What’s Your Leadership B Side?

post by Suzanne Vickberg and Kim Christfort:

Some of you will remember the days
when listening to music didn’t mean streaming it on your phone but instead putting
on a record. And if that record was a 45, after listening to the hit song on
the A side, you had to flip that little black disc over to hear the other song
(the B side). The A side was why you bought the record but you got the B side
song too whether you wanted it or not.
 As a leader, you too have an A and a
B side. The A side features those strengths that are most coveted by
organizations and teams and that make you valuable. Maybe you spark energy and
imagination, or instead you bring order and rigor. Perhaps you generate
momentum, or rather you draw teams together. These contributions are what set
you apart as a leader. But like those old-fashioned records, you have a B
side whether you want it or not. These characteristics are the flip side
of your strengths, and they’re part of who you are as a leader, too. How your B
side will impact your team depends on your leadership style.
 If you’re the type who focuses on
possibilities and inspiring creativity in others, you may also be so
impractical that your team is left scratching their heads about how to execute
on anything. Or, if instead you provide a stable foundation that mitigates
risk and makes people feel secure, your team may end up being too cautious and
inflexible for today’s fast-paced environment. If your style is to push
your team hard to excel and rise to a challenge, you might also prioritize
results over people with detrimental effects on the way team members relate to
one another. Or, if on the other hand you build trust by prioritizing
people and a collaborative culture, you might overemphasize getting everyone to
agree, which can discourage differing opinions and lead to Groupthink.

So what to do when you can’t escape
your B side?

We suggest you don’t go it alone.
Leadership shouldn’t be a solitary venture and neither should exploring how to
manage your own strengths and weaknesses. Bring others into the effort by
letting them know what you’re trying to do. Learn together about different
working styles, both the positives and negatives that tend to accompany them.
Acknowledge your own B side traits and ask for help in managing their impact on
the team. The great thing about this strategy is that by making yourself
vulnerable, you are building trust with others. And it also makes it okay for
others to be vulnerable and to focus on their own improvements. So go ahead and
admit to your weaknesses. Your team likely already sees them anyway.

Another way to offset your B side might
be to consider taking on a leadership partner, or co-lead, with a different
leadership style. If a co-lead of equal rank isn’t the right solution for you,
a second-in-command who’s different can also be a good balance. If you tend to
get bogged down in considering too many perspectives, choose someone who can
help you decide when to cut off discussion and make a decision. If you tend to
push your team too hard or fast, partner with someone who might be able to help
you see when it’s important to take a breather. Your leadership partner will
have a B side too, and assuming it’s different from yours, you can also help
shore them up. Your team will benefit from more diverse strengths (two A
sides!), and the less desirable aspects of your leadership may have less
impact too.

Kim Christfort is the national managing director of The Deloitte
Greenhouse™ Experience

team, which helps executives tackle tough business
challenges through immersive, facilitated Lab experiences, and client
experience IP such as Business Chemistry. As part of this role, Kim leads US
Deloitte Greenhouses, permanent spaces designed to promote exploration and
problem solving away from business as usual.

Suzanne Vickberg, PhD (aka Dr. Suz) is The Deloitte Greenhouse™ Experience team’s very own
social-personality psychologist and the Business Chemistry lead researcher,
which means she studies how people’s thoughts, behaviors, and preferences are
influenced by both who they are and the situations they’re in. She uses Business
Chemistry to help teams explore how the mix of perspectives brought by their
individual members influences their work together.