Multiple Personalities: How to Lead a Diverse Team to a Common Goal

Use these management tips to unify staff with diverse traits

Embracing your inner “Beethoven,” you find yourself leading your team head-first into a project— similar to an orchestra attempting that perfect sound. Unlike Beethoven, they might not come with their sets of  violins or trombones, but an interesting set of personalities. The Myer-Briggs Type Indicator identifies 16 personality traits among people, based on the work of Carl Jung, Isabel Myers and Katherine Briggs. The real leadership challenge? Identifying how managers can effectively engage a team with a diverse set of personalities, while being their authentic self.

Pump the breaks. No need to panic. It can be done. “The mistake that most managers make is that their preferred leadership style will work with all employees,” says Amy Gallo, a management consultant and contributing editor at Harvard Business Review.  “Managers need to adjust their management and coaching style to work with different  employees.”

Gallo spoke with BlackEnterprise.com to provide tips on how executives, leaders, and managers can navigate through it:

Know your ‘default’ leadership style: Managers cannot lead each person the same. In leading  teams,  you must be versatile in your approach–  without compromising their accountability.

As a manager who is leading, you must first understand your preferred leadership style. Gallo says, “It comes down to self-awareness. You need to understand as a manager your preferred way of managing. What is going to be the default way, which you’ll go to when all things are equal?” Once you know that, you’ll be able to modify your leadership style to each employee. It’s not one size fits all.

Adjust your leadership style: Take the time to observe your employees behavior. Look at your list of direct reports, people who report to you. and say to yourself, How does this person learn? What has been the successful  coaching moment with this person? It’s important to understand to really understand that employees style,” Gallo says.

Ask the right questions: Don’t lead with a power strip, the Caesar way. Listen and ask the right questions (to your employee). The right questions will reveal the right leadership styles of managing, which are best suited for your employees. You can start by asking simply, “How do you want to be managed?” Gallo says. “Do you prefer a hands off manager or someone who is more involved? Asking an employee on how they want  to be managed, can be very empowering and provide you with information that you may not otherwise get as a manager.”

Highlight exemplary behavior: Follow a technique that enables your employee to act. The ability to enable others to act is one of the 5 main exemplary practices of leadership. Amy Gallo recalls, some large companies would discuss techniques other departments did that produced ideal outcomes. Gallo carefully notes that individuals themselves were not pointed out —just  their behaviors. “For example, certain cell-phone companies  highlight the behavior of the highest sales people in their retail stores,” Gallo says. “They would not say, Oh look at what John is doing! Isn’t he great?  They would say, here is something he did that helped close sales.” This technique promotes self-starters and encourages team-work. As oppose to  unhealthy competition, which doesn’t produce holistic improvements.

Find the right way to engage low performers: “Be careful in labeling people within a team as high-performers and low-performers, but be honest with their performance,” advises Gallo. You should engage a low-performer properly by:

  • Giving good feedback
  • Explaining problematic behavior
  • Seeking out solutions together

It’s also important to note that low-performance can be attributed to a number of things from issues with personal life, lack of knowledge, or expertise.

Discover your own personality type by using an adaption of the Myer Briggs Type Indicator here.

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