by Anthony Middlebrooks, Scott J. Allen, Mindy S. McNutt and James L. Morrison
Designing your relationships with followers comprises one of the greatest leadership challenges. Kouzes and Posner provide five general practices of exemplary leaders that offer tips on how to design relationships.
Effective leaders design a relationship with each individual follower and note the nature of that relationship as it develops. Leader-Member Exchange theory focuses on that dyadic relationship and cautions leaders to maintain awareness of the development of in and out groups as each one-to-one relationship develops.
Relating to others, and influencing them, requires understanding how people think and how their brains operate. There are many brain features and processes that all individuals share.
If a leader understands these processes, he or she can more effectively relate to and lead others. While the brain consists of many, many detailed elements, your lean, mean, pattern-making machine brain loves when things are simplified and organized. Thus, one helpful way to understand the brain is by using six dimensions: physiological, emotional, social, constructive, reflective, and dispositional.
The six dimensions can be examined separately for their impacts and influences on overall performance, even though the dimensions all overlap and influence one another.
The dispositional dimension of the brain describes how your brain constructs processes that are revisited so often that they become mental habits—which results in habitual ways in which you think about and see the world.
Some of the most useful for you as a leader are dispositions that help you see more broadly and solve problems more creatively. Collectively, these dispositions are called design thinking and include explorative, user-centered, divergent, multidisciplinary, integrative, and iterative. Each of these mindsets provides unique and valuable tools as you design your leadership.