Daniel Taylor

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Affection: Are you a 'push' manager or a 'pull' manager?

March 17, 2021

The notion of management style has come up many times recently, either whilst I have been engaged in coaching sessions with leaders, or when designing leadership programmes.  Very often we will encourage use of Facet5 to help managers understand what their ‘default’, or ‘natural’, could be.  Quite often, the conversation will lead in the direction of their Affection score and I am always keen to explore with them what this might mean in terms of the kind of manager they are. 

The practice of push vs. pull management and coaching is well-known in development circles; the ‘push’ style will focus on directness, telling and being candid, whereas ‘pull’ is aimed at enquiring, asking and being more compassionate.  Both are effective and both work, but a mixture is best. 

Example behaviours: 

PUSH                                                                        PULL 

Gives own view                                                      Enquires and is curious 

Focuses on challenge                                          Focuses on support 

Critical of others                                                     Praising of others 

Focuses on improvement                                    Focuses on strengths 

Quick, pragmatic solutions                                  Explores a range of options 

Because Affection is defined in general as the degree to which you are self or others focused, it pays to spend quality time during a Facet5 coaching session on the individual’s score on all three subfactors, along with a discussion of what kind of manager they might be. 

Let’s begin with Altruism.  When I accredit practitioners, I use the rule of thumb that the first subfactor gives us the overall gist of the factor.  It also helps to refer to the term ‘openness’, which is the classic Big Five term.  Managers with high Altruism believe in the good of others, don’t like to judge them and want to be helpful.  If we associate this with the role of a manager we can see here how it will naturally reinforce behaviours like positive feedback, willingness to help and general positive regard.  A manager high in Altruism will always be on your side and is likely to put your needs ahead of their own.  I am always careful to put out the risks of this, however; with high scores managers very often report being too selfless and often carrying the burden of others rather too heavily... 

Now I won’t lie, when we come to the lower scores it tends to be a trickier story and one that often takes a bit of unravelling; nobody likes to see in their profile that they don’t put people first!  To begin with, I try to describe low scorers as being task focused, which may sometimes look like self-interest, i.e. it is a risk.  Lower scorers will often report being more challenging and put more conditions around how and why others require help.  You could say that they push, rather than pull. 

 The Support subfactor gives a good indication of how a manager is likely to help others.  High Support managers are generous and selfless in their efforts; the focus will be on being responsive to others’ needs and not wanting to overburden them.  They will help lots and be forgiving; but is this always what people really need? 

A low Support manager may be much tougher, almost to the point of appearing harsh.  The focus might be more on criticism and business, rather than personal, imperatives.  I frequently hear that managers like this have no issues with ‘the difficult conversation’, for example.  In terms of the nature of support on offer, it is likely to be more pragmatic, quick and task focused – to ‘get the job done’. 

Naturally, there are benefits to both but if the manager’s purpose is to support and challenge then a degree of flexibility is surely what will make them the most effective?  

 Trust is the third subfactor and defines generally how conditional or less conditional someone is in their belief and trust, in others.  High Trust managers will have faith in others and consequently have high expectations of what others promise them.  They tend to start from the basis of trusting people and see no reason not to.  This can potentially mean a manager who believes in the potential of their people and allows them the freedom to do things in their own way; they need to be careful not to be overly trusting or easily let down by them.  Again, we can see a tendency towards pull rather than push in their overall style; I trust you, how do you think you should approach this task..? 

A low Trust manager will be very different in contrast; nothing is taken at face value, so expect more questions and potentially a higher level of challenge (push).  Low Trust means less reliance upon the intentions of others and more scrutiny around what will serve the best purpose; managers who are low will generally be less trusting in others to begin with.  Lower Affection scorers often describe a tighter circle of trust where you have to prove, or earn, your place in it.  Overall, this will give the feel of somebody who is more task, or business focused but it may make them appear that they are less interested in developing people and supporting them. 

 So, overall we can say that Affection sheds some light on the preferences a manager might demonstrate towards their direct reports.  For further ideas, go back to your Facet5 profile and examine your scores, plus also what is indicated by your Family profile, Searchlight and Leading Edge reports.   

Be careful not to exclude the impact of the other factors; here, I have concentrated on whether a person is self or others focused but we can also look at their score on Will and Energy to get more insight into how they interact with people.  Emotionality will also play a key role in suggesting how responsive a manager might be to others’ needs and either enhance or lessen the impact of the entire profile. 

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