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December 30, 2002
 
` DIVERSITY OF THINKING:
A KEY TO EFFECTIVE LEADERSHIP
By Chief Al Mozingo
Every leader comes to the point where he or she has to make decisions on choosing staff members.  Once you acquire those higher levels of responsibility in an organization, you need to develop a team to work with.  It is your responsibility as a Fire Chief to develop an effective and efficient team.  How you do that will establish your credibility.  One aspect to always keep in mind is the way you treat your people.  You should always use the "Golden Rule."  "Do unto others as you would do unto you."

Considerations in choosing your people are their background and experience.  Their background could include the types of educational experiences they've been involved with, the levels of the organization they have worked in (suppression, administration, fire prevention, etc.) and any outside activities that would be applicable.  Their experience could include the positions they've held and the number of years in those positions.  The last area looked at is the personality and psychological makeup of the individual.  Many times accomplishing that next position is not on merit, education, experience, background and your credentials, but on your personality.  Many people call this "The good old boy system."

When evaluating a personality often what is considered is the psychological make up of the individual.  Carl Jung has researched the psychological types of human behaviors.  He state that here are four basic behavioral styles, they are listed below:

Four Basic Behavioral Styles

1.  Thinker/Analytical - organized, structured, accurate, research oriented, diligent, systematic, task oriented and a problem solver.

2.  Sensor/Driver - goal oriented, active oriented, concerned with results, firm and competitive.

3.  Intuition/Expressive - imaginative, impetuous, stimulating and optimistic.

4.  Feeler/Amiable - emotional, spontaneous, introspective, supportive, reliable, pleasant and people oriented.

Note: The styles listed are expanded to some degree to include some terms written by David W. Merrill, Phillip Hunsaker and Anthony Alessandra.

After you have taken a good close look at the above behavior style, you'll gain some insight into why people behave and act the way they do.  You will notice that each style has it own positive aspects.  In actuality each of us have a combination of these different styles ingrained into our personalities.  However, if you predominately act in one style over the others then that would be considered your dominate behavior style.  Once you determine the style someone operates in most of the time you can adjust your own behavior, to the needs of that individual.  Adjusting your behavior will tend to increase rapport, trust and cooperation.

This is where the diversity of thinking comes from.   We know that each and everyone thinks differently.  What some leaders try to do is surround themselves with people who think like them.  This makes them feel good because they have good rapport and minimal conflict.  The leader in essence surrounding him/herself with "yes, men and women."  Is this good?  I don't believe so!  There is no diversity of thinking when this is done.  It also creates some unproductive behavior.

If a leader actually creates a team of people whose dominant behavior style is in all four categories, then the leader creates a well-rounded team with more diversity of thinking.  This is a very important aspect for a leader to consider when choosing team members.  If you want to develop a range of alternatives or options for a particular problem or situation you need diversity of thinking.  As George Patton put it, "If everyone is thinking a like, then no one is thinking."

If people were to choose someone who doesn't think like them for diversity of thinking then what happens?  We'll create tension, distrust and a unproductive relationship.  However, this can be counteracted by being flexible in your behavior style.  It does cause you more work.  It's not easy to determine what someone else’s needs are and how to fill them.  This is why many leaders only choose people who think like them.

However, to over come this you must adjust your behavior to develop rapport, trust and cooperation.  With a collaborative team of individuals whose dominate behavior styles are varied, this will develop the most effective, creative, analytical, reliable, expressive, supportive, productive and efficient team possible.  Diversity of thinking is the way to go!

Reference:
The Art of Managing People, Phillip L. Hunsaker and Anthony J. Alessandra, Simon & Schuster, Inc., New York, N.Y., 1980

Earlier articles
10 Points of Leadership
Remember the Boy Scouts