Talent Development


11 Leadership Styles That Shape A Winning Organization

Building and shaping the culture of an organization begins with the behavior of the leaders. When leaders are behaviorally smart, and understand their leadership and communication style, they are more likely to set the kind of example they want everyone to follow.

There is no one leadership style fits all. The key, through self-awareness, is to find the balance that works with the teams you lead.

The Fast-Paced Leader

A leader who is fast paced, logical, challenging and tends to be critical may well deliver results, but can damage the talent they are responsible for leading. This style of leadership births a culture of stress, staff turnover and unwillingness to want to work under their leadership.

The Analytical Leader

The analytical, systematic, rigid, work by the rules, style of leadership may be a gatekeeper in terms of the processes of the organization, but can shut down innovation, spontaneity and the kind of creative approach to decision making required when things go wrong. This inflexible and rigid style of leadership does not inspire a culture of shared goals, thoughts and ideas.

The Skeptical Leader

In today’s rapidly changing market, businesses need innovation to survive. A skeptical leader who is not open to ideas, continually questions, is guarded and fails to build trust with their teams, will not create the kind of innovative culture that breeds success. Finding a successful balance between trust and a healthy skepticism that protects the business is tough.

The Competitive Leader

Similarly, leaders whose focus is solely on results, who is very competitive and wants always to be the one who sets the agenda, can push teams too hard to achieve goals. If these leaders see targets slipping away they can become manipulative and assume a driven style of leading that causes teams to crash and burn. This approach leads to a toxic culture – very difficult to recover from.

The Peoples Leader

Leaders who are highly people focused and expressive, can inspire passion and purpose, but if this style of leadership is not based on a foundation of a clearly articulated vision and mission, the culture they create is one of chaos and confusion – but fun. Leaders such as this need strong boundaries and need to learn to focus on one goal at a time.

The Risk-Taking Leader

Some leaders are comfortable with taking risks. They know their limitations and are comfortable with managing failure. However, when risk taking leads to over confidence, leaders will cut corners placing the business in jeopardy. Further, team members assume the culture of risk extends to them. This can lead to outlier behavior as they take inappropriate risk that undermines the organization.

The Creative Leader

The highly creative leader embraces new ideas, can be quite abstract in their thinking and open to imaginative approaches to decision making. However, such creative ideas need to have value, they can’t be random as this leads to a culture of anything goes. Creativity in leadership works when it’s part of a culture that is sensitive to teams, colleagues and the overall needs of the business.

The Cooperative Leader

Not many organizations survive on a cooperative style of decision making. When a leader is seen to be compliant others very quickly take advantage of them. They may well be able to communicate the vision and encourage input from teams, but without their own understanding of how to be behaviourally smart, this style of leaderships leads to the loudest voice getting their way. Further, it can lead to a culture of frustration as the leader seeks everyone’s opinion before making a call.

The Reserved Leader

Generally, the reserved, reflective leader tends to be a loner. They do not have an open-door policy and can be withdrawn. This style of leadership breeds a culture of suspicion and can lead to more outgoing team members driving the culture and making decisions that are inappropriate. However, when the leader understands the importance of building relationships, this style of leader is likely to be much more accurate in their instructions. They prefer to get things right first time and will reflect and focus on this.

The Patient Leader

When a leader is overly understanding and tolerant there will always be others who will take advantage of this. A culture of leniency will prevail and mistakes will be repeated leading to frustration and discontent from team members. Generally, this leader tries to create a culture of stability, believing that everyone will function more effectively within the environment. This approach only works when everyone has knowledge of each other’s preferred environment for working, otherwise the culture will be too relaxed.

The Spontaneous Leader

Spontaneity challenges many people who prefer leadership to be structured and predictable. A spontaneous leader creates a culture of impulsiveness and lack of planning and forethought. Spontaneity panics some people and can lead to disruption and stress in the workplace.

