Thinker vs. Feeler: How People’s Oughts & Shoulds Affect Performance

Thinkers vs. Feelers: Population Distribution

While every other preference set comprises a 50/50 ratio of men/women, the Thinker vs. Feeler dynamic is the only preference with a gender skew. In this case, 70% of women have a right-handed preference of Feeling versus 70% of men who have a right-handed preference for Thinking. Due to the disproportionate ratios, this preference necessitates greater considerations for cultural “oughts and shoulds” around the gender experience and expectations we all face.

Female Thinkers

If you are a female with a dominant Thinker preference, you have probably grown up feeling that you’re not quite exactly what all the other girls and ladies want you to be. You may have felt like a bit of an outsider, or wondered why you seemed to think, feel, and act differently from other women. As a result, many women with a right-handed Thinker preference tend to report having fewer female friendships, while their male friendships usually make up a greater portion of those in their circle of friends. They also tend to prioritize wanting to be measured against their task, achievement, or career accomplishments rather than their friendships, popularity, identity, or other standards that are often more important to Feelers. One of the most difficult moments for many Thinker woman comes when thinking about children.

In some ways, having children can represent the ultimate form of dying for most Thinker females, because everything within the “dream” says having children should be the ultimate fulfillment of your relational feeling. The idea that you should feel totally overwhelmed by a giddy sense of joyful, selfless desire to nurture this young life, even if it means never going back to work, is both terrifying and nauseating to the female Thinker. Every Thinker woman contemplating this possibility wonders, “Do I really want/need kids? If so, how long do we have to do this for?” A great majority of you Thinker women out there are probably trying to reassure people: “I’m not just some cold-hearted ruthless killer of the business world, but honestly, if I don’t get back to work sooner rather than later and get my brain working again, I’m going to lose it.” 

Consequently, many Thinker females take a more competitive approach to children, saying “Right, if I’ve got to do this baby thing, I’m going to make it a task and a competition. How do I produce the best children, the most perfect children, and how do I make sure that they achieve in every way?” In fact, Thinkers as a whole, not just women or men specifically, often have to be careful not to project too much of their own ambitions, desires, and competitiveness onto their children. Since Thinkers tend to view their children as an extension of themselves, they can easily wander down the path of trying to dictate their child’s every move or otherwise mold them in their exact image. Everything tends to come down to, “If this is our task, how do I win?” 

Expectations such as the ones for women about children or assertiveness are part of what makes it so difficult for men and women in the minority of their preference set ratios to feel okay with being themselves. For women, being nurturing and kind is expected in the workplace, but too much of that makes you “weak” or “soft-spoken” and “not strong enough” for leadership; but on the other hand, leaning too much into your natural Thinker preference relegates you to being a “hard ass” who is “too serious” and “unlikable” to be a good leader. It’s not a fair conundrum in any sense, but it remains the current reality and represents a much-needed area of improvement.

Male Feelers

Guys, those of you with a right-handed Feeler preference make up the 30% of men who tend to prioritize relationship and relational harmony when making decisions. Though you may often find yourself in the minority among your male friends, the Feeler’s inherent emotional intelligence generates a true authenticity that helps you more easily build depth relationships. Most male feelers have grown up being forced to learn to use their other hand (Thinker preference) because the expectation is that you better be tough, you better compete, and you better win. America is the most competitive culture in the world, and if you don’t fight, you won’t eat, so there becomes a strong social expectation that tends to shame men who are naturally right-handed Feelers, while also conditioning them to only embrace the Thinker “ideal.” As a man, particularly one in America, if you’re not sure whether you’re a Thinker or Feeler, you’re much more likely to be a right-handed Feeler who’s learned by culture how to use the other hand.

Since most thinkers find themselves in an organizational or social culture that’s very competitive, they usually receive a high degree of affirmation for being who they are,  which creates less ambiguity for them. It’s not universally true, but it’s very often true. If I asked you, “How emotionally intelligent are you?” you would probably have already ruled out the average Thinker of your age. Growing up, young male Thinkers drive to win, compete, and fight, often trying to show off for peers and girls in classic displays of macho culture. The Feeler males, however, are usually more naturally gifted at building strong relationships due to their attention to emotionally intelligent behavior. Their default sensitivity and consideration engenders them to others – especially the more emotionally intelligent women in their lives – as kind, sincere, and more desirable for friendship when it comes to the opposite sex. 

In the same way that the Thinker females often maintain a majority of male friends, many of the Feeler men tend to be more popular within the wider circle of women.

So What?

So, why does all of this matter? 

Well, in addition to the “ought and should” burdens placed on Thinkers and Feelers who go against the cultural norm, there are a number of other expectations that impact our ability as human beings to accept and lean into our natural preferences and skills. Whether they are the result of our upbringing and societal norms, or the pressures of our workplace or job requirements, these expectations repress an individual’s ability to bring their best. Sometimes the weight of these presumptions suffocate the deeper yearnings or motivations that bring life and energy to someone, thereby reducing their effectiveness, stamina, and productivity. Other times they cause people to overreact, such as when a male Feeler overcompensates for the social or workplace expectations by becoming too assertive and critical, ultimately becoming a dominating leader. Or a female Thinker feeling like she must rein in her opinions and tip-toe around colleagues so as not to be perceived as cold and rude.

In the end, it’s important to understand the expectations placed upon our colleagues, friends, and employees in order to be intentional about creating an environment where they can be their best selves. If we want to get the best work from our people and create the healthiest culture, we need to give them permission to be who they are – to extend an invitation that encourages them to flex their natural skills and abilities, rather than being ashamed of them.  

This was originally posted by GiANT Worldwide and I wanted to share it here as well. If you’re interested in learning more about how your personality type affects your leadership, I’m happy to schedule a meeting to discuss. Just click the contact button and let me know!

