Navigating The Personalities

Multi-ethnic group of university students smiling in a classroom

I’ve been doing a lot of personality profile training these days within my leadership communications workshops. That one component of the workshop seems to add the most value to the leaders I train. Lightbulbs go on all day long as we apply the understanding of the various personality types to the teams we’re leading.

The beauty of this training is that you don’t have to have a doctorate in Psychology to derive benefit. A basic understanding of the four gross classifications of personality are enough to facilitate better team communications and productivity.

The first lightbulb that I often see going on is the understanding that we are all unique individuals but at the same time highly programed by our personality. That’s the dichotomy within the human animal. The second bulb to go on is the revelation that Sally doesn’t often follow our lead because she doesn’t speak our language so we need to learn hers (the very essence of leadership).

When this lightbulb burns within the training group the energy in the room becomes palpable. Leaders see at a much more personal level that they need to work at bringing down communication barriers if their team is going to engage and reach the desired objective.

The era of “command and control” is closing, with most leaders today acknowledging that leading the “whole worker” is much more effective. We aren’t “personal” or “professional.” We’re one whole being: each sphere influencing the other. A proper understanding of our team member’s personality (and our own) will facilitate healthier and more productive work relationships, which will in turn produce a more effective and engaged team.

Leadership Essential For The Road Ahead

There’s no doubt that things in the business world are changing. Relative to leadership, the age of command and control is waning, and a new age of authentic leadership is rising. The skillset for this new age is different from the old one. Many leaders are sensing it and making adjustments to their leadership style.

Why is this happening? The age of command and control was born out of the industrial and information ages. People (read: workers) were largely seen as machines (human capital) to be moved around and manipulated. But people aren’t cattle and we’re learning that if we want to increase productivity with our teams, we are going to need to lead the whole worker (#wholeworker), taking into consideration their thoughts, feelings, and contributions.

This transition has caught many leaders off guard. Many are learning the hard way that the old leadership skillset is not as effective on the new 21st century worker.

Chief among the resources needed in this new skillset is the practice of empathy. Empathic leadership is required if we are going to engage workers and increase productivity. But many leaders, especially those entrenched in command and control, are in need of some training in order to inculcate and employ this skill.

There are actually three types of empathy that a leader needs to employ in the guidance of their team’s activities: cognitive, emotional, and empathic concern.

Cognitive empathy is the skill of understanding how another thinks. It’s the understanding of their mental model. Awareness of their personality type is one way we train for cognitive empathy. Cognitive empathy helps us relate to teammates in ways they understand, typically using their vocabulary.

Emotional empathy is the immediate felt sense of what’s going on in the teammate. It’s the human connection. It’s feeling what they feel. It’s relating to our teammate on an emotional level. This is a severe departure from command and control, which was not concerned with the concept of the whole worker. The hitch is that we’re people, not machines, and we need to lead the whole worker if we’re looking for better outcomes.

Empathic concern is the result of the leader taking into consideration the data gathered from the first two forms of empathy, and then taking action. It’s making the leadership move. It’s saying to yourself and your teammate, what can I do to help? What resources can I make available to you to release the stress, relieve the bottleneck, and remove the chokepoint?

If we’re going to make advances in team productivity through 2018 it’s going to be by moving toward a more authentic and empathic model of leadership. Employing these three forms of empathy is one of the ways to get there. Bringing our teams into greater engagement, professional satisfaction, and productivity is the goal of authentic leadership and the outcome of better leadership practices.

*I’m indebted to Daniel Goleman (Emotional Intelligence) for the delineation of the three forms of empathy.

Leading the Personalities: The Relater

breaktime copy

I’ve been doing a lot of personality profile training these days within my leadership communications workshops. That one component of the workshop seems to add the most value to the leaders I train. Lightbulbs seem to go on all day long as we apply the understanding of the various personality types to the teams we’re leading.

The beauty of this training is that you don’t have to have a doctorate in Psychology to derive benefit. A basic understanding of the four gross classifications of personality are enough to facilitate better team communications and productivity.

