Advertising
Advertising

9 Rules of Human Nature that Apply to Work

9 Rules of Human Nature that Apply to Work

    It’s no secret that career success often depends on the quality of the relationships you develop with your managers and co-workers. Although office personalities vary considerably, there are certain rules that always apply because we are all human. Here are 9 to keep in mind as you strive to lead, influence, and collaborate with people at work.

    1. We always want more

    As human beings, we are usually not comfortable with our current level of achievement. Once we attain success in some fashion, we scarcely take the time to celebrate before moving on to the next big thing. And when it comes to job satisfaction, we want what we don’t have. For example, employees in big business want to become free-spirited entrepreneurs, while many entrepreneurs wish for the security of a full-time job. Give us the freedom to try other things so we see why our situation is so great.

    Advertising

    2. Everyone wants to feel valued

    We want to feel like we are making a contribution to the organization, that our work is making the world a better place. Even if the job is to put the wrappers on chewing gum, we need to understand the big picture and why our role is critical to the company’s success. Tell us.

    3. People want to talk about themselves

    Human beings are self-absorbed by nature, so when you encourage us to tell you about our family, our hobbies, and our pet projects, we feel closer to you. If you want to build strong relationships, remember birthdays and children’s names.

    Advertising

    4. People want to be part of a group

    We are a social species, and we want to fit it at all costs. We may even sacrifice our own ideals for this privilege, hence what is known as mob mentality. Gain broad support for your projects by rallying colleagues to your side.

    5. We might want to help you, but we still want something in return

    Most humans do genuinely want to assist others, but the part of us that looks after #1 first is alive and well. If we’re being honest, most of us will admit that when we do someone a favor, we expect to reap the benefits at some point in the future. Try to do your share even if no one is asking.

    Advertising

    6. We want to take action

    Although human beings are not huge fans of change, we’re also not content with the status quo. If things are too peaceful, we get bored and want to shake things up a little, and in times of uncertainty, we want to do something – anything – to bring about a resolution. Be wary of knee-jerk reactions.

    7. Once a decision is made, it’s made

    We humans tend to hold hard and fast to our decisions, even if they’re turning out to be the wrong ones. This is primarily due to cognitive dissonance, or the feeling of discomfort that results from holding two conflicting beliefs. If you want someone to change their mind, start persuading before they have too much invested.

    Advertising

    8. We believe the worst won’t happen

    This belief is the reason we still haven’t protected ourselves against the future flood that will wipe out downtown Manhattan. Despite what the scientists say, we refuse to come to terms with the inevitable. But while we’re thinking that other people get fatal diseases and go bankrupt, someone in the organization should be planning for the worst-case scenario.

    9. We make the same mistakes over and over

    Human beings don’t learn from the lessons of the past, and we like to blame others for our misfortunes instead of taking a hard look inward and sharing responsibility for negative outcomes. Don’t fall into this trap. Life circumstances change all the time, but you take yourself with you.

    (Photo credit: male businessman in suit with laptop via Shutterstock)

    More by this author

    How to Cope with Rejection at Work Do You Unnecessarily Point Out Flaws? 5 Keys to Building Networks Over Time Is Flex-tirement the New Retirement? Does the Y Chromosome Inspire Confidence?

    Trending in Work

    1 5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You) 2 15 Best Entrepreneurs Books to Start Reading Now to Be Successful 3 17 Best Careers Worth Going Back to School for at 40 4 Top 10 Ways to Lead More Effectively with Humor 5 Work Smarter, Not Harder: 12 Smart Ways to Be More Productive

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on June 18, 2019

    5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

    5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

    It takes great leadership skills to build great teams.

    The best leaders have distinctive leadership styles and are not afraid to make the difficult decisions. They course-correct when mistakes happen, manage the egos of team members and set performance standards that are constantly being met and improved upon.

    With a population of more than 327 million, there are literally scores of leadership styles in the world today. In this article, I will talk about the most common leadership styles and how you can determine which works best for you.

    5 Types of Leadership Styles

    I will focus on 5 common styles that I’ve encountered in my career: democratic, autocratic, transformational, transactional and laissez-faire leadership.

    The Democratic Style

    The democratic style seeks collaboration and consensus. Team members are a part of decision-making processes and communication flows up, down and across the organizational chart.

    The democratic style is collaborative. Author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek is an example of a leader who appears to have a democratic leadership style.

      The Autocratic Style

      The autocratic style, on the other hand, centers the preferences, comfort and direction of the organization’s leader. In many instances, the leader makes decisions without soliciting agreement or input from their team.

      Advertising

      The autocratic style is not appropriate in all situations at all times, but it can be especially useful in certain careers, such as military service, and in certain instances, such as times of crisis. Steve Jobs was said to have had an autocratic leadership style.

      While the democratic style seeks consensus, the autocratic style is less interested in consensus and more interested in adherence to orders. The latter advises what needs to be done and expects close adherence to orders.

        The Transformational Style

        Transformational leaders drive change. They are either brought into organizations to turn things around, restore profitability or improve the culture.

        Alternatively, transformational leaders may have a vision for what customers, stakeholders or constituents may need in the future and work to achieve those goals. They are change agents who are focused on the future.