Source: GiANT

Transforming Team Communication Case Study: Diagnosis (Part 3)

The Pipeline Problem

In the previous post for our Jayne’s Construction case study series, we looked into some of the pain points that alerted Jayne’s leadership to the need for a closer investigation of organizational health. With multiple offices closing and a severely restricted leadership pipeline, the company realized it’s issues stemmed not from technical or business model problems; instead, the culprit was a people problem. Specifically, in the top level leaders’ ability to attract, cultivate, and retain quality leaders, and to do so at a rate that would enable them to capitalize on growth opportunities. The organization’s lack of an intentional, replicable leadership development process meant good leaders left, potential leaders remained underdeveloped, and the company’s overall leadership capacity remained insufficient to meet business demands.

Outside Help: Why Maria?

Fortunately, the leadership team humbly took responsibility for their failures and knowledge gaps. It was the very admission that the expertise and skills gaps existed that convinced the CEO (Shad James) and his team to seek outside experts who could help them better understand and address their needs. That’s when Maria Guy came into the picture as GiANT Worldwide Partner with decades of experience in Jayne’s’ specific industry. As both an expert in leadership development and a highly knowledgeable former construction executive, Maria proved a perfect fit. Asking for help or admitting you don’t know something is the first step toward self-awareness. Had Jayne’s forged stubbornly ahead, refusing to accept responsibility or insisting they could figure out how to fix their leadership pipeline on their own, but without the skills and experience to back it up, the problem would have only worsened. But that’s not what happened – humility and intentionality propelled Jayne’s to a solution.

Maria helped Jayne’s understand the issues they had identified on a deeper level. For example, Shad had a vision for how his people could reach success, but he didn’t know how to communicate that vision clearly. Maria taught him how to build the bridge to that vision for his people which resulted in more effective leadership and a re-energized team who could finally see the path to success.  

In building her prescription for overhauling Jayne’s development process, she also drilled down to identify 5 additional issues causing the poor performance and lack of leadership:

  1. Leaders were always In a hurry. “Scurrying” (i.e. busy, erratic activity vs. focused hustle) leads to accidental, reactionary leadership that lacks intentionality. That means no thought-out process of self-awareness or apprenticeship systems to raise up the next wave of quality leaders.
  2. Frequent personnel changes. Due to fragmented culture and communication, employee development, buy-in, and retention suffered. Consequently, steady turnover, especially in potential leaders, contributed to disruptions in the next problem area…
  3. Deviation from the plan. Lack of consistent communication and an inability to cast a clear, compelling vision to others in the organization produced wavering discipline and lackluster commitment to the plan.
  4. Communication breakdown. The lack of intentional leadership application and development, along with the absence of a consistent culture of communication, leads to mistakes, poor conflict resolution, and missed business opportunities.
  5. Lack of/improper use of tools/equipment. This is a training issue, but given all the other cracks in the development process, such problems become natural by-products.

Transformation Strategy: Overview

“Building the bench” of capable leaders requires a highly intentional process of leader development. Jayne’s had always developed strong leaders – it has been a highly successful company for three-quarters of a century. However, the development process was more accidental, less focused, and took too long to reliably keep the leadership pipeline full of capable, ready-to-go leaders who could keep up with the demands of the company’s rapid expansion.

That’s where Maria was able to step in with GiANT’s much-needed system of intentional development: Know. Lead. Multiply.

  • Know: First, leaders must engage in a process of self-awareness, seeking first to know themselves and their own tendencies better before they can lead themselves more effectively.
  • Lead: Once you gain a deeper understanding of yourself and the way others operate, you can apply your knowledge to the situations, relationships, and teams that matter to you and challenge you on a daily basis. Application spurs transformation.
  • Multiply: The key to lasting, wide-reaching transformation is the ability to multiply your own skills and leadership capacity into the people who will take your place. This requires the process of intentional, dedicated apprenticeship, and that’s why GiANT’s simple, but powerful system of visual tools and lenses are so crucial – they are easily transmitted across and down the organization.

The Power of an Intentional Ecosystem

Armed with the right tool belt and strategy, Maria was able to provide Jayne’s with a carefully designed ecosystem of tools, processes, and methods by which to expand and speed up the process of leader development. It also created greater consistency and higher quality in the leaders Jayne’s began to cultivate. A key part of the program included introducing a common leadership language that could help employees and leaders to understand themselves, while also equipping the entire organization to share their growth experiences together for the sake of cultural and leadership transformation.

Shared experience and language forms an important backbone for the GiANT system in which personal growth does not happen individually, or in a vacuum. The experience is company-wide. It makes a difference when the tools, language, systems, and processes are calibrated with just the right balance of simplicity and depth to be both deeply personal as well as easily scalable and shareable with the rest of the organization. With that combination, you don’t have just one person learning and growing on their own, but several people on a team working it out together, holding each other accountable, and using the language to help identify, process, and address live leadership and relational issues as they arise. In short, it helps get everyone on the same page, making it easier for the entire group to buy into the same ideals and standards for leadership and communication.  The end result of such a process is a healthier, more energized, and more effective company.

Hitting Home

Does a unified culture and development ecosystem sound interesting to anyone out there reading?

Do you perhaps recognize similar gaps in your own leadership, or in the communication and cultural life of your organization?

Think about the 5 issues Maria identified. 

Do any of them strike a cord too close to home? 

Do you wish you felt like the people you lead (or the bosses who lead you) weren’t speaking a totally different language with regards to communicating expectations, growth, responsibility, or conflict resolution?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, we would love for you to continue your journey with us in the next blog post! In part 4, we’ll drill down into some of the concrete application strategies and tools Maria used to help Jayne’s transform its organization. I think you’ll find a few nuggets of inspiration and immediately applicable concepts you can begin to apply in your life!

This was originally posted by GiANT Worldwide and I wanted to share it here as well. If you’re interested in learning more about how GiANT can help you create a comprehensive leadership development pipeline, I’m happy to schedule a meeting to discuss. Just click the contact button and let me know!

Source: GiANT

Having Trouble Connecting with Others?

