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I see my role as a CEO as similar to that of an orchestra conductor. It’s my job to set the strategic direction of the organization and then get my talented musicians — in my case, commercial real estate experts — in sync and on the same sheet of music. This starts with a deep understanding of my team’s individual foundations of thinking and reasoning and ends with a shared perspective among all my team members. To do this, I’ve used the three steps below.
1. Gain knowledge.
In order to understand your team, every leader should have a basic understanding of what processes and tools they will use to gain insights. Most of the tools and techniques are not referenced or taught much in educational programs, so leaders must do the self-study required. The vast majority of the books I read are on human performance, psychology and team dynamics. Of course, I keep abreast of key issues in my field; however, it’s my job, and the job of every leader, to set the operating conditions so every member of the team can thrive. To do that, one must be well versed in the topics listed above. Some of the key resources I’ve used are books by Shawn Achor, Daniel Goleman, Simon Sinek, Malcolm Gladwell, Gretchen Rubin and Dan Ariely.
You also should educate yourself on the various personality assessments that are available. It’s important to not only be aware of their existence but also to understand what type of insights they provide so you’re able to align their outputs with your approach to gain insight about your team. Here are some of the well-known assessments: the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, the DiSC profile, the Winslow Profile, the Enneagram and the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory.
2. Get to know your team.
Once you’ve established a foundation of knowledge and what assessments you’re going to use, it’s time to get to know your team. To do this, you first have to provide the opportunity for your team to get to know themselves. In my experience, most of us are terrible at assessing our own strengths and weaknesses, and trying to do so on our own often provides very little insight. At my company, we use two methods: books and assessments.
The three books we use are Start With Why by Simon Sinek, Succeeding When You’re Supposed to Fail by Rom Brafman and The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin. We use these books because they help give a holistic picture of our basic personalities. This understanding can help increase the relevance of the assessments because there are direct ties from some of the psychological traits listed in these three books to the personality types identified by the assessments.
The three assessments we use are the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, DiSC and the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory. We use these three because we feel that they are both well-known and they give us a well-rounded view of multiple personality traits and personal preferences. Be careful not to succumb to analysis paralysis, though. Pick two or three tests, and start assessing. If you don’t get the results you’re looking for, adjust from there.
3. Put it all together.
In his book Principles, Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Associates, references “baseball cards” that contain employee information. While they’re not nearly as sophisticated, we also create “baseball cards” for each of our employees. Our cards contain each employee’s bio, some company-specific stats, their “why” for working at the company and a couple of fun facts and pictures, but most importantly, they also contain each person’s Myers-Briggs type, their DiSC style and their MBA Inventory results.
I use these cards when crafting messages to my team members to ensure that I have maximum effectiveness in my communication. As leaders, we need to try to adapt our communication style to our team members as much as possible. I’m not saying be inauthentic — that won’t work. I’m saying to know your audience, and if you’re a very direct person, like me, then try to soften things a bit by asking “how” questions instead of “why” questions to avoid potentially putting them on the defensive. Yes, this takes a bit more work on your part, but that’s what we signed up for as leaders.
For my team and me, personally, executing these three steps has been pivotal to our success and growth as a company. Not understanding what makes your team perform or how to align with each other is like trying to fly a plane without knowing what the buttons in the cockpit do. You’ll press a lot of buttons and maybe get the engine started, but you’ll never get the plane off the ground because you don’t know what the underlying systems do and how they need to work together to take off.
December 27, 2018 at 08:00AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs