Group Dynamic

Alan Feirer's thoughts on leadership issues

Effective Leaders are Specific – a BRIEF case study reminder

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gripes

From yesterday, an email exchange that took a bit too long:

Them:

Dear Group Traveler,
Thank you for booking your Group with Southwest Airlines. The attached Travel Agreement contains your itinerary, instructions on how to complete your Group reservation, and Group policies….

Me:

If in the next week, I wanted to add 6 seats at this fare, would it be possible?

Them:

You may just give our folks at Group Reservations a call at 1-800-433-5368.
Thanks!

Me:

You’re right — but email works better for me right now.  Can you please check to see how many more seats on this itinerary are available at this fare?
Thanks much!

Them:

Hello,

Group reservations can only be quoted, booked or changed by calling Group Reservations at 1-800-433-5368.
We do not have access to fares and availability here in the accounting office.
Thanks :)

——–

Had I known from the return address or the document that the reservation info was coming from the accounting office sooner, we’d have all saved some time and inbox real estate.

I know it was brief, and small, and without hostility (I got a smiley from a corporate accounting office!) but how many of these examples pile up in a day or a week?

Doesn’t specific communication both solve, and anticipate, problems?

 

Written by Alan Feirer

January 15th, 2014 at 11:57 am

Being easy to work with – when your leader is a “Steadiness”

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IMG_0814

So, you’ve read your leader as an “S.” And, you want them to read this post.  Of course you do.

But – things go better when we work to adapt ourselves, rather than trying to force others to change.  In fact, our adaptation can inspire others to change. (Have you read Leadership and Self-Deception yet?)

Consider this as a goal: Be easy to work with.  More opportunities come along that way.  Something we’ve seen is that the world seems to work better for people who are punctual, deliver on time, respond to communication quickly, are pleasant, and exceed expectations.

So — how to do that with your “Steadiness” leader, who cares about support, collaboration, and stability? Match their style and their needs.

Consider keeping these things in mind:

-Allow pauses in your professional conversations, and even more pauses when you present information.

-Ensure that any changes you suggest allow for proper time to mentally prepare.

-Read between the lines; the “S” leader may sometimes avoid direct confrontation or issuing ultimatums, allowing you to make tough decisions on your own, rather than forcing them on you unneccessarily.

-Stay patient, and allow them to think out loud about the process.

-Allow for some small talk for connecting on the human level.

While it is probably true that they need to work on being more direct or firm or having a sense of urgency, it isn’t your task today to change and develop them.  But, you can give them room to do that work on their own when you stay easy to work with.

Everything DiSC Workplace Map

Written by Alan Feirer

January 8th, 2014 at 8:02 am

Winter Holiday Sensitivity

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No new post until January 8, but until then, please read this:

Winter Cheer?

Sting_winter_night

Written by Alan Feirer

December 18th, 2013 at 12:38 pm

DiSC in Action – Being Easy to Work With (when your leader is a “Dominant”)

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IMG_0814So, you’ve read your leader as a “D.” And, you want them to read last week’s post.  Of course you do.

But – things go better when we work to adapt ourselves, rather than trying to force others to change.  In fact, our adaptation can inspire others to change. (Have you read Leadership and Self-Deception yet?)

Consider this as a goal: Be easy to work with.  More opportunities come along that way.  Something we’ve seen is that the world seems to work better for people who are punctual, deliver on time, respond to communication quickly, are pleasant, and exceed expectations.

So — how to do that with your “Dominant” leader, who cares about results, action, and challenge? Match their style and their needs.

Consider keeping these things in mind:

-Keep emails short and necessary (and resist getting offended when they don’t respond with a “thanks” or “okay”).

-Meet and exceed all deadlines, and avoid excuses; work to solve problems/obstacles on your own.

-Join with them in seeking challenge – AND in challenging them, in a respectful way, when appropriate.  The mature “D” leader respects and appreciates directness, even when directed at them.

-When working, strip emotion and backstories from your conversations.  It can make them impatient.

While it is probably true that they need to work on saying “thanks” or listening to backstories, it isn’t your task today to change and develop them.  But, you can give them room to do that work on their own when you stay easy to work with.

Everything DiSC Workplace Map

Written by Alan Feirer

December 11th, 2013 at 9:12 am

DiSC in Action – Leading as a “D”

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Someone is possibly a “D” (Dominant) if they are seen as more fast-paced than calm, and more challenging than warm.

A “D” leader values results, challenge, and action; and might be described as commanding, resolute, or pioneering.

The “D” leader might get a lot of positive feedback on their results-oriented approach, especially if they experience success. Be careful though – avoid falling for…
The success deception: “Because I’m successful, this way clearly works for me, and I must keep it up, and get everyone else to do it my way.”  This deception keeps some from making needed changes.

If you are a “D” leader, and you want to get results, here’s what you need to keep in mind:
•Slow down (while some team members might appreciate swift action, there are times to back off to see the big picture).
•Listen more and warm up (the results-oriented approach might make people feel interrupted, disregarded, and even bullied, if you’re not careful).
•Some people work best in collaborate settings, and you might benefit from waiting to see what the team comes up with.

