Leading When There Is a Problem



The reality of being human is that you are going to face problems and challenges. In this series exploring the DISC and Driving Forces profile as a communication tool, we begin by looking at the types of behaviors that people tend to exhibit when faced with a problem or challenge. They fall into two distinct patterns: embracing it with gusto or being cautious.

Two examples:

1. You ordered a BLT without mayo, and it arrives with mayo. If you tend to embrace challenges, you will feel a fairly intense flash of irritation and decisively request that another sandwich be made. If you tend to be cautious around problems you will be more apt to “make do” by scraping off the mayo.

2. You have an employee who is routinely not getting his work done. If you tend to embrace problems, you put him on a Performance Improvement Plan that outlines your expectations and creates a timeline of accountability through which he will show improvement or be fired. If you tend to be cautious you will be concerned that such a straightforward approach would create tension and potentially conflict. You will be more apt to talk with him about the importance of getting work done on time, and praise him when he does. (Note: You are also likely to observe one of these two sets behaviors from a spouse or roommate if you are leaving your dirty socks around the house.)

Leadership skill: Lead by communicating effectively when faced with a problem.

As you recognize yourself and others in these scenarios, please be aware that neither of the behaviors is right or wrong. But if you embrace problems and challenges, you will tend to see yourself as a confident problem-solver while others may see you as an aggressive tyrant. If you are cautious around problems, you will tend to see yourself as peace-loving and cooperative while others may see you as clueless or a doormat. This judging of behavioral style clearly gets in the way of communicating.

Think of your behavior style as your language. You either naturally “speak” the “Embrace With Gusto” language or the “Be Cautious” language when it comes to how you deal with problems and challenges. Solving issues often involves interacting with people who speak the opposite language. Communication will be more effective when you adapt to their language.

When communicating about an problem with a forceful person:

      • Be prepared to support your ideas
      • Stick to the topic
      • Speak concisely, in bullet-points

When communicating about an problem with a cautious person:

      • “Ratchet it down a couple of notches”
      • Listen
      • Be patient

How are you doing, 0 – 10, leading by effectively communicating when you are facing a problem or challenge?

My DISC assessment scores and my life show that I speak the “Embrace with Gusto” language, and I make a conscious effort to speak “Be Cautious” when I speak to someone who speaks that language.

But I am certain that in my zealousness to “take the problem by the horns” that I have occasionally come across as too intense or even offensive to others. I am also certain that in my passion to face a challenge that I have been profoundly irritated by others that I have judged “too passive” because they are more laid-back about it.

But just imagine what problems and challenges we as a world could solve if we each understood our own behaviors and tweaked them when it helped us to better communicate with others. Just imagine our workplaces. Just imagine our homes.

Posted on September 13, 2018 in Building Transparent Cultures, Leadership

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