“The more you know yourself, the more patience you have for what you see in others.”
It is very important for a leader to know their natural leadership tendencies. It is equally important that the leader share these tendencies with their leadership team. I have found that understanding my tendencies and sharing these tendencies with my leadership team has greatly enhanced our ability to communicate collaboratively and problem solve effectively.
While attending the U.S. Army War College a few years ago, I was able to take part in personality surveys and leadership assessments. These surveys and assessments were very enlightening to me. What I appreciated most about the results were the components where the assessment explained how you could be viewed by others. Though I was not surprised about the results as they pertained to me, I was challenged by how others may perceive my personality and leadership traits. I have worked to always be cognizant of my natural tendencies and how they are perceived by those in my unit. I have worked to create a transparent and collaborative culture in my unit. This applies to sharing my natural personality traits and leadership tendencies.
The results from my surveys and assessments all indicated that I value and prefer flexible problem solving, creating teams and collaborative environments, and exploring many options when it comes to decision-making. All pretty good things….or are they?
I was assessed as an ESTP on the Myers Briggs Report. Only 6% of my Army War College classmates fell into this category. ESTP’s prefer energetic flexible problem solving and resist letting existing rules and procedures to interfere with possible solutions. ESTP’s also focus on seeking satisfying solutions over imposing a “should” or a “must”. ESTP’s, therefore, can be seen as people who “fly by the seat of their pants”. These attributes are amplified by my KAI Inventory where I scored very high on the innovative end. The literature says that those who are more adaptive can view an innovator as impractical, risky, abrasive, and a threat to the established system. The negative attributes associated with both of these surveys can be very frustrating to members of the leadership team or peers who prefer detailed solutions rooted in current policies and regulations.
My Adaptability Portfolio indicated that I scored very high in the Catalyst and New Ideas categories. This, again, could convey to others a sense of impracticality. The literature explains that someone who scores high in the New Ideas category consider themselves to be innovative and with a vision for the future. However, others may see them as “out there” and not concerned by practical details. I also scored low in the Driving Category of the assessment. Though this is positive for promoting collaboration, it could be viewed as weak and lacking assertiveness.
The last piece of information was my Leadership Assessment Portfolio where I received feedback from my superiors, peers, and subordinates. The results of this assessment correctly identified me as a collaborative, open, positive person who is not overly concerned by details. The results also identified a lack of sensitivity. This provided insight about why I had some personal conflicts with two of my superiors who both placed high value on details and sensitivity. The evaluator told me that if I did not work on being more detailed and sensitive when working tasks for these superiors, I would continue to have conflicts with them. This was challenging and I took it to heart.
Understanding not only my natural tendencies, but also how these tendencies could be viewed by others, has helped me when putting my problem solving teams together. I make sure that I have people on my teams’ that are very detail oriented, are much more adaptive, and those who can give balance when it comes to “driving” when things need done. I have found that if I am unapologetically transparent about my tendencies that I can receive constructive feedback from those on the leadership team who view and approach problems differently than I do. The result has been coherent, well-thought out solutions that are easily communicated and received well by the unit members.
Have you taken time to find out or review your natural leadership tendencies? Have you been consistent with sharing your tendencies with your team? Are you leveraging this information to improve your teams’ dynamics and your teams’ ability to effectively resolve problems?