This seems like common sense, right?  Well, perhaps it is, but it’s not common practice, partly because of that success deception.

In future posts, we’ll answer the question “How do we deal with these people?”

Everything DiSC Leadership Map

Written by Alan Feirer

December 4th, 2013 at 8:41 am

Training in Action — the key to making it stick:

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Just a nugget for you this busy week, prompted by a client email I received.

The client wanted follow-up material, aids, activities, or any other way to make training stick.

While those things have their place, the absolute best way to make any training stick is this: use it. Here are modified excerpts (the message was specifically about DiSC, but the lessons can be generalized) from my response to the client email:

The most effective — and, conveniently, most efficient — way to keep training alive is this:

The manager/team leader refers to the training a lot. He/she actively looks for moments or occasions to point out the way the training informs a situation.
The leader starts by doing this mainly in a self-deprecating way, then gradually moving to using it in positive ways with the team, then incorporates it into feedback. The humble self-reference must continue throughout.

The only way to keep any training alive is to use it. And the leader sets the pattern.

If there is a manager or team lead out there who is saying “Doggone it, these people aren’t using that  stuff I had the trainer teach them.” AND that leader is not referring to it or setting expectations for it to be used in team performance communication, then additional resources will be of limited value. The trainer (could be you!) might be the one to hold the team leader accountable in this regard.

If your team ever complains that “This stuff isn’t sticking,” then ensure that it’s being talked about and incorporated, and that there are standards for this, and that those standards are regularly communicated.  It works.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Written by Alan Feirer

November 26th, 2013 at 9:13 am

DiSC in Action — leading as a “C”

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Information on reading the C (Conscientiousness) styles, and implications for leadership:

Following the steps of people-reading,  we learn that someone who tends to be “skeptical and challenging,” and “cautious and reflective,” likely fits the profile of a “C” style.

“C” leaders tend to be strong in the areas of Integrity, Self-Impovement planning, and clear Communication, traits found in The Group Dynamic Primer.

Teamwork values of the “C” leader: Accuracy, Challenge, and Support.

Leadership style descriptors of the “C” leader: Deliberate, Resolute, and/or Humble.

Unique tendencies of the “C” leader: brief communications, little small talk, separation of work and play.

Why “C” leaders can be very good: Things are done correctly rather than quickly; matter-of-fact communication makes things clear; time is rarely wasted because of non-relevant activities.

Drawbacks: Time may be wasted due to over-analysis or overly methodical processes.  Relationships may suffer or be slow to develop because of to-the-point communication.

One action suggestion for C leaders:

•Work to affirm members of your team, offering both positive and critical feedback, even when it seems obvious to you, or overly “affirming.” They like to know exactly where they stand.

These short, unmodified bullet points and this abrupt ending are characteristics of a “C” communication style.  We “i”s ought to learn this style – it can be very efficient, and even productive.

 

Everything DiSC Leadership Map

Written by Alan Feirer

November 21st, 2013 at 9:37 am

DiSC in action – leading as an “S,” and answering that silly question…

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When doing DiSC with a group of leaders, at some point someone asks “which is the best style for leaders?  Probably ‘D,’ right?”  Then, the “S” folks in the room get even more quiet, as concern rises that the answer may be “Yup. ‘D’s rule the world.”  Well, that’s not the answer.

It’s important to get this out of the way, and hammer it home:

The quality of leadership has nothing to do with the DiSC preference.  It has to do with the quality of the leadership.  If you’re familiar with The Group Dynamic Primer, you know that DiSC style doesn’t come up in discussions of leadership qualities.  Some styles may be more comfortable with various components of leadership – for example, an “influence” leader may find it easy to project the Positivity and Passion needed.

And the “S” leader?  The leader we read as  moderate-paced, accepting, and warm?  This leader prioritizes the values of Support, Collaboration, and Stability, and works in a leadership style we might call Inclusive, Humble, or Affirming.  If you are an “S,” and in a leadership role, take advantage of your sensitivity to inclusion, your affirming support, and your humility — these traits build credibility with the people around you, and they know what to expect.  So when bold action is required, it may be out of your comfort zone, but people will take notice, and buy in to your ideas, precisely because you don’t have a habit of moving fast or impulsively.

You might need to move out of your comfort zone to confront, present new ideas, or roll out a new project.  What you will find is a willingness to listen. So give it a shot.  Any thoughts from “Steadiness” leaders out there?

 

Everything DiSC Leadership Map

Written by Alan Feirer

November 13th, 2013 at 8:37 am

DiSC in Action – Leading as an “i”…

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MeIn these next four posts, we’ll look at the pros and cons of each basic DiSC preference from the standpoint of the leader.

It makes sense to start with the “i,” because this blog has already hinted at the issues faced by the “i” in action.

