Published: November, 2021
Why should leaders spend time adapting and connecting more effectively with their teams and others?
Human beings are social by nature and we have an innate desire to connect with others. The more effectively we connect the more beneficial it is to our mental wellbeing and the more meaningful our relationships will be.
Connecting well with others requires a conscious effort. We first need to have an understanding of our own personality preferences and approaches and it is important to recognise and appreciate that each person is unique. That we all view the world differently – our unique view is formed by our own individual perceptions and beliefs. By understanding where our perceptions and beliefs come from, we can then begin to understand why other people see things differently.
In understanding others, we can begin to appreciate who they are and why they behave the way they do. Ultimately, this results in being able to make stronger, more meaningful connections with them.
Within the workplace, as leaders, the stronger our relationships are with our colleagues the more engaged, motivated and higher performing teams we are then able to build.
Beginning with self-awareness
For those that haven’t already discovered their own personality preferences, there are a number of helpful psychometric assessments available that support with this.
My personal preference is Insights Discovery (I’m a licensed practitioner) which is based on the psychology of Carl Jung. Insights Discovery is a simple and memorable four colour energy model that provides a common language about what drives behaviour in the workplace, enabling us to understand why we behave the way we do, our preferred style and strengths, and the value we bring to a team.
To bring this to life a little, below are the four colour energies and a (very) brief overview of some of the characteristics you would expect to see with each:
- Fiery Red – driven by purposeful action moving towards results, individuals are decisive, action-oriented and bold.
- Sunshine Yellow – motivated by inclusion and positive group dynamics, individuals are outgoing, sociable and enthusiastic.
- Earth Green – feeling a deep valuing of individuals and their contributions, individuals are calming, nurturing and supportive.
- Cool Blue – driven with a desire to understand, individuals are questioning, observant and analytical.
Recognising that we are a unique mix of all four colour energies, Insights helps us to understand and appreciate our own colour energy mix. By understanding our most and least preferred colour energies, we are able to consciously value our preferred ways of working, our strengths and our areas for development (we all have them after all!). Having this self-awareness can then help us to identify, understand and appreciate those of others, our colleagues and the teams we lead.
Taking the time to adapt and connect with others
Once we have this self-awareness we are able to develop a more insightful approach to adapting our behaviour and style to better meet the needs of others; the intention being to more successfully connect with them and thereby strengthening the relationship.
For example, let’s assume your dominant colour energy preference is ‘Sunshine Yellow’. With this colour energy preference, you tend to express your energy externally through engagement and involvement with others. Let’s say one of your team has a ‘Cool Blue’ dominant colour energy preference. They tend to express their energy internally, through observation and reflection. When interacting with this individual it may be helpful to slow down your pace, to share your thinking and allow them a little time to prepare and process their thoughts. Adapting your style in this way enables them to work in the way they find most comfortable. The resulting interaction therefore, has a far more positive impact.
Adapting doesn’t mean changing your preferred style entirely, or even being something you aren’t. Remember, we all have a mix of the four colour energy preferences. It’s about making small changes, to ‘dial down’ your dominant colour energy a little. By doing this you will see better, more effective relationships developing. You have after all, taken the time to consider others’ preferences, to appreciate their preferred style and how yours may differ and tailored your style accordingly. The impact of this will be that people in your team will feel far more valued, engaged and motivated.
So how do you take this to the next level, to really connect with others and build stronger more impactful relationships? Connecting with someone isn’t just about adapting. It involves relating to others with emotional intelligence; being curious, observing and truly listening to them. Proactively trying to understand where your own perceptions and beliefs come from and why you behave the way you do. Then taking the time to try to understand and appreciate that in others. To recognise we are all a unique mix and to really appreciate the differences means you are then able to maximise and celebrate the different styles, ways of working and strengths each person brings to the team.
Put simply, it’s about being consciously curious about yourself and others and taking care and time to focus on the relationship.
Why is this important for leaders?
As we’ve discussed, leading with self-awareness results in being able to lead in a more open and insightful way. Self-awareness combined with the ability to understand and, most importantly, appreciate why others behave the way they do, their preferred style and strengths is undoubtedly extremely powerful in the workplace. It enables leaders to carefully consider those they interact and work with, whether that’s upwards, across or within their direct team. To understand how and when they may benefit from adapting their style to ensure a more impactful interaction, on both an individual and a collective basis. All of which enables more effective connections resulting in increased collaboration, engagement and productivity and enhanced team and business performance.
If you aren’t convinced then consider how you feel when someone you work with, perhaps even your manager, takes the time to understand and appreciate your preferred way of working and they adapt their style more towards your preferences. I suspect you feel more motivated, more valued and far more engaged!
I hope you have found this interesting and perhaps even a little inspiring to begin your own self-awareness journey. If you would like to find out more you can contact me on 07990 916350 or via email.