There was once a sheep farmer who had several sheep on his farm. He took good care of them.
The farmer was not only a good shepherd, he was also a good businessman.
He invented new products from his sheep’s wool and milk. His farm eventually grew and he now has many more sheep.
In the new expanded farm, the farmer noticed that he was having trouble getting his sheep to move in the same direction.
He had to work extra hard to achieve the same effect he had when he had fewer sheep.
Some sheep were not getting along well with other sheep. The sense of unhappiness among the sheep was also palpable.
Worried, he hired a consultant to help.
The farmer’s story is a parable about leadership issues. These issues of unhappiness, differences among co-workers and difficulties in communication plague the best of leaders.
While at the cognitive level most leaders do a good job in developing strategies and executing and monitoring them, many seem to have trouble leading at the social emotional level.
Leaders often have to deal with non-business issues as much as business issues.
Non-business issues such as team cohesion, morale, perception of unfairness and mistrust beset many leaders.
Connecting with the team
One way of leading at the social emotional level is to connect with the team members according to their personality type.
According to David Koutsoukis and Greg Barnes, the founders of Click! Colours — a personality profiling tool which is gaining popularity here — there are four broad personality types:
These people are very logical in their thinking and decision-making. They like using numbers and their reasoning skills.
This personality type comprises people who are risk-adverse and are rule keepers. They like certainty and orderliness and are mindful of being on time and ending on time.
These people believe in teamwork and having fun while they work together.
They are sensitive to the needs of their team members and exhibit a high level of care and concern for their people. They feel for others and they tend to speak up for the rights of others who may not be so outspoken.
Know people’s dominant traits
All of us have these four personality traits. However, among the four, we tend to exhibit one dominant trait.
When you are leading a team, it is good to know the dominant traits of the people you are working with.
Speaking the same “language” of that trait aids communication and addresses the particular concerns of that person.
In major change management processes, it is critical to consider all four personality traits and their needs.
For example, if you are implementing a corporate structure change, these four traits can help guide you in decision-making and crafting the change management stages.
If you are a leader who is dominantly analytical, it might be easy and natural for you to explain the logic behind the change, supported by numbers and reason.
However, you should also address those who like certainty and order by giving a clear schedule of the implementation and how the new rules that govern the changes will be implemented.
To connect with people who like to do things together and have a little fun, you might want to announce the changes in a face-to-face meeting rather than through e-mails.
In these meetings you might incorporate small group discussions or ask for suggestions in some of the areas of the implementation so that these people can feel a sense of participation.
Finally, be sensitive to the feelings of team members and address these concerns. Ensure fairness and equity in the decisions.
Returning to the problem of the farmer, the consultant told him about the four personality types.
The farmer changed the way he led his farm and everyone enjoyed a new era of growth and prosperity.
Article by Dr Henry Toi, the author of several books. He also writes regularly for corporate magazines. He was trained and mentored by Prof Tony Buzan and other respected names in the field of brain development, thinking and multiple intelligences.