You probably remember your mother teaching you The Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. Well in this day and age I say “Do unto others as they want, not what I want” .

A great example of this is recognizing the good work of a team member.  You may like the “lime light” and want public recognition yet many people don’t want to be put in the spot light.  Private praise will do just fine for them.

Being certified in Myers Briggs and DiSC, I see leaders using the Golden Rule when they should be determining what their employee prefers.  For instance, I often observe a misalignment between introverts and extroverts.  Extroverted leaders generally don’t like silence, while an introvert is not challenged by silence.  In meetings, I will see an extrovert start peppering an introvert with questions to fill the silence. In turn, this further shuts down the introvert who likes to process in her head, not out loud.

There are plenty of situations during the day and workweek that a leader needs to adjust her leadership to the preference of the employee.  Here are some situations that you should be cognizant to being an adaptive leader:

  • Decision Making
  • Problem Solving
  • Communications
  • Conflict Management
  • Change Management

So when you are in one of these situations, think about the people you are interfacing with, either through direct leadership or influence outside your organization. What are their preferences? And, how can you adapt your behavior to what they need in order to perform at their very best.  If your organization hasn’t done an assessment like Myers Briggs, this may be a good time. An instrument like Myers Briggs will provide you and your employees with a greater understanding of how each other prefers to operate and communicate.

Or if you aren’t ready for this step, start really observing the behaviors of others and take note of what they are doing in the way of communication, decision making etc and start mirroring them. A good time to start is during one on one meetings with your team members, there is less risk and you can direct all of your attention to one individual. It may feel awkward at first, so take it slowly and choose one area that you would like to adjust for the person you are working with. This should be an area you feel comfortable changing, such as speed of talking.  Ideally it will be one that, when mastered, has an impact on your employees performance.

So the next time you are treating a person like you want to be treated, stop and evaluate, is it what they really want?

Image Credit: The Stock Exchange ( User: ShadowRave