Managing complexity, change, and strategic thinking are the most common leadership development competencies. No doubt you have spent multiple training hours on implementing frameworks and off-the-shelf solutions to help your teams be more effective.
How did you define success? Were you able to measure a change in behavior and the impact on your bottom line?
I propose that while many existing courses about "Time Management", "Deal with Change", and "Embrace Ambiguity" have their rightful place in the Organizational Development curriculum, they're missing one crucial element: customization.
No, I'm not talking about branding it to your company by slapping your logo on the slides. I mean actually customizing actionable implementation tips to the individual leader.
By using Personality Type knowledge.
"Oh my gosh, we have so many personalities among our leaders, I wouldn't know where to begin or how to get all of them under one hat. No way we can please everyone!"
Lucky you - the solution I'm proposing takes the guesswork out of it for you.
"That's fine and dandy, but we need our leaders to commit to company goals; all root for the same goal; be team-players, you know?"
Lucky you - the solution I'm proposing will improve inner- and inter-team communication and collaboration.
"Sounds great, but we've already committed to a program and can't really switch horses right now."
Lucky you - the solution I'm proposing works well as a stand-alone and can also be used to enhance existing programs.
Enough teasing, drumroll please: welcome to Matrix Insights.
This brand new online platform provides in-depth personal profiles, comparison between Types, and Development Areas for each Type.
For example, "Breakthrough Leadership Skills" often come down to
- Dealing with Ambiguity and Paradox
- Managing Change and Complexity
- Strategic Agility
Every high-potential needs these skills to be successful. Traditionally, companies provide time management resources and operational management trainings for support. These are great and have their rightful place in leadership development, but I for one know that the same training class has different effects on its participants, and personality type is one of the deciding factors.
To accelerate learnings from traditional trainings and make them stick better, faster, Matrix Insights provides Type-specific action items to practice building these skills.
As such, Matrix Insights access can be added on top of existing programs to enhance content retention and engagement at the time of need, and it also makes an effective basis for one-on-one or group coaching.
Here's an example using ESTJ and ENFJ leaders side by side.
ESTJ leaders have natural talents for organization, efficiency, and practicality. To develop the three skills mentioned above, here's a personalized approach:
Dealing with Ambiguity & Paradox
ESTJs like to rely on tried and true strategies when dealing with situations. They like to perfect what already works well and that does not always open the door for considerations to new choices. When faced with ambiguous situations, evaluate the tried and true options for responding and identify a couple of new ways to approach the problem at hand. Find others who can provide a significantly different view of the situation and who can suggest new tactics for addressing the presenting ambiguity.
Reduce ambiguity by declaring the A1.
Clarifying priorities by sorting associated tasks, identifying areas of needed information, and designating tasks by As, Bs, and Cs, where A is most important to C low importance. Even in the face of ambiguity or paradoxical uncertainty, knowing the A1--even if it is just for the day--is a clear step forward. Make a plan to revise the priorities over the course of several weeks when dealing with a complex problem as conditions will change and the current A1 may drop off the plate. Humans are galvanized around a priority and it is doubly so for ESTJs, so declare some.
Managing Change and Complexity for ESTJs
Who can provide you with alternative interpretations of information in change?
Typically ESTJs are eager to take efficient action and to take care of the “to do list” as quickly as possible. To do so, ESTJs need to confidently take action based on the information they have, which as a general rule, they have vetted and decided is worth their attention. Herein lies the potential problem--speed and bias. ESTJs can improve their management of change if they do not assume that everyone has the same perspective and if they actively solicit views from others on the change under consideration. In fact, make a list of all of those individuals who typically see things differently from you and seek out their perspectives. What and how will they interpret some of the messages that you are contemplating providing during change can be useful to consider. They may even provide you with tips for making the messages clearer and more useful.
What rules of thumb make dealing with complexity easier?
ESTJs are naturals at finding “rules of thumb” to make sense of and act on situations. Usually, their approach to complexity is to break it into smaller units of information and respond in a more tactical manner; however, this may not serve them well in terms of understanding the layers of dynamics in a situation nor will it clarify how to manage those dynamics that haven’t been fully recognized. Usually, ESTJs have had enough experience with an array of situations that they have a useful set of heuristics or pragmatic tips for addressing similar situations in the future. There is value in creating a “tactics log” to identify the most typical ways to manage change and to enrich this list, ask others for their short rules for various complex situations.
Action plan inclusive of speculative outcomes?
Make a list of five hypothetical adjustments on a product or service regarding how this product or service might look in ten years given social, technological, and economic changes. Speculate based on a few hunches and create a elevator sales pitch on each of the five hypotheticals. Discuss your explorations with a colleague and examine how this kind of process can aid strategic thinking.
Found a way to explore trends?
More often than not ESTJs require more data points than intuitive types before reporting that a trend exists. Practice projecting a trend based on three data points rather than having a large set of data to create a prediction. One of the challenges of ESTJs is to learn to create a possible trend based on a few data points so with this tip, practice the stretch.
Leaders with ENFJ preferences, by contrast, have innate abilities for empathy, mentoring, and maintaining harmony. Obviously, they would approach the three skills from a completely different angle:
Dealing with Ambiguity and Paradox
Looking for the perfect outcome?
Even though it is clear that there are no perfect solutions ENFJs often look for them. In a psychological “feedback loop” built into their type dynamic, ENFJs “see” possible solutions which are “evaluated” and found unacceptable. This prompts more interest in finding better solutions. It is important to become aware of this and to break the pattern. Create a list of the mission critical criteria to use in evaluating the available data and outlined options. This will enable ENFJs to identify what is sufficient and effective.
Energy levels unusually high?
ENFJs find that they become more energized by solving complex problems and ambiguity usually makes things much more complex. A very important strategy for keeping all this in perspective is to make note of the energy level and evaluate how this is serving you at the time. There is a good chance that taking time out and meditating--even for a few minutes--will introduce a relaxation response which has the benefit of encouraging focus and directing attention that leads to finding a successful response to the situation at hand.
Managing Change and Complexity
Use empathy to help drive change?
ENFJs have a knack for understanding what others are experiencing. This ability can benefit their change management tactics by tapping into the needs of others and stepping into other perspectives on the change that is to be implemented. While such empathetic “sight” might not change the decisions in change, it can inform how best to communicate, what to anticipate, and how to respond to others finding the change difficult.
Using cues to go with the flow in complex situations?
Complex situations are in a state of flux--the greater the complexity, the more energy is in the system where the complexity resides. ENFJs can quickly ascertain the complexity of situations and in their passion to help contribute to improving things, they may bypass some key clues. A useful question to ask yourself is: What factors am I emphasizing and what might I see in the situation if I changed emphasis? What methods of monitoring shifts in the situation have I put in place? How are you observing or monitoring the primary movers, influencers, and doers in the situation?
Why the urge to decide clips your agile considerations.
Being strategically agile means being able to flex with new information or new insights. ENFJs are wired to decide and move forward, whether or not the situation requires it. When in this mode, ENFJs spend energy on deciding and acting on what is believed to be the best strategic plan at the moment. This inoculates ENFJs from paying attention to new emerging ideas. Create a strategy log or journal in which you can keep your ideas and sketch out possibilities.
Cutting loose from the values anchor.
Like other NFs, ENFJs seek to take action and make recommendations on options that align with values and ideals. This creates a drag on new energy and on agile considerations that may emerge. One of the ways to manage this is to be unambiguous about the top five values on which you based your decisions. The clearer you are about those values, the easier it is to contract choices and measure the impact on the current choice and to ask what other choices can be pursued that value those not able to attend.