There is a plethora of methodologies for assessing the behavioural traits of the people you love, lead and live with but this is the first one I have read that made practical sense to me and that has allowed to make a difference to Business Computer Solutions.
I have read a lot of amazing business books over the years and this blog is my chance to share them. What I have noticed is that timing is everything and the concepts in this book hit me just at the time I needed the skills to identify earlier business mistakes and avoid some pretty substantial opportunities to repeat them. This book really challenged my thinking about leadership.
Most readers may have heard of DiSC theory (Based on four different behavioural traits, Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Compliance). Dr Larry Little’s book published in 2013 draws the comparison between character types and four easily identifiable animals; the leading lion, the competent camel, the much loved monkey and the tranquil turtle.
Samantha (my wife and a fellow stakeholder in the success of Business Computer Solutions) and I both read this book on our 22 day motorhome tour to Sweden in July this year. By the time we arrived at our HTG Peer Group meeting in Helsingborg we were already talking in terms of lions, camels, monkeys and turtles. We had even gone as far as guessing which the dominant animal is for each of our staff team and just for fun, some of our friends and family too.
Visit this link and take the test. You will need to read the book to get the best from the result.
Each animal exists in his quadrant and typically your dominant and secondary attributes will be adjacent. Turtles and monkeys are PEOPLE oriented where camels and lions are TASK oriented. Turtles and camels are INTROVERTED where monkeys and lions are EXTRAVERTED.
This book has lots of really good stories to help you understand the concepts and importantly ideas as to how you can use the right language to communicate. Get the people bit right and everything else follows.
What did I take away from this book?
A Canadian called Laurence J Peter formulated something called the ‘Peter Principle’ which documents the idea that the selection of a candidate for a position is based on the candidate’s performance in their current role, rather than on abilities relevant to the intended role. Thus, employees only stop being promoted once they can no longer perform effectively, and “managers rise to the level of their incompetence”. This book has taught me that this is completely avoidable if you first look at the characteristics of the person you are promoting. If you decide to promote someone to a management role (or ideally a leadership role) and they don’t have enough ‘Leading Lion’ in their make-up, they may not be able to make the constant decisions that the role entails.
Samantha (my business partner, wife and friend) is a camel. I don’t mean just because she has the hump with me most of the time, but it’s also her dominant characteristic followed by turtle. As such, an introvert who has skills with both tasks based functions and working with people. Company secretary and HR. Seems like she is in the perfect role. I am a ‘Leading Lion’ by a pretty large margin. This is no surprise to those that know me. Now I know this fact, I actively compensate for this. As a lion I don’t need much praise or to stop and celebrate but as a leader, I know that I have team members who are people oriented (turtles and monkeys) and need this reward. From this understanding I now plan (remember, I am task oriented) celebration events. I even praise team members for something historically I would have considered was just them doing the job that I pay them to do. Some people thrive on praise. Who knew?
Not everyone has made up their mind. Having tested all of my team, I learned that some people are not yet fully formed. These people offer the biggest challenge to lead and the biggest opportunity for the business. Knowing they don’t have a dominant type of character means you have the chance to develop them. We even tested our daughter, Bex, who was 19 years old at the time and she has pretty equal quantities of Lion, Camel, Monkey and Turtle in her make up.
Our business growth stalled for a while because we operated under a ‘management’ style rather than ‘leadership’. As part of the process of using what I learned from this book I even had a few ex-staff take the test to see if the theories I was working to were correct. They were. The shift to an approach that develops our people at every level has meant that having leading lions in key roles is allowing us to increase turnover, number of people employed and critically business profitability.