A Leader who can create a successful organization culture will not only understand their own natural behavior and how to manage it, they will invest time gaining insight into the behaviors of their teams. When they achieve this balance, the culture they create looks like this:

  • There is a shared vision – communicated in a way that everyone feels valued in role for delivering it
  • There are high levels of personal confidence
  • Everyone has a can-do attitude
  • Teams collectively look for solutions
  • The leaders listen to other ideas and suggestions
  • The individuals feel motivated
  • Attrition is low
  • There are clear goals and everyone knows where they fit in delivering them
  • Success is shared
  • Trust goes both ways
  • There are quantifiable measurable outcomes that demonstrate the culture of the organization
What Contingent Liabilities are Your Employees Causing

What Contingent Liabilities are Your Employees Causing?

Rogue behavior costing $36 billion in legal bills since the financial crisis should give every Board member and Executive sleepless nights. Then add the cost to hire significant compliance and security management and staff to curb rogue behavior, and some serious questions need to be asked!

  1. What part does pressure to chase profitability encourage a greater level of risk to be taken?
  2. How much risk is the business willing to take? And at what level does risk become reckless?
  3. Is the level of inter-staff competitiveness so great that irresponsible risk is encouraged?
  4. How vigilant are those in leadership to the impact of pressure on employees?

Working in an environment pressurized to succeed at all costs, tends to be the norm, especially in the Financial Sector. Just look at Wells Fargo. Whilst taking risk is a legitimate part of building a successful business and keeping ahead of the competition, when pressure and risk collide it can quickly become a weapon in the wrong hands. Unable to balance risk under pressure to achieve results, the line becomes blurred between acceptable business practices and legal or moral improprieties.

Even more alarming, is when Boards and senior executives fail to acknowledge the environments that promote rogue behavior simply to increase profits. It could be argued that they are as culpable as the rogue employee. Daniel Kahneman, in his book Thinking Fast and Slow, says “we can be blind to the obvious, and we are also blind to our blindness.”

Prosecutions and regulatory enforcement stemming from noncompliance related to employee behavior such as corruption, bribery, rogue trading and insider trading are on the rise around the world. In fiscal 2015, the SEC filed nearly 7% more cases over the prior year, meting out $4.2 billion in sanctions.

People are hired for their talent but little attention is paid to their inherent personality. So when an individual is placed under significant pressure or pushed to take excessive risks, their behavior can turn rogue. The good news? When pressure and risk collide can now be predicted.

Using behavioral insights, management can dynamically match employees with specific environmental conditions to determine their potential response to risk and pressure. They can also discern the degree to which such responses could create rogue behavior and negative actions towards the business.

It is no longer enough to simply look at emails, computer keystrokes, outside influences, sick records etc. – the old hat of international espionage and anti-terrorist tools. What should be clearly understood is that the rogue employee is a human being, that when placed under significant pressure to achieve, will take risks.

The question to Boards and Executives is – do you know your employees?

What corporate entities have in their corner is direct and immediate access to their own personnel from top to bottom and every department – including even outside partners and vendors. So the solution is the deployment of a validated personality discovery process, providing hidden insights and a reliable prediction of where security or compliance risks exist.
Based on external research, employees with the following measurable behavioral traits are more likely to engage in rogue behavior when emotionally triggered

  1. An inventive mind, full of ground-breaking ideas turns their thoughts to curious and devious thinking when, as an example; many of their ideas are rejected.
  2. A go-getting, determined person, driven to success at any cost; begins to cut corners, as a toxic competitive streak takes over.
  3. A reticent, uncommunicative, taciturn minded person normally just seen as the quiet one’ begins to hold onto key information that others need, simply because they have taken offense over something trivial.
Which Employee is Your Molotov Cocktail2

DNA Behavior International’s validated system gets below the surface to reveal behaviors that, if not managed, can lead to ruinous behavior.
The Unique DNA Behavior Approach is able to Score, Filter, and Prioritize Employee Personality Insights.

oerational risk 3.1

Are You Killing Productivity And Creativity

Are You Killing Productivity And Creativity?

