Using the Hogan to understand how your style affects your team
Self-awareness about your style, values, preferences, and stress behaviors helps you make better choices about how to lead. In two recent blogs, Capacity Group shared how we use The Hogan Suite of Assessments to help teams connect, build trust, and accelerate performance. In this blog, we want to emphasize how these sessions generate important insights for the leader. I’ll share two examples that highlight powerful shifts leaders made as a result of investing in this work.
One top team we worked with had several new team members as well as a new executive. While the executive was experienced both in the industry and as a leader, Capacity Group found some disconnections with the new team. The team appreciated the leader’s informal style (high Hedonism from the Values report) and approachability; however, they sometimes felt unheard. This caused the team to be less engaged and less trusting. Ironically, the leader was known for being authentic and trustworthy. This team’s Hogan results helped Capacity Group and the team see how both of these experiences could be true at the same time.
In analyzing the team’s styles, Capacity Group found a few differences between the leader and the team that led to this seeming contradiction. A key insight was in Interpersonal Sensitivity. The team generally scored high (diplomatic, deferential, and non-confrontational), while the leader scored low (more direct, to the point, and open about conflict). This resulted in different communication styles, creating gaps in clarity and relational trust. Through facilitated team discussion, the leader realized that his direct style got nods and quiet agreement even when the team didn’t fully agree. The leader needed to adjust how he engaged the group by using more open-ended questions to solicit feedback rather than agreement. During the meeting, the leader was coached to use this approach which resulted in more meaningful dialog.
A second key insight was on the value Aesthetic. The leader scored low, and the team scored high. In our team session, we spent time helping the entire team understand this easily overlooked difference. High Aesthetic is associated with caring deeply about how the work is presented and engaging in important nuances. By contrast, the leader was low Aesthetic, which is associated with seeing things more concretely, less nuanced, and less gray. This, combined with high Science, which emphasizes data-driven decisions, led the leader to make decisions on his own. The assumption was that the team would see the issue as the leader did and thus save the team time. This unintentionally relayed to the team members that their input and dialogue were neither wanted nor needed. The leader preferred to make quick decisions based on clear data (aligned with his style and values), while the team wanted to discuss aspects of the decision. These opposing values created lower fulfillment for team members. By making time to discuss decisions, the leader was able to meet the needs of his team, which in turn built greater trust and ownership of decisions.
Another team Capacity Group worked with had a stress point when preparing material for the quarterly board meetings. This was a massive investment of time and energy, and the team felt frustrated by the leader’s constant iterations up to the last minute. Looking at the Hogan, we found the leader to be high Inquisitive (strategic, big picture, creative) and low Prudence (flexible, not rule-following, comfortable with the gray). On the other hand, the team was high to moderate Prudence (responsible, structured, rule-following) and low Inquisitive (execution-focused, tactical). There was relief among the team members when realizing the differences and how these played into additional stress preparing for the board. Armed with this knowledge, all agreed to design a different process for board packages aimed at delivering a high-quality product without undue last-minute stress. The leader agreed to limit the iterations and invited the team to give him a warning sign if he was falling back into old habits. These are just two examples of leaders taking a few hours to understand the unintended consequences of styles and finding new ways of operating to help reset trust and increase performance. With each new team, it is an invitation to understand how you collectively operate. We encourage you to reach out with any questions or to have a discussion on how learning your style can help you.