Have you ever referred to someone by the way they behave—shy, aggressive, or studious? Do you think of aggressive, for example, as that person’s personality?
That’s a rather limiting way to identify someone, isn’t it?
Try thinking of a person’s behavior in terms of modes. Think of your behavior the same way.
I know someone who is assertive in a masterful way at work but almost the opposite at home and among her friends. Clearly her assertiveness would be described more accurately as a mode, even though people who meet her only at work might say she is assertive or that she has an assertive personality.
In fact, assertiveness in my friend is a mode or way of behaving, which she can bring out or put away as needed. It’s not her.
The same goes for you. Throughout an average day you might use a number of modes. You can also think of this as playing a variety of roles. Now let’s think about mode management.
As a parent you may apply your instructive, protective, or directive modes. As a direct report, you may play opposite roles, taking direction, following instructions, asking for help. Among your friends and family you will move into your loving, playful, and unguarded modes.
Understanding and thoughtfully applying modes benefits you as a leader, if you keep three things in mind.
First, observe yourself and the modes you use throughout your day. Try to better understand how each is effective or counterproductive. Then discipline yourself to use or not use your modes based on what you want to accomplish.
When hiring, promoting, or reassigning, don’t limit your assessment of someone based on their current modes of behavior. The most recent science finds that our brains are much more adaptive and elastic than we’ve appreciated. Your employees may be capable of calling upon modes they have not yet needed to employ.
Don’t limit yourself to the judgments you make in just one mode. Science tells us that our modes affect not only the way we act, but the way we perceive and, therefore, how we understand others and react to their behavior.
If you make all your workplace decisions in your manager mode, you may be missing brilliant insights you may have when you reflect upon a major decision in your parent mode, for example. Before making important decisions, reflect in a quiet place and in a thoughtful mode. You may come upon insights impossible to perceive in your more active mode.
In our CoachQuest Leader-as-Coach Workshops, we demonstrate and practice mode management using all the facets of your whole personality, each as it’s needed to get to a specific result. You can register now, or get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or 972-608-0400 and we can talk.