During some coaching sessions this week with highly ambitious and dedicated leaders it became clear that they were all facing a similar challenge. Although they were executing the technical parts of their jobs with clarity and precision, they were falling short in leading themselves and their teams. After some deep discussions describing their frustrations an essential leadership skill appeared to be missing– the ability to recognize their own style of interacting with others and communicating. There was a glaring lack of self-awareness of how they were coming across to their team members as well as a clear understanding of the work styles of the people they partner with each day. Without knowing why they may be missing connections and messages from their team members these leaders were losing their balance. They wanted to be more impactful and shared with me some of their thinking. “I have so much experience to share about the clients but no one is listening.” “I can see a different vision but why can’t they?” “I feel so successful interacting with the customers but can’t seem to form respectful team relationships.” “As a new leader for the team I want to establish boundaries but I am locking horns with some of the team members.” It was time to step back and breathe. Something had to change and these leaders recognized they had some work to do. They owed it to themselves and their teams to be the best leaders they could be and that meant owning their own work behaviors and attitudes. Six Reasons Why Knowing Your Own Work Style Matters:
1. It Helps Us Understand How We Are Seen By OthersWe all go through our daily work lives trying to execute our responsibilities with a great deal of professionalism. Yet sometimes we miss the cues of why our team members see us as bossy or a bit of a “know-it-all”. We don’t purposely want to present ourselves that way but it can feel differently to people on the receiving end. So the first way to becoming more self-aware is by asking ourselves if we are more people or task focused, fast or slower paced, make quick decisions or are more methodical, prefer to be given information in written format or more auditory. These are a few of the ways we can begin to reflect on our style.
2. It Empowers Us To Communicate More EffectivelyHow do we sound to others? This is an important question to think about because the way we share information and ideas can impact whether our team members will hear us. Take a minute to reflect on these areas:
- Is our voice loud or soft?
- Do we listen without interrupting and by giving others our full attention?
- Do we ask for input from our teams or bark out what we think is important?
3. It Allow Us To Tweak Our AttitudesAttitudes can be contagious and if we lead by being overly critical or judgmental we may be modeling that kind of style. Would your team members say you see challenges as a failure or an opportunity? You have control over the attitudes you bring to the workplace.
4. It Gives Us Ways To See Different Styles We Work WithWe all lead with different styles but that’s what makes a team create interesting perspectives and results. The best way to gain an understanding of our team member’s styles is to:
- Observe how they interact with you and the people they work with.
- Decide how they like to receive information from you- written, face-to-face, email.
- Recognize their pace- fast, moderate, slower.
- Do they like to connect with you with chit-chat before beginning a project?
5. It Grows Our Ability To Be More InfluentialWhen leaders have a clear understanding of their style and the styles of their team members there will be a greater exchange of ideas as well as innovation. When we can reach people the way they like to connect we will ultimately be more influential.
6. It Turns Good Leaders Into Servant LeadersA final and most important reason for leaders being self-aware of their work style is that they can best serve others. When we are servant leaders we:
- Help grow future leaders.
- Want the best for our team members.
- See the gifts that each person brings to our work world.