Go to homepage
Get a Demo
Get a Demo

Preview Mode: Access 20% of each content piece.

to get full access!


Leading Leaders: Customizing Your Approach

Sep 6, 2023 | 5m


Leading Leaders: Customizing Your Approach

When I moved to the Middle East, one of the biggest challenges (or opportunities) I found was that you get to work alongside people from across the world. In my organization alone, we have around 41 different nationalities represented. As a leader, this poses an interesting challenge: how do you customize your approach based on different personality types, but also different cultural backgrounds? Indeed, the world today is increasingly diverse and global, especially since a lot of us are in hybrid working arrangements. This is crucial in terms of people management, but also to make sure everyone is equally engaged and included. 

There are nine people in my senior leadership team, with seven different nationalities represented. In addition to cultural diversity, I also had to account for different personality types – some are more extroverted, some introverted, some neutral. Here’s the approach I took to customize my leadership. 

1 Understand Their Individual Motivations

What motivates the people on your team? Why are they here? Let’s assume you’re leading a team of leaders. The first step to getting to know your team is to set up informal meetings as a team. You could catch up over a meal, for instance, and in bringing the team together, you’re able to get dialogue started. You could also choose to do this as an offsite with a third party consultancy. 

These gatherings create a sense of camaraderie, break the ice, and help people get to know each other. But as a leader, you’ll also have the chance to understand the different personalities at the table, and spot strengths and weaknesses. Keep an eye out for the kinds of messages you get from each individual on your team. Listen empathetically and try to understand the needs they might be communicating. All of this information will help you customize your leadership. 

Following this, you could set up one-on-one meetings with individual members of your team. In these meetings, you’ll have the chance to ask in detail about their goals, motivations, and understand the role each person can play in your team. Make it clear that you welcome their unique ideas and input, and make sure that when people come to you with their suggestions, you hear them and help them make adjustments if needed to be on the right track. 

2 Create a Team Vision and Eliminate the Fear of Failure

Next, create a team vision that’s separate from the business vision. When you’re leading leaders, be aware that each person will bring their own leadership style to the table which will have an impact on the people they’re leading. With different voices at the table, you don’t want people down the line to feel like they’re receiving different messages from each leader. Create alignment around a team vision that centers on unified communication practices for all leaders to create cohesion in the wider organization. 

Now, this is easier said than done. When you’re leading leaders, especially from different backgrounds, you might receive pushback. People might say “This isn’t how we did it at my previous company,” or “In my country, we do it this way.” As a leader, don’t shut down this feedback, even if you personally disagree. Instead, listen with empathy. Treat this kind of pushback as a way to better understand your team’s needs and experiences. You could say “Let’s learn from what worked there,” and incorporate their input. 

The second element to making a team vision work is to make it clear that it’s safe to fail. Communicate this explicitly, and make it clear that you value progress over perfection. Often, the pursuit of perfection only leads to wasted time and anxiety. Encourage your team to make mistakes and leave the fear of failure outside the door. 

Of course, it goes without saying that as a leader, you should take responsibility for your team’s mistakes. When your team is successful, however, give them the credit. Over the years, this approach has allowed me to bring together different voices and channel them towards a shared vision. 

3 Customize Your Communication

When leading leaders, it’s important that you have a clear strategy in place. They’re leading teams of their own, and their communication strategy needs to be adapted and customized in order to be effective. I believe that the messages employees receive from leaders should be inspiring. Even if it’s a tough message, leaders should highlight opportunities while also being transparent about the challenges ahead. The goal shouldn’t be to create fear, but rather rally around the issue at hand. 

So encourage your leaders to filter down communication in ways that make sense to the people they’re leading. Think about how much information to share, what tone should be used, and what elements to highlight. How you’d communicate the same message to a workplace rookie, a worker at your manufacturing plant, and your Head of Supply Chain should be very different. Use communication matrices to clearly outline how your communication strategy will be customized across different levels in the organization.

To keep reading this content, sign up for a free trial.

Get full access FREE for 30 days