Servant leadership is founded on the innate desire to serve others, but it starts with self-awareness. All behavior starts inside oneself and we interpret situations and react based on our individual styles. During our People Strategies Executive Roundtable in early April, a group of leaders got together to learn and explore their own leadership styles. Since we couldn’t meet in person, we got together over video-enabled conferencing with breakout rooms which was a new twist on the way we normally interact. Instead of catching up with one another in person over wine and hors d’oeuvres we chatted on video, ran to stir dinner for our families during a break, and listened to a great speaker facilitate a thought-provoking discussion.
While the dialogue and discussion can’t all be conveyed over a blog, I’ll do my best to give some of the highlights. Pat Falotico from the Greenleaf Center facilitated the conversation by asking each breakout group to reflect on their leadership styles first by answering two quick questions: 1) Are you fast paced and jump to action or reflective? and 2) Are you open and accepting or questioning and critical? These questions helped participants group together with others who shared the same answers about their style. Each group discussed four key questions to dive deeper into understanding our own styles:
· What is awesome about my style?
· How am I sometimes misunderstood?
· How do I prefer others to work with me?
· What do you need from others who approach work differently?
Based on each person’s responses to the questions they were grouped as either a Director, Enthusiast, Stabilizer, or an Analyst. We debriefed as a group, and key themes arose:
My group was answered that we each were face paced and jump into action and questioning and critical. We had insightful conversation that highlighted our “Director” style. We all agreed that we like to move things along quickly by just getting started and making changes, edits, and shifting direction along the way. We felt that people often see us as impatient or uncaring when we want others to trust that our focus is on getting the job done. We prefer people that value time and use our time wisely and want others to bring solutions to the table rather than problems.
Some of the other groups felt they could be perceived as naïve or overly analytical. The “Enthusiasts” like to bring other people along and ensure everyone’s voice is included. They prefer trusting, candid relationships but also want others to match their enthusiasm and sense of urgency.
The “Stabilizers” like to look at all the options before making decisions. They are steady and calm, but others can misunderstand them and identify them as being too cautious and indecisive.
The “Analyzers” were the last group to share. They are intentional, like to research, and be very deliberate in their actions which others can see as stuck in analysis paralysis. The key is to trust in their process and understand they need lots of data and information to make decisions but once they know the path forward, they are ‘all in’ and confident in their decision.
It was eye opening to hear how others feel misunderstood at times and to learn about perspectives to best work collaboratively with individual’s personality type. We can all agree that we certainly have our own unique ways of working and styles but that it’s vital to be open to different perspectives and when we have trust, we can bridge our differences.