Your ability to connect with others directly impacts your level of influence.


But when you look around, disconnection happens all the time:

  • The busy CEO who never has time for his or her family.
  • The colleague you try to get to know, but with whom you can never seem to break past the surface-level conversations.
  • Your friend who only seems to care about talking about his or her own interests.

Disconnection is everywhere, and it’s undermining our influence.

What causes us to disconnect? And, more importantly, where are you disconnecting?

Every person you’ll ever meet wants two things:

        1. To be successful in one way or another, whether we define success around personal, professional, spiritual, or other terms; and

        2. To build deep and meaningful relationships with others.

Ultimately, we all want to do “good work” that makes a difference, and we all want to connect with others. In short, we want community.

These competing desires often cause a tension we call “work-life balance.” Most people talk about work-life balance as a “time” issue, but in reality, it’s actually more of a mindset and priority problem than anything to do with the scarcity of our time.

Personal and professional growth and development can be broken down into 3 areas:

  1. IQ – Intelligence and Hard Skills
  2. PQ – Personality Wiring and Self-Awareness
  3. EQ – Emotional Intelligence and Relational Connectivity

The Nature of Influence

Now, think back to the person who has had the greatest impact and influence on your life.

What made them influential? Was it because they were extremely smart and possessed a high IQ? Maybe. 

Was it because they knew their personality type well and took Myers-Briggs or DISC to learn how to use it effectively? Potentially.

We’ve asked this question to thousands of leaders around the world, and by far the #1 most common answer is this:

The most influential people in your life are the people who are able to connect with you best.

The Power of Connection

It’s the best sports coach you ever had. It’s the person who pushed you harder than anyone else, but who you always knew he was always “for” you, rather than against you or just in it for themselves. It’s your friend who takes the time to listen and ask questions to better understand what you’re going through. It’s the boss at work who leads with both support and challenge, and empowers you to thrive.

Connectivity is important, and yet, it’s probably one of the most urgent areas of need for most of us adults. We simply become “too busy” to invest in the soft skills of self-awareness and relational connectivity.

For those looking to find an answer to the question of connection, we have created a concept we call the “5 Gears.” It’s all about learning how to be both “present” and “productive” when it seems like there is never enough time.

The 5 Gears is a connectivity tool that uses the analogy of a manual stick shift to condition our minds and our tendencies for better, smoother relational connections. 

Throughout our day, certain moments call for different gears. Each gear is important and should be used appropriately. Unfortunately, the vast majority of us only use 2 or 3 gears, so we miss out on the value inherent in the others. This is where the issues of “work-life balance” arise in their most glaring form.

When we’re able to shift our mindset between focus mode, multi-tasking, connecting with others, recharging, and more, we actually begin to experience meaningful growth in our influence and productivity.

Going Deeper

If this sounds like something you want to learn more about, check out our book “5 Gears: How to be Present and Productive When There Is Never Enough Time,” or hop over to our blog posts on the subject if you’re pressed for time and want the abridged introduction.

This was originally posted by GiANT Worldwide and I wanted to share it here as well. If you’re interested in learning more about how your connectivity affects your influence and leadership, I’m happy to schedule a meeting to discuss. Just click the contact button and let me know!

Source: GiANT

T vs. F: “Feeling the Love” at Work

Ever wonder why some people just never seem to feel appreciated, despite all your efforts to show them your thoughts to the contrary? Or maybe you yourself keep questioning why your boss continues to throw meaningless “incentives” at you, when what you really want doesn’t seem all that much to ask for, but continues to elude you anyway?

If any of these scenarios resonate with you, or even if you’re just curious about how you and others can best reward and feel appreciated by others, then this post is for you! Let’s dive in, shall we?

How Do You Feel Appreciated?

First of all, take a moment to think about how you tend to feel most appreciated by your boss, family, friends, or significant other. Is it through reward and incentive – whether financial, prize-oriented, or otherwise? Or do you prefer a personal touch; something custom, sincere, and intimately affirming? Consider whether you feel more valued when someone backs up their assessment of your value with money or other tangible displays, or whether simple, genuine expressions of gratitude and appreciation for who you are as an individual are more meaningful.

When it comes to the “T vs. F” dichotomy, Thinkers tend to value competency above everything else, so being perceived as incompetent can bring on a sense of internal death for every Thinker. The very last thing Feelers want to be known for, however, is someone who lacks compassion. Being considered a hard-nosed, ruthless “killer” who’s only out for themselves is the thing they’ll find hardest to deal with. So, without further ado, let’s dive into a closer look at the T vs. F dynamic to find out how you most prefer to “feel the love” at work. 

How Feelers Want to Be Appreciated

If you believe you might be a Feeler, here are a few things to keep in mind that probably hold true for you in terms of what makes you feel most valued and appreciated. Check out the following statements to see if they resonate with you:

  1. There’s usually, underneath it all, one fundamental necessity, and that is being appreciated for just being me. I like to be valued and recognized for being a human being more so than for the tasks that I do for my boss.
  2. If you are my boss, and you really want to show me that you value me, then the execution is quite simple: just tell me. Tell me regularly, sincerely, and directly. Money is nice, but it’s ultimately impersonal and not nearly as motivating as having a boss who takes the time to express the deeper, more human ways I contribute to the team. If I have a boss like that, I’ll follow them anywhere.
  3. If you really want to cement my loyalty to you and guarantee that I know how much you value me, then writing me a card something like this would seal the deal:  “Brenda/Joe, I love who you are. I love the fact that every day, you remind me there are things far more important than winning or the bottom line. I love the way you care for the people in this community. I love the way you represent the values of who we are as an organization, and that you help me be a better person every day. I’ll always be grateful for the contribution you bring in shaping the culture within our company, as well as in the wider world. Thank you for being you, and don’t ever change. Sincerely, Amy/Steve.”

Again, tangible financial rewards, public recognition, and other means of showing appreciation are certainly valued by Feelers as well. What we’re getting to, however, is determining which expressions of gratitude elicit the most primal, visceral feeling of value inside the Feeler or Thinker. For the Feeler, that unequivocally begins with personal affirmation delivered in a heartfelt manner and in such a way that the recipient believes it to be genuine. One important note to remember, however, is that with Feelers, it’s hard to slip past their authenticity radar. So if they feel you are just trying to “butter them up” with empty praises, they will likely sniff out the deception be driven in the opposite direction.

When Feelers don’t feel valued and recognized for being who they are first, then they feel like they’re just part of the machine, a cog in the wheel that is simply forced to work as a unit of production, indistinct and insignificant in its individual worth. And a Feeler being made to feel that way at work will ultimately suffer from a sense of being deeply violated on some level – taken for granted, abused, and manipulated. All those things are rooted in incredibly deep, emotional responses to a Feeler’s sense of self-worth.

How Thinkers Want to Be Appreciated

Similarly, if you believe you might be a Thinker, there are probably a few things that generally hold true for you when it comes to feeling valued and appreciated. Check out the following statements to see if they resonate with you:

  1. First of all, I like to be valued and recognized for getting the job done, being reliable under pressure, and delivering. After all, what else would tangibly merit confidence in my performance? 
  2. If you are my boss, and you really want to show me that you value me for what I bring to the team, then there are three things that tell me more convincingly than the rest: more money, public recognition of how good I am at what I do, and greater opportunity to stretch my leadership gifting and allow me to grow my competencies. 
  3. If you don’t truly understand how good I am, what I bring to the table – and if you’re not prepared to value and recognize it, then fine. I’ll go somewhere else where they will and not look back.

For the Thinker, the most direct, disrespectful slap in the face is to not be compensated or officially recognized in accordance with their value. Whereas Feelers view the personal, heartfelt confessions of appreciation as the validation of monetary or title-based rewards, Thinkers view the more tangible, merit-based incentives as the fundamental validation of praise and relational thanks. In the end, all the nice compliments and endless praises will boost their ego for sure, but if you don’t put your money where your mouth is, then you might as well be lying. At least that’s how a Thinker will typically see it. 

As a boss, if you fail to tie financial reward, opportunities for leadership, or timely promotions to the mix of incentives for a Thinker, they’ll have no problem abandoning ship to go work for someone who will. Those with an overwhelmingly competitive, competence-driven nature have little patience for a place that has nothing to offer them but nice words and hand-holding. 

Just Remember…

Never forget that we all need a little bit of both forms of encouragement. No one is entirely without a heart that needs tending, nor are they indifferent to the desire for fair, meaningful compensation. The issue at play here simply focuses on the fundamental drivers and expressions of appreciation that tap into the most visceral feelings of worth for Thinkers and Feelers. It’s always helpful to begin at the core and then work our way outwards. And at the core of Thinkers and Feelers, you’ll find a different primal motivation when it comes to incentive, reward, and appreciation. So take the time to get to know those you lead, reflect on the things that make them tick, and then find a way to regularly show them how much you value their presence on your team. Because if they have nothing else in common, you can be sure that Thinkers and Feelers alike will always look elsewhere if they don’t get the kind of love they need.

This was originally posted by GiANT Worldwide and I wanted to share it here as well. If you’re interested in learning more about how your personality type affects your leadership, I’m happy to schedule a meeting to discuss. Just click the contact button and let me know!

Source: GiANT

Why Your Leadership Journey Matters

What makes you who you are today? 

What is it about your internal makeup and wiring, the collection of your experiences and mentors, that have brought you to this point in life?

Acknowledging Your Journey

We all have things in our past that have hammered and shaped us into the person we are in this moment. You are complex and layered, so take a minute to reflect deeper on the personal journey that has brought you here:

One question we rarely thing to ask is, “What are the things that have caused you to stop being you?” Such a question can prove uncomfortable and difficult, but you owe it to yourself to parse out the components of your life, separating what is part of your true self from the influences that have led you astray. Was it a comment made about you? Or maybe it was the disapproval of someone significant in your life that has caused you to settle into someone you never thought you would be?

Alternatively, be sure to investigate to the positive side of things as well. Did a coach or a parent help to shape you by giving you a practical roadmap to become the leader/person you wanted to become? Did someone important to you give you a code of ethics, a series of impactful life lessons, or a challenge to pursue something specific in your life?

Understanding Your Journey

The point of all these questions is that a leader’s journey is a crucial process to observe. If you want to know how a leader will act, or predict the decisions they will make, you need only look backwards to find the people, circumstances, and decisions that groomed them in the past to be who they are in the present. 

Our present leadership tendencies are the culmination of past experiences and apprenticeship, mixed with our personality and nature. Whoever you allow to pour into you, to teach you – they are the ones you will emulate. You will raise yourself up in their image with the unique twist of your own personality and style imprinted upon that version of yourself.

But regardless of who you choose to be, and whomever you allow to mold you, always remember that leaders define culture. The culture you choose to build will inevitably cultivate leaders of the same quality and tendencies. Poor leaders tend to have had either little positive influence in their lives, or bad influences as their guideposts, and simply commit the same sins against others that they themselves experienced.

Why Your Leadership Journey Matters

This cycle of influence and cultivation is why your journey matters so much. It’s why you must learn to understand the influences, mentors, experiences, and choices that have shaped who you are today. For if you are a leader, then as you go, so go the multitudes of people you lead. Here a few pieces of advice to help you take ownership of your journey and wield it to become the leader you want to be:

  • Do what it takes to know yourself well.
  • Review your past, especially the positive and negative influences in your life.
  • Ask yourself this question: “How have I passed on the negative influences of my life into the lives of others?” Then ask the question again, but from a positive perspective.
  • Respond to any that you have negatively affected with proper remorse. Set it right.
  • Respond to your positive influence by putting whatever actions have resulted in that influence on your “keep doing” list. Keep track of what works and what doesn’t.

