Type A: Seven Tips to Soften Your Approach for Even Better Results

Toes - 533px-Toes_by_David_ShankboneDo you know any hard-driving Type A leaders who are smart and deliver results but who plow over people on the way there?

As an executive coach, I often run into them when they’ve stepped on one too many toes. One of their biggest questions is, “Can I really change my approach without sacrificing results?”

My answer: “Yes, you can.”

Here are seven tips for the Type A leader who wants to move from being a Type A$$ to a Type Awesome:

  1. Remember why you want to change. Tired of people leaving your team? Not having the influence you want? Stalled in your career advancement? One senior leader received a wake-up call from a direct report in a 360 assessment who said “I’d hire him if I was a client, but I never want to work for him again.”
  2. Set people development and employee engagement  goals. Apply your results-orientation to making goals that will deliberately help you build others’ skills and engagement and build more effective relationships with them. The senior leader mentioned above set a goal to have future direct reports say about him, “You’re the best boss I’ve ever had.”
  3. Don’t assume what got you here will get you there. As Marshall Goldsmith says in his book with a similar title, some people don’t realize they have habits and behaviors that are blocking them from further success. They don’t realize the success they’ve achieved so far is not  because of these things but in spite of them. Or it may be that this approach worked before but doesn’t work anymore.
  4. Pause. If you tend to use a one-size-fits-all approach to getting results, it’s time to pause … When you’re getting impatient … When people are not responding like you want … When you feel compelled to tell them the same thing again, only louder or with an edge … And especially when you’re dealing with someone who has a different style who is not meeting your expectations. Before you go into default mode, consider this person, their communication style, your options and what is most likely going to be most helpful in working with this person.
  5. Ask for help. Tell people you lead what you’re trying to improve and ask them for suggestions on what you can do to be more effective in working with them. And ask others you admire who have a different style if they will give you ideas and tips.
  6. Remember the basics. Be deliberate and genuine about simple but powerful actions like saying “please,” “thank you” and “well done.”
  7. Cut yourself some slack. Don’t let yourself off the hook for changing, but keep in mind that you are most likely even harder on yourself than you are on others.

It takes focus, time, experimenting and practice to change habits and to increase emotional intelligence. But it’s worth it – for your own career success and for the health of toes around you.

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Joe Baker is a Partner with PeopleResults. As a leadership consultant and executive coach, he helps senior leaders better understand and manage their impact. You can reach him at jbaker@www.people-results.com or on Twitter @JoeBakerJr.