Great leaders watch their P’s and Q’s

If you are British you might think this has something to do with a pub. Occasionally, you may find leaders in the pub; highly effective leaders no matter where they are pay particular attention to their employee’s Personality and Quality of work.

Influencing these two factors pinpoints the difference between leading successful organisations and managing cats. Influence is what separates managers from leaders. Managers achieve results by using their power to demand compliance from others.

Leaders use their power to engage commitment from others. Great leaders recognise key personality characteristics that allow them to get the best from their people.

Human behaviour is influenced by three internal drivers; personality, values and self-esteem. Personality is evident at birth. Ask any parent and they will confirm that within weeks it was clear that junior was cooing and cuddly or fussy and demanding or craved attention or was quiet and complacent.

Here in lies the genesis of the personality that influences the child’s adult interests and motivation.

If you want to be able to push your staff’s motivational “hot buttons” you must understand personality. Let’s ignore the psychobabble and focus on the bottom line. Personality can be easily mapped and understood by observing two factors, assertiveness and responsiveness.

Assertiveness may be observed as having or showing determination and energetic pursuit of desired ends. Assertive people express their ideas and frustrations with short sometimes pithy statements. In extreme cases this can turn into aggressive, self-assured argumentativeness resulting in a challenge to fight for some and a turn off for others.

The opposite of assertiveness is unassertive; observed as someone inclined to shyness, withholding comment, expressing dissatisfaction with questions or long detailed explanations. Know anyone like that?

Responsiveness refers to a person’s preference for externally focused action or internally feeling focused reaction to events happening around them. Externally focused people are more spontaneous in reacting to new challenges where as internally focused people withhold action until they have had time to analyse and confer with others. Refer to the graphic below.

People demonstrating assertiveness and action-focused responsiveness enjoy competition while those who are less assertive and more feeling-focused prefer peace. Leaders gain commitment by recognising personality differences and communicating strategy and goals in ways that appeal to all.

It is the leader’s responsibility to harness the potential energy available within individual hearts and minds (personality, values and self-esteem) and direct it toward the accomplishment of the organisation’s vision, strategy and goals. History is filled with great leaders who spoke the language of the people.

Managers who push their ideas on others are often viewed as self-serving and achieve little with great difficulty. While great leaders work hard their efforts are magnified by the combined efforts from those that follow them. The conventional definition of management is getting work done through people, but leadership is developing people through work.

As Jim Rohn, speaker and author said,

“The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humour, but without folly.”

These quotes sum it up:

“The first thing a young officer must do when he joins the Army is to fight a battle and that battle is for the hearts of his men. If he wins that battle and subsequent similar ones, his men will follow him anywhere; if he loses it, he will never do any real good.”
Montgomery of Alamein

“To lead people, walk beside them… As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence. The next best, the people honour and praise. The next, the people fear; and the next, the people hate … When the best leader’s work is done the people say, we did it ourselves!”