As you go, so do others.

Where to Go from Here

The fact we must all come to terms with is that we are who we are. And while we can’t change our yesterdays, we can absolutely affect tomorrow, and quite possibly today, if only we take ownership of our journey. 

When you look back on your leadership journey, realize that it affects more than you. Becoming a more secure, confident, and humble leader is not just about you becoming a better person or crafting the live you want for yourself, you influence far too many people throughout your life to make it solely about you. 

So know yourself, surround yourself with good influences, and become a liberating leader, but not only for you own sake – become that person so that you may also make level the path for those who come behind you.

This was originally posted by GiANT Worldwide and I wanted to share it here as well. If you’re interested in learning more about how your leadership journey affects your leadership today, I’m happy to schedule a meeting to discuss. Just click the contact button and let me know!

Source: GiANT

Applying 5 Voices: Disconnections in Leadership

As a leader, one of the most difficult truths you’ll have to face will be the fact that it’s hard to understand what it’s like to be on the other side of you and your leadership tendencies. That’s natural, of course, because we’re all only human. However, for those leaders who don’t take the time to understand how they lead or what effect their tendencies have on others, especially those on people who display tendencies differ from their own, then the environment becomes ripe for conflict, miscommunication, mistaken assumptions, and unhealthy culture.

That’s where the 5 Voices system comes into play. It helps you understand your voice order so that you can discover how you tend to navigate the world and communicate with others. Each voice comes with it’s own set of tendencies around processing information, making decisions, and communicating with those around you. Armed with the knowledge of your own voice tendencies, as well as the voices and tendencies of those around you, you will become better equipped to successfully navigate healthy relationships, effective decision-making, and consistent communication.  

The Problem of Underrepresentation

The unfortunate reality is that the more corporate and business-orientated the environment (especially at the executive level), the less representative of the general population it becomes in regard to voices. This is especially true for the lack of of Nurturers, but even extends to Connectors and Guardians who, if they are present, tend to be overshadowed by the louder voices of Pioneers. Pioneers, on the other hand, are highly overrepresented, since they only make up about 7% of the population, but saturate nearly 50% of CEO positions. 

Given the highly strategic, long-term, and critical decision-making nature of Pioneer types, it makes sense why boards and executive leadership tends to default to such voices. However, an over reliance on Pioneer strengths tends to result in a loss of the invaluable insights other voices bring to the table. Additionally, since Pioneers only comprise 7% of the population, they often struggle to understand how best to translate the impact of messaging and decision-making to the other 93% of people in their organization who have different voices and perspectives than their own. Such drastic disconnections almost always result in dissatisfaction, inefficiency, and a generally unhealthy culture.

That being said, let’s take a look at a few examples of clients who have experienced critical disconnections between voice tendencies and leadership of the wider organization. You’ll find a common thread of voice underrepresentation and under-appreciation that often leads to misfires or mistrust between leadership and the rest of the company.

Disconnection #1: Feedback & Communication

One of the most interesting teams we’ve worked with consisted almost entirely of Creatives and Pioneers. That meant their foundational voice orders were either Creative-Pioneers or Pioneer-Creatives. As leaders of a large organization with a few thousand people, the limited variety of voice input on the team led to poor and ineffective communication with the rest of the company. Additionally, as an executive team comprised primarily of “Thinkers,” their communication involved very little affirmation or encouragement. In Pioneer-Creative cultures, feedback typically focuses on criticism; whereas if you are doing well, then you just tend to not hear anything, the expectation being that you carry on with your satisfactory performance.

As part of the problem, however, some of the leaders reporting to the executive team were Feelers who, as relationally sensitive people, assumed the lack of communication and absence of encouragement meant the executives were displeased. This caused an environment of insecurity and mounting panic among those leaders, who believed it was only a matter of time before they were replaced. Due to the lack of Nurturer (and Guardian) representation on the executive team, their strategic decisions were solid, but often lacked consideration for how those decisions would be received by the rest of the organization. Based on the population breakdown of voices, the team’s lack of diversity amounted to nearly 73% of voices and perspectives being underrepresented at the highest level of company leadership. That makes for a critical problem when it comes to communicating with the rest of the organization and utilizing the full complement of skills and perspectives that each voice brings to the team.

Disconnection #2: The Need for Bridge-Building

In another organization, most of the executive team consisted almost entirely of Pioneers and Guardians, with only one Nurturer present. Interestingly enough, however, the Nurturer happened to lead 75% of the people, and everyone loved him because he was always fighting for them, and they felt it. 

Unfortunately, however, the leadership team lacked a strong Connector-Creative voice presence and therefore struggled to craft the long-term, people-centered development focus that those voices do best. Consequently, the team has come to realize that there’s a voice in their decision-making. While everybody loved the Nurturer, he was the only one on the team fighting for the people and prioritizing how each decision would impact them and their well-being. 

This caused the rest of the more analytical, factual, strategy-first Pioneers and Guardians to view that Nurturer as “too-soft,” and therefore result in frequent dismissal of the alarms and perspectives he raised. Without the presence of Connectors and Creatives to build the bridge between long-term, strategic decision-making, and the real, immediate needs of employees, a serious disconnection occurred between leadership and the rest of the company.

Dealing with Disconnection

So, if Pioneer voices are overrepresented, and executive leadership tends to lack the presence of at least one voice, how are organizations supposed to deal with disconnection?

Fortunately, it’s not absolutely necessary to have every foundational voice represented on every team. To be sure, a complete complement of voices can make it much easier to solicit the various perspectives and contributions that must be considered for effective communication and decision-making. However, the most important factor involves maintaining an honest awareness of the missing perspectives, as well as a strong commitment to incorporate their strengths and invite collaboration where necessary. 

