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BLOGFlexibility of style

by Randall CraigFiled in: Blog, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Management, Professional DevelopmentTagged as:

Are you ambitious and push everyone to reach your goals? Or are you analytical, reviewing all of the implications and details before you take action? Or are you an emotional decision-maker, deciding what to do based on your gut feeling?

How you define your style, however, is completely irrelevant: your ability to adapt your style to those around you is often the critical factor in determining your professional success.

Think about it. Have you ever had a manager who wasn’t on your wavelength? Have you ever had a direct report who never quite measured up? In both of those cases, it is often easier to adapt your style to match theirs, than trying to get them to change. And in both of these cases, it is in your strongest interest to have these people on the same page as you. Your manager will impact your success, and your staff support your goals. Without alignment, you are adding extra effort to everything you do.

Developing flexibility of style is useful in other situations as well. When you meet people for the first time, either while networking or in a meeting, adapting your style to suit the situation can also improve the outcome. Just as you developed your current “main” style through years of practice, greater style flexibility can also be developed through practice.


Amongst your colleagues, friends and family, pick out 3-4 people whose styles differ greatly from your own – these are your “models”. Because you know them relatively well, you can probably predict how they will react to any particular situation. Later, when you are in a situation that calls for your input, take a second to assess how your models would handle it. Only then decide how you will react. The goal is to help re-wire your automatic response, and practice a more flexible way of interacting with others.

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