If you have ever applied for a position as a team lead, manager, department head or any other leadership role, you have likely heard the following question: what is your leadership style?
I would argue an equally important question is: what is your communication style?
After all, when you are in charge of leading – whether that means leading a project, one person or an entire team or division – you need to be able to effectively describe what tasks your team members are being charged with and support them in achieving results.
SHRM reported a study that stated miscommunication costs companies of 100 employees an average of $420,000 per year. For very large organizations of 100,000 employees, inadequate communication resulted in losses of $62.4 million per year.
No matter the size of your organization, it’s important for you to effectively communicate in order for your team, division and company to be productive and successful.
Consider this question – how would you define your communication style?
It may or may not surprise you that much of your natural communication style can be explained by your behavioral and thinking preferences.
As an example, let’s look at my Emergenetics Profile. I have Analytical and Conceptual thinking preferences with second-third Expressiveness, second-third Assertiveness and first-third Flexibility.
My Profile suggests that I like the big picture. I’m a logical problem solver, who is interested in understanding the return on investment of a project and how it contributes to our overall goals and vision. Depending on the situation, I may be talkative or quiet. I may be driving or peacekeeping. And, I generally prefer to stay focused.
Because of my interest in the big picture, my natural inclination is not necessarily to cover details; however, my team may need more information to understand their roles and be motivated.
Moreover, when I’m communicating, I may hold firm to a direction and push forward while some of my staff might want to consider other strategies.
As a leader, it’s important to remember that how I prefer to communicate and the information that I am drawn to is not always what is needed by my team. In these cases, I may need to adapt.
At Emergenetics®, we call this flexing, and it is a skill that can be developed over time – just like any other leadership skill. How do you get proficient with flexing?
1. Gain self-awareness.
The first step is to identify what communication styles you prefer. Using a tool like the Emergenetics Profile can be especially illuminating so that you understand your personal thinking and behavioral preferences. With this information, you can identify patterns within your own communications. For example, if you are first-third Expressive, you may send an email to deliver news, while those in the third-third may walk right into a person’s office to discuss the matter face-to-face.
When you uncover these patterns, you can begin to understand your natural style, identify what things you may overlook and consider the impact you may have on people who think and behave differently from you.
2. Learn about the needs of others.
Start by understanding the needs of your team. For example, I have one team member who has Structural and Social preferences – the two thinking Attributes that I do not have a preference in. Because I know that she is concerned about the particulars of a project as well as who will be impacted, I try to be thorough in my communication to ensure that she gets the information she needs. That way, she can take action – and interest – in the project.
Using assessments like the Emergenetics Profile across your organization can be especially helpful, and it gives you the ability to connect on the Emergenetics+ app. When you connect through the app, you get customized communication tips based on the Profiles of your colleagues. When you may not remember a teammate’s preferences, this tool is very powerful.
If you do not currently use assessments like the Emergenetics Profile, ask your staff the following questions to understand their communication needs:
- What sort of information do you need to feel confident to move forward with a project?
- What motivates you to work on a project?
While your staff may not be able to fully explain what they need, they will give you good ideas that you can use to prepare for future conversations.
3. Use the Emergenetics template.
Whenever we launch a major initiative, we use the Emergenetics Profile as a template to guide us. This process is also highly effective for communication. When you are about to deliver information, launch a project or lead a team meeting, consider every Attribute.
Using the Profile, you can look at each thinking and behavioral Attribute to ensure that you are providing information that will appeal to every preference. Doing so will help you deliver more complete communication to your staff.
When you flex to communicate based on the needs of your team members, you will be much more effective in your leadership as well as minimize miscommunication and confusion.
So, the next time you are asked about your leadership style, I encourage you to consider how you support the communication needs of all of your team members. From my Analytical/Conceptual thinking preferences, I can tell you, you won’t be disappointed with the return on investment (ROI) when you do!
Interested in strengthening your organization’s communication skills? Talk to our team to learn how we can help.