For example, if Nurturers or Guardians are missing from the team, it’s important to invite other trusted members of the organization who represent those voices to participate in the discussion from time-to-time. Another option is to always keep in mind what the missing voice(s) tends to focus on, and then commit to asking the questions and evaluating concerns they often champion. We even have a guide to the primary questions that each voice asks, which you can find in our previous introductory series on the 5 Voices. So, if your team lacks a Nurturer voice, try running through the following questions to ensure you are considering all possible perspectives that may be missing from the natural discussion: “Who’s going to be most upset about this decision? Who’s going to hate this the most? Have we really thought it through? What are the implications for people? Are we going to violate values that we aren’t aware of?” 

In the end, avoiding the pitfalls of disconnection means adopting a sense of humility and learning how and where to get a variety of inputs on the team. It’s about creating the environment where each voice feels truly safe and empowered to bring their best to the team. 

This was originally posted by GiANT Worldwide and I wanted to share it here as well. If you’re interested in learning more about how your voice affects your leadership, I’m happy to schedule a meeting to discuss. Just click the contact button and let me know!

Source: GiANT

Transforming Team Communication Case Study: Pain Points (Part 2)

A Difficult Task

Transforming team communication is a difficult task. Just look around your office and think about how many different thought processes, leadership approaches, and communication styles are represented. Most days, fostering seamless communication between so many different people while working hard to raise up good leaders feels more like herding cats than it does leading a team. When facing more concrete problems, such as financial issues, technical challenges, or production processes, frustrations can be limited by the fact that there are more easily definable alternative paths to take. In contrast, “people issues,” leadership problems, and personnel development strategies occupy a much more intangible space, oftentimes leaving leaders feeling frustrated and helpless in their pursuit of answers. 

If you’ve ever felt these pain points, there is good news: you’re not alone.

As we covered in the first post of this case study series on communication, there are plenty of organizations and leaders out there who feel just as overwhelmed as you do. It’s a long road, but transforming team communication is a crucial effort that will pay huge dividends for the bottom line, culture, and future growth of your company. In fact, we found that shareholders experience an increase of 47% returns when companies improve communication. But even exciting research like that can feel removed from on-the-ground reality, so we’ve decided to dive into an in-depth case study on one organization to show you how they’ve tackled their own journey.

Finding the Problem: Pain Points

Let’s talk about pain. In the same way our bodies tell us something is off by triggering pain receptors, so too do a company’s cultural, organizational, and profitability challenges signal a deeper pain point that needs addressing. Such was the case with Jayne’s Construction in 2013.

The New Mexico-based construction company faced all the normal concerns businesses around the world deal with on a daily basis – from strategic planning to employee development, there is always so much to monitor and improve to prepare for the future. But after having to close offices in San Diego and Las Vegas, Jayne’s realized something deeper was going on – the familiar path wasn’t working and that began to make them nervous. That’s when the leadership team decided it was time to take a closer look at their organization – to follow the pain and let it tell them where they were hurting. After all, you can’t fix a problem you can’t diagnose.

The result? 

Shad James, CEO, and his executive team had to be honest with themselves and admit that the source of their issues came down to their own inability to fill, cultivate, and maintain a quality leadership pipeline. In an admirable display of humility, Jayne’s’ leaders owned up to the fact that every major issue kept coming back to people failures, and that meant they were responsible. As a leader in that situation, it’s easy to feel guilt and frustration at the thought of failing your people. But good leaders, including those at Jayne’s, take responsibility and press on toward learning and progress.

Further digging revealed that the company struggled to consistently train, retain, and cultivate leaders of high enough caliber to sufficiently sustain growth. Because the leadership and communication culture suffered, so too did scalability. Jayne’s inconsistent process for developing leadership capacity and team performance limited their ability to capitalize on growth opportunities. Sure, they might have produced one high quality leader every 5-10 years who could handle top-level duties, but neither the rate nor the quantity proved sufficient to fill the pipeline needs for sustained organizational health, much less growth.

What You Don’t Know WILL Hurt You

Once Jayne’s leadership realized the source of their issues, they began conducting a deeper investigation into its causes and effects. Why don’t we train people well? What do we need to do better? How can we improve communication? How do we expand leadership capacity? These were all questions that began to surface as the company tried to understand the weak links in their process.

For example, in Jaynes’ 2020 vision meeting that year, they began the session by asking a series of questions that proved to be revealing in its lack of answers, but also constructive in the clarity it provided for moving forward: 

  • If you were gone tomorrow, who would be your replacement? 
  • If you were gone in 3 years, who would be your replacement? 
  • What role would they take? 
  • What resources, training, investment, etc. would they need to become better leaders? 

According to Shad, it became obvious where the gaps in their leadership pipeline and preparation existed. Such intentional planning and cultivation simply didn’t exist within the current process, therefore the company’s leadership bandwidth was limited and it’s “bench” of available or up-and-coming leaders to draw on was far too shallow. 

Simply put, the Jayne’s leadership development process lacked intentionality and effectiveness. Consequently, they struggled to both retain good leaders and train great ones, which hindered healthy growth. In short, the stakes were high and the leadership team knew they couldn’t afford to ignore the challenges at hand.

And while Jayne’s was glad to identify some of these high-level issues, the team still lacked the expertise to fully address the problem. They felt stuck and helpless on their own. Even so, they pressed onward to find someone who could help them build an effective, sustainable system for improving leadership capacity and team communication.

After much research, they came across a business consultant named Maria Guy from GiANT Worldwide. Maria had experience helping similar companies in the past, and from her website, they saw she was on a mission to help companies that were struggling to build internal leaders. They decided to reach out to Maria and see if she could help them address their challenge.

In the next post, we will highlight exactly how, together, the Jayne’s leadership team and Maria were able to build a plan to overcome the daunting challenges that kept Jayne’s from reaching success.

This was originally posted by GiANT Worldwide and I wanted to share it here as well. If you’re interested in learning more about how to identify your personal and organizational pain points, I’m happy to schedule a meeting to discuss. Just click the contact button and let me know!

Source: GiANT

6 Ways to Stay Present This July 4th

Independence Day!

