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3 Steps to Successfully Manage a Highly-Dominant Employee

by | Nov 7, 2019 | Articles

In the vast jungles of Africa, dominance is a quintessential factor to survival. Just as lions have an innate drive to survive to maintain its status as king of the jungle, so to can some employees behave out of their strong desire to contribute and be heard.

Although extreme cases of dominance are rare, I’m sure most of us have experienced the challenges of dealing with a highly-dominant employee to a certain degree at some point in our careers.

Luckily, managing this type of employee isn’t as hard as people think. In fact, most managers who do this successfully often find that high-dominance types can be a great propeller for their team to reach new heights.

So without further ado, here are the 3 steps to take when managing a highly-dominant employee:

Step 1: Manage Their Airtime During Meetings

Among many things, highly-dominant employees are really good at their ability to function independently and their autonomy in problem solving.

While these are generally ideal characteristics to have, the danger is that if left unmanned, a high-dominance type may not be fully self-aware of how he or she has commandeered the entire meeting–potentially driving it into a ditch–talking strongly about how their ideas will lead to the success of whatever campaign they’re working on.

As a manager, what they’re really trying to tell you is that they have a good grasp on the big picture and know exactly the type of results they want to get. This becomes a challenge, however, when an entire team is involved where teamwork (read: collaboration) is encouraged.

Step one is all about establishing control of the floor. Everyone in the team must understand that a way to give respect is by giving their time (and focus). In doing so, it is less likely for a dominant employee to take control of the entire meeting and more likely to listen to what his or her colleagues have to say, which brings me to my next point…

Step 2: Create Equal and Specific Opportunities for Everyone

Still on that same meeting, it might not be enough to say you’re “opening the floor” to anyone else who wants to chime in and express their thoughts.

If a highly-dominant employee has been speaking for quite a while, then there’s a good chance he or she has come across as overbearing to others in the room–those who prefer a more harmonious approach and typically shy away from the conflict that may arise from sharing their own ideas.

One way of keeping everyone involved is by calling specific people by name to ask for their input. This is a great way to build self-esteem among team members as they feel valued and that their ideas matter just as much. You can ask your team members to write down an idea and then have everyone go around the room and share what they have written. (More on this in our upcoming Extraversion article).

However, as managers of highly-dominant employees, it is also key to create specific opportunities for them. When the needs of a high-dominance type are met, the desired behaviour can be produced. Simply put, that can mean involving them in tasks where they have a hand at visualizing the big picture such as designing or roadmapping, and less involved in talking through the specifics where a high degree of collaboration is necessary.

This way, you’re not only creating equal opportunity, but the opportunities are tailored to each one.

Through repetition, you’ll find team members become more and more proactive each time out, making a culture of teamwork easier to develop and achieve.

Step 3: Use Their Strengths as Leverage

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, is to put all that power they naturally possess into good use.

High-dominance employees are natural risk takers who are always up for a good challenge; allowing a bit of healthy competition is a great way to keep them motivated.

Being autonomous and venturesome, it may also be a good idea to let them take point in areas they don’t have complete mastery or understanding. Albeit counterintuitive to most, you’ll quickly find highly-dominant types exercise their keen big picture, risk-taking abilities as they develop a vision for the future and a clear overall direction.

In the end, highly-dominant employees have great potential to become leaders in their own right. And while all profiles can become great leaders with varying leadership styles, you can expect a well-developed highly-dominant leader to have a more of a visionary and influential style, coupled with a strong success mindset.

Interested to know more about your own dominance and other drives? Take the FREE Predictive Index Behavioural Assessment today.