Up Your Game – Speak the Language of Those You Lead
Imagine what it would be like to be able to speak the language of anyone you came in contact with. That would be pretty sweet, right? Being able to speak the same language – that opens the door to a whole host of possibilities, while the inability to speak the same language is a barrier. Oh you can wave your arms and point and pantomime like crazy, but communicating in depth – that’s probably not going to happen!
Leaders naturally communicate with their teams in their native tongue – the language of their own personality type. In fact, we all do! However, if you want to be an exceptional leader, you will come to understand that not everyone is as fired up about your approach to things as you… and the few others on your team that are like you.
That’s why the best leaders make it a priority to be multilingual – to understand the languages of others so that they can lead more effectively.
Back in the day when I studied French, learning the language went beyond just learning the words. It also included learning the culture so that there was context for the words. And as anyone who was taught a language in school knows, in order to truly communicate well in another language you must learn the slang! And the slang can vary significantly from place to place even when they speak the same language.
So what’s all this chatter about languages got to do with leadership? Well, you don’t have to be a leader to be influential; however, if you are a leader, knowing how to understand personalities unlike your own and speak their “language” is a valuable skill. You could say that approaching the world from the bias of your own personality is your default language. Upping your game and being able to communicate in the languages of those who are not like you makes a powerful difference!
But first, you will want to answer these questions:
1. What’s your unique DiSC personality profile?
Each personality has its own strengths and weaknesses. Being aware of your personality will serve you well and reveal what your “default language” is. Most people are not just one personality type but a blend of two, one dominant and one secondary.
One of the things that is unique about the way DiSC profiles personalities is that it breaks your personality down into two graphs. “This is expected of me,” the first graph, shows how you think or feel others expect you to behave. “This is me,” the second graph, reveals who you are under pressure or stress when the true you comes out.
2. Who are the unique people you lead?
Do you know what their unique personalities are? This will take time – remember it is like learning another language, a whole new paradigm for doing things! Initially you will learn this language “by the book,” and, as time goes on, you will learn the “slang” for the people on your team.
And from time to time, you will want to refer back and refresh yourself on the personality types outside of your own – it is easy to revert back to your default!
3. What are the potential strengths of your personality and of those you lead?
Each of the four personality types is equally valuable. The personality types each have a variety of strengths to offer. There are no weaknesses, just strengths that are lived out in the extreme! Another way of looking at it is that the characteristics of each personality are neutral, and when you are walking in the Spirit those characteristics become strengths. When you are walking in the flesh, they become weaknesses.
4. How does your personality interact with others?
They say opposites attract, and they do, in part, because they also complement one another. Opposites can also clash! Within the DiSC model, the opposites are D’s & S’s and I’s & C’s. Knowing how you might complement or clash with those that are opposite of you can assist in having realistic expectations and help you to remember that when things aren’t going smoothly that it may not be anything personal -it might just be a personality difference.
Here is a condensed snapshot of the four DiSC personality types:
Now that you’ve had a chance to familiarize yourself with the various DiSC personalities, how can you better adapt to the folks you lead?