Photo: Max Braun via Flickr
As every smart manager knows, when you lead a group of people, you’re not just filing reports, writing performance reviews, and approving vacation time.
You’re also navigating the difficult, challenging, and unpredictable tango of waltzing between different personalities and preferred management styles. From those who value autonomy to those who prefer a little more hand-holding, successful managers encourage the best qualities out of their direct reports.
One overlooked quirk that you might not even be aware of is the significance of your employee’s dominant hand. About 10% of people in the world are left-handed.
In honor of Left-Handers Day, here are five fascinating facts about Southpaw that might inspire different management techniques.
1. They may be more combative
Everyone seems to have an employee who, while talented and efficient, can sometimes become hot-headed or struggle to contain their frustration in less-than-ideal situations. Your fiery staffer who is ever-willing to offer a different opinion might just be a lefty, according to a study conducted at the University of Montpellier in France.
To see how lefties and righties approached disagreements and confrontation, the researchers followed nine primitive communities across five continents. They found lefties were more likely to get into violent encounters — and they usually ended up winning them.
Your Southpaw employee probably won’t burst into a fit of rage because you changed a sentence in their brief, but this study hints to the fact that some of them might not take it lightly, either.
2. Their mannerisms may put people at ease
Recent U.S. presidents, including Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and George H.W. Bush, were left-handed.
There’s speculation that more people vote for left-handed people because their nature, body language, and speech come across as more sincere. Lefties usually express themselves with their left hands, while righties talk with their right hands.
At face value, that doesn’t seem like much, but on television screens, a right-hand raised appears to be a left, thanks to the mirror image. This can make right-handed people uncomfortable, sub-consciously.
In the workplace environment, this finding could suggest that you’re more at ease around the mannerisms of your left-handed employees during meetings or presentations.
3. They’re likely good multitaskers
According to extensive research on minority groups published in Sage Journals, you might be wise to give your lefty employees many projects at one time.
After comparing righties and lefties, researchers found that lefties are better able to dabble in several tasks at one time, without losing their grip on deadlines, compared to their right-handed counterparts. However, they struggled with staying hyper-focused on a single task, which suggests that it’s better to give them more work than less.
Researchers haven’t fully concluded the mental reasoning for this. (Many theories about lefties, including the idea that they are more creative, have been debunked over the years.)
Even so, these findings suggest that living in a right-hand-dominated world could be the reason lefties can multitask. Lefties have to learn how to do things using tools, such as scissors or door handles, designed for right-handed people. This makes it so that it’s possible that they’re able to think better on their feet while doing other activities.
4. They may think differently
It might seem bonkers that the hand you choose to write, eat, or sew with can determine how your brain processes images or thinks constructively, but according to a study conducted at Stanford University, it does.
During this research, righties and lefties were shown two columns of illustrations. Comparing across the columns, they were asked to pick which ones seemed more honest, happier, smarter, and other defining qualities. Participants stayed faithful to their dominant hand, with lefties more likely to pick those on the left and righties leaning in the opposite direction.
5. They may be better at math
Is your CFO left-handed? Or your accountant? If so, you can likely rest assured they know how to crunch their numbers, according to a study conducted by psychologists at the University of Liverpool and the University of Milan.
Researchers studied about 2,300 students in Italy between the ages of 6 and 17. Through a slew of tasks, including problem-solving and simple formulas, they tried to determine if being left-handed or right-handed made a difference in math class.
Their findings? Lefties performed stronger, while those who are ambidextrous had the greatest advantage.
Big picture: it shouldn’t matter
While it’s fun to learn about the various studies and research that offer insights about our dominant hands, when it comes to managing employees, you should never discriminate.
No matter which hand you or your employees prefer, being team-oriented always gets your further.