I work with and coach many leaders and teams. Although each team is unique, there are some common themes I see as performance and productivity blockages.

Are you suffering from one of these?

Are You Killing Productivity And Creativity 1

1. You have to be good at everything. There are many smart, good people I talk with, who can’t admit that they aren’t perfect, or still believe they should be. Perfection is outdated and unattainable. Trying to be good at everything should be too. Plus, it will only highlight and put focus on tasks and skills where you are NOT so good. As a leader, stop expecting people to be good at everything. For example, few people walk the earth who are great at being both detail/task-oriented and engaging with people. Consider realigning tasks to people based upon their natural strengths. In the end, the team will get more done with less stress.

Are You Killing Productivity And Creativity 2

2. Your way is the best way. If everyone was like you, your value would be diminished and the team would suffer from a huge blind spot. Instead, focus more on the goal and you’ll realize that the team will accomplish more. You’ll also look smarter and increase your influence by being able to see your teammates as valuable assets, even if they think and act differently, than your way of operating.

Are You Killing Productivity And Creativity 3

3. You’re constantly aware of teammate’s imperfections and wish they would change their ways. Stop thinking that the other person is who needs to change. You can positively influence behavior by trying to understand the other person’s point of view, their strengths and how they are motivated.

Are You Killing Productivity And Creativity 4

Want to learn more about how to identify and capitalize on the different strengths of your team members? Check out our Business DNA Website or contact us at inquires@dnabehavior.com.


Who’s Currently Atlanta’s Greatest Business Leader?

There are not many business leaders out there who are truly great – leaders that inspire, you can look up to, and immediately trust.

It is not easy to discover your purpose in life, and then, at all times, live it. Today, I was fortunate to meet Dan Cathy, the CEO of Chick-fil-A, an iconic Georgia headquartered business. I fully admire Dan because for his defined life of meaning, and who lives it authentically, every day – a rarity in our age. Not just lip service; he lives it in a very real way.

Dan Cathy

When asked how Dan defines success, his response was, “being the best you can be as a person.” He continued by articulating how every aspect of what he does is measurable, whether it is from how Chick-fil-A is run, to community giving, his family and health. To lead others successfully not only do you emotionally engage them but you must be centered and balanced yourself. This is very important in order for others to trust you. So many leaders fail because they live in a falsehood and are not trustworthy.
A key dimension I see in Dan is his commitment to the development of Atlanta’s community, particularly the Westside area. While central to Atlanta, it is one of the poorest. And while there is a celebration of the great wealth being created in Atlanta, Dan is determined to use it to remove social inequity. The development of the Westside area will be a symbol of this change. Otherwise, Atlanta could become more like a Baltimore.

I have learned my leadership lessons from Lee Ellis, another great Atlanta leader in the same level of authenticity as Dan Cathy. The principles I look for in a leader I learned by reading Lee’s book “Leading with Honor“.

Lee Ellis

I would be interested in your views of great leaders anywhere in the world and why.

Managing Difficult Conversation during Performance Appraisal Feedback

Managing Difficult Conversation during Performance Appraisal Feedback

Janet heads up a team of fifteen sales representatives who sell technology solutions in the financial services industry. She is preparing to have a difficult conversation with one of those sales people whose performance has slipped significantly. This will be Janet’s first appraisal with Nicky, a popular, and well-liked member of the sales team. As Janet prepares for the meeting she knows that a foundational premise to the exchange will be to speak candidly. She believes the important first step is to set out all of the issues with a view to having a conversation, finding a resolution and setting out a plan to go forward.

Four Primary Communication Styles Graph

By nature, Janet is driven to reach goals, very competitive, confident and in exercising initiative makes things happen. Janet is currently under pressure as the expected sales levels have not been reached by the team. Nicky is considered to play a key role in delivering sales, but this has not been reflected in the current numbers.

