In the average workplace across the globe today, it is safe to say no one intentionally seeks to become labeled as the “difficult boss.” We can all agree “difficult” is not a trait or prerequisite that boards, talent managers or recruiters screen for when interviewing or hiring. So, how does one get labeled “difficult” after making it through the process with a great resume and exceptional interviewing skills?
The best answer is that they are most likely displaying their dominant DISC behavioral style, which is different, or in some cases opposite from your own. Our perception of different behavior combined with our personality blind spots often results in us labeling someone else before seeking to understand them. You could experience one of four distinct “difficult” bosses, depending on their dominant workplace behavioral style. The challenge then becomes learning about the four dominant behavioral styles before you encounter someone new to be able to effectively communicate, connect, and collaborate with them, regardless of your style.
Military strategies generally offer many guiding principles that, in theory, and when properly executed, lead to victory. It is time to get strategic in our workplaces when it comes to learning about others to stop the pattern of labeling them as the enemy or “difficult.” It’s the very thing that leads to communication breakdowns, conflict, low morale, and unproductiveness. Our strategy today is to learn about the Influencer style or “I” style boss.
Remember, “Is” represent about 11% of the population, so there is a lower likelihood you will find yourself working for many “I” style bosses. Typically, you won’t have to directly ask what their dominant style is because they will either be happily discussing it with anyone who will listen or demonstrating through their natural behavioral tendencies. They are active, people-oriented bosses who lead through motivating, inspiring, influencing, and communicating. They prefer to be actively engaged in team projects, build relationships, and have fun doing it all.
“I” style bosses tend to get a bad report when much of the office is comprised of task-oriented and reserved style employees. “D” personalities may view them as undisciplined and unfocused; “S” styles may see them as unreliable and disorganized, and “C” personalities may view them as lacking in knowledge and skill. Keep in mind, the dominant fears of all DISC styles can influence their opinions and interactions with others.
“I” style bosses desire enjoyable environments and respond positively to recognition and praise. This is motivating the “I” style leader and keeps them feeling accepted and valuable while focusing on important leadership tasks such as advocating, decision-making, brainstorming, and communicating. Those who are more task-oriented (“D” or “C” styles) may view this as unnecessary or counterproductive to the overall goal, pressuring the “I” style leader to focus more on progress over popularity.
If you find your next boss happens to be an “I” style, here are a few simple things you can do to establish a positive working relationship within the office:
• “D” Styles: Seek to connect, then guide. The “I” style boss wants to see the team succeed just as much as you do; they simply do it a bit differently. They will appreciate your direct, take-charge approach, but don’t forget the goal of dealing with people is win-win. Your forward-thinking nature and willingness to tackle tough challenges will be helpful to keep the “I” style moving towards the goal, but your ability to engage on a more personal level will keep them listening to your input. They will appreciate your supportive nature as a fellow teammate.
• “I” Styles: Listen first, then encourage. Think “an eye for an eye,” but in a more supportive and collaborative way. The “I” style boss will greatly appreciate your enthusiasm and camaraderie, and will likely gravitate toward you for motivation and encouragement when times get tough. This is your opportunity to be the active voice that reinforces the organization’s vision, mission, and goals, communicates the needs of the team, and keeps honesty and transparency at the forefront. It will be imperative to put yourself in the listener’s position first to ensure you understand what your fellow Influencer needs before offering guidance or direction. They will appreciate you placing your focus on them and rallying the support they need to succeed.
• “S” Styles: Communicate needs and support. The “I” style boss will appreciate your natural tendency to listen and accept their social tendencies as a fellow, people-oriented behavioral style. Your systematic approach to project planning, listening, and observation skills will be especially useful when “I” styles request feedback or information. Verbalize your approval of ideas and decisions when appropriate and maintain open honest communication. Let the “I” style boss know what you need to succeed; their desire is to see you achieve your goals along with team goals.
• “C” Styles: Seek to inform, not overwhelm. The “I” style boss is not naturally wired to dig into fine details and will struggle with keeping information organized. Your task-management skills and detail orientation will complement the motivation and influence of the “I” style boss. Allow them to champion your product or information, and afford them time to inquire about and question information they may not fully understand. They understand your expertise and will appreciate the time to articulate and interpret data to give them a well-informed overview. Let them know when they get it right; it will build their confidence and trust in you for future engagements.
Carefully pivoting team group dynamics to company success requires a good understanding of human behavior and communicating in the best possible way. Teams who know how to work together are provenly more successful and productive. Are you ready to take your team to the next level or help other companies do the same?