obstacles to becoming a successful manager is getting an understanding of one's own innate strengths and weaknesses. While every person may have leadership potential, leadership comes more naturally to some people than to others. Moreover, the best leaders are those who are aware of and capitalize on their own strengths, while taking actions to minimize their own weaknesses. The Life Styles Inventory (LSI) is one tool that people can use to help identify their own innate personal styles and learn how those styles can impact them in their roles as managers and leaders.
This paper examines my own LSI scores. Not only does it assess my strengths and weaknesses, but also how those traits fit into my overall character profile. The LSI is broken into three broad categories: constructive styles, passive/defensive styles, and aggressive/defensive styles. The constructive styles reflect positive behaviors and include humanistic-encouraging, affiliative, achievement, and self-actualizing styles. For all of those characteristics, I was at least at the 75th percentile (Human Synergistics International, Your LSI, 2014). The passive/defensive styles are self-protective thinking and behaviors and reflect interactions with people and include: approval, dependent, conventional, and avoidant styles. I ranged from the 34th to 75th percentiles in those categories (Human Synergistics International, Your LSI, 2014). Finally, the aggressive/defensive styles are self-promoting thinking through task-related activities and include: oppositional, power, competitive, perfectionistic. I ranged from the 6th to 42nd percentile in these categories. (Human Synergistics International, Your LSI, 2014). I was not surprised to discover that I self-identified with more positive behaviors than negative behaviors, but I do wonder whether those results are attributable to bias or whether they accurately reflect my approach to leadership and management.
Primary Thinking Style: Self-Actualizing
My primary thinking style is the self-actualizing style. I was in the 99th percentile for this style, which means that I scored higher than 99% of respondents on this characteristic, meaning that self-actualizing is very descriptive of my behavior. "Individualistic by nature, self-actualized people have a strong interest in working to become everything they are capable of being. They have a healthy sense of self-worth, a strong curiosity about people and things, and an acute awareness of both their own and others' feelings" (Human Synergistics International, Self-actualizing, 2014). Furthermore, self-actualizing people are highly creative and imaginative. I am not surprised to find myself in such a high-percentile in this group. I do feel a high degree of personal fulfillment. Moreover, I believe that this is the result of positive growth over my lifetime, so that I agree with the idea that "self-actualization is the final step in one's growth and maturation process" (Human Synergistics International, Self-actualizing, 2014). I believe that this style makes me very open to people and helps me empathize with others, in large part because I am not concerned about how other's perceive me, which I feel makes it possible for me to be objective about others.
Backup Thinking Style: Achievement-Oriented
My backup thinking style is achievement-oriented. I was in the 80th percentile for this style. The achievement scale examines personal effectiveness and is a good measure of achieving results on projects. While those with an achievement-based orientation are internally motivated, they also know that they can improve things on an objective scale. That describes my approach to work; I find work highly rewarding and motivational. Achievement-oriented individuals "are most interested in getting the job done and in doing it well. These individuals often possess the skills necessary for effective planning and problem-solving" (Human Synergistics International, Achievement-oriented, 2014). I feel as if planning and problem-solving are two of my strong areas; rather than feeling defeated by problems I think of them as challenges to overcome. Furthermore, while I believe that this style has led me to set very high standards, I also feel as if those standards are realistic. I believe in "setting and accomplishing realistic, attainable goals, rather than goals imposed by others" (Human Synergistics International, Achievement-oriented, 2014).
Limiting Thinking Style: Oppositional
My limiting thinking style is the oppositional style. I did not have a high percentile on this style; in fact, I am only in the 6th percentile for this characterization. I had higher percentiles in a number of other categories that might impact me as a manager. However, I still consider this my limiting thinking style, because I feel as if this is the behavior pattern I exhibit when I am at my personal worst. Generally, the oppositional style is characterized by: a tendency to seem aloof or detached; the need to look for flaws; a tendency to make others feel uncomfortable, being negative; and being sarcastic (Human Synergistics International, Oppositional, 2014). I am not certain about whether I agree with being in such a low percentile in this category. I feel like I can act this way when I am frustrated, and, moreover, I feel as if this type of behavior is so damaging to team morale that even if I only exhibit it on rare occasions, it can undermine my abilities as a leader.
One behavior associated with this style is my ability to look for flaws. I think that any successful leader must be able to identify strengths and weaknesses in their team members in order to delegate appropriately. However, I find it much easier to identify weaknesses than strengths. Even though I try to be positive in my interactions with subordinates, I find that this focus on their flaws can alter my perception of their merit as team members. Once a person has disappointed and failed to live up to my high, but reasonable expectations, I have a difficult time entrusting them with even basic things. I do not have an example of this from my professional life, but have noticed it in my personal life and imagine that I would respond the same way in a professional scenario. I believe that I need to work on looking at strengths when presented with flaws.
Impact of Personal Styles on Management Style
I think that my high-identification with self-actualization contributes very positively to my abilities as a manager. Generally, self-actualization is characterized by: concern for self-development; strong instincts and intuition; relative freedom from feelings of guilt or worry; high energy levels; and a desire to directly experience things (Human Synergistics International, Self-actualizing, 2014). As a manager, being so highly self-actualized helps me be more flexible in my approach to managing people and projects. Furthermore, it has helped me be a good judge of people, so that I can select the appropriate people for the appropriate tasks. However, it is important to see that there are negatives to being highly self-actualized, as well. Being highly internally motivated can make it difficult for me to complete tasks once I am no longer interested in them, which is always a risk in a normal working environment; not everything can be exciting and new (Human Synergistics International, Self-actualizing, 2014).
While my primary style may be self-actualizing, I actually feel like my backup style has a greater impact on my approach to management and leadership. I have always taken a leadership approach seeks to bring out the best in my subordinates rather than dictating to them. "Achievement-oriented managers prefer to lead by example, and encourages subordinates to give their best effort on every project" (Human Synergistics International, Achievement-oriented, 2014). Furthermore, I believe that one of my strengths as a manager is my ability to set clear, achievable, and challenging performance standards (Human Synergistics International, Achievement-oriented, 2014).
There are four functions of management: planning, organizing, leading, and controlling. I believe that my LSI results strongly support my abilities as a manager. My backup achievement orientation helps me with planning, organizing, and leading even more than my primary self-actualization orientation because, in a work-context, leadership and management is often highly-task oriented. In fact, I think it adds more to me as a manager than self-actualization by helping me be committed to finishing projects. I feel like self-actualizing counterbalances the oppositional tendencies that I have; while I may find it easy to find flaws and could focus on those to a negative extent, I am naturally inclined to allow people to self-direct. Moreover, I feel as if my ability to assess people is very helpful in the planning process, and this is rooted in my own self-actualization. Finally, in the area of control, I find my backup style to be the most helpful area, because an achievement-orientation helps me schedule a time-line and break tasks down into discrete and achievable goals.
Development of Personal Styles
My alignment with the self-actualizing style is something that I believe is strongly attributable to my family. While I believe that school, organizational memberships, and culture may have had some impact on my growth towards that style, I believe that growing up in a household that encouraged creativity and individuality is probably the best way to encourage someone to adapt that type of personal approach. While I do not think it is impossible for someone to develop this style if they…