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Do You Need To Dial It Up Or Dial It Down?

Do You Need To Dial It Up or Dial it Down?

Vanessa Judelman

President, Mosaic People Development

My client Charlie is very innovative, strategic and is extremely good at solving problems creatively. He is also very enthusiastic. These are all admirable traits for a leader.

The problem is that sometimes Charlie is too enthusiastic.

When he gets an idea or has the “perfect solution” for a problem, he makes sure that he states his view clearly, openly and passionately. The problem is that he then expects others to jump on board and execute his idea or strategy immediately and with as much enthusiasm as he demonstrates. However, Charlie is often met with resistance from his team. Why? Well, some of his team members have a different work styles than he does. These individuals tend to need time to assess the situation, weigh the pros and cons and then make a decision. So, at times, they get frustrated by Charlie’s passion and enthusiasm. They feel like he can be too pushy instead of giving them time to process the situation or idea.

Now some may consider Charlie’s behavior a weakness. I do not. I spoke to Charlie about the fact that sometimes we just over use our strengths. So, he does not have to change who he is as a person. His quick decision making and enthusiasm are a very special part of what makes him brilliant. However, we talked about the metaphor of ‘turning down the dial”. Just like you can turn down the volume on your radio, it is possible for a person to turn down the intensity of their behaviour. Charlie’s goal was to “dial down” his enthusiasm from 9 out of 10 to a 6 out of 10.
All of us need to “dial down” an aspect of our behaviour at some point.

Conversely, some of us need to “dial up” our behaviour. For example, my client Joanna is an architect and has a very even keeled personality. She is very well liked and respected in her firm especially for her ability to stay calm under pressure. Her issue is the opposite of Charlie’s issue. She can be perceived as lacking enthusiasm. So, when a person on her team does a great job on their project, Joanna does not comment or will simply nod her head in approval. The problem is that some people on her team require a “great work” or “amazing job”. They crave that kind of positive reinforcement from her. So, Joanna and I talked about “dialing up” her enthusiasm and focussing on providing more positive feedback to her team.

As a leader, it is so important to be authentic. So, instead of thinking about how you need to change, or which behaviours you need to eliminate, rather think about what you need to “dial up” or “dial down”.

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