Identity influences interactions
This is the “I” installment of my “Alphabet for Leaders.”
I’m a grandfather with three grandchildren (5, 4, and 1 year). Early on they called me poppi but that’s been shortened to pop. I’ve chosen my identity. I’m the wacky fun pop. I’m the pop who turns all the lights off and says let’s play hide and seek with flash lights. I’m the guy who rubs growing powder on kids and they instantly grow about half an inch (.2 cm). My personal identity influences my interactions.
Your view of yourself (Identity) influences
the way you interact with others.
The way you identify your role influences interactions. If your role is parent, you feel responsibility for your children. If you believe your role is protecting others from failure, you may be a control freak. However, if you identify yourself as one who brings out the best in others, it’s likely you’re committed to delegate vision and tasks.
Your perception of your place (Identity) influences the words you say. For example, if you view yourself as over others you may talk down. Furthermore, if you view yourself as the authority, you’ll give answers and directions.
Choose your Identity
I’ve chosen my pop-identity. I’m going to be fun, surprising, and giving. Additionally, we can choose our leadership-identity. I’m choosing to be an encouraging leader. That choice influences the nature of my interactions with others.
You can choose your leadership-identity. It will align with your personality, talents, abilities, and knowledge. Most importantly, it will align with the vision you choose for yourself.
Leadership is influence. Everyone can lead in some way and to some extent. You can choose to leverage positive influence toward beneficial goals.
Authentic leadership begins when you choose your leadership-identity not with what you do.
What leadership-identity have you chosen?
What do the behaviors of those around you tell you about the personal identity they have chosen?
Check out yesterday’s letter – The “H” word for leaders – History
See the Grandchildren on the post – Growing Powder
This is a great post – I like the idea that you can decide what type of leader you want to be. Choosing your leadership identity will help drive specific acts of leadership that typify that identity.
Do you agree that this leaves room for situational leadership? i.e. adapting ones leadership style to the situation at hand – providing one is being authentic.
Thanks for your comment.
I think if you identify yourself as a leader who adapts you can succeed as a situational leader.
Best to you,
A simple but powerful message and tool for leaders, parents, grandparents, friends, really for all the roles we play.
Thanks for your encouragement and affirmation.
Best to you,
Dawna is a consultant – http://dawnamaclean.com/
Integrity is the greatest and highly desired quality of a leadership. Nothing works without integrity. Integrity is ingrained in a leader and it helps as an initiator to imbibe and inculcate right information and insulate from wrong information. Leader with integrity has good intention and creates sustainable impression on people, environment and society. He has good imagination, ideas and improvise with available means. He ignites others with his ideas and intution.
Now, who creates identity ? Person creates identity and people acknowledge that and it is not other way around. So, you are responsible to create your own identity. I believe that role and environment have greater stake to create your identity in short run, but your personality creates identity in long run. Role and envrionment provides information and framework but personality determines its position. I also believe that those who chose gains creates short term identity and those who chose value, creates long term and sustainable identity.
I M P R E S S I V E use of “I”
Love your insights. 🙂
Ajay is a featured contributor on LF. Read his bio at:
Back in college in a leadership class, I decided to I should try to adopt a laissez-faire or democratic, participative leadership style. When I got my first real job as a restaurant manager, I quickly started doubting my decision and became more autocratic (fired a few people and tried to look ‘tough’). Eventually, I learned that it is possible and quite great to be a ‘democratic’ restaurant manager.
I think it’s great you wrote about identity. Thanks to some outside guidance, I was able to go back to ‘my’ path. Choosing an identity is great, staying on track can be difficult at times.
I love it when people share a part of their story. Thank you!
Insightful instigation of infectious imagination with impassioned influence and inimitable integration of impeccable ideals
I N C R E D I B L E!
Doc is a featured contributor on LF. Read his bio at:
Dan – When I advise my clients to use their I’s, it’s shorthand for:
Innovation = Inspiration + Insight + Invention + Implementation
But you and Ajay have trumped me. Selecting the right Identify (tho it needs to be Authentic) and acting from Integrity are foundational for effective leaders.
Mark – Love your series of “I’s.” Very useful.
Manage the INTERACTIONS of people versus the ACTIONS of people and your identity of yourself will change and so will those you manage.
So true. And it’s freeing to give up trying to control actions while at the same time creating an environment of responsibility. Thanks for adding value.
Jim is a featured contributor on LF. Read his bio at:
Dan, Love your “I”s of leadership. This really hits home to me and the work I do. A leaders’ mindset (and in truth any professional) and identity impacts how s/he interacts with others.
I have a question as to whether the leader should make this choice simply within him or herself. So much of what I teach focuses on spotting and adapting to personality type etc… for greater team success.
Perhaps that is my leadership persona and yet I have taught and seen leaders use personality type info to spark the greatness in their staff.
