Watch and Read – How Exceptional Leaders Value Differences in Others

Sharing time with like-minded people just feels good, doesn’t it? Connecting with cohorts with the same outlook, interests, skills and perspective is easy. Then, here comes someone that’s exactly your opposite. Ugh, now what? For honorable and mature leaders and team members, now the challenge is on to step up and make these opposing relationships work.

Chapter 23 in our new book, Leadership Behavior DNA: Discovering Natural Talents and Managing Differences, unpacks in a very graphic way how natural behavior predicts team dynamics. We open this chapter with a quote from Simon Sinek,

We can’t all be good at everything. This is partly the logic behind having a team in the first place, so each role can be filled with the person best suited for that role and together, every job and every strength is covered.

And watch what Lee says about it in this month’s Leading with Honor Coaching

Differences Strengthen Us

We could not have said Simon’s quote any better.

“Differences make a team stronger if teams are composed of the right talents for the mission and if each person understands and accepts those who are different.” [Tweet This]

They will play a critical role in the success of the team if they’re accepted and appreciated for their different talents.

As you have probably already noticed at home and at work, it is the natural struggles of those who are different that can irritate us the most. For example, if you are naturally Outgoing, then those quiet, unresponsive, unfriendly Reserved folks can be challenging. And if you are Reserved, those loud, talkative, emotional Outgoing folks can be a real turnoff.

Understanding Strengths and Struggles

In our training and in the new book, we document Strengths and Struggles for each of the 16 Traits. Because their occurrence is so highly correlated, we often refer to Strengths and Struggles as the two sides of the same coin.

A good team usually needs a variety of Talents (Strengths), but the reality is that the other side of the coin—their accompanying Struggles—will show up as the “sand in the gears” that disrupts smooth teamwork.

Do you want to stand out as a mature, influential leader? We train leaders and teams to have these three qualities:

  1. Be self-aware of your own Strengths and Struggles.
  2. Be others-aware of their Strengths and Struggles.
  3. Learn how to make this unique team mix of Strengths and Struggles more positive than negative.

This open recognition of both sides of the coin for self and others is a sign of humility and self-awareness that facilitates the needed trust for team cohesion.

“Great leaders create positive team dynamics by celebrating Strengths and accepting their accompanying Struggles.” [Tweet This]

Our DNA Behavior Team Performance Report provides a visual picture of the talents and Traits of each person. The graphics shown below from the report clearly indicate that people are different and exactly how they’re different. This revelation brings openness and safe vulnerability that builds trust and allows objective discussions about team dynamics. This team leans toward operating in these Traits: Cooperative, Reserved, Patient, and Planned (organized and detailed), and Skeptical. But some opposing differences are obvious. Visual learners instantly connect the dots and realize that most relationship challenges are just people being themselves! Seeing these differences helps everyone accept others rather than judge them.

A Team Training Success Story

In a recent large workshop of 40 people—mostly millennials—we did an exercise in which people are grouped by one of their strongest Traits. As each group discussed and took ownership for their Strengths and Struggles and then presented them to the entire group, everyone learned more about differences. They could see with more clarity the value that everyone, regardless of their respective Traits, brings to the team. It helped them see that they were all good and talented people but just naturally different.

Something even more powerful for building team cohesion occurred when we asked teammates from other traits to volunteer and share why they appreciated those with the presenting Trait. It was deeply meaningful to hear them affirm those who were different by giving them specific examples of how they had helped the team using their unique talents. In the related discussions for various Traits, they even laughed at how their struggles sometimes irritated each other by just being themselves. They clearly got the message – you are “different,” but you are very valuable to our team.

Later in the day, many of them came to me and expressed how powerful and special it had been to learn more about themselves, but even more so to learn to appreciate those who were different. It was like they had been freed from their tendency to judge others by their Struggles. They could now turn the coin over and celebrate their Strengths and see how valuable they were to the team and to them personally.

As they shared their excitement in discovering natural talents and learning how to relate to differences, I was thrilled.

Our Mission as Leaders

You see, my mission in life and work is “to bring freedom to the captives.” That alludes to my early career experience as a Vietnam POW, so seeing the response of this team was special.

What about you? Are you bringing freedom to the captives—yourself and others? If you want to learn more, be sure to check out the new book below.


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NEW! The Debut of Lee and Hugh’s New Book 

Every human is unique — and the best leaders know why this might be an advantage. Learn how embracing different talents and abilities, both our own and those of others, can lead to more effective leadership and success.

Grounded in statistical research and supported by data from millions of clients and more than 45 years of workplace experience, Lee Ellis and Hugh Massie reveal their personal stories and experience on how they’ve successfully helped organizations achieve their goals by applying practical insights on human design.

Order Your Copy

Additional discount available for bulk orders.

“…There are few that have made significant strides on making ‘knowing yourself’ operational and real as Lee and Hugh have in this marvelous book. Reading this book is a compelling adventure. If you follow the path, you will change for the better!” Richard Boyatzis, Co-author of the international best seller, Primal Leadership and the new Helping People Change

“This is the book that I have longed for during my decades in managing talent. Having seen the positive impact of DNA Behavior on my teams, this is a must-read for leaders who desire to build strong teams by accelerating natural talents in an authentic and lasting way.” – Belva White, CPA, MBA, Vice President for Finance & Treasury, Emory University




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