The Secret to working well with others

by Marcy Heim on July 22, 2020

Does if feel harder to lead? Harder to feel part of the team? Harder to get along?

Some days a good old boring staff meeting looks pretty good during life “behind screens.” At least to me.

How are you doing? (Hint – start with, “Terrific!” You’ll feel better, I promise. I’m sending you sunshine!)

Before I launch in with my secret …a disclaimer to all my clients…you might read this and think I am talking about you. It might fit…but this is a reflection from years of being me and coaching leadership, staff, boards, givers, volunteers and my husband, kids, bandmates, and friends. Then stirring in these COVID times.


Let’s start with the notion that in general, people like people like themselves.  We forge our friendships and our working relationships most easily with people who are like us.  We also find it easier to be with people we’ve worked with/lived with for a long time because, through trial and error, we have figured out how to get along with them…aka your significant other and/or your kids. (Or perhaps you’re still working on the kids!)

But the rub is that the richest life (and the best results) come by engaging a mix of people and ideas and talents. Thus, we find ourselves working with new team and board members who are not like us and we may be getting to know them virtually (is this being recorded?) or with only limited time in person. Some may never take OFF their mask or never put it ON! Gracious.

But there is a secret to working well with others – all sorts of others.

For example, while we appreciate a vibrant leader who is out there in the community engaging others in our cause, it can be frustrating getting them to focus on the next steps we need to get a project in motion. Why don’t they understand that we need clear steps and systems?


  • She announces a new program, then expects the team to figure out the details to implement it.
  • She thinks you should be comfortable talking directly to her about anything on your mind. She is!
  • She thinks she is so approachable but gets irritated (and it shows) if you question her.
  • She thinks she’s a great coach but she doesn’t understand how BIG her personality is and that her advice might be hard for you to manage.
  • She jumps from one idea to the next and gets bored if you try to talk to her about the details.
  • She seems to have a ‘favorite’ staff member she pulls in because they work alike. You’re too slow or just not getting it.
  • She makes a decision with only a fraction of the facts you think she needs to make the call.

SHE, of course, is me.  And though I’m incredibly better at both leading and working well with others now, it’s a life-long journey of growth. NOW, I have a consistent team, NOW my family thinks I rock, but I’ve worked really hard at it, and continue to.

There is a secret to working well with others – all sorts of others. Personally, and professionally.

There is a secret

Yes, know thyself and love thyself. As we all shift in and out of working from Modus operandihome and virtually it’s important to revisit that you are a special gift. There is only one you. Your mission is to be so sure of who you are that you can adjust and others around you can thrive. It’s not the other way around. Waiting for the boss to change? Waiting for that colleague to change? They may. But you can control YOU – you know this. Start with you and a clear awareness of your modus operandi or ‘way of operating’ and you will work better and be happier.

Embrace any tool you can get your hands on to learn more about yourself. My favorite is the Kolbe Test A ( Any potential hire or client of mine takes this. As I help clients fill their teams, yep, they use the Kolbe. It is $55 bucks and I get no kickback except seeing you succeed.

Kolbe numbersThe Kolbe gives you four numbers between 1 and 10 that describe your relationship to Action Modes. Fact Finder: is how you gather and share information. Do you simplify or want specifics? Follow Thru: is how you organize. Adaptable or systematic?  QuickStart: is how you deal with risks and uncertainty. Stabilize or Innovate? And finally, Implementor: is how you handle space and tangibles. Envision how things could work or demonstrate solutions?

This is not IQ or emotional feelings. It’s about how you go about doing things. Why this is important in getting along is that we tend to think people take action like we do. So not true. And two people with a Kolbe score in any of the four categories more than 4 apart will struggle.

Meeting in person is hard for a low quick start and easier over zoom – there’s a protective barrier. The high quickstart boss is frustrated in this work-from-home time and the low quickstart team member loves it. The high quickstart starts pushing for face-to-face meetings and things can unravel.

Here’s what I want you to take away….

  1. Get your Kolbe’s done and read your results. ( You can set up time to talk to me about them at
  2. Know how YOU operate. Sure it’s great if the team takes it, but just knowing how you function will help you understand why you’re frustrated or struggle with others.
  3. Remember that you need a high quick-start to lead…but that they can be tough to work for.

Push yourself to communicate with them – even if they bowl you over (they will never see that).

  1. If you’re a high quickstart, celebrate your gifts, but force yourself to manage your comfort with risk and uncertainty. It serves you well, but you can often overwhelm donors, team, and board with your large presence – even through you are a Rockstar.
  2. If team members reach out to others for help with a leader – often they are risk avoiders (low quickstarts) and talking to the boss is just too risky.  Bosses see this as talking around them. This is a sure path to struggles.
  3. Rethink that everyone wants to get back to being in-person. And that some REALLY miss it! Keep your antennae full up for messages from others.
  4. Ask yourself and others some questions…
  • Do you tend to read a lot of reviews before you buy something?  (High in first category)
  • Do you like tasks that have clear steps in writing for you to complete? (High Follow Through score)
  • Do you want routines (pretty tough in covid) or are you comfortable with wild days (high quickstart)
  • Do you feel scrambled if a donor or boss rambles? (That’s your low risk tolerance)
  • Do you want a plan or do you just want to get going?
  • Do you want someone to SHOW you how it’s done? (high implementor)
Package yourself

In a nutshell…know how you operate and adjust for others. Some people are going to drive you nuts! Understanding why makes it easier. You are a gift. Package yourself for success and joy!

Leave a Comment

Anti-Spam Quiz:

Previous post:

Next post: