Correcting the imbalance on leadership teams is challenging, but possible. In the closing episode of our series on the dynamics of people-focus and analysis-focus, Jim and Margot share practical steps for how people focus leaders can communicate their data to analysis focus leaders, an exercise leadership teams can do to create better understanding of and value for each other's differences, and share some relevant examples.
What you’ll learn:
Margot [00:00:59] I wonder what it would look like if leaders could see emotion as data. What do you think, Jim?
Jim [00:01:04] Yeah, yeah... That's nonsense, Margot.
[00:01:09] (both laughing)
Margot [00:01:10] Of course it is!
Jim [00:01:13] That... I'm being crass and I'm also admitting that that's how I used to kind of look at the world. Emotion is not data. Emotion is just feelings that come from who knows where and could go anywhere and you can't trust them and. Ouch. But it's a... It's a really good point, Margot. And, the truth is, it is: it's true, it's real, and it is a piece of data. To an analytical like myself, I have to weigh that data in with all the other data. But my past modus operandi has been to exclude that data.
Margot [00:01:59] Yeah, I think that executives often feel that they are too busy doing the important quote unquote stuff, which is the bottom line affecting pieces to invest time in what they would consider the fluffy emotional stuff. But again, I say that nothing will throw off your numbers, like having a bad attitude amongst your people or low, low energy amongst your people, lack of engagement amongst your people.
Jim [00:02:27] Right. And that's... It sounds like you're talking about the whole company and it's valid, but it's also as valid, right at the executive team.
Margot [00:02:37] For sure! Leaders who are in Myers-Briggs speak F or Feeling focused rather than T or Thinking focused are really in a subordinate position. And that's an ugly, ugly way to say it. But the fact is that the numbers of Thinking executives are so much higher and business has revolved around that for so long that the focus on the people piece, the feelings piece, being able to express emotion all has sort of been swept under the rug. So those leaders who do bring that to the table are actually often seen—almost always seen—in a lower position or an adjacent position rather than a main key position to the other executives around the table.
Jim [00:03:28] You're just reminding me of an uncomfortable moment with a team that we worked with where there was a person on that team and you made a comment, you said, oh, it looks like you're maybe more F than you were thinking. And what was the response of that, that leader, in that moment?
Margot [00:03:46] That leader said, no way am I an F, and even if I am an F, I'm not going to say that because I won't get the kind of respect I deserve.
Jim [00:03:56] The person realized that it's actually... unwise, unfruitful to own being an F in the C-suite.
Margot [00:04:09] Right. Exactly.
Jim [00:04:09] And. You and I heard that and we realize, oh, my goodness. Right, you know, hit the nail on the head there. But I think that this is why I'm waving this flag. This is why we're having this conversation. This is a big problem that organizations are facing and they don't even recognize it. So you managed to—even in that regrettably subordinate position—you managed to help me see the bigger view. What were some things that you did and this would be kind of like your recommendations to the man or the woman who's sitting at a C-suite table who recognizes that they are people focused rather than analysis focused.
Margot [00:05:02] So the truth for me is that people who are in the more subordinate position always have to understand the people in the higher position more than the people in the higher position have to understand the people in the subordinate position.
Jim [00:05:19] Yeah.
Margot [00:05:20] So that would be true across the board regardless of being in business. Meanwhile, what that means to the leader who is an F thinker is that they would need to find a way to get their idea across that the other person or other people at the table would understand. So for me, that meant providing you with proof and data of everything, where I might not have the kind of proof normally that would sway you or influence you or make you stand and take notice.
Jim [00:05:52] And let's just, let's parse that a little bit more, because what you've helped me come to recognize is you have lots of information. In my speak it's more, you have lots of data that you perceive through your feeling lens, which as a thinker, I just don't pick up on. But it doesn't make it less meaningful, less real, less valuable as data. It's just data that I wasn't noticing. So, that, that's part of what was helpful for me eventually, that I came to recognize, okay, you are looking at data. It's just there's data you see that I'm not noticing.
Margot [00:06:39] But I think it's all—I think communication is really key here because you have to understand the way that other people take in information and make their decisions. And using myself as an example, That's not a simple thing. Now, not all people may, who are F thinkers, may be like me. However, for me, it's almost a natural, intrinsic understanding of an emotional piece. So in order to give you the data you need, I have to go backwards, parse out all the pieces, put it into a sequential order so that I can speak it to you in a manner that makes sense.