Relaters are people people who love to tell stories with lots of detail. Relaters are hardwired to sense others emotions and feelings. Naturally good listeners, Relaters are great detectors of conflict on your team. They have their conflict radar’s gain set to eleven and are great at negotiating it away. Because of this they’re the glue on your team, holding everyone together. Relaters can get bogged down in their people-centric world, though. Be careful how you lead them as they can have a tendency to take everything to heart. Relaters crave involvement and love being in on the inner circle of business. They do well with routine and don’t mind playing a supportive role to all your Socializers who are out front.

It’s important to remember that each of us is a complex mixture of all four types, with one tending to dominate. Each of us has the capacity to exercise the traits of our non-dominant type. We are seven billion unique individuals on the planet but at the same time very programed by our personalities. A proper understanding of our team member’s personality (and our own) will facilitate healthier and more productive work relationships, which will in turn produce a more effective and engaged team.

Leading the Personalities: The Thinker

I’ve been doing a lot of personality profile training these days within my leadership communications workshops. That one component of the workshop seems to add the most value to the leaders I train. Lightbulbs seem to go on all day long as we apply the understanding of the various personality types to the teams we’re leading.

The beauty of this training is that you don’t have to have a doctorate in Psychology to derive benefit. A basic understanding of the four gross classifications of personality are enough to facilitate better team communications and productivity.

Thinkers are analysts. They love to discover the algorithm that will get the team from A to Z. They thrive in this data-driven world. Be careful in your leadership of Thinkers, though. They can slow your team down through the dreaded “paralysis of analysis.” The Thinker wants to get all the ducks lined up before they make a decision and sometimes we just can’t wait. Leading the Thinker effectively then, means setting parameters when handing them a task. Letting them know that you only need those numbers crunched to the second decimal place will keep their perfectionist spirit at bay. Thinkers are generally great time managers and planners. Employing their skills in these areas will benefit your project tremendously.

Click here and get a free smartphone personality assessment tool!

It’s important to remember that each of us is a complex mixture of all four types, with one tending to dominate. Each of us has the capacity to exercise the traits of our non-dominant type. We are seven billion unique individuals on the planet but at the same time very programed by our personalities. A proper understanding of our team member’s personality (and our own) will facilitate healthier and more productive work relationships, which will in turn produce a more effective and engaged team.

Leading the Personalities: The Socializer

A group of young people enjoying a concert

I’ve been doing a lot of personality profile training these days within my leadership communications workshops. That one component of the workshop seems to add the most value to the leaders I train. Lightbulbs seem to go on all day long as we apply the understanding of the various personality types to the teams we’re leading.

The beauty of this training is that you don’t have to have a doctorate in Psychology to derive benefit. A basic understanding of the four gross classifications of personality are enough to facilitate better team communications and productivity.

It’s important to remember that each of us is a complex mixture of all four types, with one tending to dominate.

Ah, the Socializer, gotta love ’em. They’re the cheerleaders on your team (and we all need those!). Socializers are audience seeking, energy junkies. They thrive in a changing environment, and because of that are generally good at thinking on their feet. Socializers crave recognition so if you’re leading them, giving them plenty of praise helps keep them motivated. Socializers also tend to lose focus and become distracted so you may need to check in with them a bit more often to make sure they’re on track. They excel at creative problem solving, usually coming up with solutions that are far outside the box. These are your client-facing team players. Put them up front and they’ll represent you well.

Want a pocket personality tool right on your smartphone? Click here.

It’s important to remember that each of us is a complex mixture of all four types, with one tending to dominate. Each of us has the capacity to exercise the traits of our non-dominant type. We are seven billion unique

Multi-ethnic group of university students smiling in a classroom

individuals on the planet but at the same time very programed by our personalities. A proper understanding of our team member’s personality (and our own) will facilitate healthier and more productive work relationships, which will in turn produce a more effective and engaged team.

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