After my 11 year old lab passed away this winter, I decided to get a rescue pup. After doing my due diligence, I was lucky to bring home a ten-week old shepherd mix. She has filled the hole in my heart, and at the same time she has caused me to revisit my leadership skills.

Training my lab was easy. Labs love to please and are very motivated by food. My shepherd on the other hand has a mind of her own, and is vying to be the ‘pack leader’ of my household. I’m using many of my old training tricks, and at the same time I’m checking with experts to understand the personality and behavior of the shepherd, so that as the Leader, I reinforce her positive behaviors, and ultimately develop a great family companion.

Thinking about my training and leadership style caused me to reflect on Leadership at work.

What’s Your leadership style?

Many professionals have only one or two methods when it comes to leadership.

We use these approaches in every situation. Sometimes this works, the same way a broken clock is right twice every day. However, by developing greater flexibility and range, we can be even more effective at work and at home.

Body Language Counts: It’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it.

When thinking of your leadership and influence style recognize that different approaches will work with different people and in different situations, and sometimes we may need to pull out our entire arsenal of tricks.

Left Brain. The left-brain is the seat of facts, logic, analysis, information, and data. When you are an authority, or when you know facts that matter to the other person, relying on the left-brain can help you convince someone that an idea makes sense. 

However, most leaders overuse the left-brain, especially in Western society. There are limits to facts and logic. For instance, it is hard to win over someone’s heart with a PowerPoint presentation.

Right Brain. The right brain is where we process images, stories, metaphors, and pictures. It is the gateway to the subconscious. By using more stories and images, leaders can reach people at a different level than with the left-brain alone.

Gut. The gut, or “hara” as the Japanese call it, is our center. It is where we go when we take a stand, negotiate, assert appropriately, create a contract, or set boundaries. When we influence from the gut, we tell someone what we like and don’t like about their performance, tell them what we expect, and offer incentives to encourage them to comply.

Heart. In situations where we want authentic commitment and not just compliance, it is not enough to tell or assert. We have to be a little bit vulnerable. Here, the conversation shifts to asking for advice and help, listening to the other person’s aspirations and goals to craft a solution, and being flexible about how things get done.

Spirit. The spirit is about our shared values and experiences. Here, we appeal to our common ground and the bonds that hold us together. Use this approach to form a team and create a feeling of alignment.

Vision. Vision is about where we are going. Here, the leader paints a compelling, inspiring picture about where we can go together, and then invites others to jump in and build on the vision. This is the approach to use for a team that is kicking off, or when a push is required to get people to move forward despite challenges.

Would you like to learn more about these approaches, and how to use them to achieve your career goals and influence others almost effortlessly? Contact me anytime. 

Regardless of your role, title, or job description at work, you can be seen as a leader.

It’s never too late to learn new tricks.