John Maynard Keyes wrote, “The hardest thing is not to get people to accept new ideas; it is to get them to forget the old ones.” Change, increased complexity, and chaos are constants in our knowledge and technology driven world. Yet, with all of this change, increased complexity, and resulting chaos influential leaders and their organizations continue to thrive. What distinguishes organizations that thrive in the current operational environment from organizations that fail? What distinguishes influential leaders from those who are not leading effectively? A common denominator among successful influential leaders is they have discovered and use their behaviour strengths to propel themselves and their organizations to peak performance.
Have you ever wondered why you choose to behave a certain way? Tom Rath and Barry Conchie have classified leadership strengths into four domains: (1) executing (driver), (2) influencing (persuader), (3) strategic thinking (analyzer), and (4) relationship building, (stabilizer) to help answer this question. As early as Hippocrates some 2500 years ago, philosophers, psychoanalysts, and now neuroscientists have identified and codified these four fundamental behaviour patterns. So what does each of these domains mean?
Suppose, for example, you identify with being an “analyzer”, or someone who is good at strategic thinking. People will experience your behaviour as cautious, careful, consistent, and diplomatic. It is important to recognize that each of us has a behaviour preference that can be represented into one of these four domains, but we do have the ability to flex outside of our preference into other domains if we first acknowledge our own behaviour preference and the preferences of others. You determine your behaviour preference by how you choose to see the world around you. Your strength domain increases your potential for success by bringing what you believe to be true from your inside into a congruent alignment to your daily outer world of life events. This thinking pattern shapes the way you function in the critical areas of performance, such as communication, visioning, processing information, thinking creatively, managing emotions, aligning of core value or beliefs, and relating to others. This thinking pattern also drives your behaviour relative to the six dimensions of performance: productivity, quality, initiative, problem solving, team work, and change/stress management.
Having awareness of your dominant behaviour pattern as well as the other behaviour strengths patterns of others is essential in leading your team members to higher levels of performance under times of stress, change, fatigue, increased complexity, and chaos. Our behaviour strengths connect us to who we are, what we believe, and how we choose to behave. In a sense, you can consider you behaviour pattern as your own personal log-on, password, and internal operating system similar to your computer. Your “internal operating system” is fundamentally responsible for your behaviour. Your behaviour is fundamentally responsible for your own level of performance achievement and for the level of performance achievement of your team.
Influential leaders discover their individual behaviour strengths and then use them when they are seeking optimal outcome in relationships and performance. Furthermore, if you are going to become an effective influential leader, you must understand the power of collaboration and connection so you can create a team composed of people who have strengths in all four behaviour domains. In this blend and balance of strengths, or by creating teams that manifest behaviour from all four “operating systems” (task focused or relational focused and assertive versus responsive) you will be able to propel those around you and your organization to a higher level of performance. A key ingredient for the optimal blend and balance of strengths is the skill of Positive Presence — a new and deliberate way of thinking and behaving that makes the connection between emotional energy and behaviour and creates the collaboration and connection needed to reach performance excellence.