This is probably the question I get asked the most often (after ‘can you hear me, am I on mute?’)
It’s a great question and it won’t surprise you to hear that it’s not a straightforward answer.
If you’d have asked me in the 80’s, (which you wouldn’t have done, because I’d have been at school….) then I would confidently say that the majority of corporate leaders would have had Lion as their top influencer; being ‘the boss’, barking instructions, intimidating staff and defaulting to a controlling position. Thankfully, we now see that as old fashioned leadership.
Don’t get me wrong, embracing your Lion traits at the right moment is not wrong. With Lion as my second influencer, I’m absolutely not anti Lion, just very sure (having learned the hard way) that over use of the Lion’s traits, isn’t the best way of leading.
What matters more than which your top influencer is as a leader, is having a solid awareness of your vulnerabilities and what triggers them to become prominent. This is one of those things which is really easy to say, much harder to do. It’s usually one of the real lightbulb moments on our workshops.
We often measure ourselves by our strengths, but measure others by their vulnerabilities. Which obviously means that others measure us by our vulnerabilities.
So it’s all very well having great strengths (which all of the influencers do) but until we understand what triggers our vulnerabilities and how we manage them, it’s difficult to really thrive as a leader.
I’ve worked with leaders with pretty much every influencer at the top and it’s always the case that regardless of their top influencers, it was the degree to which they’d made an effort to understand both their own influencers AND those in the team which had the strongest bearing on how effective a leader they were.
Let’s take a Honeybee, for example. They come with brilliant organisation and attention to detail. Who wouldn’t want a bit of that in the team? But when triggered, they can be dismissive of other people’s ideas, because ‘their way is the right way’. Not so great.
Or a Cheetah with their drive to achieve and focus on results; again, great! But when their competitiveness kicks in at the expense of their relationships, it becomes problematic.
The Dog is the people pleaser in the team – we all love having a Dog in the team, but they’re in danger of being so busy looking after everyone else that they don’t look after themselves. And that’s not great for the long term.
So you can see that it’s not so much about which influencer is at the top, but more about the self awareness of whichever influencer(s) you have.
Once you understand your own triggers and how to manage your vulnerabilities when they show up, if you also understand the strengths and vulnerabilities in your team, then you’re set up to not only get the best out of your team as individuals, but to ensure that the team works as a well oiled machine.
If you haven’t taken the TRAIT test yet, go here and meet your animal influencers.