It is said that there are Type A’s and Type B’s in the world. The Type A’s are usually the ones out there in the front, the ones that are noticed and the ones that seem to drive themselves into the ground. The Type B’s appear to be a bit more reserved, a bit more cautious, and a bit more relaxed. But, as we all know this is a stereotype, while there may be some truth to the division, there is more crossover than people think. It is the perceived Type B’s that may explode at some point and the Type A’s that get quiet that cause concern. It t is when we step out of our typical mode of operation that we may be most effective as leaders.
Think for a minute, as a child if you had a boisterous parent or teacher, what was their behavior that most concerned you? It was when they didn’t yell or were loud, it was when they were quiet. Similarly, if there was a quite person in your class or group; when did you pay attention to them? It was when they spoke up or yelled. When someone steps outside of their normal behavior, people take notice.
The why, behind this is easily explained. Our brains are designed to notice things that are out of place. We notice differences. We use patterns to help ourselves deal with the enormous amounts of information we are exposed to every day. If it is a small change, like looking for a “p” in a series of “q’s,” we may not readily see it. But, if it is a “t” in a series of “q’s,” most people will pick it out quickly. Why? It is a big change from the surroundings or prior pattern. This is the same with picking up the nuisances of human behavior. We spot the big differences.
There is another side to this as well. What happens when you change your perspective? How do you see what is happening, if you sit back and watch how the meeting progresses versus jumping in and participating? What happens when you go last instead of first? How does this change your view of the situation? How are you evaluating the information? It turns out that this is as beneficial for you as well as those around you.
As leaders, we can use this to our advantage. It is when, we step into these non-traditional routines where we can see what changes can be made. We get more creative. We step out of the rut and maybe see ways of accomplishing our goals that weren’t visible before.
So, just how do you accomplish this? For starters, you have to be willing to be open, and you have to understand how you operate. Then you can begin to reflect on how you might modify how you approach a situation. For example, you might want to turn off the radio in your office while you work, or maybe take your work outside for a bit. Or, you could start even simpler – just change the type of music you listen to while working.
How are you going to participate in that next meeting? Develop a strategy or plan prior to going into the meeting. Sure you may revert to your habitual behaviors, but you have created a new pathway to look at the meeting and gather information during the meeting. Even a slight change has an impact.
Each of us is a bit of a chameleon. And, understanding and using those chameleon tendencies can pay great dividends, in our understanding of others, in how we assess a problem or situation, and in how we develop solutions. Yes, we need to play to our strengths, but we also have to keep polishing our strengths. It is by building new paths to observation and interactions that we are going to be able to observe the strengths in others. Life is a team sport, but we have to recognize the weaknesses in ourselves and the strengths in others for our goals to succeed.