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How Your Brain Affects Your Leadership Style

As a leader, it’s important to understand your behavioral preferences, as well as the behavioral preferences of those you work with. This means knowing how you might come off to others, particularly those of a different SOCIAL STYLE  than your own, but to do this you have to have the tools to assess their Style, as well as the know-how of working with other Styles.

According to an article featured on Forbes, “Is Your Brain Trying to Sabotage Your Leadership?”, author Zoe Goodacre says “your brain functions by linking up different parts and activating them—in networks.”

What has been found is that two of the most commonly used networks have a big impact on our leadership abilities and how we work with others. Neuroscientists have found that we have a “Default Mode Network” which is what allows us to process emotions and build relationships, and a “Task Positive Network” which enables us to focus on details, tasks, and goals.

Here’s the kicker – while we need both of these networks to be effective leaders, these two networks work independently of one another, and in fact, the activation of one of these networks suppresses the other.

“When faced with a leadership situation, you’re likely to fall into one or the other, naturally, based on your preference and past experience.”

These two networks coincide almost directly with the two dimensions of the SOCIAL STYLE Model. These two dimensions measure whether you are ask or tell assertive and whether you are controlled or emotive. Together, these two dimensions determine your SOCIAL STYLE which tells you if you are Analytical, Amiable, Expressive, or Driving.

So how does this affect your leadership abilities?

According to the article, “The so-called Default setting is not always the mode in which people feel most comfortable at work. Those who spend a lot of time at work problem-solving, analyzing and planning can find themselves more at home in the Task setting.” These people are typically the Driving or Analytical Style people. “…While this is great for getting things done, it’s not the best place to be when you’re trying to motivate or inspire others to do things for you. Likewise, if you’re naturally more of a people person you might find it hard to switch your brain into the right gear to really take in the detail of a financial report or business plan.” This can affect  Expressive and Amiable Style individuals.

“The same may be true of the team you lead: If you’re working with lots of detail-oriented people, they may find it more difficult to connect on an interpersonal level—especially if they’re in the middle of something. In the same way, people who build strong working relationships can find it hard to concentrate on solving problems or finishing tasks.”

So is there one SOCIAL STYLE that makes the best leader? The answer is… no! Each of the four Styles displays positive and negative characteristics when working with others, and research shows that people of any SOCIAL STYLE can be successful in any profession. What matters is Versatility!

Understanding Style allows you to identify the preferences of others and modify your behavior to make others more comfortable. This is known as Versatility, and it is strongly linked to career and business success. In a study conducted by an international publishing company found that interpersonal skills are directly related to effective job performance. The study showed that managers with higher Versatility are 27% better at leading teams, 25% better at coaching others and 22% better at managing conflict.  This study found double-digit improvement in more than 30 managerial competencies when comparing managers with high Versatility.

While our preferred way of doing things – our own SOCIAL STYLE —  stays consistent over time, we can exercise our brains to enhance our Versatility and thus learn ways and mechanisms to adjust to others preferences or to act in ways in which the situation calls for.

As stated in the article, “Like any other part of your body, your brain gets stronger with regular use. Choosing to engage in tasks that engage under-used skills can help when it comes with the ease of switching between brain settings.”

Read the full Forbes article, “Is Your Brain Trying to Sabotage Your Leadership?” here.

Learn more about SOCIAL STYLE and Versatility here.

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