When you attend leadership training, one thing with which you come to grips in a hurry is that leadership styles are neither “good” nor “bad.” They all work — and they all don’t! There is nothing inherently magical about empowerment or collaboration or providing structure and guidance. It all depends upon to or with whom you are delegating, participating or providing direction. In large part, your degree of success as a leader is a function of variables you simply can’t predict until you “get there” (e.g., the person you are attempting to influence and the objective or task that needs to be accomplished).
As it applies to gaining predictive insight into the people you will encounter when you “get there,” few tools are more effective than personality profiles. When leveraging these profiles, you learn that human behavior is a product of how people perceive and respond to their environments. A profile based on an assessment provides validated insight into why people behave the way they do.
Many of us have had the opportunity to work our way through an additional layer of leadership complexity this past year as we managed our teams (and ourselves) remotely. What did we learn? Plenty.
Consider the following collection of challenges and suggestions for leading each different personality style from a distance.
Dominant (Bold and Questioning)
Communicating with others remotely: These types are often unnecessarily blunt or sometimes aggressive. This may be exacerbated by the impersonal nature of online communication.
Impulsiveness due to impatience: They favor quick communication and decision-making (usually easier in a face-to-face setting). They may get frustrated with the comparatively slower pace of communication with remote work. This may result in impulsive decisions due to absence of necessary grounding.
Lack of communication when feeling insecure: Dominant profiles tend to be image conscious and fear being perceived as vulnerable or “not in control.” As a result, they may be reluctant to voice genuine concerns or anxieties.
Make sure they are aware of remote communication etiquette: Encourage them to invest in their teammates beyond task conversations and take steps to strengthen their connections with others. Provide directive feedback in a timely manner regarding the impact of their approach if necessary.
Ensure they have a direct line of communication to you: Remember, their natural inclination is to make quick decisions, so even if you need to “pump the breaks” on their behalf, it will be encouraging for them to know their input (at a minimum) is being heard.
Check in regularly with them: they will be far more likely to open up in a one-on-one setting. Do not fall into the trap of relying too heavily on outward appearances; check in and follow up often.
Influential (Bold and Accepting)
Not enough social interaction: These types thrive on social interaction and working remotely may cause them to feel ignored or isolated. They may even go as far as to view a lack of communication as disapproval.
Lack of organization when working from home: These individuals often struggle with staying on task and being organized. The distractions of working from home, particularly if they are working around family members or a significant other, could become a significant hurdle for their productivity.
Perceived lack of recognition for their work: Influential individuals are motivated by social recognition. When working remotely, they may feel unappreciated when their victories are celebrated privately through chat messages or phone calls.
Keep a running conversation with them: Encourage their teammates to do the same. They will also appreciate having conversations beyond work topics so that they can continue to feel like their relationships are developing and that they are connected in a meaningful way.
Help these employees stay on task: Depending on the type of work your employees do, there are different ways you can support them. Some may benefit from a frequently updated list of priorities, an easy-to-use project management tool or a daily check-in with you and/or their team.
Share their victories: Consider ways that you can give these individuals the social recognition they want/need when they succeed. This may come in the form of a “shoutout” during your next team meeting or a group email that will allow others to join in on the celebration.
Steady (Careful and Accepting)
Lack of collaboration: These types of individuals enjoy helping others, and the shift to remote work is likely to leave them feeling isolated. This may well translate to a lower level or work-related engagement.
Insecurity due to lack of stability: Steady individuals value stability and, as such, are usually threatened by change. This can induce performance-related regression even with tasks they have effectively mastered.
Difficulty adjusting: These individuals thrive on routine. They develop ingrained habits and high levels of comfort using tools or processes to complete their work. They are frequently intimidated by the perceived learning curve associated with adopting new technology.
Establish “channels of alliance”: Collaborating by way of an online platform is different, but it is still collaboration! Select a platform, mandate its use and facilitate regular virtual connections.
Provide professional and emotional support: As a first step, listen: Allow and encourage your employees to articulate their concerns. Whether it mirrors your pace or not, there is a curve these individuals need to work their way through with any disruption of routine.
Provide them with learning resources: Find any learning content you can to help guide your these employees through transition. If possible, take one-on-one time to walk them through any new technology or processes they are struggling to adopt.
Cautious (Careful and Questioning)
Voluntary isolation: These types of leaders are at risk of weakening their connections with their co-workers due to the inherent isolation of remote working. They are unlikely to initiate or reach out to their co-workers (or you) for assistance with these struggles.
Insecurity due to loss of established processes: Cautious individuals are at their happiest when using the tools and processes they consider to be tried and true. If these processes are altered or eliminated due to working remotely, they may lose confidence in their ability to perform.
Slowed productivity due to over-analysis: These individuals are comparatively slow to adjust to change. They struggle to make decisions without thoroughly thinking things through. If they perceive themselves as being rushed, it heightens the fear they harbor for making unnecessary mistakes.
Encourage or orchestrate connections: These employees may need an extra push to maintain their connections when working remotely. You may also need to clearly state expectations (and monitor activity) to ensure compliance.
Reinforce their value: These individuals will remain attached to the processes and tools they have honed to perfection. When they are forced into a new configuration, it is important to ensure that they never lose sight of their importance to you, your team and your team’s objectives.
Be their sounding board: When forced to change, these types will appreciate the opportunity to both articulate and work through their concerns. Be prepared to listen to and, if possible, answer a lot of questions! Access to you will accelerate adoption of and transition to, “the new normal.”
For a better understanding of how to identify your own behavioral tendencies or how to lead your remote team more effectively, consider this training program.