Chip Shots – When Work Styles Differ

by  Paula Kiger  |  Chip Shots
Chip Shots – When Work Styles Differ

Here at Lead Change Group, we know that problems are most effectively solved when individuals come together to meld ideas, energies, and approaches.

To use a golf analogy, not every shot is a long drive. Many times, golfers have to take a chip shot to move the ball along for a short distance, with incisive accuracy.

If you are new to the Chip Shots green, welcome. In our Chip Shots feature, our Leading Voices are invited to provide brief insights into a leadership-related topic.

To learn more, spend some time browsing the entire Chip Shots Series.

Today’s Question

Have you ever been in a situation where people of opposing styles found a way to work productively together? What made things change for the better?

Becky Robinson says: I’ve loved working with Carrie Koens, a self-proclaimed introvert. I’ve learned to allow her time to process questions and think through things – and I’ve adapted to providing written information in advance of calls.

David Dye responds: My most productive team experiences have been with people of opposing styles and differing strengths who came together to use their different abilities for a common goal. To make it work, the team leader needs to acknowledge those differences, emphasize the benefit when different strengths and perspectives are in play, and ensure that people’s tasks match their styles. When different styles begin to conflict, have a conversation about the goals in that particular situation and which style will best serve that specific goal.

Jon Mertz answers: Purpose is the difference-maker when it comes to people with oppositive styles working together. If opposing styles cannot agree to what the higher purpose is and if the purpose cannot take precedence over style, then productivity will never be gained. Self-centeredness will always defeat productivity and meaningful results, just as committed focus to purpose will always win. More often, purpose will win. The reality is, however, self-centeredness is hard to crack at times.

Karin Hurt provided a great thought:


Mike Henry wrote: Many projects I’ve worked on over the years have had people with opposing styles. The variety adds depth, diversity and strength. What makes this work is some humility, an appreciation of the others and their differences, and a commitment to the overall goal. In every case one team member proposed cooperation for the goal and once embraced by the team members, progress became easy.

Will Lukang shares: When working with a new manager, I always do the due diligence to learn and understand the person’s work preference.  I make sure to schedule a one-on-one and ask questions on the person’s preference.  I believe that it is my job to adjust to my manager’s style and make my manager look good.

Thank you Becky, David, Jon, Karin, Mike, and Will for taking a shot at this question.

Have you ever supervised people with opposing styles? How did you encourage productivity?
Photo Credit: Morguefile

About The Author

Articles By paula-kiger
Paula worked for almost twenty years for Florida’s State Child Health Insurance Program. She is currently doing freelance work in the communications industry. Her Twitter bio describes her best: wife of one, mom of two, friend of many.  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

John E. Smith  |  25 Aug 2015  |  Reply

Hi, All – very interesting comments.

As someone who has used various incarnations of the DiSC model over the years, the idea of collaborating with others who approach work and relationships differently is a familiar one to me.

I like the theme of flexing from your comfort zone or preferred style to more effectively work with someone who has a different style. This seems to me to be the heart of truly making opposites a dynamite combination at work and everywhere else in life.

However, I think that being able to flex one’s style effectively requires a strong dose of humility (which some styles might describe as “weak-kneedness:). I remember one very useful experience where a certain VP refused to alter his preferred behaviors in any way … not even a teeny bit … to help his team work more effectively. He even said “I’m just a D and they have to deal with that.”

(DiSC Note: “D”s prefer to be in charge and is focused on results – not concerned particularly with relationships, but very task-focused. Also often not concerned with details, but real interested in people doing what he or she tells them to do.)

So to nurture the ability to flex toward other’s preferred behaviors, one has to first develop both trust and mutual respect. If these two complimentary dynamics are present, I think the whole idea of working effectively with those who are not just like you becomes easier to accomplish.

Side Note: This contributes to a healthier and more diverse environment and culture within the organization as well. Pretty much a “win-win”, unless you are like my VP noted above:)

Great “Chip Shot” post:)


Paula Kiger (Admin)  |  25 Aug 2015  |  Reply

Thanks for your keen observations, John!

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