Every office has a culture. There’s an unwritten set of rules. You may feel you either fit or you don’t.
Do you ever feel like an outsider in your own workspace? As though you connect with coworkers on the surface—exchange niceties and pleasantries, but when it comes to really engaging with your coworkers, there’s just nothing there?
There’s a tendency among most of us when this happens to look at our differences to blame:
“I’m the only man in the office full of women.” ‘
“My coworkers all went to college together.”
“It feels like a boy’s club.”
“I grew up in a different country, and my officemates are so American.”
“I’m much old/younger than my office mates.”
“We just don’t seem to have anything in common.”
“My office is full of jerks.”
If this sounds like you, first of all you need to realize it’s not them. It’s you. I know this statement seems harsh, but hear me out.
If you’re blaming your culture, your obvious differences, or even differences in personality, you’re creating a wall to insulate yourself from really getting to know those around you. You’re using your differences as an excuse. We are 100% responsible for our own happiness in any given situation.
With the right levels of emotional intelligence, the right vision sharing, the right engagement and leadership tools, you are able to connect with anyone. Whether you’re from Texas and they’re from Japan, or you’re Jewish and they’re a practicing Sikh. All of us can engage, connect and get on the same page.
Now, there are many different personality types in any given office. The personality types we encounter are categorized somewhere within what we at Wright refer to as the CARE Profile quadrants—Cooperator, Analyzer, Regulator, or Energizer. Rarely does anyone fall completely into one quadrant, and usually there’s quite a bit of overlap.
When you understand your CARE profile type, you will better understand what makes you tick in an office setting. Analyzers, you may prefer numbers, figures, measurements and set parameters for a project. You’re rarely the touchy-feely type.
Regulators, you prefer being in control and in charge. You like to know everything’s going smoothly. These are the project management personality type.
On the other side of the spectrum Cooperators want everyone to get along. They want to talk about feelings and motivations. They’re often easy to work with and help groups find ways to work together.
Lastly, we have Energizers. Energizers are the cheerleaders of their team. They are your sales people. They are enthusiastic and ready to motivate everyone else.
Analyzers might feel totally bowled over by Energizers. Regulators might look at cooperators and think, “let’s just get this finished. We don’t all need to talk about our feelings.” On the flip side, Cooperators and Energizers may look at Analyzers as dull and “too safe.”
The great news is every personality can find a way to get along. It’s about using the strengths of each type to work toward the overall vision and desired outcome. In an office, Transformational Leaders identify these strengths in each person and help guide them toward their most productive and successful path.
If you are in an office space where there’s no great leadership available, don’t throw up your hands and say, “that’s it! We’ll never get on the same page.”
YOU can be that leader. You don’t need the title of President, CEO, CFO or even a Team Manager. All you need to do is engage with those around you, help everyone get on the same page when it comes to the overall vision of the organization, and discover the strengths of your coworkers. Emerging leaders display strong emotional intelligence skills, meaning, they’re good listeners, they’re empathetic, they care for others and work to understand those around them. They look at what their coworkers really want—what drives them? What do they YEARN for?
Then they use their knowledge to shape the team, and encourage motivation. In your office, transformational leadership begins with YOU!
Those with a high EQ know leading doesn’t mean whipping everyone into shape, and bullying or pushing everyone to your whims. Leadership–solid leadership–comes from taking ownership of each interaction.
When you walk into a board meeting, do you approach the situation with your company’s vision in mind? Do you work to merge your vision for career success with that of your boss or manager?
The strongest managers know when their team succeeds they look good too. They want to encourage everyone on their team to do as well as possible. They want to help each person discover their aptitude and strengths and elevate them to the next level. Strong leaders don’t focus on weaknesses. They mitigate the weaknesses and move on, using strengths to propel everyone forward.
Yet, when we think of our own leadership skills and career path, we often focus heavily on our weakest areas. We get bogged down by what we may have done wrong (often, when everyone else has long since moved on).
Instead, know your strengths. If you’re an analyzer, focus on your abilities to really understand the details of a task. If you don’t agree with a plan or statement, speak up! Point your concerns out! Call attention to the insight YOU can bring to the table. Don’t beat yourself up about the aspects of a project you aren’t doing, but focus on the aspects you do well. Own it!
The next time you walk into a meeting, whether you’re running the meeting or not, don’t hold back. View the meeting and the room as yours. Work to ensure everyone in the room is comfortable—offer them a drink, ask them if they can hear/see what you’re presenting. Really look at each person in the meeting and ask yourself what you can do to empathize, get on the same page, and share a vision of success you both work toward.
If you’re attending a meeting, you’re there for a reason. Don’t just sit idly by and absorb the information presented. Contribute! Give your feedback! Many of us hold back, for fear of being the “squeaky wheel” when really, we could offer valuable insight and productive feedback.
I’ve coached many people who held back in work situations—they didn’t want to speak up or were afraid to “rock the boat” and create waves in their company. I’ve seen people hold back, and stop themselves from speaking up while the company walls literally crumbled around them. Often, they had the answer or valuable insight to offer! They knew what to do, but they either viewed the problem as something management needed to resolve, or felt they didn’t possess the authority to take charge.
If everyone on your team is doing a job they love, celebrating huge wins and working toward their vision of success, the community itself is more successful.
Sometimes we don’t encourage others on our team because we fear their success will take away from ours. This scarcity mentality destroys teams and doesn’t create a healthy competitiveness, but a dog-eat-dog cutthroat environment where no one thrives. The idea there’s only so much success is a belief that limits us, when really there is no ceiling on what we will achieve.
Instead, realize the successes of those around you in no way diminish your own. If your team is successful the whole group will look good.
Using your emotional intelligence at work to lead will not only lead to your own success, but the success of your entire team. If you want to build connections with others and find more fulfillment in your job, you need to step up and get engaged.
For more on how to use your tools of engagement and emotional intelligence at work to become a transformational leader, please visit us at the Wright Foundation. We will help you bring out your best!
Dr. Bob Wright is an internationally recognized visionary, educator, program developer, leadership and sales executive, best-selling author and speaker. He is a co-founder of Wright and the Wright Graduate University.
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The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.