The power of personality

The power of personality
The power of personality

In the workplace, you hear people talk about ‘the staff’ or ‘the employees’ as if they were a homogenous group of people.

But the ‘employees’ are made up of individuals who are, well, individual. That means teams comprise a group of incongruent people, all with their own personalities. 

And that’s a good thing. The strength of the whole team ends up being greater than the sum of the individuals. But learning how to motivate and manage different personality types is essential to get the best out of them.

So what personality types might you come across? We could write a whole book on that, but let’s start very simply.

You will have people who are extroverts. 

Extroverts get their motivation from external sources. They come across as ‘outgoing’. In interviews, they may be charming and positive. Sales roles attract extroverts, as do positions that require making lots of presentations.  The downside to this type of person can be lack of focus. This might mean they start tasks full of enthusiasm but soon get bored. Or they do not listen properly because their mind is racing ahead to the next thing they want to say, and so make silly errors. They can display impulsive behaviours, relying on ‘gut feel’ rather than thinking through implications in detail.

Then you’ll have some introverts.

These guys may come across as shy or withdrawn at interview. The skill is to see beyond this to the many positive traits that an introvert brings to the team. They are people who get their motivations from within themselves and as a result, can be highly self-motivated and work well alone. 

Their pensive traits mean they can look at a project and learn from mistakes made – a really useful skill for continual development of a process or product. Usually great listeners, this can mean fewer mistakes. On the downside, put them on a podium and they won’t shine. And networking will make them shudder.

It’s fairly straightforward to learn which of your team is extrovert and introvert and then manage them accordingly. But wait! You can then start to overlay other personality traits, and it gets a bit more complicated.

According to Katharine C Briggs with co-created the Myers-Briggs personality type indicator, within each group of introverts and extroverts, the individuals will lean towards:

Sensing or Intuition – how you prefer to take in information.

Sensing focuses on the reality of how things are, facts, figures, and practical applications. Intuition thinks about the possibilities of how things could be, ideas and concepts, looking at things holistically.

Thinking or Feeling – how you take decisions. 

Thinking uses logical reasoning, fairness and decides impersonally. Feeling decides based on personal values, maintaining harmony, empathy.

Judging or Perceiving – how you live your life. 

Judging prefers to have matters settled, respects rules, likes making plans.  Perceiving likes to leave options open, is spontaneous and makes things up as they go along.

Cross-reference the above with extroversion or introversion and you end up with 18 personality types! Perhaps a bit trickier to manage.

Once you know your team well you will soon recognise who is an ISTJ (introvert, sensing, thinking, judging) or an ENTP (extravert, intuition, thinking, perceiving)!

Our advice is not to get too caught up in categorising people but be aware of these traits and respond to them accordingly. Understanding where each individual’s strengths lie and positioning them in the right jobs to maximise those skills will mean you get a team functioning at its best.

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