I am wondering if the leader’s chosen identity needs to take that into account or rather will all the team members primarily adapt to the leader? Thoughts from you and others?
I’m always excited to see that you’ve stopped in. I respect your passion and insights.
You’ve asked a great question centered on ideas of looking within cp. looking without. I’ll take a stab at offering a suggestion.
Look within to find your personal identity based on values, vision, talent etc. Look without (at others) to determine best methods/practices. In this case leaders find stability and consistency through their core leadership-identity. In other words they aren’t pushed around by circumstances, stresses or pressures.
On the other hand, a leaders core identity may use various leadership strategies/methods/practices depending on the circumstance.
Am I talking in circles?? 😉
You have my respect,
Kate’s insightful blog: Two Magical Words for Best 21st Century People-Skills – http://katenasser.com/two-magical-words-for-best-21st-century-people-skills/
These are some great points. If your leadership persona includes the desire to do right by the team you work with, really understand what makes them tick and tailor your approach based on their unique personalities, then by doing this you will remain authentic in your approach.
For example, if you have taken the time to understand that certain members on the team require their feedback in a straight up manner, then your leadership persona would lead you to providing feedback in a way that meets these needs. You should still stay true to your personality when delivering the feedback in order to remain authentic.
Here’s a post from HBR that you might find interesting.
Kate – powerful question! As I see it, it is the leader’s responsibility to make any given situation work. When dealing with closed or inflexible people, that means it is the leader’s job to adapt (as long as they maintain authenticity within their personal constraints and values) enough to draw out the others so that the situation can progress. If the leader forces others to adapt when they are incapable of of doing so, he/she is abdicating responsibility.
When dealing with more mature, open people, the leader can stay within their own most comfortable or powerful persona, and wonderful conversations can occur.
The best of all worlds is when the entire organization is trained in understanding personality types, and each player understands the strengths and potential flashpoints which each other team member. Then it’s not just on the leader, but rather everyone can skillfully adapt to maximize relationships, productivity, creativity, and all the other good stuff.
I hope that makes sense!
Kate, that’s a great question and I have a personal example for it.
I was brought on over a year ago as a client satisfaction manager for a software company. In this role I deal with unhappy customers and all of the silos of the company.
My director loves the work that I do but has received negative feedback from others in the company. Some find that I “talk down to them” or act as if I “know all the answers”.
It’s really hard for me to judge if the comments ring true or not. But it doesn’t matter because their perception of me influences my interactions with them.
No matter which identity I’ve chosen, I still have to integrate into the corporate culture if I want to be able to influence the people within it. And, it isn’t easy! Especially, when the corporate culture is so at odds with my own.
To get there, I have to adapt my interactions to different people and different situations. But the end game is worth it. To lead and influence long-term change, you must adapt to your environment. I have to gain the respect of these people who have habits and expectations that are very different from my own.
Deciding not to adapt would mean giving up. I can’t do that. Not because I’m stubborn (sometimes you have to cut your losses) but because they are great people who’ve had no leadership and horrible management for way too long (decade or more). They deserve to be more and are very capable of attaining excellence.
As Linda Ireland would say, I’m an isolated customer experience believer. There’s no point in isolating myself further; so, I adapt. My identity doesn’t change but how I project it has to.
Dan, this is an extraordinary blog post and seems to have struck a nerve. There’s a lot of interesting conversation. You’ve done a great job again. (Now I have to learn to do the same in 300 words or less…)
In order to be truly authentic, a leader will continue to develop his/her STYLE over time. However, the STYLE will always reflect the core values from within the leader. So, the STYLE is something you can chose and develop along your journey.
ADAPTING to your team is the second part. A charimatic leader will be just that, but to an introverted, calm, team player, they will ADAPT to ensure the communication sticks.
STYLE + ADAPTING= AUTHENTIC LEADERSHIP
Your question put me to think deeper about leadership. I believe leadership is a journey and process too. Every moment you learn from people,surroundings and circumstances. Leadership is neither directed one nor emergent one from audience. It is an exchange process. So, Leadership is a belief, exchange and learn concept. Leader has to have firm belief in his or her values, principles, morals etc and he should exchange with others and should be agile and adaptable to learn new things all the time. If this convinces you, please opine.
I was asked to jump with a response to this question and getting to it just now is a bit daunting! There has been so much perspective offered already.
I’ll start with two references. First, from my own practice, I start every leadership development process, whether individual or corporate coaching, with a comment along the lines of “I won’t tell you much but I will ask a lot. Don’t look at this as leadership training because it will be unlike any ‘training’ you have experienced before. Think of this process as the opportunity to get clear about the kind of leader you want and need to be, the leadership that is possible from you, and the process to become that highly effective leader.” [emphasis last sentence] In essence, I am helping people identify and grow into their best “leadership identity”.
