A 20 Year Study Reveals the Most Effective 'Thinking Style' at Work. How Do You Measure Up?

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We can search the world over for the “next big thing” in business, but none of it matters if we don’t first look into the most important place: The heart. That’s where real success is nurtured. And that’s not just some feel-good, do-good statement. It’s good business, and I can prove it.

Look around your workplace and answer this question: How would perfect employees behave? We all know there are no perfect employees, but answer the question anyway.

How would those you lead behave in their ideal states? How would those who lead you behave in their ideal states? And how would you behave in your ideal state?

Now the follow-up: If the behaviors you identified were truly lived out, would your employees, your leaders, and you be ineffective or effective?

The answer is pretty obvious, because we all know our behaviors determine our effectiveness. And while I don’t know what behaviors you picked as vital, I’m gonna go out on a very short limb and suggest that they all in some form or fashion are driven by one word: Love.

Those perfect employees you envisioned would be compassionate, selfless, and encouraging. They would achieve their goals, but not by being overly competitive or controlling. They wouldn’t be easily offended, nor would they avoid conflict.

But they would be authentic and relate well to others. In other words, they would behave in ways that demonstrated love. And in doing so, they would be effective.

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

So, why don’t more organizations put a high priority on love as an indispensable business concept? In my experiences working with leaders and organizations around the world, it’s mainly because love isn’t something they can measure.

Ultimately, business comes down to the numbers, right? That’s how you verify success. To paraphrase Peter Drucker, what can’t be measured, can’t be managed or improved.

How do you measure love? How do you measure whether your organization has heart? Those things don’t fit nicely into a KPI or a financial spreadsheet.

Turns out, it’s not as impossible as we might think.

Stephen and Mara Klemich have spent nearly 20 years creating a validated assessment that measures what they call “heart styles.” They began with the simple premise that effective behaviors drive effective results. Then they researched what drives effective behaviors and came up with 16 “thinking styles” used in their assessment to measure effectiveness.

Ineffective thinking styles result from pride or fear, while effective thinking styles result from humility and love. The styles driven by pride are self-promoting, and include things like being sarcastic or controlling.

The behaviors driven by fear are self-protecting, and include things like being easily offended or dependent.

Those driven by humility, like authenticity or reliability, create personal growth, while love-based thinking styles like encouragement and compassion lead to growth in others.

These styles weren’t picked off the most convenient fruit tree. They were heavily researched and validated on a global scale by a team lead by Mara Klemich, who has a Ph.D. in clinical neuropsychology.

The result isn’t a personality test that tells you who you are, but what the Klemichs call a “life indicator” that describes where you are along a scale of effectiveness.

By measuring actual behaviors and the thinking styles that drive them, it’s possible to manage and improve them. Not perfect them, but make them more effective.

For instance, let’s say you feel you’re not so great when it comes to relating to others. Just being aware of this can help you trigger some important techniques, like looking people in their eyes or maintaining more relational body language (don’t cross your arms, lean forward or point).

You also might develop a standard set of questions to ask people you’ve just met to learn more about their personal interests. And you could make a point of stopping for at least five seconds when you pass by people, rather than rushing past with a meaningless, “Hi.”

Strengthening your relational skills will help you become more encouraging, more of a mentor, and someone known for an empathetic, compassionate heart. In other words, it will make you a leader who adds value to the lives of others and a leader others want to follow.

That’s otherwise known as good business.