        Examples of transformational leader are Oprah and Robert C. Smith, the billionaire hedge fund manager who has offered to pay off the student loan debt of the entire 2019 graduating class of Morehouse College.

          The Transactional Style

          Transactional leaders further the immediate agenda. They are concerned about accomplishing a task and doing what they’ve said they’d do. They are less interested in changing the status quo and more focused on ensuring that people do the specific task they have been hired to do.

          Advertising

          The transactional leadership style is centered on short-term planning. This style can stifle creativity and keep employees stuck in their present roles.

          The Laissez-Faire Style

          The fifth common leadership style is laissez-faire, where team members are invited to help lead the organization.

          In companies with a laissez-faire leadership style, the management structure tends to be flat, meaning it lacks hierarchy. With laissez-faire leadership, team members might wonder who the final decision maker is or can complain about a lack of leadership, which can translate to lack of direction.

          Which Leadership Style do You Practice?

          You can learn a lot about your leadership style by observing your family of origin and your formative working experiences.

          Whether you realize it, from the time you were born up until the time you went to school, you were receiving information on how to lead yourself and others. From the way your parents and siblings interacted with one another, to unspoken and spoken communication norms, you were a sponge for learning what constitutes leadership.

          The same is true of our formative work experiences. When I started my communications career, I worked for a faith-based organization and then a labor union. The style of communication varied from one organization to the other. The leadership required to be successful in each organization was also miles apart. At Lutheran social services, we used language such as “supporting people in need.” At the labor union, we used language such as “supporting the leadership of workers” as they fought for what they needed.

          Many in the media were more than happy to accept my pitch calls when I worked for the faith-based organization, but the same was not true when I worked for a labor union. The quest for media attention that was fair and balanced became more difficult and my approach and style changed from being light-hearted to being more direct with the labor union.

          I didn’t realize the impact those experiences had on how I thought about my leadership until much later in my career.

          Advertising

          In my early experience, it was not uncommon for team members to have direct, brash and tough conversations with one another as a matter of course. It was the norm, not the exception. I learned to challenge people, boldly state my desires and preferences, and give tough feedback, but I didn’t account for the actions of others fit for me, as a black woman. I didn’t account for gender biases and racial biases.

          What worked well for my white male bosses, did not work well for me as an African American woman. People experienced my directness as being rude and insensitive. While I needed to be more forceful in advancing the organization’s agenda when I worked for labor, that style did not bode well for faith-based social justice organizations who wanted to use the love of Christ to challenge injustice.

          Whereas I received feedback that I needed to develop more gravitas in the workplace when I worked for labor, when I worked for other organizations after the labor union, I was often told to dial it back. This taught me two important lessons about leadership:

          1. Context Matters

          Your leadership style must adjust to each workplace you are employed. The challenges and norms of an organization will shape your leadership style significantly.

          2. Not All Leadership Styles Are Appropriate for the Teams You’re Leading

          When I worked on political campaigns, we worked nonstop. We started at dawn and worked late into the evening. I couldn’t expect that level of round-the-clock work for people at the average nonprofit. Not only couldn’t I expect it, it was actually unhealthy. My habit of consistently waking up at 4 am to work was profoundly unhealthy for me and harmful for the teams I was leading.

          As life coach and spiritual healer Iyanla Vanzant has said,

          “We learn a lot from what is seen, sensed and shared.”

          The message I was sending to my team was ‘I will value you if you work the way that I work, and if you respond to my 4 am, 5 am and 6 am emails.’ I was essentially telling my employees that I expect you to follow my process and practice.

          Advertising

          As I advanced in my career and began managing more people, I questioned everything I thought I knew about leadership. It was tough. What worked for me in one professional setting did not work in other settings. What worked at one phase of my life didn’t necessarily serve me at later stages.

          When I began managing millennials, I learned that while committed to the work, they had active interests and passions outside of the office. They were not willing to abandon their lives and happiness for the work, regardless of how fulfilling it might have been.

          The Way Forward

          To be an effective leader, you must know yourself incredibly well. You must be self-reflective and also receptive to feedback.

          As fellow Lifehack contributor Mike Bundrant wrote in the article 10 Essential Leadership Qualities That Make a Great Leader:

          “Those who lead must understand human nature, and they start by fully understanding themselves…They know their strengths, and are equally aware of their weaknesses and thus understand the need for team work and the sharing of responsibility.”

          The way to determine your leadership style is to get to know yourself and to be mindful of the feedback you receive from others. Think about the leadership lessons that were seen, sensed and shared in your family of origin. Then think about what feels right for you. Where do you gravitate and what do you tend to avoid in the context of leadership styles?

          If you are really stuck, think about using a personality assessment to shed light on your work patterns and preferences.

          Finally, the path for determining your leadership style is to think about not only what you need, or what your company values, but also what your team needs. They will give you cues on what works for them and you need to respond accordingly.

          Leadership requires flexibility and attentiveness. Contrary to unrealistic notions of leadership, being a leader is less about being served and more about being of service.

          More About Leadership

          Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

          Read Next