At a cosmetics industry event in June, I asked a senior executive about her major challenges. Her reply was almost immediate, “It’s hard to always be the cheerleader!” Who among us has never been frustrated by a lack of ability to motivate or influence direct reports, customers, or members of other departments. As a boss or leader, it can threaten productivity, and as an individual, it can threaten our performance and advancement.
Whether we are managing down, up or across or outside of work, some elements of influence and motivation are indeed one size fits all. Yet many of us can benefit from a more tailored approach. We are best at motivating others when we know 1) Who we are and what strengths we bring to the table and 2) Who the others are and what is of greatest interest to them.
There are many styles of leadership, or “bundles of strengths.” To simplify this, I refer to the Social Styles tool, which I love. Most likely, people are drawn to you because you bring one of the following impacts:
- Driver: You create a vision that challenges the status quo
- Expressive: You get people on board with your charisma
- Amiable: You cultivate relationships that bring out the best in others
- Analytic: You lead by example, the workhorse style
Having the awareness of what others see in us, and embracing it, gives us power. Not power in a manipulative way, but in a way that contributes to the whole. What you do best is what inspires others about you and it’s what they look to you for.
Once you know your impact, turn towards understanding who the others are and what interests them. Stephen Covey calls it, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” Sheryl Sandberg writes, “The ability to listen is as important as the ability to speak.” Of the four styles I’ve listed above, which style are the people you are dealing with? Chances are if they are like you, you don’t need to work as hard. If they aren’t, you need to be flexible. And next, what are their values, goals and aspirations? If you can align the work with what they want to accomplish, or just let them feel heard, you will have motivated them.
Weaving these insights into the one size fits all rules of motivation — creating a shared vision, setting up milestones, celebrating small progress, and giving people the autonomy to do their thing — can be like turning on a mega-switch. In your career, your organization, or even your life.
If you would like more information on how to use the Social Styles towards personal and organizational results, please feel free to contact me. In the mean time, continue to enjoy the summer!