As association executives know, it’s sometimes difficult to adjust to having a new president (and/or leadership team) every year or every other year. By the time you and your president get to know each other, it’s time for the next person to take the gavel. It’s beneficial when you can start each new term knowing as much as possible about each other’s likes, dislikes, communication styles, and expectations.
Many of us conduct leadership training with our governing board members to get that much-needed head start on working together, but you might still find that you could use a better way to truly understand who you’re working with (and they you). That’s where a book I’ve been recommending, The Power of Understanding People by Dave Mitchell, comes in.
This book changed everything for me. Where it differs from the hundreds of management books I’ve pawed through over the years is that it gave me a tool I feel comfortable using in my everyday interactions. It’s about learning who your leaders are and how to strengthen the relationships you have with them personally and professionally.
Most approaches to understanding different communication styles are clinical and forgettable—who wants their style reduced to letters or colors?
Fascinated by human behavior, Mitchell outlines 12 personality types, each of which has a specific communication style: The Best Friend, The Love Interest, The Crusader, The Hired Gun, The Sage, The Power Broker, The Voice of Reason, The Specialist, The Detective, The Eccentric, The Social Reformer, and The Adventurer. Sounds like your average board, right? Figuring out who’s who will help make your team stronger.
Many times in many readings, I stopped and thought about my board of directors and how I could use this information to better understand each of them and help them better understand me. I am now incorporating the book into staff and leadership training to discover each person’s “superpowers.”
Once you correlate the personality types to individual staffers and volunteer leaders, The Power of Understanding People suggests using a mnemonic relating your assessment of each person to popular culture and historical figures, similar to the way you might try to remember the name “Bob” by relating it to the movie What About Bob? Let’s say your new president—Mark—is an Adventurer; thinking “Marco Polo” can help you remember that and communicate accordingly.
Most approaches to understanding different communication styles are clinical and forgettable—who wants their style reduced to letters or colors? This book pegs various styles to recognizable Hollywood characters, historical figures, and famous people, making it easy to apply specific styles to your colleagues.
Through personal experiences, Mitchell also helps readers gain insights into their own interaction styles and teaches them how to communicate, motivate, understand, and lead more successfully, no matter what personality types may be involved. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be able to provide service, resolve conflicts, and build relationships better.
And as a bonus, you can use The Power of Understanding People in your personal life, too!