Are you a leader looking to improve your leadership skills? Are you a leader looking to unleash extraordinary performance within your team? If so, you already know great leaders expend effort and energy seeking to understand their employees, colleagues, and their leaders. Great leaders attempt to understand how people like to have information delivered to them, their preferred work style, their strengths, and their weaknesses. Great leaders look for clues as to what energizes and incentivizes others to stay engaged and productive.
use all this helpful data and insight to adjust and adapt to meet the needs of others. This is called style flexing. It means that great leaders are willing to tweak or adapt their behavior in order to connect more powerfully with others.
It is highly likely you are, on some level, already engaged in this powerful leadership practice.
However, there is a crucial opportunity you may be missing.
How easy are you making it for those on your team to do the same for you? In particular, how easy are you making it for new team members to learn how to manage you? Do you expect them to figure out your preferences, your quirks (and trust me, we all have them), and your work-style by trial and error? Perhaps it is time to try a more proactive approach.
A few months ago I was conducting an executive presentation skills workshop for one of my favorite clients. Part of the workshop requires participants to deliver a short presentation to the group. One of the participants delivered a presentation on how important it is for leaders to create a “how to manage me” type of guide for their employees, especially new hires. Thank you, Zack Stewart, for sparking an important conversation.
Creating some sort of “cheat sheet” or “communication style guide” to share with your team could save everyone, including yourself, a tremendous amount of time, anxiety, stress, and uncertainty. It could help “onboard” a new-hire more effectively. And, it could clarify many of the unspoken expectations that often people have to learn the hard way.
What ought it to include?
Consider including the following in your “cheat sheet”:
- How you like to be given information – in person or email?
- The best times of day, week, or month to get on your calendar for undivided attention.
- How you like people to present ideas or potential solutions. Do they need to be fully formed? Or, are embryonic ideas ok? Do you want a written proposal or will a conversation be enough?
- How you schedule time. Do you schedule hour-long meetings that typically are only 50 minutes or do your meetings run long?
- How responsive people ought to be after hours or on weekends. Do you have different expectations during different times of the month when work flow changes? Do you only expect responses to messages marked important?
- How much initiative, risk or lack thereof are you comfortable with your team members taking.
- What you expect from team members in terms of participation in “optional” activities.
- Any communication style preferences. Do you want high-level data only most of the time? Do you want a lot of background information?
- Any quirks or habits, such as needing to have 15 minutes in your office every morning before interacting with people, that may impact how people or perceive you or interact with you.
In the absence of good information, people tend to make things up. Clear communication regarding what works for you and what doesn’t, can save you and your team grief, anxiety, and stress. Clear communication will also enhance engagement, productivity, teamwork, and the bottom line.
Pamela Jett, CSP is a leadership and communication expert based in Phoenix, AZ. Delivered with energy, humor, and a dash of neuroscience, her latest keynote presentations, The Relentlessly Positive Leader and The Relentlessly Positive Communicator, provide audiences of all types new, evidence-based tools to overcome adversity and challenges. Find out more at Relentlessly-Positive.com.