I have always viewed being able to touch my toes as an indicator of my flexibility. And occasionally I’ve worked hard enough to be able to place my palms on the floor.  Recently I’ve thought that this same level of stretching and flexibility is exactly what leaders need to be doing as they lead their teams.

We all know that no two people are alike.  So as we try to understand, communicate with, and engage different team members, we need to realize that we must be flexible in our leadership approaches.

Some people need very specific guidelines and expectations, others need to be given a fair amount of freedom with key milestone markers set, and others need the energy of working together with teammates to produce their best work.  The key as a leader is a willingness to be flexible enough in your management approach to find the formula that works best for each individual.  So how do you do this?  The same way you stretch enough to touch your toes!

Each day you push yourself a little further as a leader to try different approaches:

  • ask questions rather than giving a solution
  • pair different people together on a project
  • hold different meetings
  • give someone else the lead

As you try these different approaches, make note of what works well and where you need to flex differently.

  • When do you need to be clearer in your communication?
  • When do you need to delegate more?
  • When do you need to create more regular connections?
  • When do you need to be more supportive?
  • And when you need to back off all together!

Being willing to be flexible in your approach – and being patient enough to wait to observe the results – will have you touching your toes in no time!

Fortunately there are great resources to help you extend your flexing and stretching muscles.  My personal recommendations would include re-reading your Everything DiSC Management assessment, and the Everything DiSC Workplace assessments of your team members; re-reading First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently by Marcus Buckingham – a now classic on managing individuals as individuals; or Googling Situational Leadership – the timeless leadership model developed by Kenneth Blanchard and Paul Hersey.

The key……be flexible enough to try something different.

Decide today how you can flex as you work with each of your team members to achieve even greater results. And when you stretch far enough so your palms are touching the floor it’s going to feel great!  A bit of pain along the way but a sense of accomplishment at the end!

Coaching Thoughts – For You and Your Peers

  • What’s your “go to” approach when assigning work? How can you do it differently?
  • What preferences do you think each of your team members have in how you work with them? What does each person respond to best? (Hint:  don’t know? Ask them!)
  • Do you find it hard to think about being flexible in your leadership approach? If so, ask yourself why.  And consider the impact of not stretching yourself as a leader.