Extraordinary Team Blog

What is Determining Your Leadership Style?

Posted by Joseph Sherren on April 20, 2016

Who remembers as a teenager saying, “When I grow up, I am never going to be like my mother (or father)”? Then you wake up one morning in your 40’s and realize that you are saying and even doing some of the exact same things.

Well, we are neither born with our personalities, nor are they created exclusively by our environment. Although each of these play a major role in developing who we are, there is much more involved. Our total personalities are created as a result of biology, genetics, living environment, health, and conditioning.

Values are the filters through which we interpret the meaning of biological, social, and environmental factors. These beliefs determine our attitudes, behaviours, and how we react and respond to others. By modeling and reinforcing our conditioning, we learn to think, feel and act in predictable patterns. This results in us thinking and behaving in either constructive, aggressive, or passive ways.

When our focus is constructive, we become achievement oriented and work towards self-actualization. This fulfills our need to develop ourselves to the fullest. When our thinking is negative, we become defensive and behave in aggressive or passive ways. We are then more concerned about looking good, being accepted, and appearing strong.

Personality traits are the underlying aspects of our character: Such as being introverted or extroverted, sensitive or abrupt, formal or informal. However, a naturally introverted person who has developed high self-esteem may actually appear to be more outgoing. On the other hand, an outgoing person who has been brought up in an environment where ‘children should be seen and not heard’, may appear more introverted and shy.

Self-esteem is our own measure of where we fit in the social continuum. It is the way we answer the question, “How do I compare myself to others?” Low self-esteem results in a more passive attitude and affects how we think about ourselves, our perception of others, and what we believe others think about us.

Placed on a continuum, with inferiority on one end and superiority on the other, high self-esteem is mid-range. Individuals who were teased as a child will develop a sense of inferiority. As a result, they will often compensate by passing right over self-esteem, become aggressive, and develop superiority by trying to always look the absolute best. The consequences will be a person with a high need for approval and an over-competitive persona.

Our personality affects how we parent and our style of leadership. It can affect the quality of health we enjoy as we get older, and the depth of our personal relationships.

Research shows that by understanding and making changes to the conditioned aspect of our personality, and accepting who we are genetically, we will achieve greater successes in business and in life. We will also experience better relationships and minimize the risk of chronic illnesses.

People are complex, but the more we understand ourselves and each other, the closer we will come to maximizing our own potential and living a life of true happiness.

Understanding personalities will help us understand and appreciate more people with whom we interact. As well, we will be more positive and accepting of people who are different, and more optimistic about life in general.

My question for leaders this week: “Is the conditioning of your parents or previous managers still determining how you communicate with and manage others?”

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  • Joe’s post really resonated with me. So much of our training and coaching helps leaders become more self aware of their early conditioning from significant others– parents, coaches, teachers, clergy, relatives. One’s ability to spot patterns in her/his behavior that link to internalized childhood messages will be, as Joe says, more empathetic for others, forgiving of themselves, and in command of their leadership presence. Thanks Joe for shining a light on the root of so many career de-railers– a lack of self awareness.