In pursuing this journey of leadership development, we pursue the best tenets and tools from almost every leadership theory. I recommend people interested in the topic introduced by Dan Rockwell read “The Portable Guide to Leadership” by David Burkus at http://bit.ly/9HwpfI for an outstanding overview of leadership theory.
I find “personality theory” of leadership to be a narrow and incomplete path to development. First, personality might be defined as “the outward expression of inner attitudes”. The best “personality profiles” are not “personality profiles” at all; they are behavioral style profiles and work best in combination with other tools, especially values inventories and an attribute index. The best also don’t boil 6 billion people into a dozen or so “Types” either. [Innermetrix now has a DISC profile with 40,000 unique profiles compared to about a dozen from MBTI.]
Behavioral style is helpful to increase the knowledge of self, which provides a launching-pad for greater introspection. Unfortunately, too often “personality types” training is merely self-gratifying. The greater use is learning how to effectively “read” the behavioral style of others. This allows a leader to adapt, but you don’t adapt your “personality” or style per se; that would mean abandoning your identity.
Instead, effective use of behavioral style information allows one to adapt your interactions, verbal and non-verbal communications, with others. It helps you meet the other person’s needs without sacrificing your own. In fact, an effective predictor of how much stress a person is experiencing in his or her current environment typically shows up in the better assessments’ depictions of one’s Natural versus Adaptive style. The more you adapt your style, the more likely you may be experiencing stress.
Why? Because the more you adapt your style the further you remove yourself from your natural Identity – there’s that word again! Adapting your style to match the people in your environment can lead to damaging stress. Help others’ understand and “speak the language” of your style and better understand their own. Appropriately adapting your behavior and communication to meet another’s needs is the mark of a leader with a keen sense of identity – and a deep respect for the identity of others demonstrated with helpful leadership behavior.
I think it comes down to core values and doing the right things for the right reasons. Now, this might seem a bit vague but each of us are individuals with many unique qualities and seeds of greatness. We are here to serve each other, so I don’t think it’s entirely up to us to identify what it is we’re here for as leaders but for the people of influence in our lives to guide us in such a way. Through mentoring and continuously educating ourselves, we are armed with the right tools to pass along our experiences to those that are ready for the next step, as of journey unfolds more and more each and everyday.
Choice of identity reminds me of intention. If I intend to be a leader of epic proportions, then I have a better chance of being like that. If I intend to be a leader liken to a shrinking violet, then I will be like that.
Intentionally choosing one’s identity can be a very powerful endeavor.
With Love and Gratitude,
The Intentional Sage
Love your use of Intentionality. Thank you for adding another impressive “I” word to the discussion.
Great distinction Dan! I couldn’t have asked for something clearer. FYI: Just published a new post on Empathy in Customer Care — Does Fear Stop You? Would love your insights — I value your insights as well.
Marsha, You are so right about the best of both worlds … when all learn how to adapt to personality type (while being authentic to their values), possibilities for success are high.
Great post Dan. You’re right that as a leader, we can choose the type of leader we will be based on who we are. As a result, I believe you will naturally attract team members that share that leadership identity or respond well to it.
However, with any team, you will have team members or others that might not share your leadership identity. I believe the mark of a great leader is one who can remain true to their own identity and yet, adapt their interaction with each team member to bring out the best in that individual based on that person’s motivations, values, etc. To try to force all your team members to adapt to your style is – in my opinion – arrogant; and to not recognize your team members’ own identities is foolish.
I’ve seen managers try the forcing route and the not acknowledging individual differences option and the end result is mediocrity. However, to see a great leader remain true to themselves and bring out the best in each team member is an amazing sight – the team is practically unstoppable.
Thanks for highlighting this and the discussion here.
Great insights. One point of clarity that helped me is your expression. “Adapt interactions”
Thanks to you and Jim for pointing to this important idea!
Best to you,
Here’s Megan’s website http://www.operationsstrategyllc.com/
Dan, I agree that leaders have to know themselves and their identity because we all respond to the world from the inside out, which is natural. A truthful identity comes from knowing our strengths and weakness which is a point of awareness and humility. Armed with that knowledge, a good leader will endeavor to understand how they can work best with other team members and influence their whole team toward excellence.
I am a firm believer in operating in our areas of strengths and giftedness and I believe great leaders are the ones who know themselves and their staff well enough to position everyone in such a way that they can all contribute to the success of the team as a whole.
Great post “Pop”!
Love the idea of “operating within your strengths.” If we aren’t careful we focus on improving our weaknesses while neglecting the benefit of leveraging and strengthening our strengths.
So glad you came by,
PS nice sign off.
