Practicing The Platinum Rule--treating others the way they want to be treated by adapting to their behavioral style--can quickly make you a more sensitive, effective leader. Indeed, this rule can have a positive effect on every aspect of managing and leading. With each of the four behavioral types, there's a different way to communicate with them, delegate tasks to them, compliment them, correct them, motivate them, and counsel them. The Director style tends to be direct and guarded; the Socializer style tends to be direct and open; the Relater style tends to be indirect and open; and the Thinker style tends to be indirect and guarded. You can be more effective with all employees, regardless of their behavioral style.
Your power to influence employees springs from two sources:
The Best Leadership Style The best leader isn't someone with a particular behavioral style, or some ideal blend of styles. Instead, the best leader is someone who realizes what a job or task requires--and then does it! That means working well with all behavioral styles in all sorts of situations. As firms restructure and put new emphasis on teamwork, leaders who understand behavioral styles will have a leg up. As situational leaders, they may wish to act in their natural style, using their intrinsic strengths. At other times, they may choose to adapt to others, using The Platinum Rule principles. Or, when they sense a clash of styles, they may opt to pick a third person to handle a certain situation, or to change the work environment--realign a worker's duties, alter deadlines, or revamp priorities--to allow people to play to their strengths (you can't mandate productivity).
Organizations need all four styles. You can't just say "We're a sales organization, so we need all Socializers." Or "We're an engineering firm, so we just need results-oriented Directors and Thinkers." You need all four types, and you need them in the right spots. In all cases, you (manager or leader) should be aware of your style and how it affects others. Being aware of the extremes of your style will enable you to become a leader, not just a boss, and make your primary style more palatable.
Here are some ways you can hone your personal style and become an effective situational leader:
Whatever your style, being adaptable can help you to build bridges to your people and make them feel valued. By learning to best respond to their interests and concerns, strengths and weaknesses, you'll get the most from your people and leave them more satisfied.
How can you hone your leadership style?
Adapted from THE PLATINUM RULE: Discover the Four Basic Business Personalities--and How They Can Lead You to Success, by Tony Alessandra, Ph.D., and Michael J. O'Connor, Ph.D. (Warner Books, 1996) Dr. Tony Alessandra is a behavioral and communication expert, and a leading business motivational speaker on communication, customer loyalty and sales.
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