At multiple points in their careers, most people leaders ask themselves some variation of the question – What do my employees want or need from me?
Sometimes, it’s with enthusiasm as you are thinking of how you can best support your team members and drive performance. At other times, it may be with some frustration after a misunderstanding or a project that didn’t go as planned. No matter where your reasoning lies, the hope behind that question is that there is some adjustment you can make to be a more effective leader.
At Emergenetics®, leaning into other styles to meet someone where they are at is what we call flexing. Knowing how to flex is so important for managers.
Often, when individuals lead a team, they may default to practices that they like best. If you are working with someone who has the same preferences as you, that approach can be very successful. If your group is cognitively diverse, you are likely to find that your people respond better to a style that may not come naturally to you.
Now, that doesn’t mean you should hire only like-minded staff members. We know that cognitive diversity delivers better results. What it means is that leaders need to find ways to flex to give employees what they need to be engaged and productive.
While there is no one size fits all approach, managers can take cues from their team members’ preferred Emergenetics Attributes to speak directly to the interests of their staff. If your employees have their Emergenetics Profiles, use the tips below to tailor your style to each individual. If they do not, I invite you to discuss the concepts below in your one-on-one meetings to identify each person’s inclinations and discover how you can lead them in a way that is motivating and meaningful to them.
10 Tips to Lead More Effectively
#1 – Demonstrate rational logic
Individuals with a preference for Analytical Thinking tend to appreciate managers who they perceive to be knowledgeable and efficient. To build trust with and engage Analytical thinkers, try taking a rational approach to conversations. Bring data and reasoning to explain the purpose, end goals and metrics behind projects or decisions.
#2 – Give tangible directions
Structural Thinkers often look for a leader who brings a clear, practical approach to work. To interact positively with team members with this preference, be methodical in your practices. Staff are likely to respond well to receiving specific directions, deadlines and a clear description of their role within a project.
#3 – Start with empathy
Those who prefer Social Thinking typically want a manager who demonstrates care and concern for them and their colleagues. To build connections with the Social Attribute, ask about your employees’ lives beyond work and ask how you can best coach them. You may also find that leading with stories and the people impact of any project will increase their motivation.
#4 – Act as a hands-off facilitator
The Conceptual Attribute loves to experiment and ideation. To support individuals with this preference, explain the big picture of any initiative they are working on and the long-term impact it may have. Offer some ideas about how to approach the situation and encourage team members to test out and bring forward new concepts.
#5 – Give time to process
Employees in the first-third of Expressiveness appreciate when their managers do not put them on the spot. As much as you can, send information ahead of time or allow for pauses in the conversation so the person can think through their responses.
#6 – Serve as a sounding board
Those in the third-third of Expressiveness will appreciate a leader who allows them to process verbally. Give them time to talk through their thoughts and keep in mind that what they say first is likely not where they will land. Allow for the conversation to run its course.
#7 – Work toward consensus
Harmony is important to people who prefer first-third Assertiveness. Demonstrate that you see value in finding common ground and spend time bringing others along with you as you begin work on an initiative or project.
#8 – Be direct
Staff in the third-third of Assertiveness appreciate knowing where their coworkers stand. You can enhance working relationships with colleagues with this preference by stating your opinions transparently and clearly.
#9 – Stay focused
First-third Flexibility enjoys when options narrow. Support employees in this third by providing clear direction on where the group is headed and limit changes as much as possible once you’ve committed to a decision.
#10 – Explore other ideas
Individuals who prefer third-third Flexibility tend to see decisions as working drafts. To engage this Attribute, managers can demonstrate that they are open to considering other concepts and are willing to explore new ideas that improve upon the work you are doing.
Leaders who can adjust their tactics to meet their team’s interests and needs are much more likely to inspire trust, confidence and motivation. By making small tweaks to connect to the preferred Attributes of your staff, you can give your people what they want while empowering them to be more productive and drive positive results.
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