Here are four strategies on how to read people – to better understand who is on your team and how you can better lean in their direction.
Read People Well, Lead People Well
1. Learn About Their Personalities
I love utilizing personality profiling systems within teams. Not to reduce people to a collection of numbers, letters, and colors, but these systems provide insight into prototypical behaviors, motivations, and fears. Pick a profiling system and allow each team member to discover more about themselves. Then, review their findings with them, allowing each staff member to explain what they believe is true and what might not be as relevant. One more thing: Ask them how YOU, as a leader, can better understand how to work with THEM based on these findings.
2. Study Each Team Member
Whether in meetings or the hallway, pay attention to your team members. What brings them energy? What brings them down? Do they respond or react? The more you study each person, the better you’ll be able to lead them individually.
3. Write Down What You Learn
You probably already have notes for each staff member, but are your notes about them as a person or their work? Take personal notes in addition to your HR notes. For example, if you have a processor on your team, add this to your notes as a reminder to give them time before expecting strategic answers to questions. There will be too much to remember alone. The best leaders write notes about people as reminders of how they can be best led.
4. Support Their Dreams
As we learn more about each person on our team, we are in a position to support their unique hopes and dreams. One of the best things leaders do is serve those following them. Your team doesn’t exist for your hopes and dreams. As a leader, you’re most likely in a more powerful and influential position to support each person’s future. So do that.
It’s easier (and lazier) to expect everyone on your team to bend their personality to yours rather than to learn to read people well. The best leaders recognize their team is a collection of individuals who are best led individually.