Your team is made up of hard-working, intelligent people. But that’s where the similarities end. Stan needs to think out loud, so he regularly gathers teammates to brainstorm ideas. Ivana prefers to do her thinking alone in a quiet room. When Jamal makes decisions, he prefers to “go with his gut.” Pat uses logical decision-making based on a careful review of all of the facts. Tara delegates whenever she can, and Carlos likes to manage all aspects of a project himself.
Is this diversity of styles a recipe for disaster? Not necessarily. As the leader of this team, you can’t just ignore differences in personality, temperament or style. What do you do when it seems that everyone approaches work differently?
Realize that you’re lucky. You have the raw materials for amazing innovation and results. Rather than approaching this mixed bag as a deficit, recognize its potential.
Figure out who’s what. There are some great assessments out there (MBTI and DISC, for example) that will help you discover the styles and working preferences of your people. A well-facilitated discussion will aid team members in understanding the nuances of their own style and learn how to build on these inherent strengths.
Help them work well together. Once each person understands his own characteristics, it’s important to figure out how best to work as a team – how you will optimize communication, planning and execution. This is where you start to reap the benefits of this cornucopia of styles.
Customize your leadership. Your diverse team requires more than a one-size-fits-all approach. Have an open discussion about what each person needs from you to be successful. While you probably can’t tailor your approach to fully meet everyone’s expectations, you can align on the important aspects – roles, goals, how you will communicate and how problems will be addressed.
A team composed of strong and different personalities can seem like more of a curse than a blessing. Songwriter Ani Difranco said, I know there is strength in the differences between us. I know there is comfort where we overlap. It may be more comfortable to surround ourselves with people who are like ourselves. However, here’s far more potential in bringing out the best in people who are very different from each other.
Have a question or want some input from Humanergy about this topic? Contact us and we’ll get right back to you!