Improve your leadership approach by understanding your team

by | Oct 15, 2018

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Here at Herrmann we know that a better understanding of thinking preferences can be transformative in so many different ways.

We sat down with Senior Executive Coach Jill Livesey from the Institute of Executive Coaching and Leadership (IECL) to talk a bit about how better understanding your employees’ thinking styles can improve your leadership approach.

Why is it so important to understand how your employees think?

Understanding your people allows you to lead them better. This is true for their thinking preferences and beyond. We know now that getting the context about an employee opens up doors for better management and improved work-life satisfaction.

Jill points out that when you have a grasp on Whole Brain® Thinking and the thinking preference in particular, you can more effectively develop, engage and support your team. The HBDI® profiles open up a clear line of communication for many professionals in management positions. According to Jill, leaders often assume the people they work with think the same way they do – and that’s just not true.

When you take the time to understand what kind of communication helps other people thrive, how they best like to express their ideas and what tendencies they have in their thinking, you can maximise the potential of every single one of your employees.

Understanding these things about your team and accommodating them makes your staff feel valued and supported overall, improves engagement and boosts a business’ success.

The more leaders can understand diverse thinking, the better suited they are to leverage diversity and all its benefits (more on that here).

What does this look like in practice?

Okay, so you get that knowledge about your team’s thinking preferences has the potential to benefit you considerably. But what does it look like? Here are just a couple of areas where Jill sees the HBDI® and Whole Brain® Thinking as massively useful.


We know that having a spectrum of thinking styles in the workplace is a key step towards success. When you know what kind of thinking you currently have in the office you can make more thoughtful recruitment decisions.

Have a lot of red in the office? Look for blue-minded candidates. Only have one yellow thinker in the office? Seek out some more creative, big-picture types. Looking through the lens of the Whole Brain® Model allows you to make more conscious hiring decisions.


To continually progress the team, you need to be giving regular feedback. Having an understanding of your team’s thinking preferences allows you to deliver these comments in a way that will be most effective for them.

If you’re dealing with a predominantly red quadrant thinker, don’t be cold and formal in your feedback. Ask them how they are doing, what they think of their performance, and then deliver your comments. Make a personal connection before delving into the hard facts.

For predominantly blue quadrant thinkers, the exact opposite will be needed. Lay down what you think, what you need and what you want from them and cut down on the fluff.


A leader who understands their team’s preferences can also actively encourage them to consciously shift their thinking to what would best serve the situation. In doing so, they facilitate their team’s ability to be agile in their approach to business.

Work with your employees to improve areas of thinking where they might not have a particular strength. This will enable them to be more flexible on their paths to key decisions.

Keen to get started? Herrmann can help!

Jill is a firm believer that the future of business lies in understanding each and every one of your employees. And we agree with her 100 per cent.

After all, understanding people’s motivations is the heart of good leadership.

Herrmann’s HBDI® profiles can help leaders better understand their team members’ thinking styles and that single step opens up a wide range of possibilities. To learn more about HBDI® and Herrmann’s Whole Brain® Thinking workshops, reach out to our team today!


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