Over the next week in the United States, we’ll be celebrating July 4th and the birth of American Independence!

Unfortunately, despite having time with family and friends over the weekend and on the day of remembrance, many of us will struggle to fully connect with those around us. Work will worm its way into our time of 2nd and 3rd Gear connection. The logistics of holiday travel and party-planning will try to pull us out of the time that’s meant for reflection, recharge, relationship, and gratitude.

But this year, let’s fight for connectivity.

Fight To Be Present

Let’s fight for the joy that comes from maintaining healthy gears that balance work, recharge, and relational investment. Amidst the fun and craziness, in spite of the sun and stress, our hope for you is that, above all else, you will choose to be present with the people in your life this weekend. 

It’s no small thing that generations past and present have made the ultimate sacrifice in order to guarantee our freedom to live a life full of purpose, passion, and people.

So, let’s honor the gift of those who came before us by making the most of our time with family and friends this weekend. 

Here are 6 easy things you can do to experience better, deeper connection with those in your life this July 4th:

  1. Mindset. Shift your mind from your work to the connect (2nd), social (3rd), and recharge (1st) gears. Set time and location triggers that will remind you to close out your work email and shift gears.
  2. Conversation. Make it your goal to have a meaningful conversation/connection with at least one person that you care for in your life. That might be a spouse, your kids, or an old friend.
  3. Recharge. Remind yourself how you recharge best. Then choose at least one of those activities and go do it. Be sure to protect that time – let those who need to know that you’ll be setting aside space to recharge and that you won’t be available to them during that time.
  4. Socialize. Talk. Laugh. Connect. Relax. Allow connection with those you love to bring rejuvenation to your world. When you encounter these opportunities, go for it. Be all in. Be present. Leave your task-minded, project-focused mind elsewhere and just enjoy being with the people in your life.
  5. Encourage. Help other people shift their own gears. Remind them how important it is for them to prioritize their own needs for recharge and relationship.
  6. Just do it. Do one thing that you know will make you feel refreshed this weekend. Is it bringing back that old family rib recipe for an amazing BBQ on July 4th? Is it making the time to float the river with a cooler and your closest friends? Whatever that activity is for you: commit to it, schedule it, and do it.

Don’t let obligation to work or busyness keep you from investing time in yourself and those you care about this weekend. July 4th is a time for gratitude, reflection, celebration, and family. So let’s be intentional about staying present and connected. 

Happy July 4th! Thank you to all the men and women who so bravely fight for our freedom!

This was originally posted by GiANT Worldwide and I wanted to share it here as well. If you’re interested in learning more about how connectivity affects your relational and leadership capacity, I’m happy to schedule a meeting to discuss. Just click the contact button and let me know!

Source: GiANT

3 Ways Leaders Undermine Their Work

Which internal tendencies are inhibiting your life right now?

What insecurities or self-imposed sabotage are keeping you from being the healthiest, best version of you?

Inhibition: 2 Sides of the Same Coin

If you think about it, self-control and self-sabotage are two sides of the same coin we call “inhibition.” A healthy degree of “inhibition” results in self-restraint, which helps us make wise choices while also avoiding costly mistakes, particularly in the face of emotionally charged decisions and situations. Unhealthy inhibition, or “self-sabotage,” on the other hand, causes us to miss opportunities for growth, joy, productivity, and progress.

This kind of inhibition consists of the self-imposed, internal limits we adopt out of fear or uncertainty. They have an insidious way of crippling our lives unnecessarily, compelling us to take ourselves out of the game, or the work, or the relationship despite a lack of outside prohibitions and obstacles.

Let’s take a look at three tendencies that often sprout like a thorn in our side, slowing us down and undermining our influence and self-respect. 

1. Sometimes I don’t believe I have what it takes to do what I do or accomplish what needs to be done.

Self-doubt shows up like a plague at the strangest times, causing us to indulge in either wallowing self-pity or inhibitive insecurities. Neither emotion is productive or helpful, and both have a tendency to leave us trapped in a pit of despair. They cast doubt on anything and everything, sometimes reaching our foundational beliefs and self-concept. When this happens, we reach a state of paralysis. We second guess our passions or our work, and struggle to bring out best to the table. 

2. When my emotions get “stuck,” they cause me to become irrational and passive aggressive.

This emotional “grinding of gears” often comes from unmet expectations. When we expect something to happen that doesn’t play out the way we envisioned, we can become frustrated and take it out on others. Expectations generate a sense of certainty, like a promise that some person, situation, or achievement is already in our grasp. Therefore, when reality falls short of those expectations, we feel robbed. Cheated. Maybe even dishonored or conspired against by the universe and others.  Such a state of frustration can lead to oversensitivity, unfounded assumptions, and passive aggression – all of which undermine our ability to feel confident in future expectations of people or results. 

3. When things are going really well, I sometimes to take my foot off the gas and get a bit lazy. I’m usually very intentional and focused, but every now and then I can become lethargic.

Sometimes success becomes our greatest challenge. Once we finally think we have all the plates spinning as they should, it’s tempting to let off the gas and adopt a mindset of maintenance or status quo. Ironically, this tendency in and of itself can be the very thing that dampens our passion and hinders our drive for continual improvement. Similarly, once we find ourselves unproductive, it’s easy to end up in an odd place of both lackadaisical motivation, as well as discontented restlessness.

These three simple tendencies all too often prevent us from bringing our best to the realms of work, relationships, and personal growth. 

The Action Plan

Now that we know the problems, the action plan is simple, though difficult to put into practice. If we are to overcome the aforementioned self-imposed inhibitions, then we must commit to the following:

  1. Act Like I belong instead of believing I don’t.
  2. Watch my emotions and become self-controlled rather than being led by my frustrations.
  3. When times are good, I plan to become more intentional, not less. I will make sure to distinguish between restful recharge and lethargic complacency.

So, what about you? 

Will you take up vigilance against these pitfalls? Or will you allow negative inhibitions to limit the growth in your life?