Someone is possibly an “i” (influencer) if they are seen as more fast-paced than cautious, and more accepting and warm than skeptical.

An “i” leader values enthusiasm, collaboration, and action; and might be described as energizing, affirming, or pioneering.

Now, while I have lots of “D” in me, I have mostly led as an “i.”  When I was a band director, I got a lot of feedback about my positivity and high energy.  Instead of realizing that this feedback was coming only from the people who appreciated it, I attributed all success to this way of doing things, and I ramped it up!  Bad move; I fell for…

The success deception:Because I’m successful, this way clearly works for me, and I must keep it up, and get everyone else to do it my way.”  This deception kept me from making the changes I needed to make for a long time — too long.

Now that I’m serving as a leader in other contexts, here’s what I need to keep in mind:

•Slow down (while my team might appreciate swift action, there are times I need to force myself to back off to see the big picture).

•Listen more and chill out (while my insights are undoubtably brilliant and exciting, the people around me might be annoyed or intimidated by my emotional intensity or unintended monopolization).

•Remember that not everyone shows their passion the same way I do.

This seems like common sense, right?  Well, perhaps it is, but it’s not common practice, partly because of that success deception.

Next week – Leading as an “S.”  Are you an “S?”  Send me your thoughts and comments, and perhaps I can include them next week.

 

Everything DiSC Leadership Map

 

Written by Alan Feirer

November 6th, 2013 at 8:01 am

Posted in Positivity,Stretching and Growing

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DiSC in Action – Email Manners and Mirroring…

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Screen shot 2011-10-07 at 8.07.51 AMSome past posts have talked about some good email practices:

Mirroring

Etiquette

Now, let’s put those concepts in line with DiSC as a tool for communicating.

In the first post, there were two different styles trying to connect, and by tailoring the email to match that, the communication was more effective.

Tip – when emailing friends, peers, or supervisors, mirror their DiSC style for effective communication.

The second post highlights the evolving norm in workplace correspondence.  Now, let’s put a DiSC slant on it:

Tip – start working toward adopting a “DC” approach to emails, and if you lead, start training your team to do the same.

The “D” helps keep things short and action-focused, and the “C” strips away the fluff.  And, this is the new norm, so using the approach is kind, polite, and savvy.  Teaching others to use it helps make communications much more efficient.

Do you have any other ways you apply DiSC to email communication?

Bonus tip — do your correspondents a favor by giving them a deadline to respond, or telling them there is no need.  (e.g.: “no need to reply” or “no reply needed” or “please let me know by 2pm” or “can you please respond by Friday noon?”)

Everything DiSC Workplace Map

Written by Alan Feirer

October 30th, 2013 at 12:19 pm

DiSC in Action – Why I Like It.

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Everything DiSC Workplace Map

 

Here’s one reason I love DiSC: you can put it to work immediately.

Consider an individual that you’re having a bit of difficulty connecting with – and you call it a “personality conflict.”

Ask this: Is the person more fast-paced and outspoken? or more cautious and reflective?
Then: Is this person more questioning and skeptical? or more accepting and warm?

The first question puts us more “top” or “bottom” — fast-paced equals “top” and cautious equals “bottom.”
The second puts us “right” or “left” – questioning is “left” and accepting is “right.”

If you know me personally, you will likely peg me as “fast-paced,” putting me on the “top.”
It’s tougher to decide if I’m more “questioning” or “warm;” that’s a testament to the fact that we are complex creatures.  Most will put me on the right.  My daughter — and some of my coaching clients — might put me on the left.

But let’s make this easy to start — if I’m “top” and “right,” then I’m an “i,” which stands for “influence,” which describes the way I like to work with others.  I value enthusiasm, and action, and collaboration.  Once you know that about me, then you have an idea of to approach me and work with me.

Armed with just that level of knowledge, my work with the “C” people (bottom left) improved – once I learned that the “Conscientious” style prioritizes accuracy over speed– which isn’t really my style — we got along better.  For details, read a post from three years ago: How DiSC Changed My Life.

The “D” stands for Dominance, and the “S” for Steadiness.  Just checking out their priorities — which are all good, and every team needs them — can help you decide how to modify your approach to get along.

I get lots of questions about this stuff, so I’m going to start sharing more.  Next week.  Until then, the “i” in me says “HAVE A GREAT DAY!!!”

Written by Alan Feirer

October 23rd, 2013 at 2:22 pm

What do you think?

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Back in March, I kicked off a format change for this blog, promising that I’d ask for your feedback after a while.

Well, it’s been a while.  I’ve gotten great feedback, and I’m encouraged that it seems like my readers would like me to keep up this short video format.

But, I’m a “high I” (that’s DiSC-speak), so I tend to look at personal feedback through rose-colored glasses.

What ought be next?  A return to written, or a continuation of video?

That go-to phrase:

I don’t know, what do you think?

Please let me know through your messages or comments…

And thanks for your support, especially those who have been reading/following since December of 2009!

Written by Alan Feirer

October 16th, 2013 at 9:51 am