Nicky openly expresses her views; she is engaging and communicates with enthusiasm. Nicky is a ‘glass half full’ person often promising much that doesn’t actually get delivered. She is popular and builds networks with ease.

The most challenging part of the conversation for Janet will be to tie Nicky down to explaining why sales are falling. Janet needs the meeting to accomplish something if only to explain the current downturn. In addition, she wants there to be a specific agreement about what will be done, by whom, and when it will be completed.

As soon as Nicky enters the meeting room she dominates the conversation by passionately recounting an opportunity that she was currently working on. The more Janet tries to pull the conversation back on track the more Nicky regales with stories about what she would be working on and the opportunities in the pipeline. At this point, Janet found herself retreating (in her mind) against this barrage of chatter.

Her intention to obtain mutual understanding with Nicky that something has to be done to improve performance and close the performance gap was fading. Janet’s plan to provide a clear message to Nicky that she wanted her to succeed, and that she was there to assist, fell by the wayside. Janet’s frustration rose to a level where she assertively told Nicky to stop talking and listen. Janet then continued the meeting assuming control. Janet laid out the sales issues firmly and with little consideration to the impact of her now firm voice.

Had Janet, as the leader, known how to re-focus Nicky and keep her on track she would have achieved her desired outcome. Instead, Nicky closed down; her confidence seemed to fade immediately; she had hoped to gain Janet’s approval but instead felt herself becoming emotional.

The reality of the situation is that both Janet and Nicky were operating from their natural zone, and they did not have the awareness to adapt. As the leader Janet realized that the performance appraisal was not going well and that there was a real risk of Nicky’s performance slipping further due to lack of self-confidence. Then Janet recalled that when applying for this current role her executive search consultant asked her to complete the Communication DNA Discovery Process which identified her communication style as being direct. She realized that if before the conversation or even as she was preparing for the performance appraisal meeting Nicky had also completed her Communication DNA then the result of the difficult conversation could have been different. Janet would have seen the benefits of giving Nicky time to be exuberant with her stories and further, understood how to keep her on track so they could have a mutually beneficial exchange.


 Lifestyle Communication DNA Style

  1. Keep to an overview of the strategy and not too much detail
  2. Smile a lot and keep an upbeat, positive tone
  3. Have meetings in a relaxed environment, and allow more time
  4. Let them talk openly but keep on track
  5. Address their lifestyle goals
  6. Provide clean and simple graphics to invoke emotions (fewer words)
  7. Talk about “spending budgets” and returns in a range
  8. Ask what their “gut feeling” is on your recommendations
  9. Make decisions interactively together and provide opinions of others
  10. Recognize them with invitations to social events

With this knowledge Janet would have discovered how to address Nicky’s more exuberant approach, acknowledge her successes, smile a lot and keep an upbeat tone which would have put Nicky at her ease for more difficult and strategic discussion to take place. Janet had wanted them to make decisions together and share opinions on how best to move forward. However, Nicky would have realized that Janet didn’t need long stories but did need meetings to be structured and with meaningful outcomes.

The performance appraisal did not go well. No conclusion was reached. Janet suggested to Nicky that they reconvene at which time Nicky should produce a plan and strategy on how best to increase sales and, in addition, bring any suggestions she might want to include to improve the sales process.


What Talents are Lost to Your Business by Pigeonholing People?

Pigeonholing is any process that attempts to classify disparate entities into a small number of categories (usually, mutually exclusive ones).? The term usually carries connotations of criticism, implying that the classification scheme referred to inadequately reflects the entities being sorted, or that it is based on stereotypes. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pigeonholing

There may be a tendency to think that some behavioral styles are inherently more suited for certain types of careers, roles and making certain types of life or business decisions than others; however that is not the case.? To make this assumption pigeon holes the individual.

For instance, we often associate people trained as Engineers or Accountants as being a certain style of person. Usually, the association is that they are highly structured, planned, detailed and suffer from