The choice is yours.

This was originally posted by GiANT Worldwide and I wanted to share it here as well. If you’re interested in learning more about how your inhibitions affect your leadership, I’m happy to schedule a meeting to discuss. Just click the contact button and let me know!

Source: GiANT

T vs. F: Handling Critique

In our first post about the Thinker vs. Feeler personality preference set, we introduced the fundamental differences in the way Thinkers and Feelers make decisions. Therefore, while all people display elements of the Thinker and Feeler tendencies, the dichotomy breaks down along the lines of the criteria that ultimately determine decisions.

For Thinkers, they may feel relational pressure or discomfort around a particular decision, but in the end, their determining factors revolve around the objective logic, reasoning, stated goals, and hard facts or numbers. If they feel their decision is supported by these criteria, then they will usually stay the course, regardless of relational discord, and move on to the next decision/situation and consider themselves justified. 

Feelers, on the other hand, understand these objective justifications, but ultimately tend to come down on the side of decisions that seek to maintain relational harmony. Their final determinant will always prioritize the impact that a decision will have on the people involved over the goal- or data-driven decisions that objective analysis alone might support.

The fact that Thinkers and Feelers adopt different criteria for decision-making also comes into play when we analyze how each type deals with critique. 

How Thinkers Handle Critique

When it comes to critique, most Thinkers tend to critique an idea as soon as they hear it. If you say to a group of people, “How would you like to receive constructive criticism?” most thinkers will look at you and say, “I’ve got three criteria, if I’m really being honest. First, you better be more competent than I am, because if I don’t think you’re more competent than me, I’m not listening. Second, I need permission to critique your critique if I disagree with you. And lastly, don’t go soft on me. I want to get better, so if there are things we need to deal with, let’s speak it out loud and make it true. There’s no improvement without calling out weakness.” 

For most Thinkers, their favorite sport in the whole wide world is logical, rational, analytical critique of other people’s ideas and plans. There is nothing more fun for the Thinker than when someone asks them to pick apart their strategy and business plan to help make it better. An invitation like that gets every Thinker jumping with joy on the inside, thinking they’ve died and gone to heaven. 

How Feelers Handle Critique

Feelers, on the other hand, cringe at such a response. When it comes to critique, if Feelers were to really speak their heart, they would react to the same question by saying, “Do we have to get constructive criticism? That feels like an oxymoron to me…Can we opt out of it?” The key point to understand here is that, while a Thinker generally separates themselves from their tasks and relationships (“Work may be going badly, but if I know it’s not my fault, I’m fine”), Feelers live a completely integrated life. For the Feeler, relationships, work, recreation, friendships, dreams – all of those things are interconnected. Their self-concept is one-and-the-same with their work.

If relationships are going poorly, or if things are not going well at work, then, to the Feeler, that usually means they as a person are failing. That’s why critique (“constructive criticism”) and challenge always feels more personal to the Feeler than the Thinker. So, if they’re going to get feedback or critique, Feelers are best positioned to receive it when they hear it from somebody they trust. Someone whom they know and truly believe cares about them, values them, and who has their best interest at heart. At that point, the Feeler will say, “As long as I know that I’m valued as a person and not just a unit of production in your great vision, I don’t mind you bringing constructive feedback. I just need you to know that this isn’t always easy for me to hear without feeling like I’ve failed people. But I trust you and I believe you are for me.”

Thinkers, Feelers, and Critique: An Illustration

If we were to illustrate how a Thinker approaches the critique process, it would begin with the Thinker giving a bit of direction, “Okay, here comes my logical, rational, analytical machine gun. Stand over there with your idea, and we’ll see if it stands up to scrutiny.” After five or ten minutes of logical, rational, analytical critique aimed at the target idea, they look at their handiwork and find nothing has knocked down the idea – it’s bullet proof. In the end, the person walks away with the Thinker’s stamp of approval, “That’s really good. Brilliant. Great idea, well done.” 

The problem usually occurs when the person asking for critique and feedback happens to be a Feeler, because when the Feeler says, “Here’s my idea. I’d love you to critique it, because I’d love your wisdom,” the Thinker immediately lights up, ready to go.  Then they lock and load and let the analytical bullets fly to see if the idea has merit. Unfortunately, because the Feeler’s self-concept is so integrated with their work, it’s as if they place the target of the Thinker’s critique right over their heart instead of standing off to the side or joining in with their own analytical target practice. For the Feeler, their ideas and work are an expression of who they are.

So what happens? The Thinker unloads on the idea and five minutes later they’re looking at the ground wondering why the Feeler’s on the floor. For the feeler, it’s as if every bullet of criticism and “constructive feedback,” while meant to be helpful, has struck a blow to the heart. 

So What?

While a bit ridiculous, the imaginary scenario above is quite accurate in regards to the effect that calls for critique often have on Thinkers vs. Feelers. Thinkers tend to enjoy the intellectual jousting and debate more so than Feelers due to how closely (or not) each one ties their self-concept to their work. Every Feeler out there knows exactly how it feels to end up on the floor, wounded by some well-meaning constructive criticism. By the same token, every Thinker can relate to the confusing aftermath of a feedback or brainstorming session in which they’re left wondering why someone would be so upset at hearing the critique they asked for when they know that such critique will ultimately make the person or idea better.  

So, leaders, whether you’re a Thinker or Feeler, be aware of how you deliver feedback. Take time to learn how to most clearly and effectively communicate constructive criticism to both Thinkers and Feelers. Then be sure to invest in understanding your own tendencies on both the giving and receiving ends of critique. Feedback is important for the healthy growth of any person or idea, but expectations and delivery will always be the key to making that feedback constructive or destructive.

This was originally posted by GiANT Worldwide and I wanted to share it here as well. If you’re interested in learning more about how your personality type affects your leadership, I’m happy to schedule a meeting to discuss. Just click the contact button and let me know!

Source: GiANT

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