How Effective is Your Thinking Style?
How Effective is Your Thinking Style?

Few things warm my heart more than coming across more proof that the heart of success in business is found by cultivating matters of the heart.

As an Extreme Leader, you’re no doubt working to cultivate certain effective behaviors in yourself and in the people who work with you or for you, all with the grand goal of advancing the mission of your business. And no matter how you label those effective behaviors, I believe they all have at least one thing in common: They are driven by love.

That’s why I preach the mantra, “Do what you love in the service of people who love what you do.” It’s good business.

Think about it: Perfect employees (yourself included) would be compassionate, selfless, and encouraging. They would achieve their goals, but they wouldn’t be overly competitive or controlling. They would embrace feedback without being easily offended. They wouldn’t disappear at the hint of conflict. And they would be authentic and relate well to others. In other words, their behaviors would demonstrate love, all while producing effective results for the business.

That sounds all well and good, but hardline business leaders are prone to want proof – as well they should. Many organizations, therefore, don’t prioritize love as a business concept because love isn’t something they can measure. If they can’t measure it, they were taught in classic Peter Drucker style, it can’t be managed or improved.

Well, guess what? It’s easier to measure the results of love on your business than you might realize.

Stephen and Mara Klemich – or the Klems, as they’re collectively known – actually have created an assessment that measures what they call “heartstyles.” After nearly 20 years of researching the things that drive effective behaviors, they have developed a validated tool that that measures the effectiveness of 16 key “thinking styles.”

Pride or fear are at the heart of eight ineffective thinking styles, according to the Klems. These styles are self-promoting and self-protecting, and they include things like being sarcastic, controlling, easily offended or dependent. The eight effective thinking styles, meanwhile, result from humility and love. Leaders with these styles are authentic, reliable, create personal growth, encourage others, demonstrate compassion, and lead growth in others.

Mara Klemich, who has a Ph.D. in clinical neuropsychology, led the team that researched and validated these styles. She and her husband say this isn’t a personality test, but a “life indicator” that describes where you are along a scale of effectiveness. It measures behaviors and the thinking styles that drive them, which helps you manage and improve them.

If you’re aware, for instance, that you often don’t relate well to others, then you’re in a position to use some techniques that will help you improve. You’ll be reminded to look people in their eyes and to demonstrate more effective relational body language (don’t cross your arms, lean forward or point). Or you might develop a standard set of “get to know you” questions to ask people you’ve just met. And you might spend more time intentionally visiting with people with no motive other than to get to know them.

If you struggle with relationships, these ideas no doubt will take you out of your comfort zone. But strengthening your relational skills will make you a more effective leader. Your behaviors will be more encouraging, you’ll become a better mentor, and you’ll be known for your empathetic, compassionate heart. In other words, you will add value to the lives of others, which, in turn, will make you a leader that others want to follow. That’s the heartwarming reality of good business.