Your default setting can also be called your comfort zone. This is the behavior you tend to exhibit when faced with certain situations. As a leader, you want to be aware of these so that you have a choice of whether a change is needed to be more effective. For example, are you more comfortable making quick decisions and taking action than gathering input and collaborating, which can take more time?
Co-authors of “Being the Boss”, Linda Hill and Kent Lineback, recently wrote in the Harvard Business Review about different management styles, either/or scenarios which they call paradoxes that managers often use. Their point is to know what your gut would tell you to do and then be able to decide whether that’s the best strategy. A lot easier said then done but what behavior change is easy?!
“The essence of management is about knowing when one side of the paradox is more appropriate — when to take action and when to wait, for example, or when to manage closely and when to give someone a long rein.” Linda Hill & Kent Lineback, co-authors, “Being the Boss”
Try to answer their eight questions for yourself. Just being aware of your default behavior can help you be a better manager or leader?
- Do you prefer to include others in choices you make by asking for their ideas and opinions or even giving them freedom to decide — or do you tend to direct others on what to do?
- Do you prefer to focus on the work people do or on the people doing the work? In your relationship with direct reports, do you tend to deal primarily with the work, or do you prefer to interact with them as close colleagues and unique individuals?
- Do you prefer to develop people through constructive criticism of what they need to improve on, or by praising them for what they do well? Do you let them figure out for themselves how to improve, or work with them using close contact and instruction?
- Do you prefer to deal with your direct reports one-on-one or as a team? When there’s a problem in your group, do you tend to call everyone together and deal with it as a team, or do you prefer to go around person to person and work on it?
- Do you prefer to focus on today’s challenges or do you prefer to think about tomorrow and what’s coming in the future?
- Do you prefer execution, getting work done day after day, or innovation, creating new products or services or new ways of working?
- Do you tend to work mostly with direct reports, your own group, or do you prefer to work with others throughout your organization?
- When you have to make a tough choice, do you tend to focus on the harm that might befall someone or some group? Or do you prefer to focus on the greater good even if a choice may cause harm to some?
They conclude, “ If we don’t know our preferences when we encounter them, we’re far less likely to make the best choices. Going with your gut isn’t always the best way to be a boss.”