Managing the Art and Science of Teamwork

Leadership and Teamwork success are highly correlated to good relationships. Have you logically considered what that really means? If so, you realize that science will not be enough to succeed. Whenever you introduce relationships into the arena you have to deal with the many variables of human nature, many of which do not seem logical at all. 

Differences often undermine teamwork

Consider the impact of differences such as our mindsets, habits, values, emotions, baggage and natural talents and behaviors. These are just a few of the many nooks and crannies of human personalities that can make relating to others a rough experience. All too often these differences cause a negative influence on others.

Reflect for a moment on the word influence, and you will realize it’s at the core of all good leadership and cohesive teamwork. Our response to others has an immediate impact on relationships and typically it’s either positive or negative. So, we are always giving and receiving vibes that can swing our influence and relationships either way. When there are differences, all too often, our nature receives them as a negative when it’s just the other person being themselves. Obviously, there is no way to predict what is going on within the mind and heart of another human being.

“This is the challenge of influencing others—how do you relate positively to each person individually.” [Tweet This]

I explain it more in-depth in this month’s Leading with Honor Coaching below–please watch and interact with others on this clip:

Saying Hello to the Art Side

For some this “art” side of leadership is a challenge that motivates them. For others it may be more of a downer, but for everyone this ability is crucial to having good relationships. Much of human nature is difficult to comprehend, but there is a big chunk of these subtle differences that we can understand and predict—our natural “go to” behaviors. They can help us understand much of why people are different and why they act the way they do, and how we can relate to them most effectively.

Ironically, natural behaviors also have a scientific side; they come with our DNA, bringing a degree of order and structure into the swirling mishmash of human nature. We are all born with a unique bent. And here is the exciting part for leadership, teamwork, and all relationships—natural DNA behaviors can be easily identified and then scientifically measured and scored with a high degree of accuracy. Bringing this science to support the art of leadership and teamwork is at the heart of our mission for thirty years.

“We all know that people are different. But accepting them and respecting and even celebrating their differences is a challenge and often a stumbling block for relations and influence.” [Tweet This]

Let’s unpack this concept and discover a gift that keeps on giving every day of the year.

Two People Needing to Get Along

Let’s take the example of two very different people Tom and Jen. They have very different roles, but they are teammates who must work collaboratively to be successful. Shown below are their scores on our Leadership Behavior DNA assessment. Here you will see that we have brought science to the rescue—to help them understand and value each other and build a positive relationship. Let’s look deeper.

Examine the DNA Behavior Comparison Report graph shown below, and you’ll see that their differences are stark. At a quick glance, the closer together they are, the more alike they are; the farther apart, the more different they are.

We use T-Scores and a ten-point difference in a Factor is one standard deviation, meaning there is something different in their behaviors. A spread of 20 points difference in a Factor score is a very significant difference (probably opposite) and 30 points is an extreme difference.

You can graphically see the significant differences in the natural behaviors of these two people. In Factor 2 People and 4 Structure, they are almost three standard deviations (SD) apart, and in three Factors, they are separated by roughly two SD. In Factor 3 Patience, they are on the same side but will operate somewhat differently as they diverge by 1 SD. Factor 5 Trust is the only one where they are close.

On the positive side, between these two people, they have strengths (talents) in six of the eight Traits. With the exception of Patient and Trusting, each has strengths that can cover for the other’s struggles. They look like the perfect match—but because opposite-Trait struggles are the most irritating, it’s most likely the perfect storm, unless they apply the Platinum Rule.

Seeing the Differences

This is where scientific evidence, graphics, and numbers are a big help. These two people can visually and objectively see that their DNA Behaviors are opposite. They can know that they can’t change the other person, but they can value their strengths and see how they have great potential for contributing to each other’s success. It won’t be easy, but if by having appropriate expectations for the other and applying the Platinum Rule (which says “Do unto others as they would like to be done unto”.) they can work together like a pitcher and catcher in baseball. Very different talents, but an amazing team.

Now you see how science can help us understand and adapt in the moment to others in a positive way that helps them feel valued and important. With these kinds of insights, you can be an artist too.

And you can increase your skills in both the science and art of leadership by better understanding yourself and how others are different as well as powerful coaching on how to work with differences in our new book, Leadership Behavior DNA: Discovering Natural Talents and Managing Differences. It’s in pre-order now and will ship the first week of January.   


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While the book does not officially launch until January 7, we’ve gotten a peek at the website for it and wanted to share the excitement with you.

“Leadership Behavior DNA: Discovering Natural Talents and Managing Differences” was co-authored by DNA Behavior’s Hugh Massie and Lee Ellis. No matter your leadership style, this book is for you. Learning to recognize and better manage #differences is the key to building a winning culture and improved productivity.

Instead of another leadership or #management tome, Hugh and Lee’s book is grounded in statistical research + data from millions of clients and more than 45 years of workplace experience.

Pre-order online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, other popular retailers





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