Jim [00:07:16] Right and that, let's underline that word "sequence". That for us, as thinkers, analysis focused, sequence and logic really are paramount. And yes, that's really crucial for you to help me to understand what you're seeing, if you can order it that way, we get there faster. It's regrettable. Like, again, I apologize that that meant you were doing more of the work than I was doing. And I wasn't even really conscious of that imbalance because I was quite content with how I was operating. It was getting the result I wanted.
Margot [00:08:02] So to your example of, on this topic, to your example of the leader who did not want to admit to an F preference...
Jim [00:08:10] Yeah.
Margot [00:08:12] That leader was still seeing through the lens of an F preference. And that team missed out totally on having that piece come to the table for them, because they had trouble accepting that particular piece.
Jim [00:08:26] Right. Flash forward a little bit. Isn't it a beautiful thing that the CEO of that organization recognizes that that was a a big loss?
Margot [00:08:36] It absolutely is.
Jim [00:08:39] That person determined that they just couldn't stay because they didn't feel valued.
Margot [00:08:44] And that was a loss to the organization.
Jim [00:08:46] And the CEO sees it that way and is working hard at trying to bring that perspective to the table and hire to that. So.
Margot [00:08:54] Right.
Jim [00:08:55] Good thing.
Margot [00:08:55] Absolutely.
Jim [00:08:58] Let's talk a little bit about how we try to process that, help teams with that dynamic. To come to more awareness that this is going on and then to do the work that is required so that we can fully hear and value what's coming from the other perspective.
Margot [00:09:24] So I think one of the things that we do with teams that I really like in this regard is to pose a situation and have the teams figure out what their decision would be for this situation separately from another group of Fs who are figuring out what they would do with this decision, then explaining after they've come to that conclusion, explaining to the whole group why they are doing it, the way that they're doing it, and what makes it important to them that that's the way it happens. I think that that's about building understanding and about being able to communicate to a different type how you're looking at a situation.
Jim [00:10:05] Totally agree. And then the pressure is that we would ask the Fs to try to express what they've discovered, what they see in a format that is more designed to speak to the Ts and vise versa. So let me let me just admit as a T that... It's not easy work for me to reframe what makes sense in my head into language and steps, which is almost the wrong language to express in a way that F would best hear. That's it's not second nature. It's not natural for me.
Margot [00:10:51] And that's what makes the experience of that exercise really valuable.
Jim [00:10:55] Yeah. So the exercise, one, really creates the awareness of how differently we need to be expressing. And it starts to give a little bit of hints towards what we can do differently. But let's go, let's press further, to develop the skills to create a little bit more confidence that we are expressing in a way that works for the other person. What other tips can we give to leaders?
Margot [00:11:28] I think that putting it into practice is really important as well. I think that finding ways to apply what you've learned about a person who thinks differently or processes differently than you do and actually applying that in your day-to-day interactions is hugely important.
Jim [00:11:47] So that's something that I wanted to talk about. Just the the reality that we do have some stories from clients that have been working on this and it actually happens in their home, in their family. So it might be a T CEO, Thinking CEO, who's got a spouse or a child who is F and now they, every day they're working on doing this a little differently and recognizing, oh, this worked better. This, this is, this is getting traction. So doing it, practicing is crucial and letting yourself make mistakes and hoping that you're surrounded by people who give you some grace to make mistakes and that you're earnest in trying to develop a skill that is not second nature, but it doesn't mean it can't be learned.
Margot [00:12:43] And it's an investment for sure. Like, you're making an investment in your future by learning how to communicate with people who think differently than you do. On so many levels, it doesn't just help in your workplace. It helps in your personal life. It helps in, like, if you're a sports person, it helps in every area of your life to understand someone who looks at things differently.
Jim [00:13:05] Yeah. Well, let's talk about kind of the ideal end. I just like the picture that a team is made up of thinkers and feelers, analysis focused and people focused leaders, because that totally will change the dynamics of what happens in that C-suite meeting. They're going to be so much more aware of how what they share is affecting each other in the room, they're going to be so much more intentional about how they communicate their ideas so that they are fully understood by the full team. But that translates and cascades through the whole organization.
Margot [00:13:54] Right.
Jim [00:13:55] Because a typical leadership team that's unbalanced is only talking about the facts and the data and the proof. And that makes, that doesn't resonate with half of the employees in the company. But now, when we've got a fully... When we've got a team that fully expresses both the thinking and feeling, they are well equipped to communicate to the entire organization so that we have a lot more alignment. And we've got people that are excited to be a part of something that is bigger than them. And they're making a difference that changes how they feel about their job, which changes how they feel when they go home, which changes how their family feels about life. Like, I know this might sound rather utopian, but I really believe that if a team at the top of a company fully embraces both thinking and feeling and does that well, it actually changes the entire company.
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