leader starts to form a better picture of how others receive information and make decisions, it is time to take stock in the similarities of your work styles. Often when leaders think they work so differently, they actually have complimentary preferences. Be openminded to seeing how to approach assignments. Maybe one leader includes more people in their process, while another just doesn’t think to reach out but welcomes feedback. Perhaps there is a similar pacing of tackling projects that both leaders enjoy. Think of the Venn diagram and where you overlap.
4. Create Strategies To Overcome Differences
The next pivot for leaders is to creatively and compassionately find ways to face differing work styles straight on. Whether partnering on assignments with a team member with a very different work style or working with a boss whose work style is way different from yours think about ways to:
- Meet the other person where they are. If they need shorter summaries and you usually like a longer narrative, compromise with a shorter report.
- Balance the people piece and the reflection needs. If a team member needs to spend upfront alone time first, then welcome that and convene afterwards.
- Either slow down or speed up a bit when leaders move at different paces. It doesn’t really matter how quickly or slowly two leaders work as long as the end result is successful.
5. Commit To Pivoting For Success
It can be easy for a leader to say they will blend different work styles and harder to commit to doing it. So as the Nike slogan says: “Just do it!” Take the action needed to cultivate a team of leaders with different approaches to working. That inclusive culture will set your leadership and team apart. It is often contagious and very transmittable.
How do you blend different work styles on your team or within your organization?