15 Jul 2021

Revolutionize Leadership by Understanding Your Personal Style

Every July, my family heads to the shore. We spend hours at the beach sunning, swimming, cooking out and just generally enjoying each other and a much-needed week or so off from work. It’s all topped off by a big Independence Day bash complete with cornhole competitions and a fishing contest. Whoever catches the biggest fish gets a medal and their name branded into a wooden leaderboard. Some take the competition a bit more seriously than others, spending hours on the kayak, while others of us stick close to the shoreline (where the drinks are). Being in the personality business, it’s always interesting to see different personalities working and playing together.

Aside from cookouts and fishing competitions, July is a great month to reflect on leadership and how personality type impacts a leader’s personal style. After all, it took all types of leaders to stand up for independence, rally those around them to do the same, and ultimately build a new country. As a manager, how do you rally those around you to build up your company? Some of your personal leadership style comes from experience, from learning new skills, and from a conscious effort to practice those skills, but at the core, your style starts with your personality tendencies.

Omnia’s behavioral assessment measures a person’s intrinsic motivators and tendencies. Those motivators and tendencies are based on our preferences. And most often, those preferences are why we automatically respond a certain way to external factors, such as someone challenging our ideas or having multiple deadlines hit us at once. We respond in a way that is comfortable for us. For example, do you prefer to take command of new initiatives or support them from the sidelines? Do you prefer to talk to everyone you meet or immerse yourself in data? Do you prefer to jump from task to task to keep from getting bored or stick to each thing until it is checked off your list? Do you prefer to skim over the important points or read every word? These preferences are what drive us every day, and they lead us to enjoy some tasks more than others and some jobs more than others.

From a leadership perspective, our preferred response to external factors is what defines aspects of our personal leadership style. Using myself as an example, let’s suppose someone on my team fails to do something that is part of their job and has been for years, so I know this is not related to a knowledge or training issue. It’s just an accident, so I send an email letting them know. I also send an email to the team reminding them of this particular task and not to forget to do it, even though no one else has.

A week later, the same person misses the same task. I send another email, only this time I really should have called and had a real conversation to get at the root cause of the problem. Finally, it happens (or really doesn’t happen) again.  Now I really have to take a more direct route, which I’ve been avoiding this whole time because I cringe at anything that feels like conflict.  I stall, worry, overanalyze and then approach the situation passively yet again. Why?

Well, I am a naturally nonassertive person, I avoid conflict, and as a manager, that can be problematic. Fortunately, I manage a very small team of talented subject matter experts with decades of experience and similarly low assertiveness levels, so conflicts are extremely rare. My style wouldn’t work well for me if I managed a large team; it also probably wouldn’t work well if I managed a small team of highly assertive people. I know addressing staff problems is not my strong suit, and it’s so far outside my comfort zone that I wouldn’t want to do it anyway. Even if I pushed past my natural tendencies and handled conflict head on, it would wear me down quickly. Working against your natural tendencies can lead to burn out. That’s why understanding your own leadership style is a great way to create self-awareness and manage your challenge areas or devise processes for dealing with the tasks that don’t come naturally, so you can be the best leader possible to your team.

And that’s not to say that if your style doesn’t naturally lend itself to some common management responsibilities that you can’t do it or that you can’t be highly successful at it. You can. We can all push past our comfort zone… if we want to. Some of us don’t want to. I enjoy being a leader in my organization, though I would not enjoy it if I had to lead a sales team. Understanding our needs and preferences gives us more information for choosing our paths and making decisions.

Likewise, understanding our style makes it easier for us to bend when we need to. It’s common knowledge that people leave managers more often than jobs. This is because managers tend to lead others without deviating from their natural style. This one-size-fits-all style of leadership rarely works, especially today. By understanding ourselves and our team, we can more easily shift our leadership strategy to meet the employee in their comfort zone.

For example, some leaders are very sparing with praise. Not because they don’t appreciate their team but because they are not energized by verbal praise themselves. They would rather look for and solve problems, which can be seen as focusing on the negative by more social, intuitive thinkers. Therefore, those leaders need to understand who on their team wants to feel appreciated through public verbal praise, who likes a private thank you, and who wants their name branded in a leaderboard for all to see. Whatever each employee needs, the leader should make a conscious plan to provide it in a way that will motivate and engage at the individual level.

Using Omnia’s personality dimensions, there are a total of 17 distinct personality groups, and each group has their own leadership style, whether they are leading people, processes or both. For example, there’s the Visionary, a dynamic, forward-thinking competitor who doesn’t want to get bogged down by the details and approaches risk and conflict head on. There’s the Persistent Innovator who never backs down from a challenge and doesn’t give up on a goal once it is set in motion. There’s the Advisor who is personable, diplomatic and motivated by team harmony. And the Analytic who wants to be right, tends to control outcomes and remains steadfastly focused on the task rather than people.

Want to know your style?

Omnia’s Leadership Style report is a great tool for helping managers in your organization learn a little more about themselves as it relates to the soft skills of leadership. Rally your troops and lead your own revolution by creating a strong level of self-awareness in your leaders and staff.

This blog was originally published on The Omnia Group website.

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