Welcome to Notes from the Field! In this set of post in the five part series, Alice shows how she used the five elements of innovative leadership to onboard in a new job. Her exploration is a five-blog series where she will explore the elements and provide examples of how she applied each one of them. The first component of innovative leadership is using type to become more self-aware and effective.
From the blog post Using Leader Type to Build Authentic Leadership: “First, understand your leadership type by taking an assessment to understand yourself; then, learn about your colleagues’ types. By knowing who you are and who they are, you can create an environment in which people are able to comfortably be themselves and create a common language where they understand one another. An environment in which people are given tacit permission to be themselves allows them to focus their energy on their skills—rather than using it to fit into an expectation—and aligns individuals with the culture of the overall group.
I took the Enneagram Personality Type Indicator (RHETI Version 2.0) to determine my type which turned out to be a combination of “The Helper” (Type 2) and “The Enthusiast” (Type 7). I identify with both descriptions as I am certainly an extroverted optimist with an empathetic and people-pleasing spirit. I have a tendency to be busy and productive, but can also find myself overexerted and disorganized due to my many commitments.
My new job is with a local disaster restoration franchise focusing on water mitigation and fire restoration. My role there is to develop agent relations while enhancing customer satisfaction during the claims process. In other words, I am responsible for building relationships with insurance agents so they are comfortable recommending our franchise when a claim is made for either water or fire damage. Once the claim is issued to our franchise, I become the liaison between the insurance agent, the adjustor, and our mutual customer. I am responsible for keeping open the lines of communication between the three parties while the claim is open, and then ensuring satisfaction of all three parties moving forward.
I appreciate this role because it allows me to exercise my strengths in many new and different situations. I have the opportunity to build relationships with professional agents, as my target agent holds an established book of business built through many respectable years of hard work and courteous customer relations. The optimist associated with Type 7 is a necessary trait as I have found it can be quite difficult to break into the insurance agents with the local competition in disaster restoration. I have the chance to build sincere, long lasting relationships, but this will take time and I understand that I will have opportunities, challenges, and threats to work with and overcome.
My Type 2 characteristic of helper is illustrated during the claims process. For example, I am responsible for going out along with our crew to a house fire in order to communicate the process and what to expect to the homeowner, as well as to be supportive and empathetic while they are dealing with a significant loss. I am able to identify with their situation and offer them sincere confidence that their home can be rebuilt and that we will do everything to help get them back to a state of normalcy.
How I am using my understanding of my Type to identify and address my concerns about how well I perform in this job:
Concern 1: Juggling a managed portfolio of 150 insurance agents and keeping up with emergency claims. Since a claim is never a scheduled event, it is challenging to execute efficiencies in my schedule while maintaining effective relationships along with all the necessary documentation. I am nervous that I will be frustrated with myself when being pulled into different claims and have set the bar high with my communication milestones to the adjustor, agent and homeowner.
Solution: Seek advice from others in the field who have been in my role. No reason to re-invent the wheel, but it is necessary to seek advice and then make the process my own. Building relationships with people who have walked in my shoes is humbling and will spur growth.
Concern 2: Often, I find myself spread thin on resources for taking on many responsibilities, and I imagine once the unexpected claims begin to pile up, I will become disorganized with staying on top of every project, in addition to networking with new agents. This will especially be the case after a large storm when many claims come in at once.
Solution: Consciously increase internal communication, so that I am reminded to speak up when I need help. Typically, it’s against my grain to reach out and ask for help because I do not like putting a burden on my co-workers when my plate is full. Usually, when I am busy, everyone else is just as busy and asking for help does not come naturally. My focus, however, needs to be on our multiple customers during the claim and ensure that they are all being taken care of.
Concern 3: Agent relations. Type 2 (helper) personalities like to build close relationships, but I also need to recognize that agents may, from time to time, recommend my competitor to ensure that they’re not showing favoritism. I can foresee that if I take someone golfing and build a relationship with them over time, I may find it hard to accept that they chose to recommend another ServiceMaster franchise or another local competitor.
Solution: Keeping a realistic frame of mind that the relationships I build are not inextricably linked to their recommendations; the relationship is what it is, and my company is simply one of the few that they recommend, not the only.
Being aware of my personality characteristic/type, both strengths and cautions, has helped me to identify areas of this job in which I will excel, and areas in which I need to focus attention to build a stronger foundation. For example, I look forward to the opportunity to help people in a time of need, yet I also recognize that being quickly scattered means that I need to implement an on-the-go tracking system to record meetings, events, and necessary documentation. Slowing down to build the proper processes in this position will reap many benefits later and will minimize what could be a tremendous amount of stress when trying to remember details of an event that happened weeks ago. In many cases, this is the first step in deciding how I will excel and what areas I should implement accountability in order to be successful.
New job or tenured in your role,how can you use an understanding of your type to increase your effectiveness?
Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible, iHeartRADIO, and NPR One. Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.
photo credit: www.flickr.com Buster Benson