4 Strategies to Read People to Better Lead People

Wouldn’t it be easier if your staff learned how to best work with your personality rather than you trying to learn how to work with each of their personalities?

This thought has crossed my mind more than I’d like to admit.

When you lead a team, you lead a diverse group of personalities. You’ve probably got some introverts and extroverts. Processors and reactors. Organized and not so organized. Agreeable and challenging.

It’s a good thing to have a diversity of personalities. A diverse group helps ensure better decisions are made via varying perspectives. You never want diversity of culture or character, but some variety of personalities is helpful.

Helpful, yes, but not always easy. You’d probably get more done if everyone on your team had your personality. And get it done more quickly. And you’d certainly understand your team members more! But that isn’t what’s best for your organization, department, or team.

So how do you lead a team of diverse personalities?

The lazy leader expects (or demands) that each personality acquiesces to their nature. After all, it’s much simpler for ten people to learn the personality of one leader than the one leader attempting to learn ten personality types. That’s infinitely more difficult. Or at least ten times more difficult.

It’s also lazy.

Leaders get the best from their teams when they learn to work with each team member the way they best work. Leading people requires that we know people. That’s why we should master the art of reading people before leading people.

How can you do this better? I’m glad you asked.

Here are some strategies to better understand who is on your team and how you can better lean in their direction:

Learn About Their Personalities

I love utilizing personality profiling systems within teams. Not to reduce people to a collection of numbers, letters, and colors, but these systems provide insight into prototypical behaviors, motivations, and fears. Pick a profiling system and allow each team member to discover more about themselves. Then, review their findings with them, allowing each staff member to explain what they believe is true and what might not be as relevant. One more thing: Ask them how YOU, as a leader, can better understand how to work with THEM based on these findings.

Study Each Team Member

Whether in meetings or the hallway, pay attention to your team members. What brings them energy? What brings them down? Do they respond or react? The more you study each person, the better you’ll be able to lead them individually.

Write Down What You Learn

You probably already have notes for each staff member, but are your notes about them as a person or their work? Take personal notes in addition to your HR notes. For example, if you have a processor on your team, add this to your notes as a reminder to give them time before expecting strategic answers to questions. There will be too much to remember alone. The best leaders write notes about people as reminders of how they can be best led.

Support Their Dreams

As we learn more about each person on our team, we are in a position to support their unique hopes and dreams. One of the best things leaders do is serve those following them. Your team doesn’t exist for your hopes and dreams. As a leader, you’re most likely in a more powerful and influential position to support each person’s future. So do that.

Conclusion

It’s easier and lazier to expect everyone on your team to bend their personality to yours. The best leaders recognize their team is a collection of individuals who are best led individually.

One More Thing…

I spend most of my work-life coaching leaders and pastors on strategy. The most important part of a successful strategy is people who make it happen. If you’d like some help understanding how to best lead your team or your organization, let me know.

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