Here’s Bridget’s website: http://www.truthforlifecoaching.com/Welcome.html
Hi Dan and Everyone
Thanks Dan for the thought provoking article and everyone else’s interesting discussions. For me the strongest basis for chosing our leadership identity is a high level of self awareness and really knowing our values. If we chose from a place of ignorance as if picking an identity from a pick and mix wish list of what we feel a perfect leader looks like, we wont be able to sustain it. Thats why I feel frustrated when some leadership trainers continue to roll out the usual role models we “should” emulate, like Ghandi, Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King etc. I am with Oscar Wilde when he says “be yourself, everyone else is taken!”
On the other hand I have met plenty of managers who think just being themselves is enough, and use it as a reason not to change and adapt to the situation and those around them.
So for me, chosing our leadership identity is about chosing the best of who we really are. What Joshua Freedman refers to as “Knowing yourself, and showing yourself, with skill” Which I think aligns with many of your comments about having a strong core of beliefs and values, so others are clear about what we stand for and that provides a solid foundation which enables us to be flexible and responsive in our interactions.
I’m delighted you came by and left a clear comment.
As I read your comment it made me think about the danger of using “I’m going to be me” as an excuse for ineptitude.
Love the Oscar Wilde quote.
Here’s Julie’s website: http://www.developingleadersonline.com/
Your blogs convey a great perspective and hit on so many clear insights – thank you. “I” really appreciate your thoughts in a more fleshed out forum from our original Twitter dialogue.
Emotional intelligence gives insight into how, or if, a person’s intentions yield desired results. It is not enough that I think I communicate well, it is for an individual or team to act accordingly to my intended communication that tells me I did, indeed, communicate effectively.
When I think of “I” as a letter in an algebraic formula, emotional intelligence lends a great perspective. ei = i * ((p)(p+1)(p+n)(…)) Where “I” has a multiplier effect on each person and each person has a multiplier effect on each other as to whether the results met my intention.
The role of I is huge.
Congrats on the “I” formula. It’s the most complex yet. I’m running for my high school algebra book!
I’m thankful you’ve added value to an enlightening conversation.
Here’s Toby’s website: http://www.amajorc.com/blog
Don’t look too hard, I can’t imagine it yields anything measurable. More the multiplier effect than a valid formula…
I always considered Attitude to be the great multiplier, but they are very much about the same thing: habits of thought.
So as long as we’re talking formulas, here’s The Formula for Success:
A (S+K) +G = PBC –> IR
From the left, we all want Improved Results, which come from Positive Behavior Change, a product of measurable Goals plus Skills and Knowledge, which are multiplied by Attitudes!
Great additive/alternative. Would you look at attitude = motivation or not. Where someone could be highly motivated, they still may be poisoning the team with suspect attitude?
Here’s one I’ve been working on for human capital risk, I’d some insight.
Knowledge = awareness and familiarity of technical understanding acquired through experience or education; gained with training
Skills = a particular aptitude, tendency to do something well; acquired, learned, or developed competency; gained through proficiency
Ability = the capacity or unique mental and physical requirements needed to perform
Human capital risk = .2*(.2k +.5s+.3a)+.8*[(M+C)/2]
k = knowledge
s = skills
a = ability
M = motivation
C = culture (alignment)
Performance = pro forma risk + human capital risk
Motivation = the reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way; the general desire or willingness of someone to do something
Culture = values, norms, assumptions, expectations, and definitions that characterize, “how things are done”
Weighting 80% coming from EQ’s loose comment that after a certain level only 20% of success comes from IQ or technical skill.
The other weights are arbitrary and can be modified, but still show how they impact risk.
Great discussion going on here! Dan, thanks for posting this – I love it! Authentic Leadership absolutely requires that you understand yourself, what you value and the way you ‘show up.’
Kate brings up an interesting question regarding making that choice within one’s self, versus adapting to others. I, personally, don’t think that’s an either/or scenario.
I believe we should choose to be transparent and authentic in all things we do…even admitting our shortcomings and weaknesses. In my opinion, this is a great opportunity, in fact!! This is where we can identify and leverage the strengths of others to compensate for our own weaknesses. This philosophy helps us to empower others and to appreciate them for what they do best.
As is the case in so many workplace and leadership scenarious, clear communication and understanding are key. I think we can show up with our true identity AND make adaptations to meet others’ needs!
Isn’t this whole conversation a blast! Thanks for adding value to the community by taking the time to share your insights.
Love how bring divergent ideas into harmony.
Here’s Erin’s website: http://www.sagestone-partners.com/
Everything possible has been more than said. Great post DAN. This is “inarguably” one of your best. (Not sure inarguably is a word! 🙂 Al………………P.S. for some reason I have been getting your post to my home email and not my work which is upstairs? If only one can be used I would prefer the work one email@example.com and we can delete the home one (firstname.lastname@example.org) thanks, AD